Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Quick Update...

Everyone has gone to bed, and I am about to go and mop my kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. I'm starting to realize that if I want to get anything done around here, I have to stay up after everyone else. That is probably more a reflection of my poor time management skills than anything else, but right now my house is a mess and it is making me crazy. I'll make time tomorrow to post about Christmas, as well as the trip we took to Fairfield, Idaho today. I think I have some new pictures to share, too. Off to find my mop!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cooking vs. Baking

Do you cook, or do you bake? Both? Neither? I would have to say that I am definitely more of a baker than a "cooker". Some of my favorite things to bake are cookies, muffins, scones, biscotti, and granola. Though I haven't done it in a while, I can also make a mean wedding cake, as well as just about any kind of birthday cake (thanks to some Wilton classes I took, many years ago). That being said, I long to be more of a savory chef. When I made the decision to stay home with my boys, one of the things I told myself was that I would take this opportunity to become better at planning and executing meals. I would teach myself more of the basics so that I could be more successful in the kitchen. Steve claims to love my cooking, and with the exception of one meatball recipe I prepared for him, has never said that he dislikes anything that I make (thank goodness).

The root of my problem seems to be in my timing. I can plan out a menu, but inevitably, I end up forgetting to put something in the oven (or take it out), forget an ingredient, or I just get plain frazzled. Both of my parents are fabulous cooks - - they each have their own style, but can equally prepare delicious, lovely meals. They can both bake, too. My dad is known far and wide for his famous peanut butter fudge, and my mother makes beautiful cakes (she was my inspiration for learning to do it myself) as well as cookies, bars, candy, etc. I have always admired the elaborate meals that my Aunt Jean prepares. From appetizers, soups, chowders, roasts, breads, and elegant desserts, she does it all.

Back to my idea of becoming a better cook. So far, I haven't accomplished much of anything that I thought I would do, once I quit my paying job! I think I still have a couple of months of fitting in a "new baby" before things run as smooth as I'd like. Okay, so Griffin's three months old now and doesn't exactly qualify as new, but we're still working on getting nap time down pat, keeping Camden happy, etc. However, I have recently begun studying different cookbooks, trying to figure out where to start. I think one thing I need to do is to simply be a little more adventuresome. If I read a recipe and it sounds the least little bit complicated, I'll immediately think, "Well, I can't make that!" and I move on. So, I think I will start by tackling some recipes I've had my eye on for a while, and see what happens. I will keep you posted!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Love My Boys

Camden, checking out our "first snow" today
Sweet Griffin, napping this morning
Camden, visiting his Dad at "Army work" yesterday
Griffin likes to hold his binky cock-eyed, like he's smoking a cigar

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Sounds of Christmas

I'm talking about Christmas music, folks. I think I have a slight addiction to it. I often wonder if Steve cringes when he comes home at night, because for the month of December, there is usually Christmas music playing throughout the house. I can't help it - - I love it. I have quite a collection going at this point in my life, but here are a few of my favorites:
  • The soundtrack to the movie, "Elf". If you haven't seen this movie, I think it is worth renting. Cute holiday story, and I love Will Farrell anyway. My favorite song on this particular CD is, "Baby, Its Cold Outside"
  • "White Christmas"/Martina McBride - this one is full of all the classics, and my favorite is her version of "O Holy Night"
  • "A Scottish Christmas" - this one is traditional Scottish carols, wassail tunes, etc., all done on bagpipe. I'm sure it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love it
  • "When My Heart Finds Christmas"/Harry Connick, Jr. - this is a must-have as far as I'm concerned, if you are obsessed with Christmas music like I am. Best track: "It Must've Been Ol' Santa Claus
  • "A Christmas Together"/John Denver and the Muppets - uh-huh, THE Muppets. This was an album (yes, an actual record album) that we had growing up. Now I have it on CD and love it as much, if not more, than I did back then. This year, Camden has decided he loves it, too. The other day while it was playing, he sat in the recliner and listened to the whole thing.

Some honorable mentions would include a mix that my father made me of Charlie Zahm, then of course Peggy Lee, Elvis, Willie Nelson...who am I kidding - - if someone is singing Christmas carols, I generally love it. If you are having a hard time "getting in the mood" for Christmas this year, just play some Christmas music and you won't be able to help but feel festive.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Odds and Ends

It's a bit quiet around here today...Steve is off skiing so the boys and I are at home, attempting to get a few things done around the house. I was supposed to go Christmas shopping by myself yesterday, but that turned into grocery shopping with Griffin instead, so hopefully I will figure out a way to get what I need to get done, sometime next week. I have been feeling for quite some time now, the need to get out of the house by myself, but for some reason it hasn't worked out yet. For some reason I am the type of person that needs time by myself from time to time - - time when I can drive the car and blast the radio, browse lazily through some of my favorite stores, sit quietly and sip a mocha - - just collect my thoughts. I've talked with other women who claim they absolutely do not need "me" time, but not me - - I NEED it. Not a lot of it, but just once in a while. I wish it didn't feel like it was so hard to come by.

Last night, Rex, Kasey, and Banzer came for dinner. They leave on Wednesday for Christmas in Maine, so we exchanged gifts last night and had a great time visiting. I love this shot of Steve and Banzer. I can't get over how quickly he is growing. He has the longest, most beautiful eyelashes you have ever seen. He is 4 months older than Griffin, so as you can imagine, next year at this time, we'll have a mess of busy boys on our hands!

I've been pondering cloth diapers for many months now- - I've done a ton of research on them, but haven't quiet decided to take the leap yet. Cloth diapers have gotten quite high-tech. There are so many to choose from that it hurts my head just thinking about it. I did find a woman in Boise who makes them, so I bought one (modeled here by sweet Griffin) and we are currently in "test mode". This particular diaper is called a "pocket" diaper - - there is an opening inside the diaper that you stuff with a terry insert. The lining is microfleece, so when it gets wet, the moisture is drawn into the diaper and the fleece feels dry. They are pretty bulky, but I've done the math and they would save a ton of money over the length of time Griffin will be in diapers. I'm giving myself until he moves up to size 2 diapers to make up my mind. I think I need to try a couple more types of cloth in the meantime.

I love this time of year, not just because I love Christmas, but because Starbucks serves Peppermint Mochas! Yay! If I could drink them all day every day, I would. If you haven't had one, please visit your nearest Starbucks and try one. Yum! At times I fantasize about working at Starbucks, just so I could drink mochas and frappuccinos to my hearts content. Most of you already know that I have a slight Starbucks problem. What can I say. I love froo-froo coffee. I can't help myself.

Camden and I baked some Christmas cookies today. As I suspected he would be, he was mostly interested in trying to eat sprinkles. I did manage to get him to put some on the cookies, but he would have been happier if I'd just let him drink the sugar crystals right from the bottle.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The End of Another Week

It's about 6:30 a.m. and I've snuck downstairs to the computer, as Camden is still asleep, and Griffin is quiet, but not yet screaming to get out of bed. It was a long night - - I'm guessing (or hoping) that Griffin is having a growth spurt, because he was up every 2-2.5 hours to eat last night. He had been sleeping for 3.5-4 hour stretches, so going back to getting up 3 times per night is wearing me out. You may be wondering what I am doing up, if I didn't sleep much...I don't really know - - I think I just wanted a few minutes to myself before I start the day. Ooops, must run upstairs and check on Griffin - - this may be the end of this post. I'm back, Griffin is still asleep, but Camden is now up. He's having a glass of milk and watching Thomas the Tank Engine, so that I can finish this post.

I can't believe that Christmas is in 10 days! I have a huge box to mail to Maine, but still have a few items to track down, before I can mail it. Christmas shopping has proven to be a bit more difficult this year, for sure. Tomorrow morning I'll head out by myself in hopes of finishing up our shopping.

Yesterday, I checked out a local MOPS meeting (MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers). Okay, it wasn't exactly local - - it was about a 20-minute drive from our house. Unfortunately, the town we live in has absolutely NOTHING for stay-at-home moms or children, except for a music class one day per week. I can't believe the library doesn't even offer a story time for little ones. Anyway, the meeting was great. There are about 30 members, and I found everyone to be very nice, and welcoming. Basically, when I got there I dropped Camden off at the "3 & 4 Year Old Room" where he got to play with a ton of other kids - - they had gym time where they got to run around, play time, and then they decorated cookies (just had to run BACK upstairs again - - Griffin is stirring). During that time, I attended the meeting (with Griffin sleeping in his carseat). We were supposed to watch a DVD about parenting but the player was broken, so instead we all just visited, which was nice, too. There was lots of food, and we did a craft (right up my alley). I think I will join the group - - it was really good. Camden loved playing with all of the kids, so it was great for him, too. Lately I've been trying really hard to find some set activities for us to do. Camden is needing so badly to interact with other kids, and I need out of the house (Griffin is now in my lap, so we'll see how much more I can type). It has been terribly dark and rainy here the past few days, which I think has contributed to my blue mood. Hopefully there is some sunshine on the way in the near future!

Camden started gymnastics this week - - he'll go every Monday from now on. This is the same outfit that provided the "Magic Tumble Bus" at his old preschool, so he was familiar with how things were run. We had a great surprise when we arrived for class in that one of his classmates from his preschool was in his class. This is a little girl that he had been in "school" with since he was 13 weeks old, so he was thrilled to see her, and they had a great time together. Another big development for Camden this week is that he is now a "meat-eater". Believe it or not, he's never eaten meat (aside from hot dogs - - if that qualifies as meat, and an occasional dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget). I'm embarrassed to say that he is an extremely picky eater, but we are working on it. Anyway, this week he's had chicken twice (an actual chicken breast), a pork chop, and yes, even an elk burger. So, I feel like we are finally making strides in the right direction. The Christmas tree continues to taunt and frustrated the boy - - he asks at least 10 zillion times per day if he can open a present. Yesterday, he even asked me if I would call Santa on the phone and ask if it would be okay to open the presents. The boy is getting desperate. I hope we both survive until December 25th.

Griffin, as I mentioned earlier, isn't sleeping so well at night. He still isn't napping well either, unless we are out running errands, in which case he sleeps the whole time. It would be great to get him on a napping schedule, and I'm just hoping that it will happen sometime soon. He's full of smiles these days, and loves to "talk", too. He's beginning to put weight on his legs when held upright, and has started grasping for things, too. I just can't believe how quickly he is growing and changing.

Steve is as busy as ever, between work and command. He's excited to start skiing, and will be going with his friend Chuck this weekend. He has a couple of ski trips in the works over the next couple of months, too.

I'd like to post some pictures, but that will have to wait for the weekend, when I am not trying to complete a post with a crying baby in my lap.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ode to My Kitchen Appliances

I have a "thing" for kitchen appliances. Okay, kitchen ANYTHING. Ask my husband. Gadgets, dishes, utensils, cookbooks, recipes clipped from name it. I know that secretly it makes him crazy, but he's learned over the years not to say anything about it. I'm thankful for the large pantry in our new house, which provides ample room for all of my kitchen toys. In no particular order, my favorites are:
  1. Crock Pot - How can anyone live without a crock pot, I ask you? I currently own a 5.5 quart Rival digital model, and I fear it is a bit too big. I think I may need to get a 4-quart one, also (don't tell Steve). My favorite crock pot is the kind that is all one piece (rather than the removable stoneware type). While this large one that I have is great, I think it would be handy to have a smaller one, too.
  2. Food Saver Vacuum Sealer - Seriously, I love to vacuum seal. Thank goodness the special bags are a bit on the spendy side, or everything in our house would be sealed in tidy little bags.
  3. Bread Machine - I use my bread machine 1-2 times per week. I love it. I love to make pizza dough in it, and I am trying to get back to making our bread, rather than buying it. I use to love to make bagels, but haven't attempted it since having children. Lots of steps to bagel-making and I can't yet envision being able to complete all the steps without having to stop and feed a baby, change a diaper, or play with a preschooler.
  4. Folding Electric Griddle - This thing is great. It is just very handy that it can be folded up for storage.
  5. Smokeless Tabletop Grill - Okay, so I've only ever used this thing once, in the 2+ years that I've had it, but it is so nifty. It is basically along the same lines as a fondue pot - - it is a round non-stick grill plate that you place over a can of sterno, and then everyone at the table can grill their own food (bite-size pieces of meat, veggies, seafood, etc.). My sister-in-law and I had a grand time one night with this thing.

I've recently decided I'd like to have a digital toaster oven. Maybe Santa will bring me one. Are there any appliances out there that I failed to mention, that maybe I should add to my collection?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Griffin's Stats

Sweet little Griffin had his two-month well-baby check yesterday. He is actually 10 weeks old now. Anyway, he weighs 11 lbs., 4 oz., is 23 inches long, and his head is 16 inches around. I dug out Camden's baby book, and he had his 2-month check at 7 weeks of ages - - his stats were quite different! He weighed 15 lbs., was 24 inches long, and head was 16 1/2 inches around. Mind you, he was three weeks YOUNGER than Griffin is now. Griffin's percentiles ranged from 40-55%, while Camden's were 97-99%. Yikes! The immunization portion was not pleasant - - I just cannot stand the cry that comes out of a baby when they are stuck with a needle - - the one where you know they have no idea why they are being hurt - - heartbreaking! Griffin is running a slight fever this morning, which is new to me because Camden never had any reaction to any immunization. He mostly just wants me to hold him, which is fine with me.
On our agenda today: we are off to Boise to sign Camden up for gymnastics, and then we'll head over to the book store for story and craft time. I'm about to throw some chili in the crock pot so dinner will be ready by the time we get home.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Christmas Photo

I can't seem to get one this year. Yesterday, I dressed the boys in their matching Christmas jammies (thanks, Nana!) and tried in vain to get a shot of the two of them together. For some reason, whenever I pull out a camera these days, Camden does all the things you don't want someone to do when you are trying to take their picture. Leans back like he is being blasted by a large gust of wind, cheesy smile, eyes name it, he does it. Add Griffin to the mix, and if you want him smiling, you have to talk a lot (in a high-pitched, gitchy-gitchy-goo voice) and snap fast. Yesterday probably wasn't a good day to attempt it anyway - - I was seriously sleep deprived, weepy, and, if you recall, I'd nearly ripped the driver's side door off my car, first thing in the morning. Anyway, here are some of the pictures:

Camden's eyes are closed...Griffin looks a wee bit uncomfortable...that one won't work

A little dark...Camden looks cute, but as you can see, Griffin isn't in the shot

Sweet Griffin and his friend, Frosty (Camden had given up at this point)

Then, my mom pointed out this morning that my date stamp was messed up (2002?), so even if I'd gotten a good picture of the two of them, I wouldn't have used it because of the darn date stamp. Anyway, I gave up, and in my fragile emotional state, decided there just wouldn't "be" a photo this year! So there! This morning, as I was folding laundry and chatting with the boys, the opportunity presented itself and I got a pretty cute picture of the two of them (yes, together!). No Christmas jammies, no tree...just Camden and Griffin hanging out. Sorry I can't post it, you'll have to wait until you get your card.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Morning Advice

When backing out of your garage, it is generally NOT a good idea to leave your car door open.
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