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


  • 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'


  • 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


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


"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!