Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dressing Up

Last night, Annika decided that everyone needed to be in some sort of costume. She got the bee in her bonnet that she needed to be a ballerina and the rest of the family's costume requirement quickly fell into place.She ran downstairs and donned her pink tutu, which was quite a statement considering she ditched her shirt and was running around only in her plastic high heel shoes, blue underpants, and pink fluffy skirt. It was a vision!! After some doing, we convinced her that she needed a shirt to stay warm. (She initially professed that she wasn't cold; I countered that with "but you have goosebumps", to which she replied "No I don't; those are my bones.") The Gonzaga U. basketball shirt, just like the rest of her ensemble, was her doing... we took no ownership of her attire. I must say, though, she's making quite a statement. (Especially once she swapped out the plastic high heels for her purple tennis shoes and Barbie roller skates.)

She put rubber snakes on our dog, who was just trying to take a nap (he is one patient dog!). Convincing Annika that our cat wouldn't appreciate a costume took some doing on my part, but we were finally able to avoid that potential bloodbath when she agreed that we could pretend his white fut was his ghost costume.

For a little while, I wore our ghost headband, but Conor quickly confiscated it and deemed it his. (What can I say?? He's almost 2 ... everything is his, according to him and he looked so darned cute, I couldn't help but let him keep it on) 

Our roller skating ballerina - she's destined for Cirque du Soleil!
Conor sporting the ghost headband and cardboard binoculars ... he's ready for anything!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

The night before Thanksgiving, I went into turbo mode to prepare for the next day's festivities. Of course, part of that time included making pumpkin pies. Our sweet niece, Emily, who was staying with us for her break from college, offered to help out. I put her in charge of making the pie filling while I made the crusts. Divide and conquer, baby!!

Emily, being the amazing big cousin that she is, let Annika and Conor help her complete the task. And hoisted each kid up on her hip so they could have a chance to participate.

I must say, the pies turned out wonderfully ... probably because of the extra love and energy that went into them.

This was our version of a quilting bee; it was a pie bee!!!

Emily and Annika working on the pie filling

Conor taking his turn with the whisk

Annika's Song

Next week, Annika's class will perform their Christmas pageant for their parents.

I am quite grateful that the school changed their approach to the wee little one's performance this year. Last year, they performed their song during the entire school's performance. It didn't start until 7:00 and was going to last way too long for our preschooler and newborn baby to survive. So, we snuck out after Annika's class sang. (Don't worry - her teachers gave the parents permission to leave knowing our 3-year-olds were like ticking time bombs that were nearing bedtime.) This year, the performance will start at 6:00 and will only showcase the preschool students. Short, sweet, and to the point. Perfect!

So, Annika has been practicing her song on a fairly regular basis... in the car, in the bath ... you name it. I adore how she says part of the lyrics. The song starts out "A babe was born in Bethlehem..." Annika says "A babe was born in Bath-la-ham...." Apparently, that's where hams go to get clean. She also finishes the song with the world's most enthusiastic "Allllllll-le-luuuuuuuuuuu-ja!!"

(Stay tuned... I'll try to get a video of her singing the song)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Apple Cup 2011

To mark our 10th anniversary, Eric and I went to Apple Cup. Not only did we go to Apple Cup, but we went with some of my siblings, their spouses, one niece, and one nephew. Before the game, we did a little tailgating... nothing fancy, just a little friend chicken, a veggie tray, and some wine.

About 30 minutes before kickoff, we headed to the north entrance of the stadium. There are a lot of great things about our time at the game, but getting into the stadium was not one of the things in that category. We dutifully waited in line to go through security and then give the ticket takers our tickets. Unfortunately, not everyone followed that method... especially the party buses that let off their bajillion passengers (ok, not quite that many, but you get the idea) right at the front of the line. The people who were in line never moved forward because of the bus passengers. Eventually, people started surging forward and pressing toward the ticket gates (this is when I also lost my scarf, which bugs me). It was highly uncomfortable, but we eventually made it into the stadium and our seats (after missing kick-off and the first 6 points of the game)...

We had a BLAST during the game. The seats were really good and it didn't rain on us (amazing!!!) but the real fun was spending time with our loved ones. We played musical chairs during the game, so everyone got a chance to sit next to everyone else. Double bonus - the Huskies won!! Go Dawgs!

Staci and Anna pre-game

Me, Staci, and Anna waiting in line at the porta-potties

Anna and Robert

Suzanne, Anna, Robert, and Randy

Troy, Suzanne, and me

Suzanne and Randy

Oh, those crazy Dawg fans!!

Randy, Suzanne, Troy, and Staci

Troy and Eric

Randy and Robert

Monday, November 21, 2011

Daddy = Jungle Gym

This weekend, Eric and the kids had a ball playing together. As soon as he started the fun, it took on a life of its own. I have to applaud Eric for many of his traits ... one of the top, by far, is his approach to being a father. He is gentle with the kids and turns just about everything into some sort of learning experience for them. They know that he's their guy ... especially when it is time to break out the fun—not to mention the rough and tumble.

It makes my heart leap with joy when I see the kids and Eric spending time together and their play time a few days ago was no exception.

Buca wasn't going to be left out of the fun

Annika showing Eric how to be more flexible

Ride 'em, cow kids!

I think Eric is trying to tap out at this point, but I have the camera and refuse to enter the wrestling ring.

Final score: kids = 2, Eric = 0

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One Man's Ladder Is Another Man's Tent

Eric decided it was high time to change the 8' light that we have in our kitchen. So, he lugged out the ladder, journied to the dust-laden ballast, and swapped out the bulb. In the meantime, the ladder was adopted by Annika and Conor. They turned it into a tent ... complete with sleeping accommodations.

Getting snuggled up in their tent

Annika sleeping in the ladder tent

Annika tucking in Conor

The tucking took awhile... Conor kept moving in contrast to Annika's firm instructions to lay down

Snug as a bug in a rug

After the kids moved on, Buca became their tent's squatter

Quite possibly, the world's sweetest squatter

Friday, November 18, 2011

Frans Chocolates Hat

I recently bought some Frans Chocolates for a friend's birthday. Since then, I've been using the bag they came in as a tote for the hat I'm knitting for Eric. (Must ... knit .... faster ... hat ... must ... be ... done ... before ... Apple .... Cup!)


Last night, Conor decided the bag was no longer mine; it was his. (What's that thing about a toddler's belief system? "If it's mine, it's mine. If it's yours, it's mine....") Not only was the bag his,  but it was his hat. Fortunately, Eric quickly grabbed our camera (complete with fancy, schmancy new lens!) and captured Conor wearing his new couture.

This hat is truly quite a fashion statement and the epitome of practical. The long handles double as arm straps, keeping the hat securely in place during high-speed wind storms! Of course, the paper wouldn't hold up so well in our famous Seattle rain, but who am I to judge??

Bag hat ... complete with arm straps

Cute boy!

Conor, where's your hat?

Making sure it is in the perfect spot on his head

Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 Years and Counting!

Ten years ago today, Eric donned his tuxedo and I put on my pretty white gown. We stood in front of our families and closest friends. We laughed. We cried (OK, I cried). We pledged to stand by each other in good times and bad. We promised to love each other for the rest of our lives. We became husband and wife.

Life is full of decisions... some work out, some don't. Some were easy, while others were painstakingly difficult and resulted in life's lessons learned. Still other decisions simply don't play into the grand scheme of things—such as what color socks to wear.

In all of my years, there has never been an easier or best made decision than when I chose Eric as my spouse. He has made me happier than I could have possibly imagined by partnering with me to build a life I am proud of and enthusiastically work hard for. He blessed me with our two amazing children; I cannot imagine a life that does not include their smiling faces, laughter, and love.

I am grateful for many things in life, but at the top of the list is my one true love, my sweet husband.

I love you, Sweetie. Here's to the first ten years and hoping the next ten are just as amazing!

Eric & Meredith - 11/17/01

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recent Baking

I've had a bunch of recent baking requests, all of which I was MORE than happy to fulfill.

In October, I was asked to make a birthday cake for a family friend who was about to celebrate her 99th birthday. How could I possibly say no to that?!?!? Mrs. Young (my mom's friend who ordered the cake) wanted a BIG cake with bright colors. Each tier is comprised of 4 cakes and the tiers are 14", 10" and 6" cakes. The bottom tier was white cake with homemade lemon curd filling. The middle tier was chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling. The top tier (aka the temporary bane of my existence until I re-made the original square cake and made a round tier instead) was white cake with creamy lemon curd (aka lemon curd and buttercream frosting mixed together). The top tier (although you can't really tell in this photo) is quilted and has silver dragees at each line intersection. This cake would easily feed 200-250 people and was too heavy for one person to carry ... quite possibly, it is the largest cake I've made to date.

The same weekend was a baby shower for my best friend's sister. Their family is beyond amazing and I cherish them like no other. So, when Kate asked if I'd made cookies for Aileen's shower, there was no way I was going to say anything but a resounding "OF COURSE!" Aileen is expecting a baby boy any day now, so to celebrate I made lots of little boy onesie cookies and some bottle cookies. I think the green onesie with the sailboat is my favorite of the lot.

Last but not least, this weekend, I made a cake for the NISSA (NW Infant Survival and SIDS Association) auction. Aileen (same as above) asked if I'd make something for this year's auction. I think I've donated a dessert to the auction for (I think) 6 of the past 7 years. This year's auction theme was "Courage and Hope", which sort of stumped me until my friend Kate (God bless her for so many reasons) suggested that I use the auction's logo as inspiration. Once that idea was in my head, the rest took shape. Annika and I delivered the cake Saturday morning; Annika had a great time helping me place the stars. She's such an adorable pastry chef in the making! The cake was two tiers, each made up of three white cakes with marionberry filling. The bottom tier was 10" cakes and the top tier was 8" cakes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts of the Day

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself getting into holiday mode, which is fast, frenzied, and so much fun. To slow down a bit and to gain perspective, today I"ve decided to share a list of some of the things I'm grateful for.

All too often, I think people (including yours truly) get caught up in thinking about the things we don't have instead of being grateful for the things we do have.

  • I am thankful for having been blessed with an amazing husband and two phenomenal children.
  • I am thankful that we have our health.
  • I am thankful that we have a roof over our head.
  • I am thankful that Eric and I are both employed.
  • I am thankful for the education that our children are receiving.
  • I am thankful for my amazing siblings and siblings-in-law.
  • I am thankful for the guidance from our parents and surrogate parents.
  • I am thankful for my friends, especially the ones who know me almost better than I know myself.
  • I am thankful for our pets and their unconditional love (which is heightened right after we feed them)
  • I am thankful for living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
  • I am thankful that my husband humors me with all of my hobbies.
  • I am thankful that I've just about perfected my white cake recipe.
  • I am thankful for the chance to learn something new each and every day

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conor's Talking

Conor has astounded us recently with how his language skills have been developing. The kid is turning into a regular chatterbox! He's also realizing that talking makes things happen... bigger picture is he's starting to realize cause = effect.

Last night, he was coloring and after every line or scribble, he'd point to his picture and yell "Yoot, Mama, Yoot!" ("Look, Mama, Look!"). When I looked and offered praise for his wonderful picture, he'd add another layer of crayon and cry out "Yoot, Mama! Yoot!" again.

Two nights ago, as I tucked Conor in to bed, I kissed him and then said, "I love you, Nanu. Good night." I walked across his room, turned off his light, and started to walk out of his room. Just as I did, I heard his little voice from his crib say, "Ahwahyo, Mama" (I love you, Mama). Talk about a heart-melting moment!!

His most useful language development seems to be the ability to tell off Annika and tattle on her. He now can yell out "NO, Attah! NO!" to get her to stop doing whatever form of big sister torture she's currently unleashing on him (usually something like putting her foot in his face or taking his cup away.) When things get too rough, he's also happy to come running in holding his latest injury and crying "Attah! Owie!" (Conor's days of being a quiet victim are a thing of the past!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tomato Tomahto, Hola Aloha

Annika recently walked up to Eric and asked him if he knows how to say "hello" in Spanish.

He said that he did, but asked her to tell him anyway.

She replied, "Aloha!"

Visiting Ethan

On Sunday, Annika and I visisted her little friend Ethan at Children's Hospital. Ethan is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever have the chance to meet; he and Annika are just a few month apart in age and play really beautifully together. I truly hope this is a friendship that lasts the test of time, and I have to believe it has a good chance of doing so because we're also friends with Ethan's parents, Jim and Elaine. (Back story: When I was expecting Conor, we quickly discovered that two of our friends (Elaine and Rachel) were also pregnant and due about the same time. Our babies were born in a 6-day timeframe; we had Conor, Elaine and Jim had Grace, and Rachel and Eric had Liam.)

Ethan was born with a congenital heart defect and had surgery on October 20th to basically replumb how his heart works. We were very excited that Ethan was up for us to visit him yesterday and I think it was good for Ethan to have some fun kid time, too. The look of sheer delight on his face when we walked into his room just about brought tears to my eyes. It was beyond a look of utter joy. We brought Ethan a little get well care package that contained some invisible ink books and a sticker/activity book. He and Annika cozied up at his hospital table and had a great time coloring and making their way through his activity books.

While the kids played, I caught up with Jim and Elaine. I can't even imagine the stress and fatigue they must be experiencing. Not only do they have their 4-year-old son in the hospital for multiple weeks, but they also have a little girl at home who is 19 months old. Oh, and they have full-time jobs. God bless them and the care, compassion, fortitude, and endurance they're displaying.

After about 15-20 minutes, Ethan's pain level started hiking up, so Annika and I made a quick departure so Ethan could get medicated and feel a bit of relief. I hope we'll be able to visit again soon ... even better, it would be great if our next visit is at his home instead of in the hospita. Hoping he gets discharged soon and feeling better even sooner!

Color, color, color!
Silly kids!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Signs of the Times

Winter's impending approach is becoming noticable with colder temperatures, dark mornings, and dark evenings. A few mornings ago, I was walking from the bus to work and noticed how neat the Pike Place Market signs look against the pre-sunrise sky. With that in mind, I packed up our camera and a couple of our lenses this morning in hopes that I'd be able to snap some pictures of the sign. Ta da!!

I took more pictures than these two, but figured two was plenty for the blog. I also tried to get creative with pictures of a lamp post, but didn't change to my macro setting, so the pictures weren't as clear as I'd have hoped. Live and learn!

A few days ago, I mentioned my idea of taking pictures of the market's signs to my co-worker, who happened to have his camera at work that day. He loaned me his camera and I was able to snap these:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Carving

Forgive me... I'm posting a bit out of order this go-around. Yes, we did carve our pumpkins the day before Halloween, but I didn't get around to actually writing a post about it. So... without further ado: our pumpkin carving recap!

We got our pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch earlier this month and they calmly sat on our porch until Sunday, when they met their doom. (If I was the pumpkins, I would have tried forging an escape plan!!).

We took a team approach to the carving. Eric and Annika. Conor and me. We had two very different approaches to the task at hand. Annika and Eric carefully sketched out what her pumpkin's face would look like on paper and then replicated their drawing on the actual pumpkin. They went for artistic flair and creativity. I simply picked up a knife and started carving... triangle eyes, triangle nose, two-tooth smile. The kids (and their parents) had a great time. Annika greatly enjoyed being part of the process and having ownership in the evolution of her pumpkin. Conor mostly liked squishing the pumpkin guts in his hands and sliding the seeds around on the jellyroll pan.

The whole process was much cleaner than we anticipated ... always a nice surprise. Our pumpkins were very brave and turned out quite cute!

Annika deciding where her pumpkin's face should be

In-depth discussions about pumpkin faces

Pumpkin guts are fun!

The first cut - surgical precision, I tell ya!

Pumpkin guts are STILL fun!

Conor putting the lid on his pumpkin

Conor discovered that hollow pumpkins echo; he kept saying "daaaaaaaaaaaddy" into it

Annika and her final product
Can you find the one that's not like the others?

Conor's new hat!

Ta da!