Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let it Snow(please)

We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas, which I'll share later. We got a (very)light dusting of snow this morning which has me lusting after other people's weather. Since I have children to feed, a dinner party to prepare for and a wedding cake to make, for now I'll leave you with these incredibly lovely images from Meg and Maya.
If you prefer something sweeter to look at, last night when I was too jazzed over my wedding cake sketches to sleep I got up and put together this album. The first cake(picture above) in the album is my most recent, from Iain and Jiyoon's wedding in October.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Because we happened to be dressed like this

It's challenging to get four people to look good in a picture simultaneously.
It's also challenging to get two kids not to move too much when you're taking pictures without a flash.
Sometimes, when everything else lines up, the lighting turns a weird greenish color.
Other times, the yellow pants on your three year-old that weren't supposed to be in the shot creep in.
Other obstacles notwithstanding, sometimes one of the grown ups moves.
Or blatantly sabotages.

Still other times, one of the children might be a little too excited to see what the picture looks like and jumps up to see before the picture has even been taken.

This is what I get for trying to pretend that we're the sort of family who dons matching casual sweater wear and then hangs out in front of the Christmas tree. I almost considered buying the kids a golden retriever, just so our Christmas card picture would have that little something extra. Good thing I realized that would be ridiculous.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Excess? What Excess?

We were invited to my aunt's Christmas dinner cruise on a beautiful boat, and I volunteered to bring dessert. My aunt requested something along the lines of a red velvet cake with crushed candy canes. I latched onto the candy cane idea and then got a little out of control with it. I ended up adding a few more holly leaves around the bottom, but didn't have time to take more pictures because I was of course working on the cake up until the very last minute. I'm kind of in love with red and white, and I just happen to have a ginormous holly bush in my back yard.
This cake was so much fun to make; the boys helped me unwrap all the little round candies and were really good about not licking one single piece. The cake was chocolate-peppermint and the frosting was my usual Swiss Butter Cream, but I added some peppermint extract to match the candy cane theme. There was a lot of cake left over and my aunt asked me if I wanted to take some home, but I sent it all home with her because as it turns out, I still prefer decorating a cake to eating it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Every year, Aaron and I get into a funk over the tree. I'm not really sure how or why it happens, but almost every year it does.
First, it was the lights. He comes from a colored lights family, I'm from an all white lights family. There are strong feelings on both sides. At first, we alternated; our first Christmas together we used colored lights, the next Christmas all white. I didn't like how one of us was always disappointed, so I came up with the idea of using red and white lights intertwined. We both liked that better, but it still wasn't highly satisfactory for either of us. This year I decided I wanted Aaron to have colored lights, and as I was untangling the many strands of brightly colored offensiveness he asked "What are you doing?"
"I thought we'd use colored lights this year. You know, like the Mickey Mouse Christmas tree cartoon where Chip and Dale are hiding in the tree and it looks like a magical Christmas village inside the branches."
"Oh. I was going to tell you to go ahead and use all white lights this year."
"But you hate all white lights."
"I'm not crazy about all white, but I like you, and you like white lights."
So we used both.
At 5 and 3, the boys are actually pretty good decorators. It's nice not to have a baby trying to chew on the lights or smash the glass balls together. Our kids never terrorized the tree much as babies, but they've never been able to hang ornaments very effectively either. I guess this year, everyone grew up a little.
I never buy Good Housekeeping, but I couldn't resist this one.
It was a good buy, because I got the snowflake idea out of it. We hung a snowflake garland last year, but I'd never thought of doing it from a mirror. I like it.
I think our tree turned out nicely as well. The whole thing was, by far, the most painless tree experience we've ever had. In the past we've made the purchase in the evening, after Aaron comes home from work. That was a terrible idea. It was always freezing cold and we were all hungry, so we'd arrive back home as a family of frozen, grumpy elves. Then it'd be too late to decorate the tree that evening and Jack would have a meltdown, but not before Aaron and I got really irritated with each other over trying to get the tree straight in the stand.
This year was great. We went to Costco first and stocked up on a few things, which felt really cozy. When we got to our usual tree place(a convenient, short drive from our house) there were really only two likely candidates, so we let the boys choose. We paid and got out of there, then headed home where I'd already rearranged the furniture to accommodate the tree. I put on some Christmas music and put away all the food, while Aaron took the boys outside to put up lights on the chicken coop. Hormones(non-pregnant ones) may have been a factor, but I got a little choked up watching the boys through the window. It has been one of Jack's fondest desires to decorate the chicken coop so that "it will look DUST like Snoopy's house in Charlie Brown Christmas!" Even typing about it now, I get a little misty. I love, love, love that Aaron takes our kids' dreams seriously, even if they don't seem "important" by adult standards. The way Jack's eyes were shining told me that Aaron had done so much more than put up a strand of lights.
As an added bonus, Jack's blood work came back: normal. While part of me is bummed that nothing indicates where his migraines are coming from, I'm enormously relieved that everything really bad can be considered ruled out. He hasn't had a migraine since his last chiropractor visit a week ago, and has had fewer headaches in general. I don't think this is the last we'll see of his migraines, but at least the next time he gets one I won't be worried that something deeply menacing is going on with his brain.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bring back that Blogging Feeling

I'm not sure if I've gotten too busy, too lazy, or if my children have gotten more interesting, but I don't seem to have much of a blogging drive lately. I'm not sure what to make of this. I still blog everything in my head, and maybe that habit is having some kind of placebo effect on my desire to do any actual blogging. Also, it's early December, the time of year when I really don't have my act together at all. I'm trying not to celebrate Christmas prematurely while trying to simultaneously stay on top of some kind of Advent tradition, and it never ever works. And at this point, there are so many things I haven't blogged that the list of Significant Posts I Should Have Written is kind of big. For example:
-Iain and Jiyoon's wedding
-The cake I made for said wedding
-My trip to Boston
-My trip to NYC and the famous people I saw while I was there
-The first snow of the season in the Pacific Northwest
-How chickens feel about snow
-Thanksgiving and the only reasonable way to roast turkey
See what kind of pressure I'm under? Add to that list the fact that Matteas decided to spontaneously potty-train himself on Thanksgiving, and you've got a serious blogging back-log. We've also had a bit of family rearrangement lately, as Aaron is building a bunk house for my parents down at their cabin. That's what he's working on in the picture. Drilling into concrete is a necessary step in the process of bunk house building. Aaron doesn't like it when I watch him build stuff because occasionally he can't see his work through the thick cloud of lust emanating from me, so I have to snap a few quick pictures and head back to the cabin. We've been spending every Friday and Saturday down there for the past month until now, when Aaron drove down without me. Jack had a migraine last weekend and some appointments this week, including a blood draw yesterday which he tolerated calmly as I panicked that he would panic. So I felt like Jack should have a mellow weekend, meaning one that didn't include five hours of driving.
About that blood draw: I'd deeply appreciate your prayers. Since taking him to the chiropractor, Jack's migraine situation has been much better but they do still happen. Thus the blood draw. I'm torn between wanting the tests to come back normal and hoping that they point to some kind of diagnosis, something we can hopefully fix. They're not looking for anything serious at this point so I'm not super anxious, I just want to know what's going on with my kid and why he occasionally experiences debilitating pain. I'm an attentive mother like that. The results should be back by Wednesday, at which point I will promptly update. I might even throw up a recipe or two between now and then, a few things which prominently feature NOT turkey. I love Thanksgiving, but I'm glad it only happens once a year.