Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Princess Day

A stomach bug has attacked our kids. We've done more laundry and cleaned up more bodily fluids than we care to think about. After much Gatorade, homemade Jello, and chicken soup, we seem to be emerging from the land of illness.

Eric stayed home with the kids yesterday, so today is my turn. The kids are definitely rebounding and back to playing a bit. They decided to play dress up and as soon as Annika donned a princess dress, Conor insisted on being a princess, too. They are having a wonderful time, aside from the drama caused by us only being able to find one magical wand. We own about 6 wands, but can't find more than 1 of them ... they truly are magical! They disappeared!!!

Conor hanging out in the castle

Princess Conor and Princess Annika (the knocked-up princess)


Princess Annika tending her new baby ("Snow White")

Combat-ready Princess Annika
(you can't quite see it, but she's wearing a camouflage soldier helmet)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Daring Bakers Challenge: Filled Pate a Choux Swans

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was really tasty and fun. We were challenged to make filled pate a choux swans (please don't ask me to pronounce it ... French is definitely not one of my go-to languages!). I was initially intimidated by the thought of shaping the swan necks/heads, but was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.

During my first attempt at making the dough for the swans, something went wrong and I wound up making a runny paste instead of a nice dough. I scrapped the gunk and tried again; this time, using Martha Stewart's recipe. I definitely had more luck with that one! I think the extra 1/4 cup of flour made all the difference.

I was a bit shocked by how easily everything came together and was thrilled with how the final products tasted. In the interest of time, I only made a few swans; the rest were more standard cream puffs.... sooo good! I even wound up bartering a dozen of them with a gal I know who offered us some of her plum harvest.Talk about a win-win!!

Swan heads, swan bodies, and general creme puff balls

A completed swan. Who knew I'd be such a fan of eating swan?!!?

Two swans "swimming" in my grandmother's china saucer

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plums, plums, plums

One of the hosts of the Mamas with Cameras group recently moved fairly close to us.... scratch that ... BOTH of the hosts of the group recently moved close to us. One of the gals (Wenmei) has been posting on her Facebook wall about how many plums they have in their new yard, and how she's been turning out plum bread like crazy. Ummm.. yum!!

First I asked her for the recipe. After eying it seeing how great it looked, I told her I'd take some plums off of her hands if she had more than she could use. She very kindly said, "Come on over!" So, Conor and I got ourselves loaded in the car (with homemade cream puffs as a thank you) and made the quick drive to her home (aka the land of plums).

This was Conor's first fruit-picking experience and he loved it. Wenmei's two kids and Conor had a great time plucking plums from the low branches; her husband even climbed up their new ladder (bought today so they could get the plums on the high-up branches ... now that is dedication to their harvest!) and we quickly filled a plastic shopping bag with plums.

After getting home, I started thinking about what to make first. Wenmei has been making plum bread, which I'll definitely try tomorrow. I actually almost dug into that recipe when I thought about the plum cake that Annika's BFF's grandmother makes. That cake is to die for! So, I asked my very good friend Mr. Google to find a German plum cake recipe for me. No shock ... he did!

The search pulled up this recipe, which looked easy to prep and quick to get in the oven. I was thrilled when I read I didn't have to peel the plums. Bonus!  The batter went together in a blink and before I knew it, we were enjoying the smell of baking plum cake. Halfway through dinner, the timer dinged and told us the cake was done.

Since then, we've cleaned up the kitchen and then turned our attention to getting the kids to bed. So, I actually have no clue if this cake is a winner. Will keep you posted! (Hey, I'm all about building suspense and anticipation with this blog!)

Plum Cake

Friday, August 24, 2012

Annika's 1st Dentist Appointment

Yesterday, Annika had her first dentist appointment. We'd meant to take her earlier, but insurance changes and new dentists not taking kids (who does that?) delayed us actually getting an appointment for her.

Our little girl was beyond excited about her appointment and counted down for it much like she counted down for her birthday. Each day, she would ask us. "How many more school days until my dentist appointment?" (Lord, please help her retain that enthusiasm!!)

She was a champ at the dentist and savored every minute of the experience. She loved the chair so much that she asked if we could get one at home. I said that it was too big for our house, to which she replied that we could find room. I told her that we'd probably have to get rid of her toys to have room... shockingly, she agreed that would be OK. Seriously??? What child offers to get rid of her toys in exchange for a dental exam chair?

The hygienist was wonderful with Annika. She took the time to clearly explain everything that she was going to do and let Annika examine all of the tools.instruments she planned on using. Annika payed very close attention and didn't miss a single morsel of information. The hygienist counted Annika's teeth (20 in all, just what a 5-year-old should have) and then polished/flossed her teeth. After that, the dentist came in and took a peek and that's when the appointment took a bit of a turn (at least from my perspective). She saw some things with her magical binoculars (I'm sure there's a more clinical term for them, but don't ask me what it was!) and asked for two x-rays.

The dentist asked me if Annika's molars have always been this close together. Umm... yeah; we didn't move them. Apparently, Annika's molars are so close together that they touch. The problem is the icky yuckies that cause cavities love when teeth are too close together. Because all her molars touch another, 7 of her 8 molars have developed "shadows", aka early-onset cavities. I about fell out of my chair when the dentist told me that. She was very consoling and told me we did everything right, but these things just happen because kids have really thin enamel and tend to eat a lot of carbs. (That didn't ease my desire to weep... but I did manage to keep it together). The dentist assured me things were caught very early and Annika will probably not even need to be numbed when the cavities are treated and one or two might only need to be sanded down a bit.

Even though we left with my heart in my toes, Annika had a LOVELY time at the dentist and can't wait to go back. The toy closet and her new princess toothbrush were the icing on the proverbial dental cake.

Watching the hygienist fill a cup with the water sprayer and then suck up the water with "Mr. Thirsty"

Getting ready for the exam

Getting those 20 teeth all polished up

Annika wearing her superstar glasses and fashionable paper bib

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Annika the Fish

Annika's swim lessons are really paying off. She has recently started doing the back stroke and is a natural at it! She's been doing the crawl stroke for quite some time now, but just recently started figuring out how to do side breathing, aka breathing without stopping and picking up her head.

Every so often, the kids in her class have the chance to jump off of the diving board in the deep end of the pool. Until recently, they always donned life jackets prior to taking the plunge. Recently, her teacher decided their skill levels were great enough for them to jump off of the diving board without a flotation device. Never fear! Her teacher is right there to help out should the need arise.

Annika is always so proud of herself after jumping off of the diving board... and we are darned proud of her, too!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Conor's Boo Boo

We should know better than to make plans because that's when they unravel. Yesterday, we had plans to go to Conor's swim lesson, have Annika's buddy over for a play date, and then go to Annika's swim lesson. Easy, right?

As we headed up the stairs after Conor's swim lesson, our little man's foot slipped off of the stair and he landed face first on our tile stairs. I immediately swooped him up and got him into the kitchen so I could give him some TLC and a boo-boo bunny. It took all of a half second to see the blood, which I feared meant he bit his tongue. As soon as I looked in his mouth, I knew his lip was the culprit.

I grabbed an ice cube for Conor to suck on (much to his delight .. this boy would probably rate ice cubes as his favorite food). I got a good look at his lip and knew it was more than a generic owie; I told Eric that I thought he needed to get looked at. Eric stayed home with Annika and her friend while I carted Conor off  to the local ER. The entire drive (all three turns) to the ER, I kept telling Conor to chew on his ice cubes (now in a red washcloth to keep him from seeing the blood). My heart was RACING and I was on the verge of tears, but knew I needed to hold it together to keep from scaring Conor.

When we got to the ER, my heart sank because the ER parking lot was full. I knew that meant we'd be in a crowd in the waiting room and it would be hours before we were seen. Not so much. There was not a soul to be seen in the waiting room. (I adore NW Hospital's ER! They have an amazing staff and we've never waited to be seen in their ER.)

In the triage room, the nurse looked at Conor's lip and guessed it would require sutures. In the exam room, another nurse looked at his lip and guessed it would need sutures. The doctor (after giving Conor a glove that he blew up and drew a face on) said it definitely could use sutures, but he wasn't going to do them because the trauma of doing them would outweigh the benefit of doing them. He further said, if the gash had been in a visible place, he'd recommend stitches. Conor's injury is inside his mouth, and who really cares if they have a scar inside their mouth?? SOLD!!! 

Conor's on soft foods for 3-4 days, Tylenol for any discomfort, and popsicles to help the lip feel a bit better. Our little guy was VERY brave throughout the whole ordeal. His mama, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck, but is slowly recovering. :)

Conor in the waiting room watching cartoons and sucking on ice cubes

All done at the hospital... ready to go home

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Annika's 5th Birthday Celebrations

I can tell the month of August is getting away from me when it isn't until the 19th of month that I get around to blogging about Annika's birthday. Shame on me!

We decided to keep things a bit simpler this year and scaled back from previous year's birthday extravaganzas. We invited a couple of her classmates over for a kids' party and then had family over for a BBQ dinner out on the deck later in the day. The weather was incredibly cooperative, which was a definite treat. Even with the low-key approach, we were completely exhausted by the time we fell into bed that night, but it was more than worth it!

During the morning celebration, Annika was joined by her buddies Allison and Violet; these girls play beautifully and could practically form the first-ever professional giggle team. The girls had a blast playing games—including pin the starfish on the mermaid and pop the sea bubble, building their own sea-themed snow globes, bouncing in the bouncy house, and beating the heck out of a mermaid pinata (which, ultimately, Eric had to take a few whacks at to open it ... that sucker was well engineered!). 

After a bit of cleaning and food prep, the family portion of the day got under way. Fortunately, we planned a BBQ on the deck; the weather was just hot enough that we wouldn't have wanted to be cooking in the kitchen; that's for sure. We had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we are so grateful that our loved ones were with us to have some fun together for Annika's birthday. All-in-all, a wonderful way to celebrate our sweet 5-year-old little girl.

Allison trying her hand at pinning a starfish on Ariel

Annika's turn

Annika, Violet, and Allison ... the three amigos

Blowing out the candles on her mermaid cake

Conor really gets into his desserts

Eric's parents gave Annika a much-coveted cowgirl hat
and pink cowgirl boots that light up. Really, could it
get any better?


Friday, August 17, 2012

Fun with the Bubble Man

There are a number of celebrities who call this part of the world home. Some are known on a global level, including professional athletes, musicians, and a few TV/movie stars, while others are more in the "local celebrity" category, such as JP Patches and the Bubble Man. The local celebrities give us flair and a greater sense of community.

While at Carkeek Park last month (yes, I'm late on creating this post ... I've been busy, ya know!), the kids and I planned on just hanging out and burning off some energy. Instead, we were treated to an impromptu performance by the Bubble Man (aka Garry Golightly). Even before we had kids, I loved watching his performances and would squeal with delight when I saw his unmistakable purple van around the city. On this day at Carkeek as I parked the car, I gasped with joy as we drove through the parking lot and saw his bubble-covered van. Oh, the lightness that filled my heart when I thought there was a chance we might get to have some bubble fun ... and boy, did we!

The weather was a bit daunting (thunder and lightning ... no rain), so the Bubble Man only brought out a few supplies at a time, just in case the skies opened up and poured like they had the day before (and drenched him during a performance).

Before long, though, bubbles were sailing through the air and kids are running this way and that. What started out as our kids and me staring at him hoping for a show quickly morphed into a rather sizable crowd of families smiling with happiness at the sight of bubbles floating around us.

Whenever I watch the Bubble Man perform, I'm struck with the realization that he loves what he does as much as (if not more) than the kids who are watching him. He is pure energy and amazing with the kids; I can't help but wonder if he has a background in education. Our kids loved every minute of his bubble show, and we are so fortunate that she took some time to play with the kids at the park.

Annika enjoying the Bubble Man's jokes

Conor taking in the show

Bubble girl!

The Bubble Man ... pure energy

Conor got distracted by a chocolate lab puppy ... who could blame him?

These bubbles were made with ski poles and quick
ties... clever recycling project!

Pretty bubbles!

Foamy bubbles

Conor trying to pick up the bubbles



The mother of all bubbles

Annika going in for the kill


Conor taking in all that the Bubble Man had to say
I can just hear his internal dialogue now: "You are the man! Blow those bubbles!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unintended Humor

Annika and I were recently in the car when she pulled a purple flower out of her lunchbox and said it was for me. Of course, I gushed about how much I loved the flower and how thoughtful it was of her to give it to me.

She asked if purple was my favorite color. I explained that I do like purple, but blue is truly my favorite color. To really drive the point home,  I told her that God knows I like blue so much that he gave her blue eyes so I could see pretty blue each time I look at her. (Hallmark, eat your heart out!)

Her reply? "I wish I didn't have blue eyes." (Ouch!!)

I asked what color she'd rather have and she said, "Brown. I'm going to pray to God for brown eyes or pink eyes! Mama, I want pink eyes!"

No, sweet girl... you really don't want pink eyes. 

Of course, my shoulders started shaking as I gripped the steering wheel to within an inch of its life and tried to keep the giggles from erupting, causing her to wonder what made me laugh and then having to explain joys of conjunctivitis.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our kids are so thoughtful

They decided our dog (Buca) needed more water in his bowl on the deck. Our kids are such givers!

Note: The lids are still on the bottles!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trip to the Cabin (part 2)

Sorry to keep everyone hanging... now, the long awaited, much overdue follow up to our 1st cabin trip post!

Our second day at the cabin marked the arrival of more family members. My brother (Troy) and his family made the long trek across the state the day after we did and made record time getting to the cabin. They headed out ridiculously early and were at the cabin by lunch. We texted them around 8 to see if they were on the road and were amazed to learn they were just leaving Ellensburg and had breakfast there. WOW!

Sunday at the cabin was lake day. We spent just about every waking moment playing in the water and taking in the beauty that is the lake. We swam, played in the sand, swam some more, and then went swimming. At one point, our nephew, Ian, even took Eric and Annika for a ride on a float thingy behind the paddle boat;  After our day full of lake water, we celebrated our sister's 50th birthday. It was a low-key celebration, which was exactly what the cabin calls for. I even learned that you can microwave corn on the cob without pulling off the husks. Really, what could be cooler than that???

Troy being goofy

Staci and Kat relaxing in the gazebo

Annika enjoying the lake

Ian taking Eric and Annika for a ride around the lake

Conor eating his birthday cupcake

The birthday girl!!

Troy and Ian ... such happy faces

Annika doesn't bite cupcakes ... she licks them.
Suzanne said Randy's chin was too high...

So he fixed it! (The big goof!!!)

Ahhh! That's better!