Wednesday, December 31, 2008


When I was a little kid, this was my apron. Annika wore it for the first time a few days ago when she "helped" me do some baking. Isn't she adorable?? You can't really see it because of her pacifier, but she has a big smile on her face.

I bought this bag to store her bath toys. Apparently, it also makes a great hat!

It is amazing to think that Annika is now old enough to do some "big kid" activities, like looking at books on her own and coloring. Of course, we still need to work on convincing her that crayons aren't a food source. All in due time!

Here's the cake I made for Kate's baby shower.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Annika's newest hobby

As of late, Annika's newest interest is putting lotion on her hands and cheeks. Every time she sees a bottle of lotion (or sees something that resembles a bottle of lotion), she holds up her hands and says, "eye-shh". Interestingly, that's also what she says when she wants an ice cube. Applying lotion has now become a bargaining chip for us. "If you sit down, you can have some lotion." "As soon as we're done changing your diaper, you can have some lotion."

Annika also now regularly does the sign for "again", which we are quite impressed with. She signs it when she wants to do or have something again. She also uses the sign when she wants more of something. (She hasn't quite caught on to the fact there are different signs for "again" and "more".)

Over the past week, Annika has started to walk with her arms behind her - either sticking straight out or with her hands clasped behind her. Until recently, her hands and arms were sticking up when she walked. I guess this means she's becoming more adept at the walking/running skill and no longer relies on her elevated hands for balance. Now she looks like a little old man who is contemplating something instead of someone surrendering as she makes her way from point A to point B.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Riddle Me This...

Eric and I saw this sign a few weeks ago as we drove down the street. (Click the photo to enlarge it.) How is it feasible that something is "new" and "original" all wrapped up into one??

Another sign that caught my eye belongs to the junior high that one of my brothers teaches at. (To his credit, he's in the math department!) The sign reads "Winter Breck". Is being on breck better or worse than being on break??? I'm kicking myself for not snapping a picture of the sign, but alas, I was driving and it wouldn't have been safe. I'll see if I can get someone to swing by and take a picture of it for me. Is there any wonder why I want Annika to go to private schools?!?!

Weekend in Review

On Saturday, I planned on making an adorable baby block cake for my best friend's baby shower. In theory, it was a perfect design. In practice, not so much. I stacjed and then cut three 9x13 cakes in order to make the cube shape. The first issue arose when the tiers started sliding around on the lemon filling, which then started oozing out. Not a good sign. The next major problem reared its ugly head when the cakes started falling apart as I applied the crumb coat of buttercream. This should have been the point in time when I said "forget the buttercream approach, we're going with fondant." The problem is Kate doesn't really care for fondant and it was a cake for her. So, I perservered. Bad idea; this sucker would have been beyond a cake wreck ... and that's an understatement. By 9pm, the cake was in the garbage and I was baking my Plan B cakes. (God bless the Cake Mix Doctor!) At 6 Sunday morning, I was up applying a basketweave to four round chocolate cakes. It looked MUCH better than the first cake. I was counting my lucky stars that I had made a double batch of frosting the day before .... let me tell you!! The cake was completed in plenty of time and the shower was a huge success.

The best part is I can FINALLY post a picture of the baby blanket (pattern by my friend Jen) that I made for Kate's baby boy. I've been itching to post it ever since I finished knitting it, but because Kate reads this blog, posting a picture prior to her baby shower didn't seem like the best choice. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Photos

What's Christmas without pictures??

Annika and her daddy modeling their Santa hats

Annika saying "hello" to her new toy cell phone

Annika "helping" assemble her new shopping cart

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all of our loved ones, we wish you a very merry Christmas. On this very special and sacred day, we wish you a wonderful day and a peaceful new year. We are so grateful to have you in our lives.

We were a bit surprised to see snow falling when we woke up this morning. A white Christmas in Seattle - really! No kidding! In fact, it snowed a good chunk of the day. It was gorgeous.

Eric's parents came over to celebrate the day with us. We ate the Olson family's traditional Christmas Breakfast casserole (yes, Eric, you were right ... we did need to double the recipe to have enough for leftovers) and played card games for quite a few hours. Even though I came in last place in all but one of the games, it was still lots of fun. We laughed and simply enjoyed spending time together.

It's funny how traditions become a topic of thought once children enter the picture. Before we had Annika, we didn't think much about them, but now we realize the importance of finding a balance between holding on to family traditions and starting new ones. Ones we've retained include the aforementioned Christmas Breakfast and going to mass on Christmas Eve. One of our new ones is reading "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" as a family before bed on Christmas Eve. As Annika gets older, we'll incorporate a few more of our longtime traditions, including leaving snacks for Santa, the reindeer, and the house nissen.

Merry Christmas to all .... and to all, a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Still snowy

We're still snowed in here on 2nd Ave. It is a beautiful sight, but also a bit amazing to think that we have received more snow in the past few days than we do in a typical winter.

The dogs had a marvelous time playing on the deck earlier today. Buca thinks snow is nature's play thing and goes into turbo mode when he is in it. Riley seems to enjoy it, too, but in a more reserved manner.

Buca getting ready to pounce

Riley giving the snow a good sniff

Buca doing his impersonation of an ostrich

"Do I have a little something on my face?"

What else does one do while snowed in? Make a gingerbread house, of course! This was yesterday's project. There was a wee bit of repair work to do because of some broken pieces, but all-in-all, it was a very fun project.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's a Winter Wonderland

In the past few days, Seattle has seen more snow than it sees in a complete winter. This morning, I checked the depth of the snow on our driveway; it measured at 6 inches! The snow hasn't stopped in 22 hours; the wind it hit and miss. Last night, we had so much wind and snow, that we wound up with 2+ inches of snow under our carport. Incredible!

These rounded lumps used to be our deck's steps. Check out the snow on the deck chair's seat!

This is the view from our front door.

I took this one while lying on the kitchen floor. This is the snow that's piled up against our sliding glass door. (Mind you, I opened the door to take the photo ... the snow didn't budge)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My views

As I work at our kitchen table today, I can't help be be entertained by the differences between the view to my right and the view to my left.

To my right, falling snow ...

To my left, the toddler who was attacked by her lunch...

More Snow!

Yesterday, the weather forecasters said we'd be in for one heck of a snow storm. Not a single flake fell on the city. That didn't stop the schools from closing, though ... just in case. We woke up this morning to a beautiful blanket of snow; I checked the school closure report and it said "No Report". I took that to mean we'd be up and running like any other day. Eric checked the closure list 10 minutes later and saw that the schools were closed. Annika and I hunkered down with her playing and me preparing to work from home and Eric headed out to the office. Five minutes later, Eric was back home because the roads weren't safe to be on. (I'm so glad my husband has a brain and uses it!!)

I have to say, I'm appreciating working from home for a few reasons. One of which is the fact I get to sit by a window and enoy the snow. The room I sit in at work is without windows, so this sight would be completely lost if I was at the office today.

It looks like a Hallmark Christmas card outside!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What a week!

We have had quite the week here in Seattle! It has been incredibly cold lately and we even got snow last weekend - yippee!!! Annika was very curious to check out the snow; after her umteenth trip to the sliding glass window and pointing at the snow, I decided to bundle her up and let her find out what the snow was all about. She wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but that didn't stop her from exploring a bit.

(Notice the hat? I made it during book club last week in preparation for this cold snap. Isn't it cute??)

I love how red her nose is in this picture!

Hey Annika - where'd your feet go???

Snow hasn't been the only fun thing over the past week. I'm in full holiday baking mode! Here are a few of the goodies that came out of our kitchen recently. (I was accosted at Eric's company holiday party on Saturday. My former co-workers were quite sure that I should still share my baked treats with them, even though I no longer work there. OK, you win. I'll send some before Christmas!)

Annika is all ready for a visit from Santa and even has a similar hat so they'll have something in common to chat about if she's up when he visits our house. (I wonder if she's going to apologize for screaming her head off when they had their picture together a few weeks ago, too.) :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ack - my back!

Last night, I noticed one of my lower back muscles was a bit twingy. I didn't pull it, but it felt a little annoyed due to no specific event. I attributed it to a simple muscle cramp ... a back charlie horse for lack of a better term. By the time I went to bed, I was really hurting. Eric loaded me up with some ibuprophen and set up the heating pad under me (God, I love that man!!). During the night, I lost the ability to roll over because of the muscle's general unhappy mood. This morning, I'm sore but think I'll live .... so long as I stay upright. Bending or tilting seem to be out of the question right now.... good thing I have slip-on shoes! Putting on my tights this morning did require a few maneuvers that (I'm quite sure) entertained the dogs and might qualify me for the next Cirque du Soleil show, however. I have one of those "open the pack, stick it to you, it'll warm up" disposable heating things that are supposed to help muscle aches. The heat feels good. Even if I didn't have a sore back, the heat would still feel good.... now I just need a cozy blanket and a book ... I'd be all set!

Monday, December 8, 2008

New word and more fun with flour and sugar

Annika has a new word: "up". Now, this word doesn't only mean what you think. It also means "I'm up but now want down", "What's up there?", and "I'm thinking something and now you have to figure it out (insert evil laugh here)." She's a funny one!

Yesterday, I had lunch with my best friend. I truly adore her. We are frequently of one mind (Kate, who is using it today?), color scheme, and sense of humor. Many a day has passed that we've shown up at an event wearing either the same thing, the same colors, or the flip-flop of the other's outfit. We just get each other. For the many, many, many years of friendship behind us and the many more ahead of us, I am truly grateful. ANYWAY, Kate gave me my birthday present yesterday, which consisted of my absolutely favorite See's candies (curse you, woman!) and two beyond wonderful cookie cutters - a coffee cup and a Celtic cross. Needless to say, I was inspired to bake last night. I whipped out my winter/Christmas cookie cutters (I felt the need to be seasonal) and made cookies for my co-workers and my book club buddies.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Santa Photo

I picked up Annika's Santa photo yesterday. Amazingly, Scott (the photographer), was able to capture her between fits of screaming and reaching for me. Now THAT is the sign of a truely gifted professional!
The tears are definitely evident in Annika's eyes, but at least we got a "deer in the headlights" instead of "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD GET ME OUT OF HERE" expression.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Santa, we need new lights for our tree

Last night, I decided to sift through our plastic bag o' Christmas tree lights and figure out which strings would work best for this year's tree. Apparently, we are going to be investing in new lights this year. Of the 8 strings I was able to untangle, 6 didn't work at all and 2 partially lit up.

My little helper decided since the lights weren't tree worthy, she'd decorate herself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lucky number 8

Annika's 8th tooth (lower left lateral incisor) popped through yesterday. A few days before, I predicted that we'd see it within the week and just like magic, it appeared. This makes Annika's mouth symmetrical once again. She now has four teeth on top and four below.

We bought our Christmas tree last night. It is a cute little 4 footer (or so). As Eric set it up last night, Annika walked into the living room, pointed at the tree and asked, "Whazdat?" She then walked up to it and proceeded to run her hand over the branches. Always learning...

Eric and I had a debate regarding the size of tree we should get. I wanted a big one to make for a nice picture of Annika in front of it for our Christmas cards. Eric wanted a smaller one in case Annika got curious and decided to pull it over on herself or decided to undecorate the tree. Eric won. We'll put lights on it and then snap her picture and then we'll elevate the tree so it is on a table and out of the grasp of her little fingers. We'll see if our plan works out! Regardless of the tree's size, I have to say it is a beautiful tree and it makes our house smell just like the holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If you want to make something tasty

I recently found this recipe on If you like pumpkin and if you like bread, you HAVE to try this recipe. Very moist, very flavorful, very yummy. I liked it right out of the oven, but liked it even more the next day after the spices had a change to marry.

Annika gave it two thumbs up. When she had a piece, her eyes lit up and she proclaimed "MMMMMMMMMMM!"

It is the small things at times

Yesterday, I stopped by Lowe's to pick up some furniture polish and a Christmas tree. I also realized that I kept meaning to pick up a lamp timer, so I swung by the lighting area and picked up two that were on sale for $4.98 each. Perfect! I then high-tailed it over to the garden center only to find their small (under 6') trees wouldn't be in until the next day. Bummer.

As I paid for the lamp timers and furniture polish, the gal at the register said there was a refund for my lamp timers. Bonus! When I got home, I realized the rebate was for the amount I paid. Hmmm... does this truly mean I get the lamp timers for free??? I filled out the rebate information and will now wait and see.

In the mean time, I basked in the glory of figuring out our lamp timers and watching them go on and off just as they should. Woo hoo!!!

On a side note, our damaged tree is supposed to be removed today. That is the first step in getting our back yard back to pre-hit-and-run status. YIPPEE!! After the mangled tree is out, the fence people can come in and repair the damaged fence portions and gate. Double YIPPEE!

Monday, December 1, 2008

So much to be thankful for

We recently celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends. It was a wonderful, somewhat chaotic, day. We had more food than you could shake a stick at, and plenty of laughter and stories told throughout the day.

The Olson Trio has so many things to be thankful for. We have our health (minus the colds that seem to ravage our noses periodically), a sound roof over our heads, good jobs, happiness, and our senses of humor. It's a good life and we are truly blessed.

Two days after Thanksgiving, Annika had her picture taken with Santa. She was less than thankful for that event. She was perfectly fine to sit on Santa's lap until I backed away from her. Then, the tears and screaming began. She didn't mind Santa, but she did mind the fact I wasn't the one holding her. (She's in a "Mommy only" phase.) I'm sure the photo will be quite the gem, but not the Christmas card picture I'd envisioned. The Santa picture will be ready on Friday .... stay tuned.