Saturday, December 29, 2007

French toast casserole

By popular demand, my take on Paula Deen's baked french toast:

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf French bread, sliced, or 1 loaf sliced white bread
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture for several seconds until it is soaking. Arrange bread in a buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish, overlapping the slices.

Praline Topping

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all praline ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well with a fork. Spread over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 45-60 minutes, or until puffy and lightly golden.

*Note: this recipe feeds a small army. I halve it for our family of 4, and it works out pretty well. When halving it, use an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

"I have beaters on my face"


Tim, cleaning Kate's face after she licked the cookie dough off the beaters: "Kate, you have cookie dough on your face."

Kate: "Daddy, I have beaters on my face!"
***
Claire's favorite new words are "uh-oh" and "aaaah duh" (all done). She picks something up and then purposefully drops it so she can say, "uh-ohhhhhh" and look forlornly down at the object. Then she bats her eyelashes at you and implores you to pick it back up again so she may drop it once more. She also likes to greet us with a big "hiiiiii" and a smile.

She is now standing up on her own for seconds at a time (20 seconds is probably the record so far), and sometimes boogies while she does so. She doesn't seem to have much desire to walk yet, perhaps because she knows her sister will mercilessly push her down when she starts with those first tentative steps.

Kate is starting to enjoy sleeping in. It is soooo wonderful, except that Claire still wakes up around 7am everyday. Kate, if left on her own, will usually sleep until 8 or 8:30am now. I've got to find a way to get Claire to sleep longer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Today was all about the girls: presents, excitement, wrapping paper, bows, candy, stockings, and hyper-activity. They woke up, dutifully, before 7am. We had visions of them sleeping past 8, but to no avail. Tim in his sweats, and I in my fleece, gathered the girls up out of their room and let them run/crawl happily down the hall toward the presents. Santa was good to them: Kate had a very full stocking, and Claire even had a couple of items hidden in hers. We made them wait while we made coffee so we could watch with some enthusiasm as they tore open their gifts (or in Claire's case, tried to eat all the bows). We took a short break in the middle to have some french toast casserole, and then went back to the presents.

The biggest hit of the day was the Playskool Tonka race track, as seen in the video below. Kate is also a big fan of her My Little Pony talking tea set, and Claire especially likes the magic baby bottles that appear to be full of milk or orange juice.

We spoke with family members in Oregon, Michigan, Florida and Brazil. We had a feast with friends, and are now enjoying gin and tonics and desserts. It's been a great day. Merry Christmas to all!


First orange of the season.

Stocking stuffers from Santa.


A teapot!

Claire's first Christmas, and first candy canes.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas cards

In years past, I have secretly thought it sort of... tacky lame unfortunate when I received a Christmas card that was just that: a card without extra photos, a letter, or at least a handwritten note or signature. I dutifully hung them around the house anyway, but always wondered why they had sent me such a generic greeting. Was I an afterthought? Did they just send me a card because I sent them one? Were they hoping I wouldn't send them one this year so they could finally take us off their list? Gah.

This year I am that person. Everyone got plain cards from us: our family photo in front of an A-10 (that could have been any plane, since we are practically huddled under the wing), along with Christmas wishes and our names already printed on the card. No extra note. No letter. Not even a quick hand-printed wish of a prosperous new year. Even my grandmothers got this simple card. How sad. And how much easier it was. Also, everyone (except perhaps those in Poland and Brazil) should receive their card by Christmas. So: sorry for the generic feeling of our holiday greeting. But thank you for your understanding. I'll try harder next year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I should have bought stock in Kleenex


It has now been one month since we got sick the first time. At least one of us (and usually 3 of us) has been ill throughout these past 4 weeks, and there is still some lingering illness in everyone. The girls are on antibiotics for ear infections, and seem to be getting better, so hopefully, HOPEFULLY this is the end of it.

Since it is now unfashionable to give medicine to children to ease their coughing and congestion, what do you do for your kids when they are sick? Several people have told me to rub Vick's on their feet to help the cough. I'm not sure if this helped, or if it was the Robitussin that did the trick. We also tried steam baths, humidifiers, fluids and any other homeopathic methods you can think of. None of them were as effective as good old-fashioned drugs, but we did it all. Suggestions for the next round of illnesses?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A few of her favorite things

Claire

  • finding lint/Christmas tree needles/cat hair/food crumbs on the floor and eating them
  • playing with the glue bug traps scattered around the house
  • playing with the garbage bins
  • wiggling away from me during diaper changes (I totally did not remember this starting so early with Kate)
  • signing to tell me she is all done, and often sign-yelling for milk
  • boogy-ing to all music
  • pulling all the toys out of the toybox and throwing them behind her
  • dropping/throwing food off her highchair tray
  • pulling needles off the Christmas tree
  • eating shoes (she prefers flip-flops, but doesn't discriminate against tennis shoes or loafers)
  • playing in Starbuck's water dish
  • playing peek-a-boo, as the 'peeker'


Kate

  • singing the Backyardigans theme song
  • looking at Christmas lights
  • going to the big red ball store (Target)
  • exclaiming 'Holly Jolly, Mommy!'
  • petting Starbuck gently (I thought this would never happen)
  • trying to pick up Starbuck or Claire
  • removing the bookmarks from my books
  • having tea parties with her Little People
  • being chased
  • going down slides
  • begging for sweets
  • drinking V8 out of a big girl cup
  • picking out her own clothes
  • going to 'Old Mc'Donald's' for a Happy Meal and 'fetch fies!'

Friday, December 14, 2007

Toddler property laws, and a gingerbread house



Yesterday we made a gingerbread house. When I say 'we', really I mean I put it together, made the frosting glue, stuffed it full of marshmallows to make it stand upright because I was too lazy to build an under-structure, and decorated half the house. Kate tried to sneak as much candy as possible, took the house apart a couple of times, and finally began decorating it after I told her we were almost all done. What can you expect from a 2-year-old? I think we did pretty well.

I came across this recently. I haven't seen it in a while, and it's just so...fitting right now.

Toddler Property Laws
  1. If I like it, it's mine.
  2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
  3. If I can take it away from you, it's mine.
  4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
  5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
  6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
  7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
  8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
  9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
  10. If it's broken, it's yours. (No, the pieces are probably still mine.)

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bets

I didn't break touch it!

Anyone want to wager how many times I'm going to have to:
  • re-wrap gifts?
  • glue ornaments back together?
  • holler at the girls to "stop touching the tree already!"?
  • pry McLaren's pudgy little fingers off the pretty noble tree?

I decorated the Christmas tree last night, alone (how sad is that?), while watching When Harry Met Sally, drinking hot chocolate and eating peppermint patties. Tim will be home soon, but I got impatient. I love decorating the tree each year. Unwrapping each ornament is like Christmas morning, as I have usually forgotten what ornaments we own over the preceding 12 months. We have family heirlooms (one of which Kate broke this morning), trinkets from places we've lived and visited, and creations I made when I was little, all decorating our tree. I read The Night Before Christmas to Kate again last night, and explained that I was going to hang the stockings by the chimney with care, and she was delighted to see them on the mantel this morning. Of course, I noticed that we need a new stocking for Claire, as this is her first Christmas.

Not much will fit into that tiny boot!

The Catalinas covered in snow. Beautiful.

Kate's silhouette from Saturday's Christmas tree expedition.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holly Jolly, Mommy!

Well, none of us are feeling very holly jolly right now, but this is Kate's new favorite phrase. I have a sneaking suspicion that she believes she'll get to open her Christmas presents now if she says it enough.

I probably should have titled this post "the one where everyone was sick, again", because we are. Still. Sick. We have been sick, at least one of us, since the day after Thanksgiving. For the Love of God, make it stop. Even Tim got some sort of flu, and he's in Vegas.

On the upside, the girls are sleeping in much later than normal (Kate slept until 10:15am the other morning, then took a 3 hour nap that afternoon), for the most part. Claire is now waking up at 5:30am, though, coughing and demanding a meal. Me, I have no appetite, and I have not weighed this little since high school. Now, if I was only hungry for Christmas cookies. Of course, I'd need enough energy to make them first.

I have not sent out Christmas cards, because we are still waiting for our photos. Bad choice, but hopefully they will be worth it. The Christmas tree has lights on it, but no ornaments, and the rest of the house is a disaster that will likely take months to recover from. But I no longer feel flu-like, just cold-like, so that's a good thing. Also, it has been raining for the past several days, and now there is snow on Mt Lemmon. It's beautiful, and it feels more like winter.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Polar Express photos

Kate & Eric enjoy the Polar Express.


It's really difficult to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time.


Waving bye-bye to Santa.



Who knew?

Who knew that
  • a girl could have so many baths in one night, and still not smell quite right?
  • I could wonder if I was going to run out of toddler sheets before morning?
  • doing laundry at 2am was in my future when I sat down for a glass of wine at 9pm?
  • we would have to skip the children's squadron Christmas party with Santa arriving on an A-10, due to Kate having the stomach flu?
  • she would make a miraculous recovery, allowing us to attend the adult's squadron Christmas party last night?
  • it would take us an hour to drive to that Christmas party due to a parade downtown, and then we'd have to park a mile away from the festivities?
  • it would feel like we were Christmas tree shopping in Seattle yesterday, with wind, driving rain, and 42* on the thermometer?
  • my Polar Express pictures would still be in that room with the sleeping (go to sleep, please, Claire!) baby?
  • Kate would still be sleeping at 9:15am?

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Polar Express

It was a quick trip (although somehow not so quick at the time - 5 hours of driving! Each way!) up to the North Pole and back for our family. The Grand Canyon Railway does a Polar Express ride in the winter, and we took advantage of this, since this is likely our last Christmas in Arizona. Kate was probably not quite old enough to get the full enjoyment out of the experience, but she liked it fine. We had dinner first, with friends Dana, John and their son Eric who is a week older than Kate. Then we all boarded the train, and Kate stared and stared at the conductor. He didn't look all that much like the character in the movie, but his costume was pretty impressive. Kate and Eric climbed up and down, up and down, up and down the train bench seats, and then practiced throwing their bells at other passengers. Claire got fussy half-way through and let us all know she was tired and wanted to go to bed.

We sang Christmas songs, drank hot chocolate (no dancers delivering it, unfortunately), and even got to visit with Santa, who gave each of the girls a large bell to keep. I have a few pictures, most of which did not turn out well, as the train was dark and I was unable to get the camera pointed in the right direction. But, those pictures have not yet been downloaded, and the equipment necessary for that feat is in the room where Claire is sleeping. Later, I promise.

For now, we are all trying to get over our cold d'jour. I think we have all been sick with different illnesses since Thanksgiving. So for now it's a lot of snot, kleenexes, and resting. Meet me back here soon for pictures.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Taunting

"Go Beavers!"

"Go Ducks!"

"No, go Beavers!"

(*gleefully*) "Go Ducks!"

Today is Civil War, the game between the Oregon State Beavers (Tim's alma mater) and the Oregon Ducks (the evil green and yellow team of the Pac-10; also, Tim's father's alma mater). Currently the score is tied, although the refs made a terrible call last quarter that denied the Beavers a touchdown.

Kate usually gets to watch Dora after her nap, but on Saturdays during football season, we start the day with them so that we get the TV in the afternoon. College football: it takes precedence over most things in this house. Anyway, Kate is sitting in the living room with her sister and her father, eating graham crackers and cheering on the...Ducks. Tim at one point explained that the Beavers were playing the Ducks today, and Kate thought it would be nice to root on the losing team. It's very endearing.

Also, Claire has a horrible cold, and has lost most of her voice like I have. It is the most pathetic thing I think I have ever heard: a hoarse baby crying. So, so sad.

Do you Advent?

It's December. Already, it's December! Wasn't it just July?

I got Kate an advent calendar this year, and we will open the first door tonight. I'm doing the chocolate version, in case you are interested.

What I am wondering is this: do you do advent calendars? If so, what traditions are you starting with your kids? I think I had a few advent calendars growing up, but I don't recall any sort of meaning behind them. Please share your ideas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Secrets to a stress-free morning

One of the best things that can happen is for Tim to be able to take Kate to school in the morning. It seems simple, but it's so so big. I don't have to scramble to time everything just right. Claire can go down for a nap whenever she feels like it. I don't have to drag a crabby baby across town, into daycare and back again, and drive her home as she falls asleep. And! And then I can use my free time for more fun or more productive things. Like having the cable guy come over to tell me that yes, we probably need a new cable box because "that's weird, it's not working". And then I can re-prioritize, knowing that I will lose my cable box in the morning, and sit down and watch last week's CSI: episode that I had recorded. I can drink my coffee in peace, and wait for the steam cleaner to heat up so I can mop the floors. All of this while the house is silent. Aaaah.

After that I can chase McLaren around the house with my camera, trying to capture cute poses and those adorable patent leather shoes.



Ms. Grumpy pants.

The best shot of the shoes so far. In any event, they are Circo from Target. Go buy some, quick before they're gone!


Monday, November 26, 2007

One of those days

Kate woke up crabby again this morning. She has this screech that is reminiscent of the most annoying sound in the world. It's not the way you want to start your day. Breakfast was messy and slow. Claire was late getting down for her morning nap, which did not set us up for success in getting to JC Penny's on time for Christmas pictures. My sister and Tempie were already there when we arrived 10 minutes late and missing a shoe. I had mistakenly dressed the girls at the house in their full outfits, including Claire's cute cute black patent leather shoes with bows. She kicked one off in the house and I thought I had picked it up when I went back inside for the last time, but once we arrived at the mall, it was nowhere to be found. Don't even ask me how peeved I was; she had never even worn the dern things. And did I mention how cute they were?

The pictures went surprisingly well, given that we had 3 children under 2 1/2 all climbing over one another, and fighting to try to eat the candy canes my sister had brought as props. The only way I could get Kate to smile was to say "whack" several times. It's her new favorite word. (Last week's favorite was "lickety split".)

As I collapsed the stroller to stuff it into the trunk, I noticed that Kate had stolen all of the Christmas picture brochures from Penny's. And the ribbon that had been tied around the plastic container.

On the way out of Penny's, I decided to stop at In 'N Out Burger, because 1) yum, and 2) it's a bit of a drive from my house and therefore I rarely get to eat there. By then it was pushing nap time for both girls, and Claire was letting me know about it. Kate's nose was running like a river and she was begging loudly for a hamburger and 'fetch fies' with ketchup and mustard. I sang songs to the girls as we waited in the drive-through line. We got to the first window and after I paid, the girl gave me a sheet of stickers for Kate. Awesome. No, really. I mean, McDonald's hands out crazy things in their Happy Meals. What is wrong with some nice football stickers?

Anyway, I sucked down my chocolate shake and handed fries to Kate all the way home. When I pulled Kate out of the car, I noticed she had stuck all of her stickers to her tights. Later in the afternoon, Claire would eat several of these stickers. I fed the girls quickly and put Kate down to bed. She talked and/or screamed for approximately an hour before it quieted down. With the house finally silent, I turned on the TV to watch last year's final episode of Battlestar Galactica again, and noticed that the cable is still not working. It's been spotty for 2 weeks now, but usually just in the morning. Today it is just plain not working. Which is why I was going to watch BSG: I thought the box might fry itself sometime soon, and when we get a new DVR, we will lose all of our shows.

On a positive note, I just searched the car one more time and found Claire's shoe. Yay! There's nothing cuter that a baby girl in black patent leather shoes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stuffed

Turkey leg!



Us, that is. We have had 3 Thanksgiving dinners in as many days, and we are full! It's wonderful. My favorites: turkey, stuffing, carrot souffle, and Mike's habanero mashed potatoes. Wooo-eeee, those are hot. And tasty. Also, damn if Shayne didn't find a Thanksgiving dessert I like: French silk pie. What? That's not a traditional dessert?

We had our family Thanksgiving dinner on Friday afternoon, with family in from San Diego and LA, and friends who just moved to town. Lots of people, lots of food, and lots of fun. Kate had a blast playing with Reagan and Chase, and has been asking for them to come over again for the past two days now.


Kate & Reagan enjoy a nice turkey dinner.


Right after everyone left, Claire got the flu. It hit me about 6 hours later. It wasn't any fun, but it ended quickly, and I was even coherent enough to watch my Huskies lose the Apple Cup. That didn't make me feel any better.

Now we're in the process of teaching Kate about Christmas, and in particular the Polar Express. We are taking a trip to the Grand Canyon in 10 days for our ride on the train, and hope that it will be a blast.

Many thanks to all who drove in from California for the weekend. And many, many thanks to Tim who was Mr. Mom for me yesterday while I slept all day long.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently I used this title last year, as the auto-fill completed the phrase for me. But, Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are spending some quality time together as a family. We'll be cooking, cleaning, and hopefully playing outside in the wonderful weather. It poured down rain (thunderstorms included) early this morning, so the sky is a gorgeous shade of blue and the air seems crisp and fresh, like it should during autumn. Tim and Kate just got back from the store to stock up on milk, ice cream, beer and wine, and now we're going to watch a little of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Tonight is our English Thanksgiving, and tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving feast, hosted by yours truly. We'll be having turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrot souffle, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, bread, and various desserts. I love it all, minus the dessert portion. I know, right? Has someone kidnapped me and stolen my blogger password and written blasphemous words? Naw, I just prefer all the stuff of Thanksgiving dinner. Also, I don't really like pumpkin pie. Weird for someone who loves all things pumpkin. But given the fact that Thanksgiving dinner generally consists of like 1500 calories, I'll pass on the pie. Just give me a cup of gravy to drink and I'll be good.

There is so much to be thankful for. My family, first and foremost, and the fact that we get to spend the holiday weekend together. We are all healthy this year, and we have some family in town to spend time with. Tim has a good job, which at times is stressful for both of us, but he loves what he does and is able to provide us with so much. We live in a wonderful place, and have great friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, crap. Also, cake.

Today is my birthday. I'm 24. Ish. Tim went in early today so he could come home at a reasonable hour and help Kate make a birthday cake for me.



First we add the eggs.


Then we add the butter.

Next we mix it by hand a little bit.
This is so much fun!



Then we lick the spatula.


The cake turned out great; even McLaren got to try a bite. She loved it, of course. She is my daughter.

For my birthday, Tim got me some flight time with my old instructor. Awesome! Also: crap! I haven't flown in almost 2 years. I haven't studied in almost 2 and a half years. My instructor is pretty busy, but she has some time available on Friday. We're doing Thanksgiving on Friday. Long story, but we are. Now you see my dilemma. My medical isn't current, so I can't get my landings in with her and call it good; I've got to fly with her in the plane. But this is also a great opportunity to take family flying...so I'll be keeping you posted. Thank you for the awesome birthday present, Tim! And for keeping me on my toes.



My last flight was in a Great Lakes, February 2006.

Chasing Kate

One of our favorite games lately is Chasing Kate. Claire rides the airplane while Tim or I push her down the hall, racing after Kate who is usually pushing her doll stroller or her shopping cart. Both of them love this with a passion. The only thing I missed in this recording is Kate yelling "cuidado!" like she often does. I have no idea how she came up with it (Dora, of course), and it is adorable.

2pm update

We just got back from the mall where Claire and I did a little shopping while Kate was at daycare preschool. Claire and I also enjoyed lunch out at McDonald's where we shared 2 hamburgers, 1 small (medium) fry, 1 fruit and yogurt parfait and 1 small (medium) diet coke. Hey. Claire was hungry.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Iron supplements

Maybe we should rethink what we are feeding Claire. Yesterday evening she was playing on the kitchen floor while I made dinner. She seemed to be chewing on something, but she wouldn't let me in her mouth to find out what it was. We started dinner. She shoveled a few handfuls of food in her mouth and then she started gagging. Out came dinner and something small and black. A magnet. Yay! Another parent of the year award for me.

Kate has a few new sayings. Her current favorites, which are used All The Time:

  • how 'bout (how 'bout cookie? how 'bout Dora? how 'bout ice cream cone?)
  • might be in ... (timeout, the box, the kitchen, my bed, etc)
  • good idea (how 'bout cookie, Mommy? good idea - she usually answers her own questions. Is that a bad sign?)

This morning I babysat Tempie, my sister's 6-month-old. It is now 1pm and I just unloaded the dishwasher, I have not yet showered or gotten dressed, the living room is a Disaster, and all I want to do is take a nap. I didn't mind babysitting, it just gave me firsthand insight into how crazy a household with 3 little ones would be.

Now, for that nap.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh, dear.

According to babycenter, Kate is likely to be 5'11" at age 18. Almost 6 feet tall! Are you kidding me? Tim and I are both average height, but she is off the chart, and has been for a long time.

Also, I might need some advice. Claire is not going to sleep easily at night. It is particularly noticeable on night weeks, when I have to listen to her cry and/or whine for an hour, sometimes more, before she calms down and drifts off. At first I thought I was missing my window, but now I think maybe she's hungry? But she won't take a bottle, and there is only so much I can offer her. This fact also poses a problem when we want to go out for dinner, say, before 7:30pm. Which we will be doing tomorrow night. My babysitter is great, but I feel bad making him (and usually his mom who comes over to troubleshoot) deal with her angst for hours on end. I have tried many times to give her formula, out of a bottle and out of a sippy cup, and she makes a face worthy of pictures, which I never am able to snap in time to catch her full displeasure. Ideas?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How cute. Also: for the love of God!

Last night Tim called at dinner time to help ease Kate into her nighttime routine. She talked to him for probably 2-3 minutes. She didn't hang up! She didn't press any buttons! She listened, and had a conversation about the stars and the moon. This video caught the tail end of the conversation when he apparently had hung up, thinking she had put the phone down.

"No screaming, Claire! No!"

Then:

Oh dear. It's 3pm. The girls are still talking. It's a night week, so Tim won't be home to field crabby babies. Crap.

On a positive note: 3 Musketeers Mint Minis with Dark Chocolate. I think I accidentally ate the whole bag.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I made that


I haven't made bread in a really long time, mostly because it takes forever, it rarely turns out well, and I have 2 kids. Did I mention that it takes forever?

Niki sent me an article and recipe months ago about how to make a tasty loaf, the kind with a thick, crunchy crust and chewy middle. You know, the kind you get in France. Or the kind you pay half an arm for here at some pseudo-French bakery and try to eat every last bit of it in one day before it turns into a giant crouton. What, you don't do that? Come live in Tucson for awhile and you'll learn to.

Anyway, this recipe. It has four (4!) ingredients, which you probably already have on hand. You mix it for about 15 seconds and then you let it sit. Then your turn it over a couple of times, let it sit some more and then bake it. Seriously. No kneading. No! kneading!

So, rush to your kitchen and make sure you have these staples on hand:
3 c. flour (any kind will do, but I used all-purpose white)
1/4 t. yeast
1 1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. water (the recipe in the video calls for 1 1/2, the written recipe calls for 1 5/8. I have only tried the 1 1/2 c. thus far)

Now for the complicated part:
  • Wash your hands so you can mix everything with your fingers. It's more fun that way, and also anyone who walks into the room will think you're working harder than you are.
  • Put all the dry ingredients (all 3 of them) in a bowl and give them a run-through with your fingers.
  • Pour the water in.
  • Remove your rings unless you want to bake that kind of bread with a surprise ring inside.
  • Mix the dough for about 15 seconds, or until everything looks...mixed.
  • Cover it.
  • Let it rise for 12-18 hours (recommend 18, maybe longer - my bread was flatter than I had hoped for).
  • Sprinkle a cutting board with flour and pour the batter onto it.
  • Fold it over a couple of times.
  • Return the dough to the bowl and let it rise another 2 hours. Or do what the recipe says and let it rise on a towel (maybe that's why mine didn't rise as much as I thought it would?).
  • Heat your oven and a covered baking dish to 500*.
  • Pour the batter into the hot dish and bake, covered, for 30 minutes (I baked it for 25).
  • Take the lid off and bake for another 15-30 minutes, or until it looks so good you want to burn your fingers off in an attempt to eat a chunk straight out of the dish.
  • Patience! Let it cool before you slice into it and shove large pieces slathered in butter and raspberry jam into your mouth. Whuh?.

Update: I made my second loaf, this time with 2c white flour and 1c wheat, and with a heaping 1/4t of yeast. I think I like the rise I got this time better since I used more yeast. And the wheat aspect is good as well. Also, I baked it at 500* for 25 minutes, which was better than 515* for the same amount of time. My 'lid off' time is significanly lower than theirs: I baked this loaf for 10 minutes with the cover off, as opposed to 15-30 minutes that they recommended. I plan to add fresh rosemary to the next batch, per Niki's advice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The weekend in pictures

Claire loves her airplane.
Kate's new favorite.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Referrals

I get some weird hits from Google. My favorites:

  • *lots* of warthog stuff (warthog ice (?), warthog suit, cute warthog (again, ?), baby warthog)
  • no slugs fighter pilot
  • how to get your toddler to clean up her toys
  • secret mommy crush
  • something to do with belgian waffles
  • JC Penny's kids photos in Tucson
  • same for the Picture People
  • osan ab pool swim lessons 2007
  • Dora cake (query from someone in Turkey, no less!)
  • phan thiet plane landing
  • and, perhaps my favorite, is Giada deLaurentis pregnant?

I got so many hits for this last one several months ago, that I was certain she was indeed with child. I should have broke the news on my own blog. Just kidding, Giada; your secret was safe with me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Going downhill, and it's only Wednesday

The title makes it sound worse than it is, really. It's just that Tim's on night week for the next 2 weeks, and you (well, some of you) know how that can go. Kate had mini-meltdown after mini-meltdown beginning this afternoon and sliding right into this evening, even though I took her (them) to the park and then to Target where she got to pick out her very own brand new Dora sunglasses. Hey, even I was bored. Target is good therapy for that.

But Target was unable to ward off the witching hour, and when we got home Kate was determined to go trick-or-treating. No matter that it is what, November 7th? I tried to explain that all the grown-ups had eaten their leftover fun-sized candy bars (and probably some of their childrens' ones, too), and that they would have none left to give to Kate, but she still wanted to go. Thanks to The Backyardigans for saving me once again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's that time of year again

Thanksgiving? Christmas? Sure, those are some of the favorites coming up, but I'm talking about something far more exciting, at least for some around town. It's time for Tucson's bi-annual bulky/junk pick-up. Families load up their unwanted miscellany and pile it in the alley behind their house, or next to their driveway, for the city dump to pick up. Apparently this is also a time for dumpster diving.

I was washing the dishes yesterday afternoon when I heard a commotion across the way in the alley. It wasn't Santa; it was an older gentleman, decently dressed, toeing through someone's decrepit treasure. What amused me was that he was obviously looking for something worthy of taking home, but he wasn't actually willing to touch any of it. In the end he wandered off, empty-handed.

Is this how Koreans looked at me and my friends when we pawed through others' forgotten (or possessed) riches piled next to the garbage cans in the Life Apartments parking lot?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Trick or treat!

Last night the ladybug was shy and unsure about saying "trick or treat". This morning there was a glorious transformation, like caterpillar to butterfly: she ran around the house, madly screaming her new favorite phrase. She scrambled to find her ladybug costume, and donned it for breakfast, all the while begging for her treat bag that was on top of the TV armoire in the living room. I let her put her lunch in the treat bag when she went to school, and suddenly she was all set to go - I've never seen her so ready. It's a good thing there's a short transition between Halloween and Christmas, and that she'll get lots of practice with Santa Clauses so that by the time Christmas actually arrives, she should be accepting of jolly ol' Saint Nick.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

She wouldn't stick her hand inside to clean out the seeds. Notice the 6" knife sitting precariously close to the 2-year-old?

The cutest baby ladybug ever.


Two little ladybugs and a fighter pilot.

Trick or treat, smelly feet, give me something good to eat.

This has been Kate's mantra over the past few days. We watched The Great Pumpkin this afternoon to prepare for tricks or treats, and we practiced saying "trick or treat!" all day long so as to be ready. Then we got to the first house tonight, and she said: "Daddy, pit ee up!" (Daddy, pick me up.) It was very cute.

This morning she tried on her ladybug costume and roared. She planned to be a scary ladybug. She ended up being a shy ladybug, daintily picking just one piece of candy from each bucket she dipped her hands into. She even gave her Nerds back to one of the kind ladies to gave her 2 candies, much to my dismay...mmm, Nerds.

When Tim got home, he carved the pumpkin, and Kate thought that was the best thing in the world. We lit it up and put it out on the driveway looking back at us, so we could see it from the door. Kate was also able to see it from her toy room and, after she got dressed in jammies for the night, spied it from the window and screamed Hi Pumpkin! Nigh nigh pumpkin! in her adorable outdoor voice that was sure to wake the neighbors. Then she put her shoes on all by herself and took Daddy outside to say good night to it in person. She laid down next to it, and seemed to want to sleep there on the driveway. Tim quickly picked her up, lest any of those pirate or Cinderella scorpions come hunting for Halloween treats.

Our Halloween adventure lasted about 40 minutes, from getting dressed to arriving back at home after visiting all of 3 houses. Kate did a great job, though, and wasn't too scared of anyone. We also didn't run into many people. That probably helped. Claire was snug as a bug (pun intended) in my arms, although she was a little warm. It was like 75* outside. I should enjoy this, and do for the most part; I grew up having to create Halloween costumes that carried umbrellas as part of their get-up.

Hope you had a spooky Halloween! Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A new sleeping arrangement

Kate took her Saturday afternoon nap on the sofa (Daddy's the Best), and today she wanted to sleep on her floor for naptime. She played for about an hour, but then did fall asleep for about 2 hours. I think Tim will have another job this week: converting her crib to a toddler bed. My baby's growing up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Claire the Destroyer strikes again


What?

It wasn't me. You didn't see it happen and can't prove a thing.

Destroying Thomas' tracks.

So tired after Taz's fini flight.

***

Also, it is now 2:30 and the girls have been in bed (and awake) for an hour. An hour. For the love of GOD, go to sleep already!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yay, Grampa's here!

Well, not yet he isn't. But he's on his way from fire-ravaged San Diego to hang out with our rowdy bunch for the weekend. Tomorrow morning when Kate sees him, she'll say, "Yay! Grampa's here!" After she gets over her initial fright at having a stranger in the house, that is. She's a little shy at first, but warms up to people in short time.

An update on my father's situation, for those of you following at home: none of his stuff was destroyed. There was some question about his office for awhile, but that is fine as well. There's a lot of dust/ash/soot on his deck, but other than that he's good. We're all very thankful.

Kate starts soccer on Saturday. I know. Soccer for 2-year-olds. Ha! Should be entertaining. She'll get to wear her tenny-boots (her term) and run around with other kids her age, so it should be a swell time. Also, since she's off the chart height-wise, she'll probably be able to just hit the other kids and steal the ball away if she is unable to use her fancy soccer skills to do so.

***

Update: bummer. Grampa can't come visit afterall. They're opening up his office on Saturday to make up the fire days. Until Thanksgiving, then, dad!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Windy day for the park

We went to the park this morning for lunch and swings. There weren't any swings, and lunch got blown to the ground by gusts that seemed capable of knocking over grown people. But overall it was fun; I think we are getting there (to the easy part of parenting. There is one of those parts, right? And it's really long?). A couple of months ago, a trip to the park with the two girls and just me would stress me out like nobody's business. Now, depending on the park, it's easier. Kate is more corralable (is that even a word?), and Claire plays nicely in her stroller, so I can chase Kate when she gets out of hand or needs some help up the stairs. It's also better now that it's in the 80s, instead of the 110s, because playing in that kind of heat is just cuh-ray-zee.

I didn't bring the camera, so I have no photographic proof of the fun we had, but I trust that you will believe me anyway. I like that part of our relationship, don't you? The biggest fun was the steps, of course. Kate loves steps. She could probably go up and down steps all day long and be happy as a clam. I was pleased because she didn't fall going up and down those stairs today. And then! wait for it....she went down the slide all by herself. As in me standing on the ground and her swishing down without so much as a hand to hold. She wanted to go again and again and again and again. I finally had to drag her away from the slide so that we could go grocery shopping.

So that's been my day so far. That and a phone call to my dad to make sure all is still okay. He's still fine, is staying with friends, and so far as he knows his stuff is still solid and not ashy. Good luck, everyone in San Diego!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 2

I am guessing by your silence that you are either:
  1. Busy and have not read about my toy despair, or
  2. Do not agree with my method of fixing the situation and are trying to avoid me, all the while *tsk-tsking* me and my mothering skills.

It is day 2 of Operation Clean Up Your Toys or Else. It is also school/daycare day, so it hasn't been a good measure for how things are going. We haven't been home much yet today. (Big thank you to Camille for a lovely lunch!) But I do think that Kate knew I was unhappy with the situation yesterday, and as Tim pointed out, I don't think she likes it when I'm mad at her. She was extra sweet to me this morning. I'm not really mad at her; I'm just frustrated with the level of mess that this house has reached, and she is a big contributor. So we're working on that.

And she has ways to earn her toys back. If she gets things out and then puts them away when asked to, she will get a toy out of time-out. She's a pretty smart kid, so it will probably be Thursday morning when all of her toys have earned a pardon.

Claire is cruising now. I think that's what you call it when they walk along the furniture? Leave her at one end of the coffee table, come come back moments later, and you will find her at the other end of the table (especially if there is a beer or a remote control at the other end). She is also walking behind her push-walker by herself.

What?

Monday, October 22, 2007

I. Have. Had. Enough.

Last week I begged for a solution to the toddler-clean-up issue. It's a new week, and things have not gotten better. It does not help matters when my husband's employer keeps him at work for 60-70 hours a week. Him not being home + messy house + toddler who won't listen = pissed off mommy.

I called my sister-in-law, Sheila, for help. She said that she has gone the route of the silent butler, and that did the trick. Kate got several chances to pick up all of her toys today, and I told her that any toys left out were going into time-out. The first time (this morning before we went to the park) it worked like a charm. She did not want her beloved books to go into time-out. This evening, it did not work. I gathered up the toys and put half on top of her bookshelf in her toy room, and the other half in the closet. She lost a lot of toys today, including both Dora dolls. Somehow I feel a little bit better right now, empowered in a way. I also feel like a Bad Mommy. I have a feeling that tomorrow when the whining begins, I will begin the self-doubt phase, and wonder if I wasn't a bit too harsh. So, note to self: you did the right thing! Don't give in! You must win this fight, either tonight or 3 years from now!

Regarding other family members: best of luck to my dad and the rest of San Diego who have evacuated their homes due to wildfires. Hope your place is still standing at the end of the week, dad!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bit of a nighmare, isn't it?

Recalls. Everyday there are recalls on toys, highchairs, car seats. Even children's clothing isn't safe. I just went through about 8 pages of babycenter's recall list, and am hopeful that we don't own anything that has excessive amounts of lead, can be taken apart by a toddler or a baby and choked on, or that can catch on fire if held under a lit match. How did our parents protect us when we were little? There was no internet to show you pages upon pages of items that were dangerous for children. Also, there were no seat belt laws. I guess we were just lucky? Are we just supposed to ban toys now?

I am not a germophobe (which isn't to say that I let my kids lick the floors, although I'm sure they have done so while I've been on the internet reading up on the latest airborne illnesses), but this latest MRSA scare has me a bit concerned. They closed down one high school here to clean it after a couple of teenagers got staph. Um, how do you clean a whole school? Books, anyone?

Deep breath.

On a different subject, I have come to realize that my girls have special abilities. Not as in Heroes-type special abilities, but interesting just the same. Claire: she is the destroyer. She can take an object, dangle it tauntingly over the side of her highchair, and drop it just as you shout noooooo! and dash in slow motion to try and save it. Almost all items end up broken, usually with a distinctive *crack* as they hit the ground. So far: a key chain that makes made several noises, a plastic plate Kate loved to eat off of, the matching cup, and various other toys. Just this morning, Kate was waiting for breakfast and started playing with those keys, and what do you know. They started working again. Crazy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Having a 2-year-old is like using a blender with the lid off


I hear Jerry Seinfeld said this. And it is so true. Take, for instance:





Kate got another birthday present in the mail today. This time it was the postman who put the box in my carport (what the hell, people? What is wrong with putting it on my porch, where I will likely trip over it as I try to juggle keys, a baby, a toddler and 2 precariously balanced bags of groceries?). Luckily there were no chocolates (is that really lucky?) that melted in the box, just wrapped goodies for Kate from her Aunt Carrie. She ran screaming around the house demanding that I open it as I tried to pay the babysitter, change Claire's diaper, put the groceries away, and not trip over toys that were scattered methodically around the house.

After I did open the box, she tore into the gifts like a starved child looking for food. She opened all of her presents (thank you, Carrie) in 3.4 seconds, and then determined that it would be a hoot to dump all the styrofoam popcorn onto the floor. I had the windows open to let the cool air in, and you guessed it. Popcorn everywhere. It's a bit windy today. Yay for me. I tried to get Kate to pick them all up (she was the one who dumped them out, after all), but she declined in not so many words.

So now I have a question for you parents out there: what do you do when your toddler refuses to help clean up? Last week she got a spanking (for a defiant "no" when I asked her nicely to pick up her puzzle), and then she didn't get to play with the toy for several days. Tim's mom used to have the silent butler come over at night and pick up any errant toys that the boys failed to put away, and that mean old butler boxed them up for a month in the garage! I am close to hiring that butler. But first, I shall pick your brains. Help me, please!

On a more pleasant note, the girls are playing nicely together, for the most part. Kate is ecstatic when her sister wakes up from her naps, and gleefully runs, shouting, into their room: "Dare's awate! Dare's awate!" She yanks all toys from her sister's hands, unless she's in a frivolous mood and then brings several toys over for her sister to chew on.


Claire is interested in shoes like her dad is interested in airplanes: she's obsessed. And she's getting fast; I must constantly roam the house for wayward flipflops, lest she get her pudgy little hands on one and start chewing on it. She is also fascinated by Starbuck, and gets all kinds of talkative when she spies him.


Kate is becoming more industrious every day. Recently I was apparently late getting her breakfast, so she helped herself to a cookie from the tupperware container on top of the counter. I was feeding McLaren at the time, and I was so amused by Kate's problem solving that I let her keep the cookie.

She came with me to the dentist today (I'm still not sure how they talked me into that. A 2-year-old. At the dentist while I got my teeth cleaned. For an hour. With nothing to do but get into every. possible. thing. in the room.). She actually did remarkably well, waiting for me. She did not let the dentist or the hygienist look into her mouth once, but she did partake of the free toys on her way out.

Also: I love going to the dentist. I know, it's weird. But I love that shiny clean feeling you get after they clean your teeth. But beware! There is a new paint-on fluoride treatment, and it sucks! Opt for the regular stuff! It's been 3 hours now, and although I've brushed my teeth with more vigor than one ought to, I still cannot get that damn stuff off all the surfaces of my teeth. Yuck.

I am so tired. Is teething a virus that is going around? I'm going to go pretend to nap, and let you get back to your afternoon. Don't forget to tell me how you deal with your toddler who won't clean up!