Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can't Get the Flu Shot???

Just get the flu instead. Or so that apparently appears to be Leila's philosophy. I have been trying to get us to get the flu shot since they've been available. But unfortunately, someone has always been sick or else it's been something or another. Well we finally made it to the clinic to get flue shots last week, two days before Christmas. Yet there was another hiccup in the plan -- Leila's egg allergy. Most of the time, I could care less about Leila's egg allergy. She eats everything that is made with eggs, and she even has an occasional egg for breakfast. Even though her blood work shows that she's allergic to eggs, she technically only has a sensitivity because she can tolerate them. Unfortunately, the first question on the form to get both the flu shot and the flu mist is "Are you allergic to eggs?" One yes answer there, and you're outta luck. Even though I tried to convince them that she'd just had eggs for breakfast the day before, they weren't willing to take the chance. "What if the combination of the flu vaccine and the eggs causes her to go into anaphalactic shock?" they said. To myself I'm thinking, "Well it's a good thing I have two epipens in my purse," but aloud I have no choice but to resign. They're concerned about liability, guess I can't blame them. That is until Leila develops a cough and a fever of 102.5. I'm sure you know where this is going. She had the fever for 3 days! It never broke even though she was on a constant supply of Tylenol and Motrin. To add to that were all the other fun symptoms of which I will spare you the misery of mentioning. And when I finally took her to the Dr., he said exactly what I thought he would say. "Sorry can't do anything for her. Keep giving her Tylenol and fluids." Gee thanks. Guess in the meantime I'll continue to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor of her room because she wants me to be with her but also refuses to sleep in my bed. In fact, when I put her to bed tonight she asked me if I was going to go to sleep now too, right next to her of course. Oh well. This too shall pass. And I guess that means she'll be immune now right?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Disney on Ice!!!

Yay! I love Disney on Ice shows! When I was younger, my dad used to take me and my sister EVERY year -- Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, seen them all! Those are still some of my best childhood memories and I've been waiting to finally share the experience with my own girls. This year, it finally seemed like the girls were old enough to sit through a show, and so I jumped on the opportunity to get tickets. We told the girls this morning that we were going to go see a show, but since they didn't know what kind of show it was or what to expect, they weren't too terribly excited. Once we started to get there, and I told Gabrielle we were going to see the princesses and she saw a bunch of other girls dressed up as princesses -- and she started getting a little bit more excited. Robert got them both Minnie Mouse ears. Leila wore hers for the rest of the day. From the moment the show started, Gabrielle and Leila were enthralled. They've never seen people ice skate before. Add to that all the familiar songs that they know, and they loved it. Neither one of them hardly moved the ENTIRE show! The only parts they didn't like where when Gustan killed the Beast, and when Geppeto and Pinocchio got swallowed by a whale (They haven't seen either movie). And by didn't like, I mean they started crying. Otherwise it was great! Even Robert (who has never been to a Disney on Ice show) thought that it was really good. And of course, I loved it too! My favorite part was the scene where they replicated the "It's a Small World" ride from Disneyland. As an adult, you can really appreciate so much more the costumes, skating, and hard work that goes into these shows. I hope that we'll be able to go to many more in the future.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Resume: Experience with assembly

As soon as the girls went to bed, Robert began his yearly Christmas Eve job. . . assembling. Every year, I always seem to get the girls one big thing that requires serious assembling. And in order to keep kids from impatiently crawling all over the place on Christmas day, Robert assembles it the night before. Last year, it was a train table. . . where Robert cheated because the pieces for the chairs that go with it are still sitting in the closet. The year before it was a Radio Flyer tricycle. This year, a Rose Petal Cottage that Robert's dad bought for the girls. I was going to wrap it until I saw in the box that it said: Contents: 2 fabric Cottage covers, 38 poles, 30 connectors, 6 stove pieces. Hmm. . . sounds complicated. So I left it for him. And at 8:05 pm, he gathered together his tools, drink, and the box, and got to work. Amazingly enough, by 8:50 he was finished! And although I did hear him mutter "stupid, stupid, stupid" a couple of times, he actually said it was a lot easier than putting together the tricycle. . . which I believe because it definately took a lot less time!

Piggy Pudding Anyone?

Every Christmas Eve, I like to load everyone in the car and go riding around the neighborhoods to look at all the lights and decorations. This tradition stems from having grown up in Virginia, where they always had festival of lights. While my favorite was one in Newport News, even Virginia Beach had one where you could drive through it right next to the beach. When we moved to Charleston, they had one there as well. But since coming to Groton, I haven't heard of any, so we make our own. While driving we usually listen to Christmas music. But this year, the girls have become caroling pros. . . belting out songs like Jingle Bells, Happy Holiday, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. So we were riding along while they were singing in the back seat when they chimed in with "We wish you a Merry Christmas. . . . and a Happy New Year!" For those of you that don't know, there are more verses to this song. The second verse goes "We want some figgy pudding. . ." Apparently though, my daughter does not know what figgy pudding is. In fact, she doesn't even know what a fig is. However, she is familiar with the term "piggy" and next thing I knew, I heard her singing "Give me some piggy pudding. . . give me some piggy pudding. . . . " I laughed so hard I cried. Now I've heard it all. . .

Gingerbread cookies

One of the things that Gabrielle kept asking about for Christmas, in addition to the gingerbread house, was decorating gingerbread cookies. We do it every year, and it's obviously a memory that has stuck with her. We finally did that today. After letting the girls cut them out, we baked them, and they decorated them this afternoon. It's so much fun now that the girls are older. They can pretty much do it all on their own, allowing Robert and I to enjoy watching them, and make some ourselves. Last year, Leila was still so young that she pretty much just sat there eating cookies and frosting. Today, she decorated all on her own. And of course she ate some in the process. Copper even got lucky when Leila dropped a snowman on the floor. Yum!

Mmmmm, doughnuts. . .

Well, only one more day until Christmas. We have decided to stay home this year which is always nice because it is very relaxing. No added stress or pressure of traveling and adjusting. And being home allows us to do the things that we most enjoy. I think we may have begun a new Christmas tradition this morning. Robert put the idea of doughnuts in my head yesterday, and so when the girls woke up this morning, I told them I was going to make doughnuts. But then the idea got even better when I decided to decorate them and make them Christmas doughnuts! Now don't go into shock. While I do know how to make doughnuts from scratch, it is quite a bit of work and usually requires a day for me to prepare. So this morning, it was biscuit doughnuts. For those of you who haven't heard of this, let me be the first to tell you that it is super easy and really yummy too! You just take a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough, cut holes in the middle of each one, and fry them up in oil at 350 degrees. You can even fry up the holes! I think decorating them even more fun and tantalizing. As usual, I made too much, so we gave some away. After all, who doesn't love doughnuts?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!!!

During December, ‘c’ stands for two things – Christmas and cookies. Sadly, I am not much of a cookie maker, and so I don’t make them very often. My friend, Jean, invited me to a cookie exchange which I was excited about. But I was a little disheveled because I couldn’t think of any type of cookie to make. After watching a few taped episodes of the Food Network though (I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that we live by that channel), I was finally inspired. Peppermint pinwheels, chocolate peppermint pinwheels, and red velvet sandwich cookies! I was pretty proud of myself. I think I may have to make the pinwheels a new Christmas tradition. They were pretty easy to make, and turned out so cute and festive. And the kids really liked them.

And the batch made so many cookies that there was enough for the exchange, for my kids to just randomly eat, and for Gabrielle to take to school for her holiday party. Totally worth the effort!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow, what snow?

Everybody had been making a big fuss lately about the BIG snow storm that we were supposed to be getting. But when I woke up on Friday morning and looked outside, it looked just the same as any other day – dreary and cold. The snow wasn’t supposed to start until noon, but it didn’t really look all that foreboding outside. So I got the girls up, got Gabrielle ready for school, and rushed them out the door. When we drove up to her school though, what did I see? Well, mostly nothing. No cars in the parking lot, no children running around. School had been canceled in the anticipation of the snow. Guess I could’ve let Gabrielle sleep after all. Oh well. Robert came home a little later because we had an appointment for Christmas pictures. He walked in the door and almost immediately said “I thought one of you was not going to be here right now.” Tell me about it! Well at least we were still able to go get our pictures done. But by the time we left the mall, the snow had really started coming down. And it just kept coming. . . and coming. We went out in the afternoon to go sledding and play around (but we forgot to take pictures). It was really like walking around in the middle of a blizzard. When lightning flashed and we heard thunder though, we knew it was time to go home. By the time it had finally stopped snowing (the next day) we were buried under at least a foot of snow. Robert still had to go to work because he had duty (poor guy) and we spent the day inside . . . except for the time when we went outside to build the snowman that I had promised. The snow was so deep that when the girls stood in it, it went up to their knees. Poor Gabrielle’s boot got stuck in the snow while she was walking, and her entire foot got covered in snow. So she had to go inside and I finished putting a face in the snowman and quickly went in as well. I was more than happy to go back inside the nice warm house. But at least now we have a little snowman staring into the house through the window. Sadly, this was the only picture I took of all that snow we got.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Much for that Moose Munch?

Hi, my name is Crystal and I have a problem -- I have a moose munch obsession. Yep, whenever I see Harry and David's White Chocolate Cranberry Moose Munch on the shelf at the store, I have to buy it. It's delicious but oh so pricey. The last time that I bought it, I was munching away and reading the decription on the box when I got that oh so familiar though: "I bet I could make this myself." And so once again, that is what I have done. My generic moose munch is definately a comparable (and delicious) replacement and at fraction of the cost. Since each batch makes so much, they are making Christmas gifts this year. I'm adding the recipe for this because it really is very yummy, and someone traded their ham for the recipe. . . you know who you are :-) Merry Christmas!

· 10 cups popped popcorn, I like to pop my own
· 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
· 1 cup butter (no substitutes)
· ½ c light corn syrup
· ½ tsp cream of tartar
· ½ tsp baking soda
· ½ tsp vanilla extract
· ½ c dried cranberries
· ½ c whole almonds, toasted
· 12 oz. white chocolate chips
· 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
Keep popcorn warm in a large bowl in 300° oven. In a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 300°-310° (hard crack stage). Remove from heat; stir in baking soda and extract. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture; toss gently. Spread into two greased 15x10x1 baking pan. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Once popcorn is cool, return to bowl and mix with cranberries and almonds. Melt chocolate chips and stir in vegetable shortening until mixture is smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat. Spread back into pans, and allow to cool completely. When mixture is cooled and set, break into chunks for serving. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread House!

Usually by this time in the Christmas season, we've already made our gingerbread house. Unfortunately, I realized that would be a bit of a problem this year because all of the gingerbread house kits that are sold in the stores are all processes in plants that process peanuts. Hmm. . . no storebought gingerbread house for us. After passing up numerous opportunities to buy one at the store, Gabrielle finally said "Well, I guess we're just not going to make a gingerbread house this year." Insert sigh and big pouty face. That along with decorating gingerbread cookies were the things that she was looking most forward too. Luckily, one of the websites that I order peanut-free goodies from began to carry a gingerbread house kit, and I promptly ordered one. After finally getting the pieces, going to the store to buy "safe" candies to decorate it with, and making a batch of royal frosting, we were all set to go. Unfortunately we ran into another snag because the frosting that I made was so thick that I couldn't even squeeze it out of the bag. So I had to remix it, and my kids had to wait another day to complete the house. But we finally got our acts together (or rather I got mine together), and we made our gingerbread house! I think Leila enjoyed eating the candies more than anything else, but she did help decorate as well. I think it turned out super cute. The girls did such a good job!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Super Duper Chili!

Nothing says cold winter weather like a hot bowl of chili. Or in this instance a bread bowl. I just really want to share this recipe because this is truly some of the best chili I’ve ever had. I just happened upon this recipe, and even the girls will eat it, and it’s soooo easy to make! Just a warning though, it makes a SUPER big batch! But that doesn’t deter me because like with this batch, I just eat half and freeze half. Some for now, and some for later. Can’t go wrong there!1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 pound ground beef
2 (15 ounce) cans spicy chili beans
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
8 ounces Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In pan, cook sausage and ground beef until no longer pink. Drain. Place in slow cooker with rest of ingrediants. Stir to mix and cook on high for 4 hours. Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Statue of Liberty

There’s one nice thing about traveling with kids. You get plenty of sleep, and you get going bright and early in the morning. Everyone was in bed by 8 pm the night of the game, and we were heading home by 9 the next morning. Having left so early, we were getting to New York at well on our way home at 11:30. So we decided to take a quick detour off the New Jersey Turnpike to Liberty Park. From there you can see a clear view of the Statue of Liberty, which is something that we’ve been telling Gabrielle about lately. However, Robert and I have a bit of an impulsive streak in us (which could be good or bad) and apparently just seeing it wasn’t enough. Next thing we knew, we were on a ferry going to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It really was very impulsive, but we already had all of our cold weather gear, so it wasn’t too much to pull ourselves together and hop a ride on the ferry. First the ferry took us to Ellis Island, which wasn’t quite so exciting, but we did walk around a little bit.

This is a picture of the building as we were riding away. The picture doesn’t do justice to how pretty it really is. Then we headed to the Statue of Liberty, which is really MUCH bigger than it seems when you start to get close to it.

Since we were already there, we went ahead and stood in line to go inside. Talk about some tight security. We had to wait forever in line, all the while holding these credit card sized cards that could detect explosives on us. We entertained ourselves by buying a couple of souvenirs, like this little torch for the girls. There was no food allowed inside, so that kids were able to get a snack of all that was left in my purse. Finally, we went through what I think was a metal detector except that you had to stand there and they just jet-puffed air on you. Very strange. But in the end worth it because then we got to go inside the museum. That’s a picture of the original torch that she carried.

They’ve since replaced it with a new one. This is an exact copper replica of her foot.

Her toes REALLY are that big! Leila thought they were a blast. She just kept rubbing them and playing with them. We finally had to pull her away. This is the view from inside of her and looking up. The spiral staircase leads all the way up to the top, but they don’t let the public go up there.

When you step outside though, it is SUPER windy. I thought we were going to blow away! And it was freezing too! But when you’re standing right underneath her, you get a sense of just how majestic she is. For those who haven’t been, I would definitely recommend it. It is really, really neat, and now the girls are even more obsessed with the Statue of Liberty.

Go Navy, Beat Army!

Going to the Army/Navy game has become a bit of a tradition since Robert and I got married. The first one we went too was back in 2003. It was such a last minute decision that we had to get tickets on the Army side. But since then we’ve gone every year except 2006 when Robert was underway and we were in the midst of a move. Otherwise, little has stopped us over the years. Gabrielle went to her first one when she was two months old, and now she’s a pro at saying “Go Navy, Beat Army!” This year’s game was in Philadelphia, where it has been almost every year except last year when it was played in Baltimore. With some extremely advanced planning, I managed to get us a room at the Holiday Inn within walking distance of the stadium. Yes! No taking the train this year!
Here we are getting ready to go the game. At this point, we’re pretty much sweating in all the clothes we have on. Three pairs of pants each. In fact, I had to run out last night to buy a pair of jeans for Gabrielle because as I was getting everything together, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring Gabrielle’s pants. Luckily, we’d eaten dinner at a restaurant that was next door to a Children’s Place, so I quickly drove back there to get some jeans. Unfortunately, I arrived at 8:02, and the store closed at 8! I had to beg the guy to let me in. . . “Please sir, we’re from out of town, and I forgot to pack my daughter’s pants!” The good news is that it worked, and she’s wearing them there. . . along with the two pairs underneath. By the time we got to the stadium, they were drowning in clothes. Boots, coats, hats, gloves, scarves. . . the whole nine yards. But that doesn't stop them from taking in everything that's going on around them. In case you're wondering, they're staring at a giant video screen and trying to figure out where all the loud music is coming from. They're actually waiting to get their faces painted. Leila didn't really go for it. As soon as she felt the airbrush on her face, she was off. But Gabrielle never says no to face painting. And apparently neither does her dad. :-)

And of course, there's no football game without food. Those nachos were great. . . at least the three bites that I got. Twelve dollars worth of nachos, and I got three bites. Those two girls ate them up!

Then it was time to watch Gabrielle's favorite part of the game. . . the men jumping out of the airplane. Who cares that the president was there, or that jets are flying by, or that you're sitting in this huge football stadium. All she cares about is the men jumping out of the airplane. Apparently that's all she remembers from the game last year. Lucky for her, they did not disappoint. Unfortunately, Leila does not look quite as amused.

While we were watching the game, Bill the Goat came up to hang out in the stadium. Gabrielle is too lucky to have a dad like hers. He picked her right up out of her seat, and carried her (boots, coat, gloves and all) to get a picture with him. That really made her day. For the first time since coming with kids, we actually managed to stay for the entire game. They survived just fine with a couple of breaks indoors (we had club seats, so the corridor was indoor and heated). And no one even slept! In the past, they have both slept throught the fly-bys as well as other parts of the game. But by the time we started walking home, sleep finally hit Leila like a brick wall. Before we even made it out of the stadium, she was passed out! And sadly for my back, that's how she remained all the way to the hotel room. Our super fun day ended with going out to eat. And when we came out of the restaurant to go to our car, it was snowing! It's kinda hard to tell in the picture, but it's the first snow we saw this winter.