Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin Yumminess

Liam is my assistant every time I bake or cook. He helps me read the recipe, measure things out and dump them into the bowl, stir, and occasionally crack an egg or two. I like to think it's only because he wants to be helpful, but I think I've realized the real reason: he gets to lick the beater when we're done. Daddy gets to lick the other one because, well, he's the Daddy. Then I sneak a few licks from the bowl while it all cooks. Everyone gets their own bit of the batter. But now we're going to have to re-think it our division of the wealth - Sara wants in.
I was making pumpkin cupcakes tonight for Thanksgiving, and gave Sara a little taste off my finger while Liam was inhaling the batter off the beater... but she decided she wanted a little more than a taste. For the first time, she did the sign for "more"... and how could I not reward her for that with another taste? And another... and maybe one more... Just wait until I put the cream cheese frosting on them tomorrow morning! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big 'ol Cornucopia of Thankfulness

My friends have been diligent in blogging daily this past week about things they're thankful for. Between Sara's teething & colds, plus trying to work on homemade Christmas gifts, my schedule hasn't allowed me to sit down and blog each day. And seeing as I'm working late tomorrow, Sara's still sick, and somewhere before Turkey Day I need to bake & frost some cupcakes, I figured I'd better sit down tonight and reflect on the abundance of people who have blessed my life, and for whom I am so thankful (even if I didn't dedicate separate days to each of them). :)

My husband is amazing. And fortunately, he doesn't need to hear it every day. Because some days all he hears from me is "Can you grab me another diaper?", or "It's Liam's bedtime, can you tuck him in?" But I have been so blessed with an incredible partner, best friend, co-conspirator and one awesome daddy as my husband. John works so hard every day to make it possible for me to stay home, and even agreed to live in a barn with me (it is, really!) so we can make it work. For better or for worse, I'm so lucky to have him.

My kids are my two most favorite little people in the world, and I'm so lucky to be called "Mom" by them. Well okay, by Liam. Sara just clings to me in her special way, and I'll take that as "Mommy" for now. Liam is such a loving, smitten big brother, and such a big helper for me. He has the sweetest heart, and I adore taking him out on my own on the rare occasions we get (Tonight it was a quick trip to the grocery store, but I got filled in on his day at school on the way). Sara, my sweet little hugger, is so much fun. She keeps me on my toes, and I'm excited to see her little personality continue to develop.

My parents are such an incredible support. Grandma Cindy & Grandpa Pete have always been there, cheering me on even when if they don't 100% agree with my decisions. My mom has grown into one of my closest friends, and I'm so lucky to have her so close (and so available for grandkid drop-offs!).

My in-laws, too, have always been so supportive. Never once, from them or my parents, did I get the "So, when are we going to be grandparents?" talk, even though we took nearly 5 years to have kids. I was only able to work because grandparents (and great-grandparents) offered to take time with the kids, which has been an amazing gift for Liam, too, and now Sara.

My brothers have (mostly) grown out of their "pain in my neck", "tagalong" status. :) You are both so incredible with my kids. Liam thinks he has the coolest uncles, and no, I don't think he actually has a favorite. Even if I don't say it, I hope you both know how much you are loved, by me and by my family.

My extended family rocks. They just do. I am blessed with a close family, both physically and emotionally. I love that Liam & Sara get to grow up with these amazing influences in their lives regularly. And Aunt Linda, thanks for the opportunity (and flexibility!) of working with you.

My friends are still such an important part of my life, even if I'm a bit negligent in keeping in touch these days. Laura, my far-away friend, I can chat with you for just a few minutes with a few weeks in between, and we always get each other. I hope we can actually chat in person some time soon. Holly, I miss our more frequent visits at your place, but Sara will be chasing the other kids around soon, I hope. Thank you for answering my silly "girly" questions, and humoring me with the "boy" ones the first time around! Tracie, Stephana, Tarah & Tiffani, you girls are so much fun to connect with, and are such good baby jugglers. Remind me to bring my camera to the next girls' night! For my whole network of friends, I'm so grateful.

There's just so much more I could write - I'm so incredibly thankful - but heck, I'm also thankful for a chance to get to bed before 11pm. Love you all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Whole New Level of Excitement

We have had a baby before. You'd think we would remember how one day, suddenly and without much warning, your child can reach a whole new level of things they shouldn't be touching. But we were not prepared the first time, and here we go again.

In just the past week or so, Sara's much more comfortable and sturdy standing up and moving around. Her crawling is nearing warp speed, and she's even attempting to walk (though fortunately, she's still needing to hold onto hands for this achievement... unfortunately for our backs, though).
I was nice enough to bring home 60 shiny new toys from Costco for Sara today. And here I thought I was getting granola bars for John & Liam's lunches, silly me.
One of Sara's favorite new games is to completely empty something (diaper bag, toy box, whatever), then selectively put things back in. It entertains her and gives me a moment of quiet (without the panic that can sometimes accompany the quiet moments heard by mothers).
She's also started with peekaboo, which I tried to capture on film. I just can't believe she's getting so big so quickly. At least we won't have to carry her around much longer. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kid Tested. Mom Approved.

This year we're trying to be creative (aka, "thrifty") and do homemade gifts for Christmas. We've decided that the best gift we can give ourselves and our kids is avoiding going into debt (again) to get friends & family gifts they may not even really like. So we're making almost everything this year, and my kids are my guinea pigs.

Tonight they got to try out homemade bubble bath. I didn't quite get the scent right, but boy, does it make lots of bubbles! And that's really the goal, right? Lots of big frothy bubbles that cover your toes and stick to your face, and clean smelling kids. Thanks again, Liam, for testing out the face-sticking part again. And again. And again. Just to make sure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Help Me Decide...

Time for family pictures for our Christmas card. It's down to two photos vying for the top spot. Any advice? They're still open for cropping, etc... but I just can't decide.

On Santa's "Nice" List

I'm taking a cue from Tiff and writing about "When Things Go Right." We have moments of pure chaos in our house, and kids testing their limits (and ours). But then there are the moments when you see that you're doing things right, and shaping your kids into pretty special people.

I volunteered at the Book Fair at Liam's school on Tuesday. Liam had earned $15 of Book Fair money by selling butter braids in a PTO fundraiser, and I told him he could get whatever he wanted with his money. I figured it would be a good math and money lesson, and we could add up each of the books he found for himself together.

Liam walked through all of the bookshelves, looking carefully at everything. Finally he brought me a toddler counting book, and said he wanted to get it for his cousin Jaidyn for Christmas (act surprised, uncle Matt!). I told him it would be $13, and he wouldn't have money for any other books for himself. He said that was all he wanted to get, so I offered to split the cost with him, since we usually pay for Jaidyn's gifts. We worked together to figure out what half of $13 was, and that it meant he had around $8 left to get something for himself. Instead he found a baby book for his sister Sara, and insisted that was all that he wanted to get.

Kinda makes up for the battle of the wills he had with Daddy the previous night. Almost.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crossing Holly off the Christmas List...

Friends play nice. Once upon a time, I considered Holly to be a friend. Friends don't make each other take photographs of their messy houses. Why do you think I live in Sumas? By default, I have 15 minutes notice before anyone gets here, and no one is ever "in the neighborhood" because we're not on the way to anywhere. :)

Holly tagged me with the job of dropping everything, and taking a picture of where I blog, and my living room. Well where I blog is my living room, and it's also the dumping ground for everything and everyone in our house. Fortunately, I had one kid-free hour today and used most of it to clean. But (as you can see) I skipped the desk. We just moved it into the living room from the "office", which is now the "playroom". You can see I'm having troubles figuring out where to put all the paperwork that used to be in the office, yet keeping it out of reach of one increasingly portable drooly mouth. John is crashing on the couch from a long day at work. (At least I didn't take a picture of you when you were actually sleeping, honey! Love you!) Yes,t he TV is on. How else do you think I was able to blog?
I know I'm supposed to tag other people on here to make them document the disarray of their living rooms, but (1) I don't know anyone else who blogs who hasn't already been victimized, and (2) I'm nice. Love you Holly, sleep tight tonight!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No-Guilt Pumpkin Cheesecake. No Kidding.

I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all of the gorging that goes with it. I've been nominated by my family to make one of the desserts for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm told that my not-so-healthy desserts balance the sugar-free, fat-free ones brought by others in my family. I might make some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, but may decide to make my most-requested dessert. A few years ago I found a delicious, healthy pumpkin cheesecake recipe that even my husband says tastes like the yummy fat-filled ones. I think it's the pumpkin flavor that drowns out any diet-like taste. So I thought I'd share that recipe on here, and challenge any other blogging moms to post their favorite holiday dish.
It looks like there are a ton of directions, but it's really simple if you've ever made a cheesecake before. Otherwise I probably wouldn't tackle it. :) So here it is...

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (about 7 big graham crackers)
3 tablespoons apple jelly
4 (8-oz.) pkg. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons brandy, if desired (I've never tried this)
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, if desired
nutmeg, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Coat sides only with 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker crumbs. In medium bowl, combine remaining 1 cup graham cracker crumbs and apple jelly, mix well. Press in bottom of coated pan.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until completely cooled.
3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and sugar until smooth. At low speed, add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine flour, pumkin pie spice, brandy & pumpkin; mix well. Gradually add to cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth. Pour over partially baked crust.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes (80-90 minutes) or until center is set. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Let cheesecake sit in oven for 30 minutes. With sharp knife, loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. Cool in pan on wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
6. Serve cheesecake wedges with 1 tablespoon whipped topping, lightly sprinkled with nutmeg. Makes 16 servings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am Fabulous (too)!


I was tagged by Holly's blog. And now I've tagged you! You must copy the button, (go to this blog for the link: then blog about why you are fabulous. So here are my reasons:

I love my friends & family with my whole heart. I've learned as I get older that it's okay to tell even my pesky little brothers that they're loved, and remind my husband & kids daily how much they're adored.

I'm a good cook, and an even better baker. When I do it. :)

I can be silly with my kids. I'm currently having a Lego battle with my son, spraying big Legos out of our mouths towards each other, and not thinking about the mess afterwards. Yes, it looks just as goofy as it sounds. And I'm watching Sara belly laugh at us both.

I'm crafty, but in a good way. We're making (which we all know means I'm making) homemade gifts this year, to skip going into debt yet again and to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

and per Liam, when asked why his Mommy is fabulous:
"She had Sara in her belly."
"She makes the right decisions."
"I got born by her."
"She is brave in the dark."
"She fixes me things that I can try to eat, and I like most of them."
(How can you argue with that?)

and my husband says:
"Because you keep me grounded. When I'm not, you point it out to me." and "When anyone asks you for a favor, you do it if at all possible."
Okay, what he said first was "Because you're my wife, the mother of my children." I told him I couldn't type that with a straight face. Yes, sometimes we're just that cheesy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dial "O" for Old

I think it's your child's job to make you feel old. Liam is very good at his job.
We usually just use our cordless phone at home, but we hooked up one of our old corded ones tonight. Liam asked if he could call Grandma Cindy, and we said yes. He picked the phone up off the receiver, looked it over, then asked us, "How do I push talk?"
Wonder what he'd do with a rotary phone. Whew, maybe I AM old!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Big Spender

Liam has always been one to try to negotiate his way out of things he doesn't like. "Mommy, can I be done with my soup if I eat four more carrots?" "Daddy, if I put my clothes away, will you read a book with me?"
Tonight it was time for Liam to put on pajamas, but he was having too much fun playing a game on the computer. He wanted to be allowed to play on the computer again after getting on his pajamas. We saw several of his usual negotiation tactics: whining, then begging, even some waterworks with repetitive "please"s. Then he pulled a new card out of the deck, hugging my arm and saying, "Pleeeease Mommy? I'll give you most of my money."
You know those moments when as a parent, you're just not supposed to laugh? Usually I can contain it, but this was just too much for me. I laughed so hard that there were tears in my eyes. John joined in, and as hard as he tried not to, so did Liam. Trying to bribe me was enough, but it was even funnier to me that he wouldn't give up all of his piggy bank money, just most of it. Maybe he does have a future in negotiations after all.