Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Photo #4

Folder 4, Photo 4

Yet another cruise photo (this will be the last one). This one, I think, is the coast of Honduras taken from the deck, as we arrived. It was gorgeous and we spent the day on the beach. That cruise was the best vacation ever. I highly recommend trying it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Birthday Girl

Embry's birthday celebration began with her party on Saturday the 14th. Embry's grandparents and great-grandparents came to visit and to have lunch and cake. I made slow-cooker BBQ pork. I bought broccoli slaw and put out veggies and chips with dip. A very summery menu for February, but I needed foods that were easy. (We were all still recovering from illness earlier in the week.)

After everyone arrived, we had to open presents. Not birthday presents, Valentine's presents.

Some of which Embry helped decorate...

After lunch, it was time for cake. Embry is still obsessed with having cakes with flags on them, so the summer theme continues. Especially with the "4" on it, it looks like an Independence Day cake :). I make a jello poke cake with whipped cream frosting. It turned out really good, and was a nice light departure from the last few cakes I've made that were very heavy and rich. Plus, Embry loves to help cut up fruit and she had a great time prepping the strawberries.

J's only complaint was that the cake was not historically accurate, with only 9 stripes and 32 stars. Whatever...

After blowing out candles and eating cake it was time for birthday presents. Here's Embry getting straight to work with her new easel accessories. The rolls of paper and paint cups (non-spill!) were from Mom and Dad.

After presents it was time for naps and time to say goodbye. Our guests were on their way home, except for Grandma H. who was staying for the weekend. She helped me put together a collage for Embry's next birthday celebration at school. Because her birthday was on a Saturday and Monday was a holiday, Embry had her birthday stuff at school on Tuesday. Her class has a very unique way of recognizing birthdays.

First Embry stands in front of the class and talks about the photos on the poster. We discuss where and when she was born and show pictures of her other birthdays and of some of her favorite things. Those pics included ones of her swinging, feeding the ducks at the park, playing with her brother, and jumping on the bed. She then took the collage slowly around the room showing it to all the kids in the circle.

Next, the teacher lights a candle in the center of the room, and Embry walks in a circle around the candle while the kids sing a song. The candle represents the sun and Embry is carrying the Earth. Each time around the circle represents one year. After each year, we discuss what Embry learned during that time, or what changed in her life, like moving to St. Louis or becoming a big sister.

After her four laps are finished the kids sing "Happy Birthday," and Embry dismisses them, by name, to their tables where she serves them a snack. We brought grapes, pears and oranges.
By the time we finished eating, it was time to go home. She was so proud to show off her pictures and to be the center of attention. It was a very neat ceremony and I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Although it's been a week and a half, Embry is still talking about her party, her cake and her day at school. And she's already talking about her next birthday, although she claims that she will be 6 years old next year, not five. I told her that she is already growing up too fast, she's not allowed to skip years like that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recent Pictures

I just finished uploading pictures from my camera and I thought I'd share some of the good ones...

These first two are from our only major snow that we've had so far this year. Actually, it was the first time that Embry got to play in a lot of snow.

This one is of Embry playing scrabble on the bed in the guest room. She loves to play with all of our board games, but she has to set herself up somewhere that Matthew can't reach all the tiny pieces. I just thought she looked cute making words with the scrabble tiles.

This one is just Mattie posing for the camera, as he loves to do.

These next two are of Embry and her paintings. She can knock out 6 or 7 pictures in about 30 minutes. The rest of the pictures are J's.

This one is just a cute capture of one of Matthew's new faces - the fish face. He has been experimenting a lot lately with some very cute results.

And finally a rare picture of me with both kids. This is how we have been spending the last few minutes before Matthew goes to bed at night. All three of us pile into the chair and wind down to an episode of Wubzy.

Thursday Update

Around the House - Wow, has it been almost 2 weeks since I last posted? It has been a little crazy here. Starting with last week when Matthew and I came down with the flu at the same time. J had to stay home from work to help me take care of the kids, and just when I started to feel better, he came down with it too. Luckily, J and I felt good enough by the end of the week to continue as planned with Embry's birthday party. (I'm going to write a separate post regarding birthday stuff.) By some miracle Embry did not (so far) catch whatever we had. Matthew has had a harder time recovering. He is still not quite back to normal, but he is feeling better every day. This week has been all about recovering; our health, our house, our sleep. Health is good, the house is getting there, and I definitely need to work more on the sleep.

In the Kitchen - Nothing puts a halt to cooking like an entire family not being able to eat. So, with the exception of Embry's party, I have pretty much cooked nothing in the past 2 weeks. Embry was the only one eating for a few days so I fed her lots of mac-n-cheese, Lunchables, and Steak-N-Shake. I felt really bad, but she thought it was great. After the party we've mostly been working on leftovers. I plan to get back into the kitchen this weekend.

New with Embry - The newly crowned 4 year old has been as busy as ever. She spends most of her time at home crafting; painting, cutting and pasting, coloring, printing out online creations, etc. But, I know she is looking forward to warmer days. Every time we pass the park on the way to the grocery store, she asks if it is warm enough to play. I tell her, "Very soon."

New with Matthew - Matthew has been trying to outgrow his morning nap for a few weeks now. Of course, his plans were sidelined when he got sick and was sleeping more than usual. But, now that he is feeling better, he is resisting again. I've still been putting him in his crib at the normal time, but most days he just sits in there and plays until I get him out again 30 minutes later. At least I still get 30 minutes to get dressed and check email.

I'm Grateful For - The fact that Embry still takes an afternoon nap. I hope she holds on till the fall, when she starts going to preschool full days. (She'll get a nap there if she still needs one.)

The Weather Outside - Normal Midwest winter lately. Cold with a few snowflakes. We had a couple of warmer days last week. But, it was back to the 20's today.

I'm Obsessing About - I think I'm still to tired to obsess. Maybe next week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Random Photo Time

Folder 3, Picture 3

Also from our cruise (there will be a lot of these)... this is actually a pretty great picture. We're at the Aquarium in Cozumel, where J and I got into the shark tank (no really!) and then walked around to visit the other ocean life. Hello little turtle...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Best Dessert from a Mix...Ever!

I found this idea on my new favorite food blog, Bakerella. Basically you take a Betty Crocker brownie mix and prepare according to the directions on the box. Then, you take a Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix and prepare according to directions. Only instead of baking the cookies separately, you drop the cookie dough into the brownie batter by the teaspoonful.

The end result is a dessert that is half brownie and half chocolate chip cookie. What could be better!? As soon as I read about this, I made a special trip to the store to buy the mixes. When I got there, surprise! Betty Crocker has a box with both mixes together! Word must have got out about how awesome this dessert is. Anyway, it is so easy and a great dessert for kids to help with as you can see from the pictures.

We finished it the same way that the folks at Bakerella did... with a layer of homemade ganache. I wonder how great this would be using homemade brownies and homemade cookie dough?

Happy baking!