Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm Delighted

Today we told Kennedy that the missionaries were coming for dinner tonight. Later, while I was making lunch, I heard her talking and she said, "I'm delighted the misiomaries are coming for dinner." I don't know where she heard the word 'delighted' but I decided it's a good word and I should use it more often.
I made a big mess making dinner for the missionaries tonight but it was worth it. Kennedy went with Chris to pick them up and she was wired when they got home. "Come with me missiomaries." She wanted to show them all her toys. She thought they were there to play with her. She asked them to tell her some stories about Jesus while I cleared the dinner dishes and got dessert ready.
For dinner we had Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes, Bermuda Spinach Salad and Sticky Buns. For dessert we had Hot Fudge Cake which is one of our stand-by recipes. I don't make many desserts more than once because I have so many recipes I want to try but I make this one a lot. Here is the recipe:

1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
6 Tbs. baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ¾ cups hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, 2 Tbs. cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, oil and vanilla until smooth. Spread in an ungreased 9 inch square baking pan. Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over all; do not stir. Bake at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes. Serve warm. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mom's Day Off

Well, today the inevitable happened. It all started at 4:30 a.m. when Tristan woke up. I let him cry a little bit to see if he would go back to sleep. He did. Then I noticed it. . .a swirling, churning feeling in my stomach. I knew there was no mistaking it. With all the yuck I had been cleaning up the past few days it was bound to happen. I'm sick!
I lay awake until Chris's alarm went off at 5:30. I told him I felt sick. Tristan woke up around 6:00 so I nursed him. Just as Chris was walking in the door from his daily walk Tristan threw up all over me. I handed him to Chris so I could go change my clothes. Chris put Tristan back to bed and told me to go back to sleep. Peace for another hour.
At 7:15 Chris had to leave for work. He had done all he could for me. He fed Kennedy and took her to the bathroom. She was downstairs watching a movie. I could have slept longer but Tristan woke up. Time to face the day.
Chris left Kennedy with strict instructions to "take care of Mommy". I fed Tristan some breakfast and then put him down on the floor to play so I could rest on the couch. Kennedy tucked me in with all her doll blankets and Tristan's quilt and blanket. She is so sweet. I rested on the couch while the kids played. Around 9:00 Tristan crawled over to me to let me know he was ready for his morning nap. Cute boy!
I usually take a shower while Tristan takes his nap but I just rested today. The day continued with to progress on my GI upset. I don't know which is worse, feeling nauseous all day or actually getting rid of the problem!
I did my best to keep the kids happy with toys and movies the rest of the day while I rested. After lunch I put the kids to bed and went to bed myself. I had a good rest until Tristan woke up. Then I put him on the floor and took a shower.
By the time Chris got home the house was a disaster. Dirty dishes in the sink, toys on the floor in the dining room, living room and all the bedrooms. Not only that but Friday is my laundry day and even though I just did two loads on Wednesday there was more that needed to be done. My hero came bursting through the door at 5:00 and took over, never complaining that Mom took the day off.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Gift Nobody Wants

Yesterday started off to be a pretty good day. After Tristan's morning nap I got the kids ready to go to the library. I had to get some books for preschool, which I was supposed to teach today. We had a good time at the library and came home for some lunch. I was surprised when I heard the garage door at 1:00 p.m. Was Chris home for the day? Yeah!
As soon as Chris walked in the door I could tell something was wrong. He said that indeed he felt sick. For Chris to leave work he has to be pretty sick. He immediately went upstairs to bed. I finished feeding the kids and put them down for a nap and continued to work on my preschool lesson.
At 2:30 Tristan woke up from his nap. I was hoping he would have a much longer nap since he hasn't been sleeping well at night. I let him cry for a few minutes and it was evident that he was not going back to sleep. I also didn't want him to wake up Chris or Kennedy. I picked him up out of his crib and put a blanket on him. I rocked him for a minute and then it happened--green peas all down my front, all over the blanket and on the floor! This was no spit-up.
I got us both cleaned up and into clean clothes and went downstairs. Tristan was playing on the toy kitchen and it happened again! Poor little guy was so upset. I got him cleaned up again and could tell he was still tired. I put him back in the crib and he fell right to sleep.
Meanwhile, Kennedy woke up from her nap and complained that her tummy hurt. She seemed to be OK but I knew she wasn't making things up because she had complained earlier before Chris got home from work.
After Tristan woke up again I changed his diaper and he had diarrhea. Between the four of us we generated enough dirty clothes to do two loads of laundry--I had just done laundry the day before.
Just before bed Kennedy vomited too. I cancelled preschool and for the rest of the night cleaned up and made sure everyone was comfortable. Since I was still feeling OK I opted to sleep in the spare bed.
This is how the rest of the night went:
11:45 KENNEDY-out of bed
12:05 KENNEDY-crying-went in to see what was wrong and she had vomited into the bucket I put by her bed.
3:15 TRISTAN-crying-went in and hugged him and put him back in the crib
4:15 KENNEDY-sick again
5:15 TRISTAN-crying-this time I nursed him and he also had a dirty diaper
6:15 KENNEDY-awake for the day
Fun stuff this motherhood thing! Everyone seems to be on the mend today. Moods have improved and I've only had do clean up diaper messes--so far. Now, who's going to take care of me when I get it?

The Most Depressing Day

I think the day after Christmas must be one of the most depressing days of the year. I think this because it is a big let-down when I turn on my radio and there is no Christmas music playing. I had been listening to the Christmas station since November 1. It's like at midnight they say, "OK. Christmas is over, lets get on with life". It's not just the music but everything else too. Chris had to go back to work. I took all the decorations off our Crispmas tree (that wasn't a typo). We got it the day after Thanksgiving and it was about to loose it's last needle. It wouldn't have lasted another day. I love celebrating Christmas. Not just because it's fun to give and receive gifts but because it is a time to celebrate love. Christ is the best example of unconditional love and it seems we remember this best at Christmastime. My hope is to keep the spirit of Christmas all throughout the year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Dinner

It's no secret that I like to cook. I wanted to have a nice Christmas dinner but didn't want to cook just for our little family so Friday at work Chris asked one of his co-workers to join us. He would be coming alone. Sunday when we went to church I saw one of the sisters that I visit teach. I didn't think she was going to be here for Christmas so I asked her if she and her family would like to join us. They have two children about Kennedy and Tristan's ages. Both she and her husband are doctors so everyone had plenty in common and the conversation never lagged.
Here is the menu for our dinner:
Orange Almond Punch
Honey-glazed Ham
Sweet Potato Casserole
Scalloped Pineapple
Bermuda Poppy Seed Salad
Lion House Rolls
Chocolate Christmas Mousse
The meal went well. Tristan was kind of fussy. I think he was tired. I put him to bed while we were eating dessert. After that all the kids started to melt down so our guests started to leave. It was nice to have someone in our home for Christmas dinner. When we don't have family around we like to invite friends.
Here is my recipe for, what I think, is the best Sweet Potato Casserole:

Rub 3 large sweet potatoes with Crisco, pierce, wrap in foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Remove skins and mash.

Sweet Potato Casserole:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
With a mixer, mix sweet potatoes and butter until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add milk and sugar and blend until smooth. Pour into 9x13 casserole dish. Top with pecan topping.

Pecan Topping
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup self rising flour*
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
Sprinkle over top of sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

*To make self rising flour combine 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt. Only use 1/3 cup for recipe and save the rest for another use.

This is a true Southern recipe. It is a little gem I have picked up while living here in the South!

Christmas Morning

We were awakened at 6:30 a.m. by our little alarm clock, Kennedy. We snuggled in bed for a few minutes and then Daddy convinced us all that we wanted to go downstairs and see what Santa brought. (Chris woke up at 6:00 and, I think, was ready to get going on the day but no one else was awake yet.) Chris went downstairs first to turn on the tree lights and ready the video camera. Kennedy and I followed. We let Tristan sleep since he had such a rough night (I wish someone would do that for me!)
Kennedy was really excited to see the art easel. After she explored that for a few minutes she wanted to see what was in her stocking. She found a Little Mermaid flashlight, some items to go along with her easel, some necessities (underwear, hair ties, etc.) and some goodies, including a book of Lifesavers (my grandma used to give me a book of Lifesavers every Christmas). Chris then took down his stocking and handed it to me (we had to use my stocking for Tristan since I wasn't on the ball enough to make him one). I had to laugh because I put Chris's gift inside there too but he didn't see it when he put in a gift certificate for me to a nail salon. Chris asked for a new comb for his stocking which was there too but the best part was the Duke basketball tickets I got for him.
Tristan was still asleep but we decided to open presents anyway. I think 90percent of the gifts under the tree were Kennedy's and we let her open the other 10 percent too. Chris also got me a nice jewelry box. I had mentioned to him in passing that I needed one. He bought me a nice pair of diamond earrings in October and I needed a place to store them and some other things.
Kennedy received a lot of gifts from relatives. Her favorite thing she got for Christmas besides the Little Mermaid flashlight, which, by the way, was a last minute gift from Santa, was a little disk player that her cousin Cami got for her. It's like a little Walkman but it's the same idea as the old Fisher Price record players with the plastic records. She has been playing that constantly for two days!
Tristan finally woke up so we brought him downstairs and showed him his stocking and gift from Santa (blocks) but he didn't care too much. He wanted to eat.
For breakfast this year I tried a new breakfast casserole. It was from the Lion House Christmas Cookbook and was called "Baked Apple French Toast with Caramel Sauce." It was pretty good but I don't know if I will make it again.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Eve

It's always nice to have Christmas Eve on a Sunday. It sets the mood and reminds me of why we celebrate Christmas. We enjoyed a nice day at church. We didn't think we would be able to go to all three hours because Kennedy had a runny nose and we didn't want to send her to nursery. When we told her she wouldn't be going she was really upset. She wanted to be with the "other kids". Since her nose didn't run all of sacrament meeting we decided to stay. There weren't very many people at church because most of the people in our ward are students of some sort and go "home" for the holidays. We sang a lot of hymns at church.
Sunday night we went to the Cowley's for dinner. My quilting friends who stay around for the holiday get together on Christmas Eve and have soup, rolls, dessert, etc. and the kids put on some kind of production. This year I took "Black Forest Delight" which is basically a black forest cake. It was really good.
After dinner we took the kids on a little drive to see some lights. Kennedy had to use the bathroom so we didn't stay out long. Of course we have to continue the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve--pajamas. Kennedy had a cute set of bunny pajamas from American Girl that Grandma Mary got for her and Tristan had two pair of dinosaur PJ's. Both kids looked cute.
We tucked the kids into bed hoping not to see them the rest of the night. All would have gone well but Tristan had some problem in the night and cried for two hours between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.! Poor little guy has had some rough nights and we don't know what's wrong with him. However, that did not deter Santa.

Christmas Eve Eve

Over the past 3 1/2 years we have become very close friends with our next-door neighbors, Sheila and Skeeter. They do so many nice things for us it's hard to imagine life without them. For instance, in the 3 years that we have had kids we have only had to pay for a babysitter three times! They love our kids and treat them like they are close relatives.
For Christmas Sheila and Skeeter like to get gifts for Kennedy (and Tristan now) and bring them over before Christmas. They enjoy watching her open the gifts and seeing her play with them. Last year they gave Kennedy a Sit-N-Spin which immediately became Kennedy's favorite toy. She still loves that thing. This year Kennedy was surprised to open her gift which was a Cranium Super Fort. The fort comes with flexible poles and various parts and can be made into many different kinds of "forts" such as a spaceship, an igloo, a car, etc. We are very excited to have this new toy that will help foster our children's imaginations.
Thanks Sheila and Skeeter!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Aching Bones or Kidney Stones?

It's been nine years since that strange onset of my arthritis symptoms. It's hard to believe it was so long ago. It has changed so much of my life and it has taken on many different characteristics. Since I got pregnant with Kennedy it has never been as bad. However, with each child there has been a period of bad health after the pregnancy.
A few months ago something happened in my neck and I was not able to lift my chin off my chest. It took a good week for this problem to heal. I think it was more than likely a pulled muscle triggered by strain and stress from picking up my bouncing baby boy but I personally think that the root problem is my arthritis.
Several weeks ago something happened in my SI joint (lower back, towards the pelvis). I was fine until I took my kids for a walk, then we played outside and when Chris got home from work we went inside and that's when it started to feel bad. After we got the kids fed and in bed I thought that maybe some walking would help loosen things up so I went to the mall to do some shopping. I only went to two stores because by the time I did the walking and had two packages in my hands I could hardly walk. I barely made it back to my car. I went home and Chris helped me to bed.
This pain continued for a few days. I couldn't lift my right leg to put on my pants. Each morning when Tristan woke up I had to have Chris go in and get him because I couldn't lift him out of the crib.
In the meantime Chris was able to move my rheumatology appointment in March up to the following Tuesday. By the time I got in to see the doctor, however, my pain was gone. The doctor sent me to get some blood work and x-rays to see what the problem was.
I received a letter from my rheumatologist the other day and this is what it said:
"The x-rays of your neck and back were essentially unremarkable other than some calcific densities in your abdominal area which the radiologist felt could represent kidney stones. There was nothing in either the neck or the lumbar area or sacrum to suggest evolving spondylarthritis."
I was relieved to know that my spine wasn't fusing together but the thought of kidney stones baffles me. I don't know what happened in my back but I'm pretty sure it wasn't kidney stones. I haven't decided yet if I will have the CT scan done to find out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Art of Buying an Easel

Chris and I have debated for several weeks over what to get Kennedy for Christmas. She just had a very productive birthday party and doesn't really need another toy with a lot of parts. She is really starting to show more interest in art so we thought a floor easel would be a good thing for her. I did a little research on the Internet before I went to Target and was surprised to find an easel for $20. Most of the easels I saw on the Internet were similar. All had a chalk surface, dry erase board, paper and a tray. They were 3-4 times more expensive than the one I saw at Target, however. I didn't want to waste a lot of time going all over Durham to find an easel and since this was inexpensive, I bought it.

After I got the easel home I realized that it didn't come with a roll of paper so that was on my list of things to get since Santa couldn't very well bring an art easel with paint and colored pencils and no paper to draw on.

Yesterday I had an unexpected moment to do a little shopping. My neighbors offered to take Kennedy to see Charlotte's Web. I packed Tristan in the car and headed to Wal-Mart where I was sure they would have a roll of paper. Well I was wrong! The craft store Michael's was next door so I went there next. Strike two. Office Max was just across the way. I knew it was a long shot but I thought I would try anyway. Again, no roll of paper.

By this time Tristan was getting pretty tired but since another craft store, AC Moore, was just around the corner I thought I would swing by there on my way home. On the way there I passed a toy store called Learning Express. Outside on display was a cute little art easel. I stopped the car, parked and went inside. I checked out the easel. It was clearly better quality than the one I picked up at Target. It was made of real wood and just looked sturdier. I bought the roll of paper and thought about that easel all the way home.

When I got home I called Chris at work and told him I was successful in finding a roll of paper for the art easel and told him my newly-found disappointment in the Target easel. He told me I could go back and get the other easel, which was more than twice as much as the Target easel, as long as I used my birthday money to make up the difference. It didn't take me long to say YES! I've been burned more than once by settling for the cheap toy. I have made a decision that buying quality toys, in most cases, is worth the extra money.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Birthday

I don't know if it's because my birthday is in December or if it's just that I'm getting older but every year my birthday seems more and more like any other day. As a kid I always felt so special on my birthday. I was always recognized at home, school and church by family, friends and teachers. I tried explaining to my three-year-old that "today is Mommy's birthday." She just gave me a blank stare.
Luckily my quilting friends were up to throwing a little celebration for me the night before at our quilting gathering. We had yummy food and a delicious cake from Mad Hatter's. I think it was something like a Cherries Jubilee cake. Our mission is to make our way through the list of cakes at this bakery. I don't think I have ever disliked a cake from there. Unfortunately, as I had been battling a virus all week I wasn't able to enjoy the food and fun as much as I would have if I could have been able to breathe.
My actual birthday was Thursday the 14th. I started the day off by teaching preschool. Then in the afternoon Chris and I went to a restaurant at the mall to meet with a financial planner. That evening we were invited to a friend's home in Hillsboro for dinner. Our friend lives in a neighborhood we have considered buying a home in. They had a son Kennedy's age and a daughter just a few years older. They made fajitas on the grill as well as some yummy baby back ribs. I took the dessert, chocolate trifle. This time I added chopped-up Peppermint Patties instead of the usual Skor toffee to make it a little more festive. We had a really good time.
All in all my birthday was a busy day. Chris told me "happy birthday" many times throughout the day including at 3:20 a.m. as we were listening to Tristan cry in his crib (I was born at 3:20 a.m.). I did have a phone call from my parents that night and heard from all my siblings in the days to follow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I love to bake, especially cookies. Most of the time I make some kind of chocolate chip recipe since that is Chris's favorite. I try to have cookies it the freezer for him to take to work for lunch. Sometimes I have occasion to make a different kind though.
Last Saturday I hosted a cookie exchange at my house. The first time I had heard of a cookie exchange was when I lived in Denver. My friend Liz talked me into hosting one there. It was a lot of fun. The idea is that the guests bring a certain amount of cookies and leave with many different kind. I like to put them on plates or in bags and take them to neighbors and friends who weren't at the party.

This year I had seven friends show up to exchange goodies. All the cookies were homemade and there many wonderful kinds. We had chocolate-dipped shortbread, carrot cake cookies, chocolate mint, meltaways, soft gingersnaps, pumpkin chocolate chip, mock turtle cookies, and eggnog cookies. I made the eggnog cookies. The recipe is from the Chinaberry Cookbook. We had peach nectar punch and crackers and a cream cream cheese kind of dip for an appetizer and creamy chicken noodle soup, minestrone and rolls for lunch. We ate on my China and talked about our kids, Christmas traditions, and baking. It was a lovely party. I am really glad my friends made the effort to come. It's a busy time of year but it's nice to just come and relax for a few hours and do something for ourselves.

Here is the recipe for the Eggnog Cookies:
Eggnog Cookies
1 cup soft butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp rum extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
Rum Frosting
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extracts, then egg and mix well. Combine flour, nutmeg and salt and gradually add to the butter mixture, blending well. Chill at least one hour. Allowing about 1 Tbs of dough for each cookie, shape into balls and bake 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Cookies should not be browned. Cool before frosting with Rum Frosting.
Rum Frosting:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbs milk
1 tsp rum extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Cream butter, add extracts and mix well. Add sugar gradually, then add milk and mix to spreading consistency.

I like these cookies because they have a nice flavor but not overpowering. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Monet in Normandy

Last night Chris and I went on a date. We went with our friends Tosh and Amy Brinkerhoff. We went to the Monet in Normandy exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum. It was a wonderful exhibit. I enjoy Monet and impressionism. One of my favorite paintings was the Rouen Cathedral .

It's difficult to see the detail from this picture but as I looked at the painting up close I could see a lot of texture and what looked like layers and layers of thick paint. I wondered how he could stand close enough to the painting to paint the picture and have it turn out like it did. Close up it is difficult to tell what it is but from a distance it is a beautiful painting. I also liked a few other paintings.
Terrace at St. Adresse is one of Monet's most famous paintings and the story goes that as a young artist Monet went to Paris and met and fell in love with a model named Camille. Camille got pregnant and when Monet told his father about their situation he was very upset and told Monet that he should not abandon the woman. After Camille had Monet's baby they got married. In this painting the two people sitting down are Monet's father and Aunt. They are both looking at the couple with judgement. The couple is not named but there are two empty chairs in the painting suggesting the couple is connected to Monet's father and aunt.

It took us about an hour to see a video about Monet and go through the exhibit. I wasn't sure I would enjoy it because I have been sick the past few days. On the way to the museum I felt ill but after a little fresh air and some potato chips I felt much better. After the museum we went to an Italian restaurant. I had the cannelloni and Chris had meatloaf. We shared peach cobbler for dessert--should have ordered the chocolate bomb.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More to come . . . .

Ok. I'm going to give this a try. My new way of keeping a journal. I have been reading my friend Lucy's Blog for a few months and she has inspired me to start my own. I am not much of a creative writer but I figure I could post pictures of my kids so their grandparents and relatives who live far away can see them any time they want and read about what they are doing!
This is all new for me so if you are reading this blog written by a novice blogger understand that somewhere between college and now I traded in my thinking brain for a mom brain (you mothers of young kids will understand).
Now I may be the last person in the world to own a cell phone but I won't be the last person to have a blog!
More to come. . . .