So I think we have a new plan. It seems everyone is on the up and up health wise...well, except for Rory who is a complete snot machine. But we're going to take our chances and make the drive to CA for the rest of the winter break. We're taking two days to get there and meeting my family in the desert to finish the tail end of the camp trip (they will have already been camping for a couple of days). And then back to the LBC for the rest of the week. I think that's doable.
Now just say a little prayer for us in hopes that no one will be barfing (or have any other health issue) on this adventure! Six people in a tent with someone barfing...it's a nightmare that I really don't want to come true.
While Piper recovered from her barfies that she had yesterday, Ryan took Haley and Morgan skiing.
All was going well until Haley bit the dust and split her chin open. She must have knocked her face on her ski some how. Poor little thing. They took care of her in ski patrol getting her all cleaned up and then Ryan took her to the pediatrician for some stitches...five in fact.
Look at that face...forced smile trying to be brave.
She was so scared.
Ryan took her out for a treat on the way home and that made it all better.
She said to me when she got home, "Mom, when I saw all the blood I nearly fainted!"
She takes after her mama on that one!
"Mom! Stop taking pictures of me!"
CA or no CA...we WILL have fun this break...stitches and all!
We have the worst luck when it comes to travel lately. Remember when I said we would be driving to LB today? Well, we're still home. Right after I put up yesterday's post, Piper started throwing up. Yep...just lovely. She seemed to make a fast recovery and even ate a little dinner last night. But this morning it went right rudder as she started throwing up all over again. After 24 hours since the last barf I thought I was in the clear...not so much. So we have delayed going to CA, and at this point we're not even sure we'll go. I'm at my wits end with sickness and traveling. Do you remember Rory's RSV while in CA in Spring? Piper's fever and cough in Sedona for Thanksgiving? So can you see why we're thinking staying home may be the better option. And really, to be honest, the other girls are not doing so hot either...running noses and coughing. This has been a pretty rough December for us health wise. It's amazing how unpredictable kids can be. It's pretty easy for me to get bummed out by it all...but there's not much I can do. I've just got to roll with it. It is what it is. The girls are been pretty understanding about the whole thing which makes it a bit easier. Perhaps it's the massive amount of snow that we got in the past two days that's distracting them. I think it's safe to say that if CA isn't in the cards the girls will be doing a fair amount of skiing this winter break!
My poor little Piper...sick, sick, sick.
With all this snow, I'm itching to go skiing!
So unfortunately, I did not get health for my family this Christmas. Here's to a better January!
He left us an elf this year after he gobbled down his truffles we left for him.
The girls prized possessions they found Christmas morning were their new American Girl dolls...Kit and Ruthie. Haley and Morgan have been wanting these dolls for several years now. That morning Haley kept staring at her doll. I told her, "It's okay, you can play with it...don't be scared of her." And she says, "I know mom...it's just that I can't believe I finally have her!!" I think she was in shock all morning. The four of them have been inseparable ever since.
Piper got a new baby doll. Don't you just crack up seeing Piper with that baby carrier?
It's her "mini me".
Rory got her Pooh Bear this year. Although she had tons of fun playing in all the boxes and ribbons.
My parents sent me new goggles and helmet! I'm ready to hit the slopes!
I may or may not have worn this helmet and goggles around the house for a bit I was just so excited about it.
The day was wonderful.
Now today we will be packing up for our trip to the LBC.
Ryan and I were thinking...during this Winter break the girls will have skied, camped, and will have gone to the beach. Now that is an action packed two weeks!
In the midst of all this pre Christmas craziness it seems my family cannot get over this cold or colds that have been plaguing us since the middle of November. And this time, yes, even I have been hit...although I feel as though I may be coming out of it finally. I wish I could say the same about the kids and Ryan. Rory came down with yucky running nose and pink eye last week! And then over the weekend both Haley and Morgan have come down with a terrible cough...an up all night type cough. And Rory has now decided that 5 am is a good time to get up for the day. So, as you can see...there is very little sleep going on in this house right now!
Yet, even with all the coughing and blowing of noses, we are super excited for tomorow! But if there's one thing I want for Christmas...it's Health for my family...and maybe the chance to sleep in!! I think we've suffered enough!
We wish everyone a very merry Christmas from our family to yours!
I'm thankful for traditions, especially this time of year when they are in full swing.
This is from our annual, passing out treats to our neighbors.
Morgan demonstrating how she'll give them to the people she sees.
Kids need traditions...I believe that. They love having familiar things to look forward to every year, month or even week. And I love that they get excited for sometimes the littlest of things. That's the joy of traditions...they don't have to be elaborate to make an impact.
I love doing things that my parents did when I was growing up. Like my mom hiding Annalee Elves around the house before Christmas. Sometimes we would discover a new one. I'm doing the same with my girls...we have around 6 so far...and every year I'll hide a new one for them to find on Christmas day. My mom would also have a scavenger hunt for my brothers and me on Christmas day. We would all be racing through the house chasing clue after clue until we finally found our big prize. One year the gift was buried in the sand of my parents' big bird cage in the backyard. I guess you start running out of places to hide the gift and they had to start getting creative! And of course the opening one present on Christmas Eve tradition I loved so much. It was always something cozy to wear that night. I've copied all of these for my girls.
Most of these traditions lots of people do...I know. But that's what I love...traditions can be copied. I don't feel the need to come up with something super unique...do what you did growing up or copy other families. And in some cases a tradition will just happen on it's own when you didn't even think about it.
Ryan's mom would make snow ice cream every time it snowed when he was growing up in Virginia. One day I came home from some errands after a big snow fall and I found Ryan in the kitchen making...you got it...snow ice cream for the girls! And just for the record...I have NEVER seen Ryan with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon before. Him "cooking" in the kitchen...it was a sight to see! The ice cream turned out great! And now every time it snows the bowl goes outside to catch the flakes to make snow ice cream.
Friday evening we did our annual drive to look at Christmas lights around town. Except this time I switched things up and had all the kids get there jammies on, slippers, blankets and they even brought a stuffed animal on the drive. I copied that idea from someone else...totally brilliant! Not sure why I didn't think of that one myself! The little ones fell asleep while driving around and it was so much easier to scoop them up and put them straight to bed.
I know that most of the traditions will have to be modified as the kids get older. Not sure they'll be into getting into their jammies and driving around to look at Christmas lights when they're teenagers. But I'll do my best to keep them going for as long as I can!
At the rate we're going these kids aren't going to have anything left to go under the tree!
Well...there is something super duper special that Haley and Morgan have been asking for that just may be under the tree this year. (They've been wanting it for a few years now).
But it's super top secret...so you'll have to wait to find out what it is!
Their early gift this time...skis!! Ryan picked them up yesterday and with the snow being so good we didn't want the girls to wait any longer to try them out! So we surprised them with the skis this morning and they hit the slopes right after. Ryan took them today and they had a ball! I think tomorrow I'll take them...it will be the first time that I've seen them ski on anything beside the bunny hill! I can't wait!
And we couldn't leave little Piper out!
She also got a little pair of kid skis that strap onto her boots. She was pretty thrilled!
We really made out with REI sales this year...we got some smokin' deals!
I'm really excited about this year...it's going to be a good one!
The girls start their winter break tomorrow.
Yesterday we saw their Christmas program at school...watching them sing up there brought tears to my eyes. I'm such a sap. But I'm just so darn proud of those girls! I didn't bring the camera...sorry. But believe me...they were beautiful up there!
We had a storm come through yesterday and it's a winter wonderland outside. It's so pretty. Another storm is coming right before Christmas too!
I'm glad...it just doesn't feel like Christmas if there's no snow. And that's coming from someone born and raised in Southern California...sheesh, what's happened to me?
It's got to be over 20 years old by now, and I must say it looks it. It first belonged to my parents...I was a teenager when they it in their house. Then when Ryan and I got married 12 years ago, we took it for our a spare room in our apartment...and we've had it ever since. It's lived in four different places.
Every year I want to replace it...and every year we use the money on something else. Last year we spent the money on a new baby...Rory. She came with some hefty hospital bills due to my bed rest and preterm labor scare. She was worth it though don't you think? This year we decided to spend the money on ski passes for the older girls, Ryan and me! We're so excited about it!
An early Christmas present!
So when I'm at other people's houses and see all their beautiful furniture and then come home to my 20 year old sofa, before I get all bummed out I quick look over at my family's passes hanging nearby and remember what's more important to us.
The girls are not going to remember that old sofa...but they will remember the fun they had skiing all season!
The new sofa will have to wait...and I'm okay with that.
The school shootings in CT have been weighing on me all weekend. I'm so heartbroken for those families who lost someone. I just can't imagine what they must be going through. I look at my own sweet girls...so innocent and unaware to the violence that's out there. How can someone do something so horrendous to a child? I can't help but think about their last moments...how scared and confused they must have been. I can't imagine how the parents feel...not being there...not able to protect their children...not able to hold them and comfort them. Not realizing that their kiss goodbye was going to be their last. It's just so heartbreaking.
I haven't talked to my kids about it. They are completely unaware as to what happened. We don't have TV for them to see anything about it. They don't notice the newspapers lying around. I hope when they come home from school today they are still unaware. But kids talk...so I won't be surprised if they come home asking some questions. I'm not prepared as to what I will say if they do. I don't want them to view the world as a scary place...and I definitely don't want them to be scared at school. Haley, especially, is so very sensitive about such things.
I wish they could keep their little carefree spirits forever.
I was feeding Rory some yogurt yesterday. When I pause too long in between spoonfuls, this is the face she gives me. It looks like she's screaming, but she's not...she just sits there with her mouth as wide as she can get it, hoping someone will put something in it.
My little baby bird.
Tonight we'll be eating pizza and watching "Christmas Story".
When the weather is cold I love cooking soups and stews. I love having something simmer on the stove. Plus I love only have one pot to clean..actually, it's Ryan that appreciates it since he does the dinner clean up.
So for this week I picked out a soup from this cookbook.
It's probably one of my favorites because for every single recipe there's a photo to go with it...I love that.
3 strips (3 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
In a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.
Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.
Add lentils, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.
When I cook lentils I prefer them to be cooked really well...I don't like chewy lentils. So their 30-45 minute cook time I extended quite a bit. I doubled the recipe so I needed more cook time anyway...but I ended up letting it simmer for about an hour and half and I would have liked to let it simmer longer! But I had a bunch of starving kids and husband so I had to get in it on the table. But all in all, it was very good...a very hearty soup!
Every year the girls make their gifts to give at Christmas time. Over the years we've had quite the array: lots of ornaments, hand painted totes, Mosaic stepping stones, and home made snow globes. And every year I never post about them because I was afraid that it would ruin the surprise for family. But this year...I've thrown that to the wind. Because, honestly I enjoy documenting these crafts for them to read about when they're older. And honestly...I don't think the grandparents will mind...I think they would like to see pictures of the girls creating the gifts they'll receive!
Now, I know that a pine cone bird feeder is a very basic project. But can you believe that we've NEVER done them?! So yesterday after school we rolled up our sleeves and got to work!
This is a great project too if you want your house to smell like peanut butter for a day (or more). Because I will tell you right now...peanut butter will get EVERYWHERE for this project! Thank goodness for the dogs...they had lots fun licking all the peanut butter finger prints everywhere. Makes clean up so much easier!
I really like the way they turned out.
Now I just have to get them packaged up pretty and they'll be good to go!
In other news, I went to the doctor today because of this dreaded cold I've been dealing with for the past week and half and because of the pain I've been having in my neck and ear. I really thought he was going to look me over and then say I have nothing wrong with me, go home you big baby. But alas, I have an infection in my lungs, lymph node area and ears. Blah!! So at least I know that I'm not just a big pansy, but in fact I do have more going on than I thought.
And one point during the visit the doctor says very seriously to make sure I get a lot of rest during the day. I laughed.
Actually though, Ryan is always uber helpful...he's been doing A LOT around here to help me out! I've been falling waaaay behind on my duties around. The poor guy didn't have any clean undies the other day my laundry is so backed up! Hello commando! Sorry babe.
So yeah, pretty much everyone is this house is suffering from some type of cold...here's to hoping no one else needs to visit a doctor.
We kicked off our weekend Friday night by going Christmas tree shopping. Morgan really took it seriously and picked out the perfect tree. Haley on the other hand loved running up and down the tree isles sneaking around and hiding from us. She said she was searching for the real Santa...funny girl.
Saturday morning it all about decorating. It just doesn't feel like Christmas until your house is decorated...don't you think?
I was a little bummed about my tree lights...the last string on the bottom crapped out. I wasn't about to go out and buy another string of lights...so it will have to do.
I think Winter has finally arrived as we've had a cold snap come through...with snow! Yay!
We cozied up by the fire a lot this weekend.
I created a Christmas card display using some branches clipped from outside. I got the idea from Martha Stewart. Hers of course looks top notch...mine on the other hand is passable.
Also this weekend we went to our church Christmas dinner. They had a "open mic" type evening with anybody welcome to come up and sing, tell a story or play an instrument for the entertainment.
Haley pretty much dominated that thing! She sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", "Jingle Bells" and another song from school that I don't know the name of. I love that she's not shy or bashful about it...she has so much confidence. I hope it lasts forever.
Then Sunday, this one came down with a fever.
Actually, all week Ryan and I have been suffering from a terrible cold. I know, just when I thought my immunities were super human...BAM, I came down with a cold. A bad one too. So now little Rory and Piper are showing signs of having it too. Bummer. Do you realize that someone has been sick with a cold in this house since the middle of November? Blah!
So yeah, yesterday we did not do a thing!
Pretty much a solid jammie day.
Today the snow is coming down hard and it's beautiful!
I've been thinking a lot about how I come across as a mom in public...or in my home for that matter. When I'm out and about with my kids: at the playground, the grocery, church, where ever, do I come across as frustrated, impatient, tired, grumpy, short fused or irritated? Now some days are just plain bad days, and that's just the way it is. But on a whole...my everyday composure...what do people see and remember?
When I walk the kids home from school there is a corner of sidewalk that has a bunch of bushes in it. One day long ago Haley and Morgan scootered ahead of me and hid in those bushes and then jumped out to "scare" me when I came close. Piper has never forgotten that. Pretty much EVERY day walking home she scooters ahead and hides in those bushes. But she doesn't pop right out when I come...she pretends that she can't see me or that I can't see her. I started to get annoyed when she did this because I would have to call for her to come out and I would have to wait a couple of minutes for her to get herself out of there. But yesterday I was thinking..."Who cares." Who cares if I have to wait two more minutes. Why don't I have more fun with it..."Where's Piper??" kind of thing. If someone was watching me out the window while I was standing on that corner, would I want them to see an annoyed mom yelling at her kid to come out...or the patient mom who used that moment to have a little fun with her two year old. Because bottom line...their will be a day when she won't run and hide in those bushes anymore.
Or during Rory's birthday party when the older kids kept swarming around her to open her presents. I was short tempered that evening and snapped a few times at Morgan. Thinking back...why did I have to be so ornery...who cares if Morgan was ripping the present open too. She was excited...that's all.
I often think, what if a camera crew was following me around all day...how would act? Would I behave differently when I'm with my kids? Would I have yelled as loud when they misbehaved? Would I have continued tapping away on the computer when Haley or Morgan were talking to me or would I have stopped and gave them my full attention? Would I have put that movie on for Piper to keep her entertained while I baked the cookies or would I have had her help me? Would I have said "no, not right now" when Piper asked me to swing her or would I have said "yes" because I WANTED to do it, because again, I know that there will be a day that she won't run up to me and say, "Mommy, wing me!!" (her way of saying swing me)
So, right now, right here I'm making a conscience effort to be more patient with my kids. Give them more hugs and kisses throughout the day. Tell them I love them more often. Not get so irritated when they are just being kids, just being who they are.
When people see me in public I want them to remember me as a loving and patient parent. I want people to know how truly rewarding children are and how much fun they can be. I want them to know how much love I have for my girls.
Bad days will come...that I know. But I want them to be very far and few.
I know I'm a good mom...I am. But I also know that I can be better.
This week's new recipe that I did: Chicken Piccata
I've actually cooked Chicken Piccata before...but it's been a great long while. I'm not sure how I forgot about this one! It's super easy and fast, plus everyone loves it! Their are so many chicken piccata recipes out there...but I have found that Giada De Laurentiis (don't you just love her) from the Food Network makes a pretty darn good one!
Photo and recipe courtesy of Food Network.
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
When I cook I don't always follow a recipe exactly...I do a bit of tweaking here and there...and I don't always measure perfectly. So I'm pretty sure I used about half the butter (give or take) she called for. I didn't want it to be too rich.
Each day the kids glue another pom pom decoration on their tree.
It was our FHE this week.
All went pretty well that evening minus the fact that Haley blew a fuse when I threw away a old ribbon that apparently was her pride and joy...it wasn't pretty (the fit that is). And Morgan threw a fit when her tree wasn't perfect. Good times.
I always have this expectation of how the evening will go...everyone sitting around the table, getting along, listening and loving their creations. Then reality hits.
But we'll keep plugging away...because the times that everything DOES go well makes it that much sweeter!
But I thought their trees turned out pretty well...fits and all.
And Morgan decided that she does love her tree after all.
Saturday morning we met up with my folks and brother's family for a train ride on the Heber Creeper.
All morning Piper kept saying "Where's the choo choo?!" All the girls were so excited!
They had the train decorated for Christmas and Santa even visited them during the ride! He talked with each and every child on the train and asked them what they wanted for Christmas...I was very impressed!
It was a lot of fun!
Afterwards we enjoyed some hot chocolate and donuts...perfect.
After the train ride we tried to snap a few family pictures for our annual Christmas card...this proved to be a photo shoot fail.
Shall we see some?
First up...right before we started snapping the pictures Morgan bursts into tears. I guess she hurt her tooth on the candy cane she was eating. Haley looks grumpy and Rory is screaming.
Not much change here...actually probably a bit worse.
New setting...beside the train. Haley won't look at the camera and Ryan is looking off into dreamland. Rory is coughing and I look like I'm in the middle of talking...most likely saying, "Look at the camera!! Smile!"
And these next two are real keepers.
We have a perfect shot of Piper picking her nose...
...and then eating the booger...nice.
But with all the failures we did manage to get a good one the next day...thank goodness. You'll have to wait to see that one!
This weekend also marked the end to breastfeeding. My final nurse session was Saturday night...on Rory's birthday. It was bittersweet. But you know...she transitioned really well, which makes it that much easier on me. I'm thankful for that. I'm lucky I'm able to nurse for as long as I have! I'm pretty proud of myself.