Wednesday, December 17, 2008

May it be to me...

I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's pictures from last week when it snowed. I waffled as to whether to bundle the kids up and get them back out to play in it or not. We had a conference that night up at day care about Bella's biting issue, and by the time we got home and had supper it was almost 8 o'clock. The thought of getting all those little feet and arms back into shoes and coats was sort of overwhelming. So no snowbaby pictures this time. After they went to bed I went out to the grocery store and practically danced into HEB I was so happy and at peace with the world. I don't know how to express how excited I was about the snow - enchanted is probably close to the right word. I really like these pictures of the house with the lights up and the snow. I guess since I'm a woman and a mother, and from a Mexican-American family, I really connect with the Virgin Mary and I am always reminded of her story at this time of year. I pray that I could exhibit even a fraction of that kind of grace. We have this Nativity scene up in our dining room and just having it there reminds me to slow down, take a breath, speak with more patience. What an amazing thought - the salvation of the whole world became possible all because one mother was willing to follow God's plan instead of her own. Luke 1:38 "I am the Lord's Servant, May it be to me as you have said".

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Harvest Day Soup Recipe

This recipe comes from the 1851 Historic Maple Inn Manor in Springfield Kentucky. I have tweaked it somewhat. This was my humble contribution to Jessica's baby shower. Sorry it took me so long to post the recipe, I couldn't find it, I looked and looked and then finally tonight remembered I left it between the pages of my big yellow cookbook. 1 pound sausage (I use maple breakfast sausage) 1 large finely chopped onion 2.5 cups chicken broth (I use organic, 99% fat free, low sodium) 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin (be careful not to get pie filling, you want just plain pumpkin) 1 teaspoon lemon juice 16 oz. Half & Half (or milk or cream, whatever you have) 1/2 tspn nutmeg 1/2 tspn cinnamon salt pepper Brown and crumble the sausage. Set aside, saute onions in drippings until very soft and translucent. Add all the other ingredients. Add back in the sausage. Heat until hot. Serve with French's Fried Onions on top for garnish and some bread to sop up the bowl. That's it. Easier than pie. It's not particularly healthy but it's also probably not something you'll eat everyday. After all, how often does it get cold enough here to even want to make and eat soup?

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

We've been very busy making Christmas preparations around here. Since our old fake tree died, we decided to try getting a real one this year. Growing up, we always had a real tree but it was a new experience for Will. People always talk about the mess. But I think the artificial trees shed an awful lot of needles too. This one smells really nice and the needles and branches were really soft (they are a bit spikier now as time goes on). Its been surprising how much water it drinks up - I would say about 6 cups a day. So far, it's been really pleasant and picking it out and bringing it home took less time than getting the fake one down and putting it all together and messing with each branch to get it looking fluffed out. I'm mildly concerned that the branches aren't as springy as when we first got it, I'm thinking it will be good and dead by the time Christmas is over. Then we'll recycle it and that's another positive as well. This past weekend we put lights up on the house. This is definitely something that falls into the category of Things That Will Does To Make Shaun Happy. I think he secretly enjoys them as much as I do, once they are up. Will doesn't do heights, which makes this act of kindness all the more sweet. Thanks honey! In other news, Bella is teething again and we are having a biting problem. I was on the phone with the director of the school because she bit three times in one day and she actually bit a FOURTH time while we were on the phone! Aack. It makes me feel like a bad parent, but she doesn't bite at home, so it's hard for me to really know what to do. Most of the incidents were because kids kept putting their fingers in her mouth and she bit down on them. Maybe I'm being too technical but it doesn't seem entirely fair to me - isn't putting your fingers in someone's mouth kind of asking for it?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Things I am thankful for...

I am thankful because... My turkey turned out. Whenever we host Thanksgiving there's a part of me that worries over some sort of turkey fiasco. So far that's never happened, but I am sure that it is because of my vigilant worrying. Will donned a pair of gloves and did all the prep work for me because of my pinkie. If you've never tried to tell your spouse how to do something kind of complicated like preparing a turkey the way you want it done, it's kind of hard. I kept really wanting to just reach over and do it myself. But Will was awesome and it came out great. Sorry I can't figure out to rotate this. We were able to spend the day with family. My Mom and Randy and my brother and his family and Will's parents all came, it was really a special day. Mom took a bunch of pictures, especially of all the cousins playing, so when I get copies I will post them. Here's my brother holding Bella, that's his wife Heather next to him, she's due in March and we're really excited! Will and his Dad got to have a father son trip to Austin to see the Longhorns play the Aggies. In case you live under a rock, UT beat the stuffin out of A&M. This means there is a wisp of a chance that we may get to play a championship game. I had today off and got to relax with my little ones. Will was gone most of the day because they had to drive back from Austin and then he had to help his parents out with some things at their place so I had the kids with me today. We slept in and then played all day. No rush, no where to be, very relaxing. Bella and I were folding clean laundry when she came upon a pair of Jacob's underpants. Elmo underpants. Bella LOVES Elmo and decided that the warm-from-the- dryer Elmo underpants would be a fine love-y to cuddle up with at nap time. Late in the day I took them for a walk around this "lake" in our neighborhood. [I write it that way because it is one of those fake lakes with the tinted blue water and big spray fountains. The kind of lake that I'm sure Bella will sit beside and write snarky teen poetry about someday. (I sit here/besides this lake/it is so blue and it is so FAKE/)whatever. Anyway, it is pretty and the kids like it a lot now, and I figure we had better enjoy it since we have at best about a decade before the teen angst kicks in.] Anyway, they weren't dressed up or anything but I got some good photos that I'm really pleased with. I know there's so many similar ones but their expressions are different in each one and I couldn't choose.
These two are my favorites. I really am liking my new camera, I am starting to feel like I understand the settings better and can get some good shots now and then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Musings on Twilight...

A few things. My pinkie finger hurts like the dickens. They gave me a prescription for pain meds but I'm not much of a pain meds girl. Also it is hard to bathe a one year old with one hand. I could have waited for Will but he was out at Walmart buying the gifts for our Society of St. Stephens angel tree kids and I wanted to get her done and in bed. Will had to help me get my hair washed this morning. He asked if I couldn't just wait (until Thursday when I can take bandage off) - NOT! And my thoughts on the Twilight movie.... You know how the first Harry Potter movie came out and it was like DEAD ON exactly like how you would have imagined the train and the school and just everything and watching the movie was like wandering around in your own head? And you know how in Lord of the Rings your jaw drops open at how incredibly believable the whole thing is and you just fall in love with it, step inside it and live it for two hours (or seven in the case of LOTR). Well I sooo wanted Twilight to be like that, and it just wasn't. Shrug, it's OK. Some parts were really great, I loved all the green of the forest and seeing La Push beach. I loved the bad vampires. Bella was not my favorite. And I wasn't wild about Edward and Bella's make up, honestly it looked like they had been sucking on cherry Popsicles before every scene. Maybe that's why the soundtrack is awesome and the movie not so much, a movie is passive - but a book or a song, you take it in and live with it a while, it mixes in with your own life. I just vividly remember the weekend that I read Twilight. Jacob was about Bella's age (our Bella) and our house had flooded (the washer hose broke) - we had to move out into one of those extended stay hotels with the kitchen. Our hotel suite had been lived in, and lived in hard, by Katrina victims (nothing against them I just mean that hotels aren't really meant to be lived in long term by large families and I totally know it's not their fault, my point is that the room was really bad but it was what was covered by our insurance policy) and it was icky and the furniture was so gross that I had to bring blankets from home to cover the chairs and couch so we could even sit on them. At that point I had no clue how badly our house was damaged how much it would cost us, how long we would have to camp out at the hotel place and in the midst of all of it, all I wanted was to see what would happen next to Edward and Bella! It was the ultimate escape at a time when I really needed a break from reality. I felt different after I had read it, more aware of love and wonder in the world. Not that I thought I was going to encounter a vampire but it made me notice all over again how blue William's eyes are, how the sunlight hits (my) Jacob's hair, the warmth of Will's arm around my shoulder. It changes your awareness, tilts things in a different way. I just remember how Will and I's eyes met at the end of that very long,scary, emotional day and feeling like none of it mattered, it's just stuff and it's just a house and the only thing lasting is the love we felt for each other. And I really wanted the movie to capture that and it didn't. Except in a way it did, because the best part for me was going with my good girlfriends and at the end of the night, it didn't matter that the movie hadn't been superb - because the friendships are.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A trip to the ER - not for the squemish!!!

This past weekend Will showed me how to sharpen our knives. Knowing that I had a lot of chopping coming up this week, I sharpened our largest chef's knife before I began dinner tonight. Will was out getting the dry cleaning and the kids were eating supper at the table. I cut up the potatoes for dinner and was just slicing the last bit of the sausage when the now super sharp knife slipped and sunk into the ball of my pinkie finger. I didn't think much of it, ran it under the sink, wrapped it into a paper towel and finished up Will's supper. Except that it started dripping blood onto the floor and the counter and down my shirt. And it was starting to throb. Eeek! I wrapped it up tighter and held it over my head but it kept on bleeding. Once Will got home I headed off the the little ER place down the road. They are so awesome there, and got me all fixed up in a jiffy. 20 minutes and a couple of phone calls to my Mom later, I was all better. The cut is tiny but deep, and cut close to a nerve and that's why it hurts so much. I got kind of bored waiting in the ER so I took out my phone and took a picture, this is after it was cleaned up and they put some stuff on it to stop the bleeding. Then they put surgicell on it and wrapped it up. Holy cow, check out the giant bandage! I have to wear the bandage and surgicell for 72 hours and then can switch to a regular band aid. I was told that I absolutely cannot get raw turkey anywhere near the cut, so I guess I'll be wearing gloves or dictating to Will to get the meal ready for Thursday. That should make for good times. Of all the weeks when I really need both hands!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bicycles and Giraffes

Saturday brought with it cooler weather, cooler for us here in Houston anyway. Bright blue skies, breezy in the mid-50’s – in a word – glorious. On Saturday morning we went out to Toys R Them and bought training wheels and a helmet for Jacob. That afternoon he rode his “new” bike - it’s new to us, it was $5 at a garage sale. I wanted to take pictures but the camera battery was down and I wanted to be out there cheering him on not looking for the spare one. He had a wobbly but good first go, I was impressed that he kept getting back on and trying again even after a couple of falls. He can peddle and he can steer, although not necessarily both at the same time. If you think about it there are a lot of adults that sort of live their lives that way. Here’s a tiny transcript: Will: “Jacob, Jacob, watch out for the curb!” Jacob: “What’s a curb Dad?” Saturday night, Will built our first fire in the fireplace of the new house. In our old house we had gas logs, and probably will get them again if the budget allows, but this night we had a real wood fire and it was so cozy and awesome. Sitting by a fire with your little ones asleep and your dog curled at your feet is one of life’s best experiences. On Sunday, we played hooky from church in order to get an early start on a special day. Back in August, Will’s parents gave us a family zoo membership for the kid’s birthdays. I felt bad that we let so much time get by us, and since we finally had a free weekend and nice cool weather, so we were excited to go. First we took the kids to Prince’s. The possessive was lost on Jacob, so he thought we were saying Princess, and that Ariel and Snow White would be there. I think he was a bit non-plussed when it turned out to be just Elvis. Bella had fries and bits of my burger. Jacob had fritos and three microscopic bites of his chicken nuggets. Then we were off to the zoo. You might remember the last time I tried to take both kids to the zoo by myself, it was a bit too much for me to handle. This time was much better, Jacob was truly well behaved and fun to be with and Bella was in heaven. Having the membership shifts the experience in a major way; there’s no rush, there’s no sense of having to do anything in particular. If we don’t get to something then we’ll just get to it next time. It was very relaxing. A really fantastic day. Here's the pictures, I took more, but you know how it is at the zoo, you end up with a ton of pictures of the back of your kid's heads. William & Jacob Check out the bear Next it is on to the elephants. Bella seeing an elephant for the first time. Leopards are cool. So are giraffes. Bella takes a break from riding in the stroller to have a drink and check out the zebras. Last stop - the reflecting pool, full of HUGE fish.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day Off

Today is Veteran's Day. So Grandpa's, if you are reading this - we love, honor and thank you! Veteran's Day is one holiday that happens to be a bank holiday, but is not a stock market holiday. What that means is I was off work and Will wasn't. I had the whole glorious day to myself, and here's what I did. At 9:30 I went to Color Me Crazy and had my hair cut. Tami Scott, you rock, thank you for starting my day off right! Next I wandered around all the little shops that are in the adjacent shopping center. Ladies and mothers-in-law! If you haven't been to all the boutiques and shops on West Lake Houston Parkway at Will Clayton, you are missing out! It was so fun just browsing through all the little shops. Almost every one had Christian music playing and the friendliest ladies attending the shops. I was good. I only bought a red tin cross ($6!) to add to my cross collection. What I could have bought - hand made fudge, custom blended bath goodies from Bath Junkie, jewelry, hand bags, antique furniture, and these really gorgeous deep scarletty-purple satin flats that they had at Ya Ya Clothing for only $19 (only when would I ever wear them??? I don't think the world of banking is ready for purple satin flats!) Once I got home I spent some time gardening. Well, actually I used the power shrub clippers to wack at the bushes and then used the blower to blow stuff around the yard. I generally like to do this when Will isn't home. He visibly winces when I use power-anything. He is convinced I am going to cut the power cord (note, that I have NEVER cut the cord but he has done so at least twice!!!) While I was busy blowing and wacking I dislodged a pumpkin. Whoa! It rolled off down the driveway and before I could get to it, it rolled down the driveway and clear across the street. I dropped the blower and ran after it, the more I ran, the farther it rolled. As I was walking back with the run-away pumpkin safely tucked under my arm I notice that our neighbors were having some work done in their garage and all the worker guys were totally staring at me. Hmm,must be the fab new hair-do. The last part of my day was spent making beef stew and magic cookie bars. The ingredients for the stew looked so pretty that I had to take pictures. Plus, I just like playing with the macro setting on the new camera. Now it's 5:30 and time to go get the dry cleaning and the babies. Will just called and he's on his way home. The house is picked up, dinner is done (except for cheddar biscuits that I'll throw in right before we eat). It is rainy outside and cozy inside. And it smells AWESOME. I am rested, relaxed and free from split ends. It is well with my soul.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Anabel and Me

In September when I took this photo of Anabel it felt very familiar to me. Then I remembered why - it reminded me of a picture that has been up at my Mammie's house for as long as I can remember. Can you spot the resemblance?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween & Ren. Fest

(OK, this is Part II. so you might want to skip down and read the earlier posts, if reading things in order is important to you. As an avid reader I sort of have a 'thing' about reading things in order. I don't like my Dragons Drumming when they should be Singing. Honestly though, reading the events of my life out of order probably won't make that much of a difference). Halloween was kind of interesting this year. For months, Jacob has been adamant that he did not want to go trick or treating and that he did not want to wear a costume. It was kind of funny because he would tell us “I just want to stay home in my pajamas and read”, a sentiment that I can certainly identify with. What can I say; the boy is his mama’s child in many respects. As we got closer and they began to do the different activities at school (and I suspect he started thinking about all those tootsie rolls he would miss out on) he capitulated to the point of saying he would like to please just “be a bear again”. For my change resistant child, wearing last year’s costume probably gave it a certain degree of familiarity. Never mind that he’s grown 6 inches since last year. I think with him control is an issue as well, as in “Fine, I’ll do what you want but I’ll do it MY way.” Again, the apple is not falling far from the tree here. Come Halloween night, at a balmy 74 degrees, he understandably decided it was too hot to wear the head part of the costume and so we set off to brave the mosquitoes with Bella as Tinkerbell and Jacob as High-Water Bear. Saturday we headed off to the Texas Renaissance Faire. (The extra “e” on the end is for “expensive”.) But seriously, it is the very best day of the year for me, I love it that much. It wasn’t quite the same without my sandals though; I had to opt for ye olde pink flip flops. Eating: Turkey leg, sausage on a stick, chicken on a stick, steak on a stick, chicken k-bobs on a stick, baked potatoes, The King’s Nuts (that’s what they’re called!), pretzels, (PB&J and an apple from home for Jacob) and chocolates. Yum! Bella especially loved the turkey and the potato. Sights & Sounds: We listened to bagpipes, and flutes and lutes and saw the half horse half man guy and lots of fairies and pirates. We rode on the giant swings and the spinning cups and Jacob rode an elephant and we went to the petting zoo. We had to leave the petting zoo because Bella kept petting goats and then sucking her thumb. Eww, gross! Don’t worry there was hand sanitizer. Jacob was very instructive for Bella at the Petting Zoo. He kept telling her - it's the petting zoo Bella, not the pushing zoo. Shopping: I got a fairy outfit for Bella to wear for next year and a 2008 Faire t-shirt for Jacob. I also got these handmade rustic ceramic pottery glasses for our master bath. Napping: While the guys watched the jousting, Bella took a nap in her sling while I walked around listening to some drumming, checking out swords and really awesome smelling hand soaps. The entire weekend both children were spectacularly well behaved. I know that when they are kind of wild that it makes for more interesting reading, but I really just could not believe how awesome they handled all the activity and off-schedule-ness of both crazy weekends. I sat in Fuddruckers on Sunday after church and watched them enjoying their lunch and laughing all together. They both sat, and we played "I spy" while we waited for our lunch. Then they both ate all thier food. If you have little kids then you know that eating out doesn't always go this way. and I was sort of overwhelmed with how good they are and what a remarkable thing it is that God has entrusted me with them. By Sunday night, we were so grateful for the extra hour due to the time change. I was finally able to clean most of my house and got through mountains of laundry and went to the market – all before 9 PM. It sure felt like it was about midnight though.

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