Monday, November 28, 2005

Gingerbread Houses

The last thing I got done today was a double batch of gingerbread dough which I have sworn solumnly to help the boys turn into GB houses tomorrow. Oh, that WILL be messy. But it will make for good blogging as long as the batteries in the digital camera hold out.

In other news, we had a WONDERFUL time with Mary Ann, her daughter Rose, her grandson, Morgan, and her son-in-law, Vance. They are all such wonderful people and we had yummy food and great conversation. In fact, we had such a good time that we decided to do it again in less than a week before Mary Ann has to head home to Arizona. Rose and Vance and Morgan live here for the time being, and I'm hoping we can continue to get together while they're here.

I have 90% of what I need to start a new work project, but the missing 10% is crucial, so instead of workwork today, I did errands. I took the boys to preschool and stopped by the insurance office to make a deposit to our HSA. (My HSA account is through the bank owned by my insurance company and they'll overnight my deposits for free. Free is good, right Risha?) Max and I visited the post office, Target for a big Bionicle that he had earned the money for by selling something on eBay, and the Dairy for, duh, milk. Around this time we concocted the idea of the gingerbread house, so we went back to Penn State, picked up the twins, and hit the grocery store for gingerbread items. Only, right next to the grocery store was a hair place with cheap kids cuts, so I decided to have Ben and Milo professionally trimmed for once (pure laziness as far as Ben goes -- he just gets a #1 all over his head. Milo gets longer on top and short on the sides, so there is some small amount of skill involved. Skills I don't really have, but usually fake okay.) It was lunch time though and Milo in particular was in an uncharacteristically impish mood. By the time we were done with the hair cuts they'd lost all patience. I had to have words with the boy twice and Max was beyond grouchy. We talked about THAT on the way home.

Got home, fed everyone as quickly as possible, ::poof:: dark scowls all gone. Mental note: simultaneous growth spurts happening here, don't. skip. lunch.

I got Max started on school work four hours later than normal, but he was eager given the promise of gingerbread house baking. I gave him a list and then left them all in the care of Chris. Emily and I went back to the post office, on to the health food store to get some pectin and blue berries, and then off to the park to throw the ball and walk for 20 minutes. Poor Emily. Her hair is so long she's nearly blind. It didn't stop her from running her heart out, but she had to use her nose to find the ball more often than not. Then she was eating/licking the grass -- I hadn't brought water because it was 42 degrees or something and it hadn't occured to me. So we bopped over to Petco for a small bag of pig ears and a bottle of water. Jeez, if you're ever feeling invisible, down (not that I was, but . . .) just borrow Emily and head to Petco. Even incredibly overgrown (and frankly, muddy) she got gushing compliments from literally every human we passed. Those who knew a poodle when they saw one were practically cat calling after her. I think she blushed under all that fur. Had Emily HAD puppies today, I'd have sold them all right there in the parking lot. As it was, I promised the groomers we'd come back when she's had a hair cut so she can see her admirers.

Then it was home for dinner. Chris and I pow-wowed over the family Christmas list. I have a lot left to make but think I can be done by the end of next week to get most gifts shipped.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

In Which We Have a Steve and Blue Day

Yesterday was a lot of fun. First, Chris went to pick up the mail.

"Here's the mail it never fails.
It makes me want to wag my tail.
When it comes I want to wail

The mail brought a huge package from my Aunt and a paycheck. I sent Chris off to the bank and he returned with deposit slips and cash so I could go shopping later.

Then, we had a mid-morning Pampered Chef party. Chris took the kids and Emily down to the garage so that none of them could bark and jump on the guests.

"Hi! We're so glad you're here today!"

That went well, although it was heck on my diet. Chris ate all the leftovers. He loves Pampered Chef parties.

Everyone went home and Max went off to Brian's house to go sledding and do whatever else it is an 8 and a 9 yr-old do that takes the entire rest of the afternoon. Brian's Mom is On Top of It so I didn't really worry about the details.

I remembered the package from Aunt Charlotte and opened it to find a HUGE Vera Bradley bag and I really sweet note from Aunt Charlotte telling me that this was my 2006 Christmas present (implying that next year's family Christmas name-draw might be somewhat fixed ;). Apparently the bag has been discontinued. It's HUGE. I love it. It's beautiful and completely out of the blue and that's MY kind of mail! Since I'm working on my never-ending needlepoint stocking right now, I immediately put it and all it's stuff in the bag. The stocking is about 22 inches tall in the needlepoint frame. It only peeks out about 4 inches above the top of the bag and the bag's straps are much taller than that. So, it's perfect. I'm thrilled and thankful.

Next, I packed up the twizzles and we went shopping. We went to Wal-mart in search of the cheapest iron skillet I could find. My Navajo friend from Arizona is coming this evening with her family to visit and have dinner and my old iron skillet died a horrible death in the dishwasher before the move. We found that and looked at their winter coats. They didn't have two in Ben and Milo's size. We left.

Next we went to Wegman's to buy groceries for tonight's get-together, stopping on the way at McDonalds where I let Ben and Milo get happy meals. I got a diet coke. They ate their happy meals in the "car" shopping cart, which meant I made good time for once. We loaded up the groceries in the truck and then went to Target. We had better luck here and did LOTS of shopping. Turtle necks were on sale in their size for $2.99 each. I got four. Dress shirts were $7.99 each. I bought one for each. The winter coats in their size were $39.99 and $49.99. This was $5 more each than the ones at Wal-mart, but I bought two of the $39.99 coats because they were the right size. We also got some more fleece mittens and hats. I did finish my mitten set, but it seems that it pays to have more than one pair of mittens per child in an Northern-Appalachian winter and I can't keep up on the knitting with the current flurry of work. [Thank you, God, for sending work AND clients who pay on time.]

They had received some birthday money from the very same Aunt Charlotte, so they used this to buy some Christmas DVDs. I picked up three extension cords and a fourth outdoor lighted tree. I'm not putting lights on the house this year. The ones we had for the old house don't work and it's "enough" out there this year to have lighted swag on the front porch railing and the four Christmas "trees" lighting the front path. I LOVE a big outdoor display, and I fully intend to embarass all the neighbors with my lights as the years go by, but we'll add a little something each year. After all, we are never, ever moving again.

Then we went to Barns and Noble to spend some gift cards they received from Aunt Karen and Uncle Jason. They picked out two noisy make-me-crazy books with the buttons that make those obnoxious noises and two coloring books. I let them, but I told them they had to save the coloring books for church.

Well, it's 8:27 am. Time to wrangle the crew into their winter coats and head off to church. Happy last day of Thanksgiving break to everyone.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

I had the most wonderful thanksgiving EVER!!

My brother and sister-in-law pulled off the surprise of the century by showing off their freshly printed 12 WEEK ULTRASOUND PICTURES!!!!


And oh bless them, my brother and sister-in-law are two of the most beautiful and smart specimens of humanity on the planet. That kid is going to be deadly in both departments.

I'm going to be an auuuunt,
I'm going to be an auuuunt,
Auntie Auntie Alaska,

I'm. so. happy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Culinary Adventures

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we're going to my brother's house. I was asked to bring rolls. I kept offering desserts or something a wee bit more challenging to make, but they're having the event catered and it pretty much includes everything. In fact, I think they just mentioned the rolls to humor me because they knew I'd cry if I wasn't allowed to cook or bake something for the event.

So I thought I'd at least try a new recipe. I looked through the "Christmas breads" sections of the first cookbook I picked off the shelf and it mentioned a Swedish Christmas wreath. I hopped online to find a picture of a Swedish Christmas wreath and found someone's blog about a Swedish Christmas, but no pictures of a bread-like wreath. I kept googling and soon came up with someone else's blog about St. Lucia bread -- made with saffron. That sounded like fun, so I googled around some more but all the recipes were in metric measurements. I couldn't grok that. What to do? What to do?

So I called Manitoba. Instead of converting my measurements, she offered her OWN favorite roll recipe. Zweibach. I thought that was funny because here in the states, Zweibach is synonymous with "inedible teething biscuits that form quick-drying concrete after contact with baby drool." I didn't mention that just in case that was offensive.

She sent me the recipe. I dutifully followed it. But back in that first recipe book there was also a recipe for Chinese meat rolls and that looked promising for dinner because I had beef in the crockpot and no real idea about what I was going to do with it. It was some strange part of the cow I'd never cooked before and despite my best efforts to cut it off, there was still a TON of fat left in it. So I strained the broth and put that in the fridge so I could skim the fat off the top and freeze the broth. I painstakingly separated the good beef from the ick that was left, gave the dogs the half-dozen bones left over (they were thrilled), and threw away all the remaining ick.

But now what to do with the beef? What ever portion of the cow this was, it wasn't the tastiest.

So I made the Chinese meat rolls dough. Then I made the Mennonite Zweibach (which is about 1 and a half cups of sugar from being butter cookies) dough. Then I made the St. Lucia saffron dough. And let it all rise.

Now it's 9 pm and so far we've . . .

* finished the Chinese meat rolls. This was a surprise success. Completely contrary to typical form, the boys launched right into the strange new food without pause and gobbled it down crying, "More! More!" I ate mine but found the beef mixture dry. That would have been less likely if I'd followed the directions as written -- the meat is normally put in the steamed rolls raw and then cooks as the rolls steam. But even so I was thrilled to discover that the roll part of it was absolutely perfect and if I can just find a good pork pot-sticker recipe, I'll be able to make steamed dumplings.

* finished the Mennonite Zweibach. Now, THIS was funny. I was told to roll the balls into something between a plum and a peach. I did that, but closer to the peach than the plum. Maybe big peaches. Then to put a walnut sized top on. I think I did that. Or maybe they were more like really small plums? I then let them rise for 40 minutes (and rise they did) and then put them in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. When the timer went off at 25 minutes I checked them and it was clear that they'd been plotting to take over the kitchen just before dying from heat. They were huge, they'd spread OFF the enormous large baking stove, and they smelled great. I gave them five more minutes and then pulled the shelf out of the oven. I had to gently pull each roll from the big roll hive that had formed and place them on the cooling rack. I couldn't lift the stone out otherwise because there were no exposed edges.

I'm now waiting for the baking stone to cool before I give the saffron bread a shot.

Hey, you know what was cool? One of the other couples from church called tonight at 8:30 to see if we had plans for Thanksgiving Day! They were going to invite us over to play. A wee bit late in the planning department, but I thought it was awfully kind (and in any 0ther year, the sort of thing we might do).

Alright, time to get the kids in bed. Big day tomorrow, and there's still St. Lucia bread to bake. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I wish you all full bellies, fast traffic, and fun with your friends and relatives.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I spent the first part of the day working on one project. Sent it out the door and spent another two hours putting out fires on another work project. I fed the kids something -- Max decided it was inadequate and dug out the quesadilla maker and made quesadillas for everyone to go with it. I love that boy. I threw on my shoes and got out side to help Chris rake leaves.

We've kinda let the place go ::cough::. Truthfully, we've done next to no raking this whole fall. I got out there twice and moved some leaves around, but nothing really got done. Well, it's supposed to drop into the icky temperatures and rain and sleet the rest of the week. Sensing that this might be the last day that the job wasn't beyond horrible, we got out there and raked and blew and hauled and dumped a quarter acre of leaves that were about, oh, 8 inches deep. Dude. Those are some BIG Oak trees surrounding our yard.

On the upside, I can check exercising off my list for a few days ;)

At some point I threw together a double batch of pizza dough and put that out to rise. It was ready to become pizza when I came in from raking. About the time that the cheese pizza was finishing up, the missionaries arrived. They played with the kids while I finished the ground beef pizza. We ate, we talked -- and now I'm back at my computer trying to find two synapses to rub together to finish up some work.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I am not your broom! I am not your broom!

Lots of nothing points if you know the source of that quote.

Today I knew I needed to clean. The missionaries are coming for dinner tomorrow evening, I can't decorate for Christmas until the carpet's been cleaned, and I have a Pampered Chef party planned for next Saturday.

But, I didn't want to. I was tired. I was gwouchy. I did what any great procrastinator does, I planned. I made a To-Do list. When I was done I had to admit that at least one of the items couldn't be put off no matter how much I wanted to. So I dressed the twins and we went off to the grocery store to get vegetable oil and toilet paper. On the way there, I turned on the radio and discovered that one of my presets -- a "soft rock" station that makes Chris' ears bleed -- has converted to all Holiday music all the time for the rest of the season. Now, my memory is that usually we don't get holiday music until Thanksgiving day, but I guess now it's the first day of Thanksgiving week.

It was just what I needed though. If you play ALL Holiday music all day long, day after day, your holiday music selections had better be pretty deep. I ended up listening all day as I cleaned, music cranked up as loud as my little boom box goes, and I didn't hear one repeat.

Tis the season to shampoo your carpet, fa la la la la la la la la . . .

So I sorted, tossed, and weeded out the kids toys. Buh-bye happy meal toys. Buh-bye broken things. Hello room for whatever Santa brings. I didn't get to the two big ugly spots in the basement -- the junk displaced by the wood pellets, and um, my office corner (it gets ugly fast). But I got the toys done, worked on dishes, washed a lot of laundry, tidied and vacuumed the livingroom, broke down and reassembled the carpet shampooer before having to admit that, um, it's not long for this world.

Tonight I'll fold and put away that laundry and finish the last of the kitchen except the floor.

Tomorrow I'll work, then I'll do the kitchen floor, cook for the gang plus two hungry 19 year olds, and tomorrow night I'll tackle shampooing the hallway.

Tuesday, I promised Max, is set up the Christmas tree day. I have to set up the tree before he can set up the Christmas slot track that will run around its base.

Then I get to spend the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday decorating and tackling those ugly spots in the basement. It's my goal to be completely decorated BEFORE going to my brother and sister-in-law's house for Thanksgiving so that I can have Friday to prepare for Saturday's pampered chef shindig.

I don't know what I'm doing for work in December, but I do have work, LOL. I just don't have the specifics. But I do know I get most of this coming week off and that's great :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Four Years Ago

Tuesday, October 30th, 2001

I've now been here 24 days and there are 17 days to go. Dr. Danilenko has set the c-section date for November 16th at 8am. It's great to have an end date. I want so much to hold you two and KNOW that you are SAFE and sound.

Tomorrow I get bathroom priveleges back which means I get to walk down the hall to take a REAL SHOWER (and burn the bed pan!!!!) A huge return to freedom.

Alice brought by two burb rags she sewed herself. They have cute teddy bears on them. Chris put your crib together and set it up in our room. I cried because he didn't bring a picture. I might be a wee bit sensitive since being incarcerated hospitalized.

Saturday, November 3

Well, I'm two days late on Jason's birthday present and Gaye's is tomorrow. Chris is going to bring in his computer this afternoon and we're going to see what we can find for them.

Only 13 days to go until your birthday. I can't wait. Sometime this week I should have a little work to do on the book I'm editing for Xxx. That might help time pass more quickly. I also need to finish L.R.'s scarf this week (for Christmas) so I can finish Max's.

Tuesday, November 6

Ten days to go and I'm worn out with waiting.

Wednesday, November 7

Nine days to go and sleeping is so tough. I'm so physically uncomfortable that I just don't sleep well. I don't like taking the sleeping pills they offer me, but I can't live with the consequences (no sleep at all) if I don't. It is only getting harder to be away from Chris and Max. A week from today I get the third and final shot to mature their your lungs. I pray the next nine days pass quickly.

Sunday, November 11

I've been daydreaming of all the things we'll do once you are out here in the world. The Holiday season is swiftly approaching and there is the tree to decorate, and Christmas shopping to do. Christmas cards and baby announcements to mail out. Visits to Santa (for Max) to fit in. Donna is visiting to help next week and Gaye is coming for 2 weeks in December. The next few months will be hectic [Ed: Shyah, I had NO CLUE.] A nice change of pace after all this lying around. I can't wait to be busy again.

I can't eat any more than a few bites of solids. It won't stay down. I wake two or three times a night now just to throw up. Whichever one of you is sitting on my stomach could maybe move?

Wednesday, November 14

It's very good to be so much closer to Friday, but the minutes are starting to tick by. I have enough to do--work, knitting, reading, and God bless Animal Planet. If it weren't for Animal Cops I'd have nothing to watch. I have no attention span though. Maybe the sleeping thing? It's taking me forever to get through my work folder.

I had the last shot today to mature your lungs. They like to get that in 48 hours before delivery, so they did that at 7 am. It's 10:30 am now. Maybe by this time on Friday, you'll be born.

I'm getting tired. It will soon be nap time. Muy mind makes lists of things you will need: onesies, gowns, socks, and a diaper pail . . .

Thursday, November 15

Physically, things are going downhill fast. I'm tired of throwing up all over myself. I can't breathe. I can't move. I wasn't designed to be this size. Mentally I think I'm a little over the edge. I'm saved by knowing that you will be delivered tomorrow morning.

Alice will be visiting this evening. Chris will be spending the evening with Max having a "dude" night. I finished my work project today and sent it back to California. Little by little, loose ends are being tied up and I'm feeling more and more ready for tomorrow!

I'm 50 inches around, weigh 218 lbs, and have the fundal height of a someone who has been pregnant for 48 weeks. THAT is enough. You are 34w2d gestation tomorrow. It will be your birthday.

I have waited forever for you and at last you are due to arrive.


What a wild first year that was.

Thor had some adjustment issues. Here he is sucking on a binky.

Hard to blame him. They were eating his food.

Max adjusted just fine.

It was messy, three boys.

When they find out you're expecting twins people warn you all the time about how hard it is, as if you hadn't the intelligence to figure that out on your own. It is stressful.

But I try to warn expecting mother's of twins that they'll look back on their days before they had twins and know something was lacking. As each day passes, more and more of it will be spent with a couple of really wonderful, joyous, giving, people who understand at a deep genetic level that sharing isn't taking turns.

Thank you, again Ben and Milo. You taught me that prayers are answered, that even the undeserving can receive more than one miracle, (and yes, that I never, ever want to pee in a bed pan again).

Happy, Happy Birthday tomorrow.


And now, a scene from Monday night.

Mom: What do you guys want for your birthday?

Milo: cake

Ben: no, CHOColate cake

Milo: Yeah! Yeah!---

Ben: No, CHOColate cake with chocolate ICE CREAM.

Milo: Yeah! Yeah!

Mom: I meant, what did you want for a present?

Milo and Ben: cake!

[Ben starts to panic]

Ben: Cake! Chocolate ice cream cake! Is . . . is what we want!

Mom: I know, I know, we'll get that what I meant was--

[Milo starts to cry.]

Mom: [sighs] Sweetie, what's the matter?

Milo: I [sob] I [sob] We want [sob] THE CAKE!

[Mom gives up. It's probably my gene pool that caused this emotional reaction to the mere idea of chocolate depravation.]

Mom: Baby, we will. We will get the cake.

Milo and Ben: Now?!?!?

Mom: No. Wednesday.

Milo and Ben: oh.

[sad moment of silence.]

Milo: Okay!

Ben: Chocolate ICE CREAM cake!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Oy Vey

What has it come to when I've only blogged three times in November?

But again, I've been swamped with work and that gets old. This week I will continue to stay swamped. Next week I get to take off.

We have some leaves in the backyard. Here's a picture. Let me put it in context for you. These leaves haven't been raked yet. That's just how deep they are. Ben is burying Max at Max's request.

Ben and Milo are four on Wednesday and I'm just flabbergasted about that.

Max and I went shoping for their gifts this evening. One of the items was over-sized. Max gently nudges me away from the cart when we get out to the truck, "This is pretty big, Mom. You better let me get this."

I want to cry and hug him all at once. Don't be in too much of a hurry, kid. It's cold out there.

Emily is dreaming. I don't know what she's dreaming about, but it involved whining and barking in her sleep. hilarious. I'm so glad we have this silly over-grown, over-sized poodle girl :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I laughed, I cried, I saved it to My Favorites Just in case I ever need such a thing . . .


I'm cold and damp. I gave Emily a bath since I couldn't get her a grooming appointment until the middle of December. Poor girl. She took our recent family Recession hard. Denied trips to the beauty parlor, she's looking VERY like a sheepdog.

But a very PRETTY sheepdog!

I reassured her that the family financial future was looking rosy, that interest rates were plummeting (within the home) and that she'd soon get a nice hair cut (and maybe a Penn Hip test, soon after).

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Today in Sacrament meeting we arrived late, so we had to sit in the center, only three pews back. This put us next to a nice family with three teen-aged girls. Milo blushed and avoided eye contact for the first half of the meeting, but then the girl closest to him won him over by drawing him pictures of cats and dogs and labeling them. CAT DOG etc. Then she handed him the pen.

My kids do their best with an audience.

Milo wrote A B C in the most perfect penmenship I've ever seen come from a kid who is still "fwee."
Ben stole the pen and paper and wrote BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN in every spot left on the page.

The teenagers were charmed. It was mutual. Sacrament meeting was eaaaassyyy today.

I tried something new with my food order forms today. I put five separate copies of the order form in folders and put one in the foyer, one to pass around in Sunday School, one to pass around in primary and young women's and one to pass around in Relief Society. This worked much better than just passing it around in Relief Society. I'll do it again next week and then place this month's order. This month we're ordering macaroni, rice, hot chocolate, and vegetable oil. The ward owns a food saver, so I'll bring that home with me the week the order arrives (this one is coming mostly from the cannery in Maryland) and people can bring their own food saver bags and rebag the macaroni and rice into smaller packets.

Day passed. BLT's for lunch, except me who had a BLT salad. Healthy version of corn chowder for dinner. I worked. At one point I got up from my "desk" and came back to find a post-it note stuck to the screen.

Max's goals:
Monday: $4.00
tusday: $3.25

I was pleased on two points.
1) If you're going to save for something you want, it's good to set reasonable goals for earning the money.
2) with the exception of poor Tuesday there, it's nicely capitalized and punctuated. (We kind of skipped over that last year. heh. Much better this year.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Feel Boring

I feel boring right now so I don't blog.

Whadja do today?

Oh, I . . . worked.
Took the kid to piano.
Thought about doing something other than work. Decided that would be a bad idea.
Worked some more.

It's a phase. I see a slight lull in the action right before Thanksgiving. That will help. Getting paid for all this work and being back in the black will help.

Hey, you know what helped? My aunt sent me a care package. It had one of Max's shirts and some of his bionicle pieces. It had a science unit I'd left there. It had a brand new pair of socks that she must have decided were mine. They weren't but at the time I couldn't find where my socks had gone and I was standing there, opening the box, with cold feet. So I put them on and wore them every day for four days in a row (found my socks, finally, in Max's sock drawer). There were four skeins of cotton dishcloth yarn (she loves me, clearly) and a beautiful calendar that my grandmother gets me every year and which never ceases to make me feel like a grown up. Only her daughters get the calendars.

You know, I don't have one aunt that I don't want to be like in some way. Or am not already like in some way. There are elements in Caroline, Connie, Charlotte, GeeGee, and Kay that I would very much like to see in a description of me some day. That can't be bad.

Where was I? Oh yes, the care package. So that really made my week and I've been sitting here, trying to convince myself to start working again and instead all I keep doing is letting my eyes drift over to that dishrag cotton.

But then I think if I'm not going to work, I should clean. And if I'm not going to clean, I should round up the kids and put them to bed, and if I'm not going to do any of that, I should work. Or at least, for heaven's sake, get out the needlepoint stocking and see if you can't finish THAT this year.

I guess I'll go clean and put the kids to bed.