Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Fun

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. It's always amazing to me that so much work goes into preparing for the holidays and then in the blink of an eye, it's all over. The S family definitely had a lot of fun this year.

Of course, J was the star and played to two of his sets of grandparents with pleasure. He was so excited by having them there that presents actually took a back seat. He was very excited by the first sight of a giant stuffed dog, whom he named Pretzel after deciding that his own name was not a suitable name for it. Actually I think he just wanted to eat a pretzel, but we ignored that and the name stuck. He also served up soup and roasted fruit for his guests in his new wooden oven. Other than that, J had very little interst in opening many of his presents. He "oohed" and "aahhed" as he ripped into some paper, but often put the gift down before he was finished and went back to read a book or make more soup. Here we are at 9:50 on Dec. 26 and there are still presents wrapped with his name under the tree. I'm okay with that. I'm happy that he wants to take his time. I am also sending out a message to anyone thinking about his birthday in Feb that we do not need any more presents. We still may be opening your Christmas gifts then!

J and Daddy cuddle with the new ball of fluff

I got to work on some different appetizers for the middle of the day. Crab cakes, which were out of this world, scallops wrapped in pancetta, garlicky spinach dip, and homemade hummus. I made the hummus for J, but he quickly rejected it in favor of the packaged roasted red pepper variety. Oh well.

Christmas dinner was delicious. We cooked a nearly 12 pound prime rib for everyone. B found a cooking method by his buddy Alton Brown on one of the new dvds he got. It said to cook it at 275 for 30 minutes and then increase the temp to 320 until the temp reached about 115. Then you put it in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes and let it rest when you took it out. We were all skeptical of this approach, but it honestly worked beautifully. We served it with a red wine and thyme au jus, which was funny because B and I were "helping" each other using diferent recipes. oops. It all turned out fine. Roasted potatoes, tomatoes, beans, anda mixed green salad with pears, walnuts and gorgonzola rounded out the menu.

A big thank you thank you thank you to Ouiser for sharing her caramel pecan pie. She wasn't kidding when she said it was perfect. Yummy, yummy. There are still two small pieces left and I've beenn holding back from eating them for breakfast with ice cream on top. Seriously, abandon whatever pecan pie recipe you have at home and copy this one and make it right away. Smooth, sweet, but not too sweet and just plain comforting.

'm watching J as I type. He just found another present... a box of wooden fruit and a wooden knife. He's thrilled. Thanks, Nummi. You should see the determination on his face right now. oops, he's been distracted by the phone. Never mind.

We're off to Tucson this weekend through New Year's Day. J is very excited to meet his "Cousa Biddy". I'm glad I looked at my ticket info again. About a month ago they changed our return flight from 11 am to 7 pm (right at bedtime, that should be interesting!). What I didn't realize was they changed our departure flight from 9:50 to 7:30. We would have missed that one.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holly Jolly

This past week was crazy, but a lot of fun. B and I finished the touch ups on our red room and we're really happy with the results. Luckily we only had to do two coats. I'm looking forward to finding pillows and a rug to go along with our new look.

Zoe wonders what happened to all the white

My birthday was on Thursday. Even though I only turned 32, I managed to receive a ton of "you're getting old" cards and wishes. I think that made me more determined to feel younger than I do. I got to share the day with friends and B and I went out for a great adult dinner at one of our favorite restaurants over the weekend.

We had two Christmas parties as well. One was hosted by a pair of dentists who just built a ginormous home. It was lovely inside and we really had a terrific time, but you know what felt really good? Coming home to our home. It was so great to feel that yeah, their house was brand new and fabulous, but that we just love ours. I guess it really is shaping up to being a home.

B and I hosted the second party-- a cookie exchange/toddler play/cocktails soiree. We had a lot to do to get ready like put up our tree, which was a little stressful because I am very picky about trees and ours didn't seem like it had opened up much. After a few days of relaxing in our family room, I'm happy to report that the branches have fallen a bit and it looks so pretty!

J puts the first ornament on the tree with extreme care

The party was lots of fun. It was great to see everyone and exchange so many cookies. I made pizzelles, which was my first attempt. I used to work with a lady who made the most perfect pizzelles ever. They were always the same golden color and had a perfect shape-- no edges missing or anything. I named mine "Not quite perfect pizzelles" because even though they tasted good, they would never have held up to G's back in PA.

My first cookie attempt of the weekend was a chai shortbread cookie made with butter, powdered sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper and a couple of other things. They had a very pleasant flavor, but I kept burning the bottoms. This is the second time I've done that with cookies and I never burn anything. I guess I really need to bite the bullet and start using that convection button on my oven.

Santa was nice enough to stop by (no, that is not J, it's A), as was Miss Claus. Don't they look adorable? J had a great time as well, eating his weight in pepper and hummus. He also managed to sneak a few cookies off the table when nobody was looking.

Try these pomegranate martinis c/o Oprah if you have a get together or even if you don't. They are yummy and a little dangerous!
1.5 cups pom. juice
2 oz. citron vodka
1 oz. cointreau (maybe a little more)
splash of sparkling water (optional)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice and serve! Sooo good.

Here's some very impressive news. We had our first sentence this weekend. It was..... (drum roll)

"Mommy get a pear. (pause) Now. (pause) Please."

We also played our first rhyming/memory game. I've been reading J "The Night Before Christmas". Our friend J gave us a board book with the original poem in it (no missing stanzas) and some really great Santa paintings as illustrations. I think I've read it about 10 times at the most. Yesterday J was holding the book and I was putting away laundry. I started reciting the story.. "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a ___________" J filled in mouse. So I kept going. "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be _______". J filled in there.
We did the whole story this way. He even filled in the word thistle. Of course it sounded liked "thisso", but who cares? I used to do this activity with kindergartners! I was blown away by this. I know it's all memory, but I was totally impressed by how much he remembered and how much he could say. It was pretty awesome. Little does he know he has just upped the reading anty.

Family starts arriving tomorrow for Christmas so we'll probably be out for awhile. I hope everybody has a great one, gets no coal in their stockings and is able to relax as much as possible. Oh and if you are traveling, be safe and get to the airport early. K, C and Z were taking their first family plane trip, missed their first flight because of heavy security and got rerouted to Pittsburgh by way of El Paso, Albuquerque, and Chicago with a bunch of layovers. Definitely not wanting that to happen to anyone else. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Come and Get Me, Cop-per

Lock me up and throw away the key. This mama got her first speeding ticket today. On her own street. With her kid in the car. Watch out Britney, I'm right behind you!

Seriously, I was just driving along, not feeling like I was in a rush or anything. As I turned the curve of the street, two men in uniforms and on motorcycles were waiting with what I swear were smiles on their faces. They waved on the van in front of me and ordered me to pull over. I tapped my chest, asking, "Me?" as if I were being chosen for a kickball team in gym class. I was shocked.

"Do you know the speed limit around here?" Umm...30 sounds good to me. (Honestly that's what I thought it was. Turns out it was 25.) "You were going 36 and following way too close to the car in front of you who was going the speed limit. That's why you had to slam on your breaks." I didn't recall slamming my breaks, but whatever you say, officer. I felt shame wash over me as I said, "I'm sorry." I thought being extra nice might help me out, but this guy had it in for me from the minute we made eye contact.

Now, I didn't do too well in high school physics and maybe my PhD whiz friend A can help me out here, but I swear I remember this exact question from Mr. K's class. If was allegedly going 36 and tailgating and the man in front of me was allegedly going 25 (the speed limit) wouldn't I have hit him instead of continue to follow him? So something is wrong. Either the van in front was not going the speed limit and he got off scott-free, but this made the officer's story make me more sound worse, or his radar was wrong.

I felt like an idiot that this happened. J thought it was fantastic. As I was pulling my license out, he was yelling, "Peesman Peesman Hi!" as if I had just brought someone over to play.

Since I've never been pulled over, I didn't know what happens. Turns out in Texas, you have 30 days to appear before a judge. You need to contact the judge to discuss a few things like whether you will plead guilty and pay the fine, plead not guilty and go to trial, plead guilty or no contest and take defensive driving and maybe get it wiped from your record. The offices were closed when this happened so I have to wait until tomorrow to figure out my fate. I'm thinking the latter will be the easiest. Maybe I'll hire one of those sleezy attorneys and get a trial date. Not. For those who maybe interseted, there are all sorts of books you can order off the internet about how to beat any speeding ticket.

So for today, be ashamed that you know me. I'm bad people. And believe me, now I'm driving like a granny, which is tough for a girl who grew up on Long Island.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Santa, Santa, Santa

We had a very eventful weekend! It started out with getting a Christmas tree. Then B and J took a quick trip to the store to get an extension cord. While they were there, Santa was visiting and was taking free photos. J knows who Santa is but has never actually seen him in person. I wish I would have seen it. B said he freaked out. They had to take the picture together. J looks thrilled because he has a candy cane in his hand. B looks like he's enjoying being on Santa's lap. Actually he wasn't on his lap, but they looked kind of cozy.

On the way home, B and J got caught behind a fire truck going through the neighborhood. J loves fire trucks. This one was a cherry picker and Santa was standing in it and was waving and throwing out candy. Not only did they follow the truck all the way to our house, but then he got to see it two more times as it made the rounds down the other streets. What an afternoon to be a kid! Unfortunately, J wanted the fire trucks to only stay at our house and he got upset when he could hear them but they didn't come back.

The fun didn't stop there. One of the parks was having a holiday festival with singers, bouncy castles and slides, train rides, and of course, Santa. J got to sit on Santa's lap. This time, he went up bravely and shook his hand. He also danced with Frosty the Snowman, who was rocking out to a little heavy metal, which J found hilarious. He was a bit unsure about Rudolph, whom he kept calling a donkey. The best part had to have been the bouncing castle and slides. The pictures describe it best.

A little calmer with Santa number 3
This reminds me of the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie gets kicked down the slide
Don't you just want to bounce around and get that look on your face too?
We finished off the night with a little ice cream. J rewarded us by sleeping until 7:30 this morning. In between all the Santa fun, B and I finally got the first coat of paint on our family room. We are going to have to do at least one, if not two more coats. Red does not go on like any other color paint. It looks pretty good at night, but during the day you can see every single place we missed.

Today was a little more laid back. We decided not to paint today because it was so humid (it was 85 yesterday!) and we wanted to make sure everything was really dry. So we cleaned up the house a bit, did some laundry, met a new babysitter (yay!) and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at our neighbor's house. I made a lemon cake because I had fresh lemons from a friend's tree. While it was cooling and soaking in the lemon juice I went to do a few things on the computer. J came in saying something like, "mmm, yum." I wasn't really paying attention until he got closer to me. Then I realized he was saying, "Yummy cake mommy. Yummy." He had grabbed a big hunk off of the edge of the cake. Apparently he can reach to the middle of our island now. Oops. It was pretty funny. I'm glad our neighbors have grandkids and find J cute enough that they didn't mind a big hunk taken out of their dessert.

B and I start off with dentist appointments tomorrow. We can't wait!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Today's Vocabulary Lesson

Unless you are in the construction business and come across these all the time, I think you will be impressed with the objects J can now recognize.

Thanks to our new favorite book, Construction Zone , rubber-tired backhoe, crane with clamshell digger, tamper, paver, roller, and concrete mixer are as identifiable as a fire truck, bird, and daddy. It's really amazing. There are these little pictures at the end of the book with explanations of what each machine does, and J can pick out each of them without prompting. I think I knew bulldozer, paver and dump truck before this book came along!

That's all good. What is not good is that J has figured out that he can try to manipulate B and me. When things aren't going his way and he's with me, he calls "Dad-deee!" If he's with B, he shouts, "Mom-mee!" This has been occurring during the day, but also at fun hours like 2, 4, and 5 am. This morning he got so mad that I wouldn't get him out of bed at 5:15 that he sat there and screamed for B for about 30 minutes. Before that, he yelled for me. I'm sure we'll get him back on track just in time fore the holiday visitors to arrive!

We did some very exciting things this morning. We went to a propane store and bought blower. My mom and dad bought it for us as a housewarming gift and we had to pick out one that wasn't at Home Depot or Lowe's. We also went to the paint store and picked up the red for the family room. I am very excited about this project. It will be interesting to see how it turns out because some have told me they think the room will look too small, while others have told me that it may look too dark. I'm just going to do it and if it looks bad, we can always go back to white again. We'd also really like to scrape the popcorn ceiling, but that would be committing us to the entire downstairs because it would look funny to just stop in the family room and not do the kitchen, etc. etc. So I think we will leave that be for now.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!