Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Pictures 2009: The Outtakes

At our photo session we got several great shots like this one:

But we also ended up with all kinds of ones that weren't. That may have been a bit my fault.

See, when we got in the room, Lilli, who had been completely psyched up for picture taking, suddenly got a case of the shys. The extremely kind photographer set up the camera, handed me the remote, and told me to go crazy. So I kind of did. After using up all those pixels I figured the least I could do was buy the CD of the session, so along with the good ones I have ended up with a bunch of shots like this:

That was a nice shot of Elizabeth's bum, eh?
And this:
The store manager actually asked me if I was looking for seasonal work due to that last shot. Apparently I have a fast trigger finger to catch Lilli mid-jump.

I got lots of shots of Lilli making unattractive faces per her usual habit:

Really sometimes I'm amazed that I have any pictures of her looking pleasant at all.
I did take some photos of nice moments, they just weren't quite right artistically.

Cute face, but this is the reason why waving a feather duster at my children to get them to smile doesn't work. They try to get awaaaaaaay.

Ah. The eternal battle. One child smiles, the other does not.

Awwww. This would be sweet if someone was sitting like a lady.

Done with posing even if no one else is, ready to play with the props.
And there are so many more. So yes. Sometimes I'm amazed that we actually get attractive pictures out of these children.
But we do. Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Pictures 2009: The good ones

Want to see what's going up on my wall Friday night?

Ahhhhh. My babies.
Tomorrow, the outtakes!

Monday, October 26, 2009

More of the same...

Oh look! Another gratuitous weekend update! Yay!

First, for you weirdos who keep requesting more pictures of me to appear on here (I do not know what is up with that. I, for one, would rather look at the children!), here you go. My new obsession is Jersey Mike's. For some reason I had refused to try it (I'm not sure why, it just didn't sound like it would taste good), but my friend L somehow got me to go there (she drove, I was too tired to resist), and now I LOVE it. Specifically the #13. Mike's Way, extra tomato, light on the the lettuce and onion. And yum. Yum, yum. Anyway, guess what we ate for lunch on Saturday? And here we are looking very pleased with ourselves.

We had errands to run of course, it was a Saturday after all, but we crammed in some fun too. One of the local parks was having a pumpkin patch and we checked it out. We did not linger at the Patch, partially due to the fact that they wanted to charge me $2 per child to bounce in their bounce house (of course I paid $3 per child quite contentedly later that night, so go figure), and also because the pumpkins, after apparent days of roasting in the heat, looked minutes away from melting into moldy piles of sludge.

Wait, "Heat?" you say?

Yes indeed. I know my Northern friends wish their late October looked like this:

We just thought it was hot. And unexpectedly sunny. What parents of two very fair easily crisping children forget the sunscreen? It seems that we do. Fortunately, proving that all is not lost with the Youth of America, the workers at the ice cream shop let us borrow their bottle of sunscreen and slather our children (I may have also slathered myself with it) for free. Naturally we returned their kind gesture by purchasing their ice cream. Me- Butter Pecan (which was actually pretty fantastic). Elizabeth- Chocolate, of course. Lilli- Superman. Also of course. She is totally hooked on the Supah-man. Which I have confirmed is brightly dyed vanilla. There is no accounting for taste. David, of course, abstained from ice cream. Considering they had egg-free raspberry sorbet, his self-control when it comes to dessert is kind of annoying.
So, we had ice cream, and said hi to the Pumpkin Patch, and we rode on their little train, which they have year round.
Here's Elizabeth and David:
I took that over my shoulder. I'm kind of amazed they're even in the picture, so let's not criticize the quality.
Want to hear my gripe about this train? I know you dooooooooo.
So, of course Halloween is next weekend. They tend to theme the train ride, and the miniature village that the tracks go through to whatever Holiday is closest. Even though adults can ride this train, it's really for the children. Or so you would think from the signs. So I was prepared for scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns, and all sorts of fall decorations, but when I saw my first "Beware!" and "Turn Back!" signs on the tracks, I started sighing heavily. I've mentioned it before, but I strongly believe that the first few years of life should be kept pretty innocent. We try not to expose the girls to anything scary. They're sensitive as it is, toddlers in general are plenty creative enough to find all kinds of things scary (I went into Lilli's room pretty quick after nap yesterday because the afternoon sunlight had shone through her blinds in such a ways to create a little face made of light on her cabinet, and it had freaked her out and she was standing up in her bed, clutching her doggie, yelling at it to go away), I don't want to give them new material, and I don't believe in toughening them up or trying to de-sensitize them. So we haven't explained skeletons to them, they have no idea why a head or a limb would be severed, why blood might be splashed around, why someones boot heels might be sticking out of a graveyard, what a graveyard even is... Basically we spent a lot of time drawing their attention to whatever side of the track had less scary stuff on it. Even in broad daylight it seemed a bit grown up for the intended (or so I thought) audience.
Oh well, they had fun anyway.

Especially when we stopped making them DO stuff, and just let them play at the playground.

After nap time we checked out a pizza place we hadn't tried before. As I have also mentioned, our family routine includes pizza at least once per weekend. I am so tired of the normal place I could scream. So I'm really hoping that one day we'll find a good alternative.
Unfortunately this wasn't it.
The girls did like, however that they give you a lollipop.
And we like lollipops.

THEN, as if we hadn't packed enough into a Saturday, we took the girls to Oktoberfest. Having cleverly eaten before we went, we were not sucked in by any of the extremely expensive but delightful smelling German cuisine.
We were sucked in instead by the $3 per pop kiddie rides.
This was Elizabeth's favorite:

Fortunately (or unfortunately), Lilli had been traumatized by a different kiddie ride (little tug boats), and refused to go on anything else after that, so that considerably lowered the cost. In her defense, since I've never known her to refuse a physical challenge, they were a bit rickety, went around in a circle at a dizzying rate and frantically rocked back and forth in an attempt to simulate ocean waves. She hated it. Elizabeth loved it. About halfway through the ride, every time they passed me I could hear Elizabeth's hysterical laughter and shrieks of glee accompanying poor Lilli's sobs.
She felt much better once she was safely on "land" again.

And then we went home to bed. I was glaaaaad to be there.

So that was my weekend, or at least my Saturday. How was yours?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The things I do to make my child happy...

I prefer recipes that involve a minimum amount of work. 5 or 6 ingredients, one pot, that sort of thing. Labor intensive (even mildly so) is not really my thing.


Elizabeth is obsessed with dumplings right now. Or at the least the idea of dumplings. I blame Ni Hao, Kailan's grandpa. It's a long story. But anyway, she really wants to eat dumplings, but not just any old dumplings, VEGETABLE dumplings. Just like Kailan's grandpa makes. But since she's never had a vegetable dumpling, and has never seen one other than the cartoon version, she doesn't really know what she's looking for.

So. I've been doing sort of cultural tour of our area on the hunt for acceptable dumplings. That pretty much involves Elizabeth suddenly shrieking from the back seat of my car "MAMA!! A CHINESE FOOD PLACE!" At which point, if at all possible, I pull in and order their dumplings. Or potstickers. Or whatever. Sometimes the spring rolls. Just in case we happen upon whatever she has in her head that a vegetable dumpling is. Call me an indulgent mom, I don't mind. At least SOMEONE in my family is interested in ethnic food, even if it's just the thought of it, and I end up eating everything myself.

So, despite the fact that just the thought of making dumplings was exhausting, since, as I said, I'm a 5 ingredient kind of cook, I thought I would Google myself a dumpling recipe. A VEGETABLE dumpling recipe.

I set myself some ground rules. I must not need to make my own dough, and the recipe could not include tofu (if I look at the stuff I can't eat it). I didn't mind if there was some meat in the filling, as long as it was mostly vegetables. I found the perfect recipe here.

So. I set out.

I gathered ingredients, which alone was was more work than I am generally willing to do, since I had to chop up at least 5 different things:
I cooked the filling:

Filled won ton wrappers:


Cooked them (that's actually a little bit of oil and quite a bit of water. It made for this fascinating and deadly combination of steam and wildly spattering oil. I'm still wondering if I did something wrong, but they looked and tasted fine at the end, so I guess not):

Admired them:
And ate them. No pictures were taken of the carnage.
Elizabeth ate one. Only one.
In her defense, they did have quite a bit of ginger. And ginger is not really something we're that fond of in our family (we could take or leave Cumin too. Which wasn't part of this recipe, it's just a fact I'm just letting you know). So while I found it part of the tasty package, she definitely noticed the ginger.

Will I make them again?
That's a good question. There were a lot of steps, and steps are what I don't care for, I like to just throw a bunch of things in a pan all at once, and if I can throw them in whole, that's even better. But it was an easy recipe, and they were definitely good.
So maybe in a month or two I'll give them a shot again.
But I think we'll skip the ginger.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spin Cycle: Comfort Food

We should make a little cookbook out of all the contributions for this week's Spin Cycle. And you should go check them out! I predict that you will end up starving by the end of your review.

My contribution is this cake I make. It gets lots of compliments and it takes all of 5 minutes to throw together.

This is what you need:

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use my good stuff for this cake. The kind that practically costs as much per ounce as gold.)
2 TBS lemon juice (you can use fresh if you want to continue the fancy thing. I squeeze it out of a plastic lemon)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 (16oz) can Fruit Cocktail in heavy syrup (go with Dole. Trust me on this. Also, don't drain it, you'll need to put in the whole thing, syrup and all. Thanks Jan for reminding me about this!)

For the topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I like dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry cake ingredients in a large bowl, then add all wet ingredients. Mix well. Pour into a 13 x 9 glass baking dish and sprinkle with topping ingredients. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It's done when the brown sugar caramelizes, the coconut crisps but isn't burnt, and you can't take the wait any longer.

I also thought I should include a recipe from my daughter. She told it to me just yesterday:

How to make Vegetable Dumplings
By Elizabeth, age 4

First you take some icing and you roll it out.

Then you fold it up.

Then you put it in the oven to bake it.

And when it comes out again, you eat it.

And that’s how you make vegetable dumplings.

Funny that when I googled "Vegetable Dumpling Recipe" today, my results didn't quite match that.

We're going to try to make them tomorrow night. Wish us luck! If they turn out well I'll tell you about them. And I'll probably tell you about them anyway if they don't!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Day in the Kindom Part Two: Princesses

Today was a good day!

Elizabeth had her 4 year old check up! She's 40 inches tall and weighs 34 pounds. She got a gold star for being healthy and having the proper amount (plus a few extra, if you ask me) of smarts. By extension, I got a gold star too. That always reassures me that I'm not failing at this parenting business.

The only traumatic moment came when they looked at her eyes with a fancy new machine, and the results showed signs that she may have the exact same situation with her eyesight as I do. One good eye, one "bad" eye. In my case, my "good" eye compensated for the other so well that I didn't have actual problems with seeing things until middle school, and didn't need classes until college. But I don't want her to head that route if she has my eyes, and there are preventative things that can be done, so we'll be going to the eye doctor for confirmation. *sigh* Just another thing to obsess over.

On to the fun stuff!

So, the Princesses. In my opinion, my girls have come late to their love of Disney Princesses. And they're still not as into them as most of the little girls I know. They have favorites, Cinderella in Elizabeth's case, and Belle in Lilli's (and my!) case, but there's no constancy to how much they want to pretend to be princesses or play with any princess stuff. But that sure doesn't mean that Elizabeth didn't want to see them when I took her to the Magic Kingdom.

Oh yes she did.

I can't tell you how many times I circled the park going from an area of the park we had been playing in, to Toontown to check on the wait time for the princesses (it kept getting longer, the park was PACKED), and off to a different area of the park. I wish I had a built in odometer.

On our third visit to Toontown, we decided to look around the main souvenir shop, and add to our Mr. Potato Head collection. When we were checking out we were chatting with our cashier who both must have felt sympathy for our repeated trekking and the super long weight, because she thrilled Elizabeth by presenting her with free cotton candy fresh out of the machine.

The only reason she doesn't look thrilled in this picture is because I made her stop eating it to take a picture:

Much, much later I decided that enough was enough and we were going to suffer through the queue. Despite the lateness of the hour, Elizabeth was totally game for it, all day long she had been asking when we could check on the wait times again.

I can't say how late it was though, because I fear David's wrath. Let's just say it was after the fireworks.
So while she was totally up for seeing the princesses (see above), she ended up spending the majority of the (lengthy) wait, like this:
It was worth it though, when she finally got to walk into the room and see this lady:
As usual, she never looks as happy as she actually was in pictures. You'll have to trust me.

Despite Cinderella being her favorite princess, Elizabeth had decided that she really wanted to see Belle the most, and Belle was last. So she was pleased to see Cinderella:

But moved on quickly:

She was DELIGHTED by Belle.

I think it was mutual.
Of course Belle is paid to be that happy about the mini princesses, but Belle certainly gave me my money's worth.
I really need to start playing the lottery, so I can maybe win it, and then I can maybe live at Disney World.
In the castle of course.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Day in the Kingdom: The castle and some random scenery...

Did I mention I took Elizabeth to Disney World the weekend before last?


Non-Facebook Friends, you're missing out left and right.
Sometimes I just don't feel like writing a post when a nice pithy status update or photo caption does the trick so nicely.

I get around to everything eventually though.

Thanks to our friends, who were staying in a time share in Orlando and had an extra bedroom (so we could sleep somewhere for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee), Elizabeth and I got to go to the Magic Kingdom for entire glorious day.

Never mind that it was one of the hottest October days in Orlando EVER, it was still beautiful.

But of course if you were able to zoom in real close at the below picture you would get a scary view of just how much I was sweating.

It was shockingly hot, which can, at times, make for some pretty miserable moments, but turns out some nice pictures.

I'm not really into scenery shots as a rule, I'm much more interested in seeing people, or at least people parked in front of something scenic, but I couldn't seem to stop myself.

The castle and the carousel from the top of Dumbo:

The castle while waiting for the Street Party, with a storm rolling in, random tourists, and a lamp post.

Big Thunder Mountain, which Elizabeth is just baaaaarely too short to ride. She was not sad about this. She was sad about finding the same height requirement at Splash Mountain though. She desperately wanted to ride that one.

On Tom Sawyer's Island, one of the only shady spots in the park, a view across the Rivers of America. The Liberty Belle Riverboat was approaching. I tried to convince Elizabeth that we should spend some time sitting on that boat in the shade riding around in circles. She preferred to play in the not-so-shady fort on the island. It was a pretty cool fort, I'll give her that.

Hmmm. I think that must be a view of the more colonial part of Frontierland. More importantly the castle is peeking out over the trees.

And more castle. Seriously. Who doesn't love the castle?

We really love it.
And we love Disney World in general, especially the Magic Kingdom. The way it looks, the way it sounds, even the way it smells on a super hot, super crowded day. The people who work there, the people who go there, all of it.
It may not be THE Happiest Place on Earth, but it's MY Happiest Place.
Now if I can just convince David to feel the same way...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stolen Pictures

Those of you who have not yet given into the man, and are not my Facebook friends, have no doubt missed being inundated with pictures and the every day minutiae of my life lately.

I've been busy.

But here I am to catch you up on some of what you've missed.

Remember how I went to Milwaukee last month?

I know, it was so long ago that I'd almost forgotten too.

Welllllll, to bring you up to speed, my darling children made their debut as flower girls. An experience that they absolutely loved and would be happy to repeat any time, anywhere, for anyone. You just let them know.

Sadly though, I did not have any pictures of my children walking down the aisle, because I was too busy being a Nervous Nellie to take any myself, and also forgot to give my camera to anyone at the wedding. D'oh!

So you would think that with no pictures of The Walk of my own, I would be crying over the hole in my photo album, right?

Nope. I stole some off Facebook. Two from the bride, one from one of her bridesmaids. Muhahahahahahaha!


Entrance (after they removed all the petals from their basket however):

Skirting the photographer:

And now I'm content.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Don't give this child your credit card number...

It could be dangerous. That's all I'm saying.

Back next week post-hiatus with random pictorial updates! Milwaukee (still!), Disney, Fall Photo Session....


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spin Cycle: Crafty McCrafty

Hah! Fooled you with that title. I'm so not.

Welllll, mostly not. I'm good at kits. Like you hand me a cross-stitch kit, and I can do them. I have a pile of un-framed cross-stitch cloths to prove it. Or a kit to make a sun catcher or a photo frame. Those are totally up my alley as I have direction-following skills like you would not believe. I can crochet, as long as you just want a rectangle out of me. I'm really good at hot-gluing "gems" onto things to make my children happy. I also make a lot of Elizabeth's hair bows.

But mostly I just like the idea of making things. For every "kit" that I've turned into an object of art or kitsch, I have several unopened ones, or ones that are half done. I have an impressive collection of scrap book supplies, but I haven't done any scrapbooking for 4 years. I'm also impatient, so if I start a craft project and realize it's going to take me more than an evening? Yeah, that usually ends it. Another half-done craft for the pile.

And I like to amass craft supplies. Sales are my Achilles heel. Let's talk about bow making for example. When I decided I wanted to learn how to make them (because my child looks cute in bows, see?)and I wanted them in every color of the rainbow, I got the basic supplies, and then I started buying ribbon. And now I can't stop. I can't possibly make bows as fast as I accumulate ribbon, and she can't possibly wear as many as many as I could make, but any time I see cute ribbon? ON SALE? Worse, ON CLEARANCE? It comes home with me.
So. Yes. In honor of this week's Spin Cycle, I admit I craft. And I like to craft. But I don't craft well, and I don't craft right.
So sue me!
And while you're figuring out how you're going to do that, head on over to Sprite's Keeper and check out the other crafty spins.
And now I need to go see where I left my glue gun. I feel a craft binge coming on.