Thursday, December 24, 2009

To you.






Thanks for being our friends.

And sharing in our lives. Memories and events are so much more fun when shared with good people like you. You are our peeps, and we're glad you've stopped by.


We love you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my husband and I are off to enjoy wonderfully snooty-wooty cups of cocoa from our NEW cocoa-maker made with specialty shaved chocolate cocoa mix - both from Williams & Sonoma (Oh Nonna and Papa! Thank you - you shouldn't have!). The kids are almost fast asleep after arriving home late from Gigi's house, home to the infamous annual family Nativity pageant.
Santa is coming soon!

So, we sincerely wish you a...



And a Happy New Year.







Love,

Us




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A few FAVORITES


1.


I have spent an inordinate amount of time this last week reading this story:


A friend phoned me up a few days ago and told me I should check out this site. It is a story of the ultimate city-slicker girl who meets a rough and tumble cowboy (who she lovingly coins "Marlboro Man")...it is quite possibly the BEST love story I've read in a long time. And most delicious of all: it's true. She documents her transformation from "black heels to tractor wheels" - from life as a sassy single to a happy mother of four and wife to Marlboro Man- through amazing photography, cooking, homeschooling tips (yes, homeschooling!), and my favorite part of all, their beautiful, steamy love story. I'm telling you, you must read it! You'll melt into a big puddle a' sarsaparilla! It made me long to roll around in the mud with my husband and make-out in the back of a pick-up truck in the middle of nowhere...yeeeeeeee haw! (I've even toyed with the idea of purchasing some chaps for Tyler for Christmas...save a horse...ride a....oh there I go again.). It made me long to relocate to nowhere-ville and cattle-ranch and chicken-pluck (ok, not a real term) with my love (which Tyler repeatedly reminds me, "No, you don't. Quit kidding yourself, babe.")





2.



Cachet "Christmas Trimmings" Candle


This is quite simply Christmas in a candle. Every scent, every memory, every spectacular bit of Christmas nostalgia is somehow magically encased in this glass, released through a wick that fills your home with the best smells of the season. It really isn't Christmas around here without it.


3.


The Destruction of our sofa.
[And consequently, the fun and happiness of childhood. Who doesn't remember jumping and ruining Mom's cushions as a kid? I applaud myself for overcoming my OCD and learning to smile over this one.]








4.

S
taying home. And the snow falling outside my window at this moment (!!!!).



Thursday, December 17, 2009

More to come.


London,



I was hoping to have more pictures up of your birthday - but haven't yet gotten them uploaded due to cord mishaps.

So, my-perfectly-wonderful-adorable-everything-I-could-ever-ask-for-and-more-sweet-darling-baby-beautiful-delish-could devour you whole-TWO YEARS-OLD (cry me a river, it goes too fast) girl,

Happy birthday.

You are a blessed wonder.




Mmmmmmm. Just thinking about you makes me want to kiss your cheeks. So I'm stopping this post now to go do so.


Love,

Mom















Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Experience


This is the infamous Chalkboard:






It holds "The Menu".

It my most favorite piece in the house. Really and truly. It was a cheap $5 buy at a craft store, and each week I use my colored chalk to map out our menu for the week. I don't know, there is just something so magic about this chalkboard that has made our house more of a home. We've had it ever since we moved in. It gets quite a reaction. People breeze through the kitchen and take a double glance.

"Do you really make that stuff?"


Yep.


"Do you follow the schedule as laid out - Monday through Sunday?"


Well, when I'm feeling a little frisky I'll do "day" swapping. ...it can get pretty crazy. It rather excites my husband to be reminded of the spontaneous sass of his sexy wife...Thai chicken pizza on Thursday or Saturday?! Chicken potato corn saute on Monday or Wednesday?! What will she do next?!!
He'll never know.


The secret of most of my completely amateur cooking is my beloved Rachael Ray. Oh, I love her. She's my style of cook. Her titles are three times as fancy sounding as the actual skill involved to make them (I enjoy the deceit). Simple yet succulent. Devilishly practical and yet divine. Love her. And the 30 minute meal - bless her! I'm thinking we could do another spin off of Julia & Julia - how about Racheal and Rachel?(Oh, this is genius.)
We eat Rachel Ray food 7 out of 10 times, and the other times are reserved for my other food magazine LOVE:

The Taste of Home Magazine.

I've religiously read every issue of Taste of Home since I was 13. Can you imagine? I know. Dork central. I'm not kidding. I would read from cover to cover (ah..hem..still do). I loved the articles detailing "My Mom's Best Meal", the kitchen makeovers -even the advertising section outlining upcoming trips to the Amish Country. I would meticulously search each issue for the hidden "toothpick" in an effort to be the first to write in and win the
GRAND PRIZE:
$500 credit towards Cuisinart product!
Oh the glory! (I never won.)

I can't bring myself to throw each magazine away either. It seemed like culinary sacrilege to mutilate the pages by cutting out the recipe cards. So any time I need a recipe, I must search through the stacks I have in my cupboard (my mom also has all of my old ones in an old milk crate - I call her when I need a recipe from one of those). I can usually remember which issue my recipes are in. And if I can't, I enjoy re-leafing through the pages and savoring the good food and stories. I'm reminded of recipes I still have yet to try.

I love cooking.

I love food.


For lack of a better term, cooking is rather spiritual to me. Taking the good of the earth as God has given it, and serving it well-prepared to well-loved family and friends. Carefully selecting the right tomato or avocado from the wealthy bin at the store. Smelling an orange. Grateful for the ability to fill my cart with all the delicious possibilities. The washing of fresh vegetables, the chopping on the wooden cutting board. The scents of onion, garlic, and celery sauteing in a pan. I love the presentation. I love the eating. I love the warmth of a good soup on a cold night. It's like feeding your soul..

I love the experience
.

Of all the things I want in life, one of my greatest wishes is that my children will remember our home as one filled with food. Good food. Food that is respected. Food that is not wasted. Food that isn't feared, or abused. Good, simple food. Meals that are not pretentious, but hearty. Food that brings conversation and relationships. And I want them to remember me making it for them. Happy to do so, happy to teach, happy to share my subscriptions and recipes someday.

Here is our Menu this week as outlined on our beloved Chalkboard
(click for the recipe):

Spanish Pork Chops with Linguica Corn Stuffing & Cherry Red Wine Glaze


Two Tomato Pasta Arrabiata


Chicken Broccoli Couscous

Chicken Cacciatore

Buttermilk Pot Roast (Taste of Home - a Sunday dinner must have.)

Dessert of the week: Oatmeal Carmelitas
(Courtesy of Bloom)


















Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh yes, she did.


There are nights that Tyler and I lay in bed and exhaustingly question:

Why are our children so crazy?
Will it ever end?

What did I eat while pregnant?
Was it the McDonald's cheeseburgers, or the 900 packs of lunch-ables consumed throughout critical gestation periods?


Sometimes I feel like my blog is nothing but documentation of all of Lily's childhood infractions. Oh, my blessed child. I love her. Now, a good week later, I can't help but laugh hysterically at the following photos:

Lily got a hold of some scissors...




When I emerged from the bathroom to view the gobs of hair on the floor, London stood next to Lily with her classic "Uh oh" face. She began explaining rapidly,

"Maaa Maaa...Aaaa ooo eh eh u NO NO."

That's right, London. Lily did a BIG NO NO.

Obviously, I wasn't pleased with the results.

Lily wasn't pleased with my reaction.
She explained tearfully, "Mom! I jus wanted sowt hair like Sissa!"
(Mom, I just wanted short hair like Rissa - her beloved auntie)

Today, she had no choice but to sport the desperate "My mother attempted to salvage my choppy mullet with ringlets and bows" hairstyle to church ( as I still can't decide what to do, there is no easy remedy to the levels of chopping that have occurred, and I refuse to let my daughter have a nasty boy hair-cut.)



I think it was the cheeseburgers.









A MUST Read

I know a few of you have been following this story from the beginning with me...

Finally, there is a beautifully told version from the beginning.

You must check it out (be prepared to cry, seriously).

Hopefully you'll find it as inspirational and heart-warming as I have.


Read Nie's story Here.





and her keep up on her blog here:


The Nie Nie Dialogues








Friday, December 11, 2009

Just finished.



Took Educational Psychology final last Friday.
Biology Tuesday.
Chemistry today.

and....

Just typed the last period in my final research paper for English.

Submitted.

Done.
Done.
Done.
Done.


Tyler, I am a new woman. You're next on my list.





Oh! The scandal.
Whatever, we're married.
















Meet Finnan.



Have you ever seen a cuter nephew in your entire life?

I sure haven't. Serve him up with a side of fries! I'm gonna eat him!

(The parents aren't bad either, eh?)


Finn, please don't move to Australia. The kangas don't deserve you.


Love,

Your Favorite Auntie










Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Baby, There ain't No Mountain High Enough...

To keep her from getting to you:


Table

+

Chair

+

Stool

=


Ain't nothin' gonna stop Lily from eating that gingerbread house.

(Luckily, she was apprehended in action just before she fell and broke her neck. Phew.)



Also completely unrelated but a spot in the house that makes me feel happy:
Santa corner.


Residing on top of on my newest favorite finds: Green desk (which is built in with wiring because it used to serve as the desk for an electric toy train builder, ah! how quaint), and Federal chair.
Santa feels at home here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let it snow! Let is snow! Let it snow!

We woke up to a fresh, thick blanket of snow today.

Glory be! I love snow at Christmas time!

It began last night. Poor Tyler was at a study session group at the library for finals. The girls and I turned off all the lights except for the various twinkling Christmas lights on the tree and around the house, piled up the blankets next to our sliding glass kitchen door, and sat and watched the flakes fall in amazement. We sang some Christmas carols too (well, actually only one...London refused to listen to any others while incessantly demanding a repeat of 'Up on the Housetop'. She loves to bounce and sing the "ho ho ho" part while she cups her hands around her mouth).

We made cookies too.
Because that is what you must do when it is snowing.

It was insanely cozy.

Waking up to the fresh snow reminded me of a time when I was little. It was early in the morning and my siblings and I excitedly woke up to a fresh coat of snow like this one (Jacob always being the most excited). The farm was so beautiful blanketed in white. The orchard trees hung low and each fence rail surrounding the yard was iced with sparkly white. Our property was proudly titled "The Farm" since the very beginning, even though it was hardly a farm. We didn't raise any crops or any meaningful amount of animals. My Mom always said the only thing our farm raised was children (ain't that the truth...I was the second oldest of eight f.y.i....most of you probably already knew that). To a passer-by, our property seemed to be just that, a land filled with children scattered, cropping up out of nowhere, running around (often naked, too).

And let me tell you, The Farm was the best place to raise children. Especially on a snowy day like this one.

Unfortunately, school this day was not cancelled.

We loaded into my Dad's white plumbing van and assembled in our proper order (at this point only three of us were old enough to attend school). Daniel and Rachel shared the passenger seat, Jacob sat on a bucket (literally, and truly, a white bucket) tipped upside down, stuffed in the middle. Safety anyone? Not in the early nineties apparently, either that or The Farm had produced
enough children to spare a few.

We would brace ourselves as we would clunk down the dirt road (I've told you about this one before) with the unforgettable rattling of metal pipes and fittings ringing in our ears, till we'd finally hit pavement, and then drive the next 20 miles to the private school we were attending. I laugh now. There were schools much closer. But my parents wanted us at this one because they thought it was a really good school. So thirty miles to school every morning it was. We would pull up in the white plumbing van laced with huge pipes protruding off of the roof, right along side with the other private school children in their BMW Suv(s).* (Don't worry, it only got painfully embarrassing by the time we were in high school).

This particular morning, we reached the end of the snowy dirt road, and my Dad announced, "Forget it. I'm taking you kids home."

We squealed in joy and excitement.

When we walked back into the door my Mom exclaimed,

"Oh good! I was just thinking I wish we hadn't sent you."

We had our very own snow day.

One just like today.









Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can't help but say (before heading to bed)...






I love my girls.






So much. I love being their mother.

Still can't believe they were given to me.

Today included a trip to story-time, where Lily was scolded for being so blatantly sassy and mean to a "stinky boyee"( her words). Lily has a love/hate relationship with the opposite sex. Already. She loves "Timmy" - Forrest's teenage friend - and "Justin Beeeeeeber" - she caught a glimpse of him singing on the Disney channel and oh no! She frequently says, with starstruck eyes gazing out of the window as we are driving, "Mom, I dus pwetending to mawwy(marry) Justin Beeeeeber."*
*(Enter Tyler & Rachel's most frequent two-word prayer: Help. Us.).

Yesterday afternoon while "helping" me bake, she began sticking her hand into her glass of water and swishing it around everywhere. I told her, "That's acting like a baby. You can't help me bake if you're going to act like a baby."
She responded,


"Oh yeah? Well you're acting like a monshter."






London shoved her bee bee (blankee) into the toilet, and howled when she had to go to bed without it. Sarah was babysitting, and out of desperate surrender gave it to her anyways (?!). Bad, bad auntie. Sarah was scolded. No blankee.
My little dolly also falls immediately quiet any time I begin singing "Silent Night". She can be in the middle of the tantrum and I will begin singing, and suddenly she'll sit in my lap and allow me to caress her face. She just stares back sweetly, watching my mouth intently as I sing, and does that cute shiver thing when I tickle around her ears.
I tell her "I love you." and she always responds,


"I waaaa woooooooo." (I love you, London style)


The girls were running through the kitchen this evening, intermittently appearing in princess costumes and then nude, chasing each other. Giggling, screaming, squealing, pattering, noisy little nudies.


I never knew it would be so fun. Or so much work.

(Love this pic, anyone who knows London knows that this is one of her best and most common facial expressions, so funny)




Goodnight.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Horrible Sleep

I had the most fitful sleep last night. I dreamt that some psycho guy who lived next door to us, in a house I've never seen before but filled with gross references to 1960's wood paneling and mustard yellows, in a neighborhood I've never seen before - was trying to kidnap my girls. He somehow tricked me into letting them take a nap at his house (?), until I realized it was all one big psycho lie and had to break in to get them in secret. Tyler was absent from the dream (constituting a nightmare in and of itself), and I was trying desperately to carry both girls in one arm and hide them under the bed or in the basement. I would try over and over to dial 911, but all that would dial was 991, 991, 991. I would get connected to random people and try to get them to dial 911. I even called my Mom and tried to get her but she told me to stop being so paranoid, and that she had called the police enough for me (but I think she eventually did).

Then the cop finally came and the guy faked that he wasn't a psycho and I was even more frustrated and then I woke up.


Good morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Guess where we were?

* Warning * : If you're not prepared to spend the next three hours scrolling through the world's largest posting of pictures EVER, then I suggest you stop now, while you're still ahead. Sorry, this post is for me.****


Dear Walt,



If the Genie from Aladdin came for a visit and granted me three wishes, they would be as follows:

1. Permanent peace, love, and happiness bestowed upon my children, my family, myself, and all the inhabitants dwelling on this earth so that no suffering or evil can exist any longer - coupled with a simultaneous conscious awareness of the aforementioned peace, love, and happiness so that no contrasting forces of the aforementioned evil and suffering would need to exist in order to distinguish the presence and enjoyment of the aforementioned permanent peace, love, and happiness.*(This was one sentence so technically qualifies as one wish).
2. Larger lips, teeth, and mouth.
3. I want Walt Disney to be my Grandpa.

Yes, I love you. We love you.
And so I'm writing you this letter as if you were my Grandpa. Because Grandpa's like to know about these sorts of things. And they love lots of pictures to accompany itinerary details, right? (the kind of quantity that is capable of shutting down blog servers around the globe)
We had the unbelievably fun opportunity to visit the wonderfully magic kingdom you so inspiringly created. Sigh, I get weepy and nostalgically happy just thinking of it. To have the opportunity to do nothing but play and imagine and laugh with my children for one solid week: what a dream!...a dream...that's a wiiiish....my heart maaaade....when....i was faaaaast....asleeeeeep....
oh, sorry... back to my letter:

Lily and London have officially met their match for imagination and energy.

And oh boy, did we have fun. Some favorites included The Peter Pan ride (a classic, of course), the Tea Cups (Lily's favorite), Splash Mountain (Lily's other favorite...ps...a three year-old...on Splash Mountain!! Can you imagine?...what kind of a mother would allow it?!), The Tower of Terror, Soaring over California, Churros!, Holiday lights, Mainstreet, Holiday parades, FANTASMIC!...I could go on and on....




Lily and London loved picking out their
Princess dresses before entering the Princess Fair (spoiling courtesy of Gamma and Pop, of course):




Lily chose Princess Belle. London chose whatever dress Lily was going to choose.

Enter the most priceless moment of the trip: Lily's transformation into a real Princess (or so I assume, as she began smiling and waving at the crowds we passed for the rest of the trip, until the final day when Tyler and I had no choice but to confiscate the hideously dirty, tattered remnant that remained).



We were able to meet some pretty important people:


Ariel...



London really took a liking to Pochahontas...


Really really really took a liking to her. She refused to leave, threw her autograph book down after ripping the pages in a tantrum. Pocahantas responded very sweetly with,
"My! What an organized little Princess you are!"

Organized? Kudos on finding a perfectly neutral yet actually inapplicable word to describe another screaming toddler encountered throughout your day.


We even saw the newest Princess Tiana in her New Orlean's Jubilee!...



TinkerBelle and her fairy boyfriend(?) with awesome hair...


And a few other important Princesses as well (whom Lily was quick to spot and chat with...I swear these two princesses are the same kid...?):


But of course a Princess isn't complete without her Prince:
Prince Mickey-Ears Finn.


And a few other honorable mentions:

Ian and Jacob made it in from Hawaii...


We even met SANTA.
(Which, I'm not gonna lie...after Disney Character sensory overload, the visit with Santa was more like "Oh, hey Santa. Um, can you make this quick? We just heard that A Small World will be closing a half hour early. Oh yeah, and if Lily asks you for anything this Christmas...bend her over that jolly knee of yours and give her a signature Santa spanking. This IS her Christmas.)


And Mrs. Clause too!


However, I've saved the best greetings for last:




Oh Walt!, we had such a good time.

Even on the scary rides (which for London included Snow White and Winnie the Pooh):







London did love the Jungle Cruise...

And the tree-house (which for me will always belong to the Swiss Family Robinson clan, sorry Tarzan)...













Yes, we had a jolly good time indeed.


By the end of each day, we had tired little Princesses on our hands.




Lily literally fell asleep like this. The bathroom light I turned on while reading bothered her (and yes, that is a binkie you are seeing in her mouth, and yes, we are pathetic parents).

We would wake up again the next morning, and repeat the same exciting day as before.
Until...



the last day.

Tired to the toes but still tingly from the day, we had to wave goodbye.




Bye, Bye Walt.

Bye, Bye Disneyland.

Until next time.


As you can see from my exhausted-to-the-point-of-fainting children's faces (this last pic is my fave because of those little "drunk on fun" expressions),
we had an amazing vacation.

We love you.

Love,

Your adopted grandchildren (please?)