Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jingle Jangle

Okay.  Here we go...

This month photo review:
 Kid & I took a lovely night time walk on our ski vacation.  I pretended to hear a pack of wolves... and scared the crap out of her.  It was good times.
 Kid never EVER would look up when I tried to take a picture of her skiing.  Always just straight down the slope.  She was kind of serious about it.
 Baby was 100% not serious about it... except that she could ski with poles even though every single person there told her/us it would make it harder to learn.
 They were all wrong.  She could totally ski with the poles.  And as she said "I haven't crashed into anyone yet!"
 We got home from that trip on December 1st and I was SO proud of myself for organizing my Xmas bins.  With the 1st Bin I knew I had our advent calendars and we were set to go, even if we hadn't officially started decorating yet.
 Hmm... that doesn't look that great but this is a fantastic go to dinner in these parts.  Chicken & noodles.  Wide egg noodles & mixed vegetables cooked in chicken broth, then drained & tossed with shredded poached chicken, 1 box of Pacific brand organic cream of Chicken soup (I highly recommend), lots of poultry seasoning & salt & pepper and you are good to go!  Sometimes I also saute up an onion but if in a time crunch it isn't necessary.  This is a fast weeknight meal.  I don't really measure anything; just eyeball it & taste for seasoning.  I use about 3/4 bag of noodles, a couple cups of veg & chicken & 2-ish teaspoons of poultry seasoning.  I have bags of shredded poached chicken in the freezer so it really only takes 15-20 min to throw this all together.  You could use rotisserie chicken.  This is one of the casserole type dinners I make that make great hot packed lunches for the girls.
 We went to our local tree lot, where Mr F insisted that we could only fit a 6-7 foot tree.  Hmm... next year we're going with the 7-8 footers.  
Although, it did make it easier to decorate the top.
 Just a reminder that Big Boy is a humongous cat.  Tiger (in back) is actually a 13 pound adult male.  Big Boy looks like he could fit him in his stomach.  :)

 Every year we add something to our Creche scene.  This year: palm trees.  Holy crap it makes all the difference.  Mr F and I are almost embarrassingly into them.  We got them on our annual trip to Bronner's , they are made by Fontanini.  Now all we need are animals.  

 Baby had an awesome "Non Christmas" holiday concert.  She sang "Footloose" and "Hound Dog".  It was awesome & she was SO into it.  She's sitting right below the girl that may or may not be picking her nose.  

Of course, as is to be expected, I was stuck sitting behind my concert nemesis... A woman I call "Hair".  It was filling me with homicidal rage.  This is the 2nd time I've been stuck behind "Hair". She had saved her seat with a coat, so I had no idea she was sitting there when I got our seats.  Thank God, someone down our row left the show before Baby sang & we could move over.  

This year, Baby really wanted us to go caroling. We roped my mother & step father into it.

 Baby had a plan. She insisted that she go up to each door and ring the door bell.  Then she'd sing the first stanza on her own before signaling us to join in.  She is fearless.  It was amazing.
And as heartbreakingly cute as you can imagine.

 Wouldn't your heart just explode if some little kid with a candle was singing to you on your porch?

After our village installed sidewalks surrounding our acre lot (which we need to clear, ahem) Mr F got a mega snowblower.  The girls loved running under it's snow stream getting pelted in the face.  Weirdos.   

 The sidewalk project also regraded our back hill (which was formerly kind of a deadly, though exhilarating sledding hill) and now we don't have to worry about the kids shooting into the road.
 Which is a good thing.

 After a slow start to the holiday merry making.  This week, I got the house decorated (and cleaned!!) and busted out some serious back to back to back baking days.

 While I have made my own gingerbread houses in the past (Joy of Cooking recipe & instructions!!) and bought one of those all inclusive kits (which I didn't love). This year I stumbled on IKEA's gingerbread house parts.  No candy or icing (which were always the disappointing kit components imo, anyway).  They were CHEAP and flat.  Assembly was fairly easy.  I just used homemade royal icing.
 Kid's looks AMAZING.  Her OCD was a real advantage for this project ;)  She also reluctantly took my advice on the cinnamon candy field stone chimney look and was glad she did.  
 Baby took no advice whatsoever.  Her project (like all her artwork) in a constantly evolving storyline. 
I think she accidentally miscounted her first row of candy roofing and she had to kind of squeeze in one of the tiles & instead of getting mad she just made it intentional saying "There are no straight lines, to ward of evil spirits!"(having just read a book about the sloping roofs of ancient China) and then she just went with that and carried it out in everything she did thereafter.   
 She created more of a gingerbread tableaux, than a house. Her gingerbread mom & daughter are decorating the snowman.  The mom is holding his other eye and the daughter is holding his last button.
 The gingerbread baby boy thinks he's been left alone until he looks out the window and sees his dad hanging up the last ornament on the garland.  (I'm not kidding, this is how it goes.  This will be a little bit easier in a few years when she doesn't need help working out the logistics... like me having to nervously pick up a decorated house so she could try and insert the baby boy)
This took a LONG time to complete.  
And the first thing she said this morning was:  
"Mom, can I finish my gingerbread house?"
(just kidding, of course... just sometime in the distant future)  

So that is the long and the short of it.  Happy December!  I have not worked out in a month-ish.  Just FYI.  I also have had 3 days in a row of only eating cookies for nourishment.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rinse and Repeat

Whoa, I can't believe I haven't blogged in about a month.  What the....

Well, basically, the things you have missed:

One or the other of our girls has been home sick THE WHOLE DAMN TIME.

But never with the same thing, or at the same time.

What would the fun be in that?!

We are reaching hard to believe status over here.  I'm waiting for social services to show up and accuse me of having Munchausen by proxy!

Oh, and Kid jammed her finger during gym the day after Thanksgiving break which required another trip to the doctor and round of X-rays and finger splint... on top of the flu- pneumonia- cold- sinus infection- cold roller coaster we've been on.  Awesome times.  I should just go to medical school... it will probably be cheaper in the long run!

So, I never did get around to putting up our Christmas decorations early like I had hoped to. I pretty much have had to spend my time driving whichever kid is healthy to and from school and the sick one rushed to sick appointments and chest X-rays.

I just got started bringing up our Christmas stuff. I don't know... this year is weird.  I just can't get ahead on anything.  And every time I think we're about to get a good normal week, one of the kids gets a fever (hacking cough/broken finger/etc) and all my plans are scrapped (again).

On top of that there is a lice outbreak at Baby's school and I'm the "lice mom" which means I go to school and braid all of the kid's hair in the morning.  That takes... oh... forever.  But it is a small(ish) price to pay if it keeps Baby from getting lice.

In other news, our vacation was a success.  We went Up North to a ski resort.  We definitely took a risk booking a ski vacation so early in the season (in fact I did not know this, but they had never been open that early for skiing)... and... it worked out.  They had had some good snows the week leading up to Thanksgiving and there was at least a foot of snow.  Unfortunately, Baby was pretty much on her death bed with a severe sinus infection and had to sit out of the fun for the first couple of days.  On the plus side, we were upgraded from a two bedroom suite to an entire three bedroom cottage.  It was AMAZING, and made our stay (and our homebound sickie) so much easier to manage and enjoy.
The girls and I all tried downhill skiing for the first time.  Kid loved it, Baby over-loved it, and I... meh... not so much for me.  Maybe you need to try it before adulthood?  I just think sledding is more fun and takes less concentration.  (plus there is always the fear of a butt fracture looming in my mind).

Upon our return, we discovered that our dishwasher had leaked and buckled our cherry floors.  Not good.  Mr F stopped the leak, the floors are still buckling... hoping they dry out and go back down?!  Hopefully?!

That's about the whole of it, peeps.  OH, except for some serious shit that has been going down at Kid's school.  I spoke for about an hour to the school board (involving lesson examples!).  They were enlightened ;)  This will definitely be our last year, but I'm trying to get as many changes implemented as I can for the betterment of the kids who remain.  I am definitely stirring the pot, but I've had many people (even the board members) tell me that they have pretty much needed someone who was willing to do it.  There are some pretty big systemic problems.  But as one school board member called me to say "There is no arguing with what you say.", so with that in mind, light is being shed where it needs to be.  I know I've created a lot of interest in the other parents and the school board in seeking out how to improve the functioning of the school and the effectiveness of the classroom teachers.  I feel good about that.  I've also started making study guides for a few of Kid's classmates... and... they are getting As now, too.  (Kid's rocking a 4.0)  (Which all just helps my street cred at these meetings) (And, yes, I think I'll be homeschooling for middle school... since I've been homeschool all year anyway)

Happy Holidays!

Oh, and photo updates of our trip (and did I ever actually tell you about our spring break to Williamsburg last year?!  It was fantastic despite Kid having the flu and my being a solo-parent... so that says something.  Busch Gardens was very doable & easy to navigate & all of the Williamsburg area is so easy to get around.  We really liked being able to do a historic area in the AM and then heading over to Busch Gardens for a couple hours around dinner time... best of both worlds! I whole heartily recommend it!! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and we were really happy with it... great breakfast buffet.  I booked a package through Busch Gardens website that included everything.)

TTFN as they say.

And because this never stops making me laugh, here it is again:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things You've Missed While I've Been Gone

#1 I gave up coffee.  I'm drinking tea instead.  
#2 Kid, 3 weeks after a bad cold/flu which she came down with just 2 weeks after E. coli poisoning, has now been battling pneumonia for a week.  
She's missed more school this year than all other years combined.
#3 The only upside is that I was able to rest along with her last week, and I finally feel 100% better from my E.coli infection.  
#4 We are NOT going to WDW for Thanksgiving.  I don't know.  I was kind of dreading the drive & feeling cheap.  Plus, with Kid missing so much school recently, I just didn't want to do something that would require so much work (on my part) and more missed days for her.
#5 We are going skiing for Thanksgiving.  This is a ground breaking trip.  I've never downhill skied and either have the girls.  Mr F has never skied in the time I've known him.  So... hopefully we don't all break our legs.  We're heading Up North just for the long weekend to the resort we visited this summer.    We're excited.  And scared.
#6  I've been watching The Paradise on PBS.  It's good peeps.  You can catch all the episodes on if you don't have TV service, like me.  
#7 I also watched ALL of the Call the Midwives episodes on Netflix.  I don't know why I didn't get into the first time I tried... I loved it.  Surprisingly funny (at times)
#8  I am totally into flossing, now.  I don't know why it took me nearly 40 years.  I mean, how did I ever think my teeth were clean before?!  Floss, people!  
#9  Major organization projects have been underway.  I did successfully clean off the kitchen counters. (even the dreaded home office peninsula which acts as a super powerful paper magnet)
Craft cabinet... I'm coming for you.
#10 I'm taking down our Halloween decorations (Kid's pneumonia kind slowed me down on that front)... and putting up Christmas.  Deal with it.  I'm going for it!!! Last year I waited too long.  
That's about it.
Photos for your perusal:  

The girls bowling:
 Awesome form, Baby!
 Yo!  Kid's limbs are really LONG.  She is 5 feet tall now & wears a 7.5-8 shoe... she just turned 11.
She can't even fit forward in the car seat (Ha!)
She looks amused, doesn't she?
Still reading like it's her job.

Pumpkin carving:
 Do not fool yourselves... these losers didn't do a damn thing to help carve those!  Will they ever?!?

Baby's super AWESOME school picture:
Hmm... if you tilt your head you might see who she takes after:
(although I'll happily admit she is much prettier than I ever was!)

Speaking of which, I laughably started thinking I had reached the age which required more effort into my appearance & decided to start wearing makeup:
(This could also be a strong reflection on having more time on my hands)
Well, about a week into it, a mom from school stopped me and asked me what was wrong.  She said I just looked so stressed & tired lately.  ha!  So, long story short: I'm not wearing makeup anymore.
(But also, yes, I'm older than when you last saw me)

Baby is still.... Baby.  
 And she still, inexplicably, loves doing yard work:

 Kid turned 11 on Halloween:
 She had our traditional family birthday breakfast (Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants).  
We're never going to quit you, chocolate croissants!

This year's Halloween costumes:
 Kid was a Victorian ghost (which, just take my word for it, was better in person... she even had glow in the dark face paint... which considering our trick-or-treat hours was sadly never in full effect).  
Baby graciously agreed to wear her million dollar dance recital get up while it still fit.
 My mom and stepdad escorted them out in their collaborative costumes.  Popi sporting the ultimate in men's ballerina attire, and my mom was (obviously) a ghostbuster.  
Popi was pretty much famous by the end of the block.

Kid is kind of growing up and too cool to give me any input about things like cakes.
(Baby, by the way, is not... I completely disregarded the 7 page manual she drew up for how she thought I should decorate Kid's cake this year) 
I just did a simple cake that wouldn't offend her sensibilities:
 She didn't even notice I wrote anything on it.  I'm not kidding.  

All she wanted for her birthday was a set of high quality dominos:
 Barnes & Noble in case you need some.  They weren't very easy to find.


 The cats have a lot of work to do, today:
Chippy (our resident chipmunk) is out there LOADING up on maple seeds.  
I think it is going to be a harsh winter.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Week In Review

#1  So, let's see, my last week's meal plan worked out really well.  I ended up being able to have leftover chili & potato soup to rotate into this week... so... always a huge bonus.  It reminds me of how awesome it was when I was more on top of meal planning & freezer cooking and I wish I had a clone of myself so I could get back ahead of the game.  If you are ever wondering, Hell YES, it is worth the time and effort if you have any to spare.  If there was one thing I'd recommend to people who are trying to save money it would be to meal plan & freezer cook.  Look into it.  More to the point it is a huge time and sanity saver.

Speaking of food, I have settled on my universal school potluck dish
(it's vegan, gluten free, & doesn't have to be refrigerated!):
(brown rice & black bean salad with a cilantro vinaigrette)
(I don't know why it has taken me so long to figure this out)

#2  I have very minimally decorated for Halloween this year, and I like it.  Some years are for taking it easy.  This might be one of them.  Being sick to my stomach for 3 weeks might have had something to do with it.

#3  My kids introduced my uncle to "What Does the Fox Say?".  And he liked it.  

But apparently the Cougar did NOT like his 4th birthday party:

(Thank God for Jon!)

#4 Kid stayed home sick AGAIN.  She was home for a couple of days last week.  I love having her company (as maladjusted as she is... HA!):

 And it made me miss our homeschool days.

Fortunately, I don't have to miss homeschooling too much... since... technically I still have to do it.

 There is some major shit about to go down at the Lutheran school regarding how poor the teaching quality is this year. (which is saying something, I might add!) The 5th grade parents are in an uproar.  (Did I mention the teacher taught the math assignment incorrectly... on parent visiting day?!)  Kid's rocking a 4.0... but... again... I'm teaching her the curriculum at home.  Which seems to be the consensus of all of the top performing students.  The good news is, I can do it.  And, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of it.  Having said all that, this is absolutely her last year there.  We are only staying this year because of the social situation she has.  The only good news academically, is that the curriculum is great, so with a little elbow grease on my end, she'll be more than prepared to succeed in middle school.

#5 Speaking of Kid's social life, check out the guns on her boyfriend:
 (Or the guns on the cross country coach in the background... who FYI would have been Kid's teacher if she had switched to Baby's school.  I'm still a little shocked that didn't sway her.) 

#6  We've been enjoying Michigan's peak foliage:

But not for long.  It's been (literally) freezing in the morning these days.  Snow is eminent they say!
And so we are already back to all of this:

(don't worry I was stopped!) 

#7  Last, but not least:

(Why can't our other cat be as awesome as Big Boy is?!)

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