Friday, September 26, 2008


Oh am I glad today is Friday. I SO need the weekend!

So below is a photo of Nora's very first spelling test. It is not the best image, but I tried. I hope you can see her cute little handwriting. And I am going to take this moment to point out that she got all ten words right! We are so proud! I am also going to point out that this is the first test she has ever taken. The got assessed in kindergarten but it was never anything like this. She is really growing up-I was wondering when spelling tests were going to start!

Today was not the best day of my life. My morning began when the alarm clock rang at 7:30 and I crept out of bed, careful not to disturb my three loves snuggled up in the bed. Everyone starts each night in her own bed and ends up with Mama and Daddy sometime before 7:30am. We are good with that for now. We still all sort of fit in the king sized bed.

So anyhow, I went downstairs, pulled out Nora's lunchbox, and stood in the kitchen trying to decide whether to make coffee first or Nora's lunch first. See, this is the first time I left the lunch making until morning, so I wasn't sure what my priority should be. Making lunch first was probably the more responsible thing to do, but there was the chance I would make a peanut butter and Cheerio sandwich in my half asleep stupor. I actually once made that for my dad's lunch when I was in grade school, so it wasn't such a stretch.

So there I am just standing there-really-and all of a sudden my back starts to feel weird. So I walk around a bit, thinking about the coffee or lunch dilemma, and my back starts to hurt. I head towards the couch to sit down and my back starts to spasm. Badly. It is the worst pain I have felt, short of child birth, and it was very scary. I could take about 1/3 of a breath, the pain was so intense. In my hoarse 1/3 of a voice, I called for Kevin, who sprang out of bed and RAN down the stairs, with the girls close behind him. He helped me to the couch and helped me sit down, which took more than five minutes. And then he brought me two Aleve, put them in my mouth for me, and tipped some water in there to wash them down because I could not lift my arms without crying. I sat on the couch until 9am, and after Kevin made Nora's lunch, fed the girls cold cereal and got Nora on the bus, he helped me lean forward so he could rub my back with this stuff his physical therapist gave him. It smells sort of like menthol and sort of like citrus. That helped a lot. Really. Eventually I was able to stand up, and I forced Kevin to go to a consulting gig he had and then I coerced Dana upstairs to my room, where I laid flat on my back on top of a heating pad for two hours while she watched Scooby Doo on the portable DVD player and got yogurt pretzels all over my Garnet Hill sheets. She was so sweet-as I was trying to lay down, tears streaming down my face, she kept telling me, "Breathe, Mama, breathe!" The kid is three and she effectively coached me through that terrible pain. Amazing! And after two hours, she started crying because she wanted chocolate and grape juice, so I had to slow-mo myself upright and go downstairs to feed her. I will point out here that I made tomato soup with noodles, not chocolate and grape juice.

So Kevin had plans tonight that I did not want him to cancel. He is the best. He asked my dad to pick up the little ladies and watch them until he got home. So my awesome dad came over, got Dana into pants, socks and shoes (she spent the day lounging in a t-shirt and undies) and brought the girls on a woods walk and then to his house for dinner. I have the best family in the whole world.

Anyhow, no fun photos as my house is pretty much upside down. At 7pm I managed to wash the spilled breakfast cereal off the table, but now my back is cramping up again. So I am heading back upstairs to lay prone on my heating pad. I took two more Aleve and have high hopes that tomorrow I will be in better shape. It was absolutely gorgeous out today and I missed it because my crazy back did this for absolutely no reason. I swear I wasn't even moving-I was just standing in the kitchen. Just standing, minding my own business.

Monday, September 22, 2008



So most people who know me know I have sort of a thing for cupcakes. It isn't so much that I like to eat them, though I do. I just really like to decorate them. And it isn't that I am super good at it, either. But with cupcakes, you have 24 chances to get it right.

Today Dana was missing Nora, who doesn't get home until after 4:00, and I was trying to distract and hopefully cheer her up with a project. She wanted to make cupcakes! Big surprise-both girls would eat frosting three meals a day if I would allow it, which I would not. Since it is fall, we were inspired by pumpkins, as you can see. The cupcakes are white with cute orange and white orange flavored sprinkles baked into the batter. We flavored the frosting with orange extract to complete the effect. I am not sure 24 tries was enough for the curly frondy things, but they were fun to make even if they are not perfect. If only someone would pay me to design cupcakes. That would be my dream job...

At the risk of coming off as arrogant, isn't this so cute? Don't you want to just eat it up? I actually have not tried one yet and it has been about 8 hours since I baked them. Do I feel a fever coming on or something?

Nora wasted no time sampling a mini pumpkin. She also snuck in and stole one of my icing bags, squirting the leftover brown directly onto her tongue. Gross!

Dana has such a satisfied look on her face. This is exactly what she wanted today. My only regret is that I didn't have Halloween or fall cupcake liners. These have dinosaurs on them. But I am OK with that. It doesn't ruin the effect.

Sorry to post about food half of the time. I love to bake and, well, if I'm not cooking a meal, I am cleaning up from one or planning the next.

A Long, Crusty Story (yawn!)

Oh my, pie!

Our apple tree is overflowing this year. Last year we didn't get any apples. I mean, not even one! This year it is insane how many there are. And they are good! Juicy, crisp, a bit tart. They are good to crunch into, the are good to bake with.

On Saturday, Nora, Dana and I hauled the step ladder out to the tree and we picked as many apples as we could reach. Unfortunately, we need a 30-foot extension ladder to reach most of them, but we managed to get enough for two pies.

It was sort of a disaster, I have to say. I decided to try a new crust recipe. I know-why mess with a good thing? Believe me-I learned my lesson. It was such a disaster! We made enough crust for two double crust pies, chilled them thoroughly, and went to roll them out. They rolled out fine, but they were so incredibly fragile that they basically disintegrated when I tried to put them in the pie plates. Nora and I tried a dozen times to get them to work. We added water, we added flour, we chilled the crust longer, we chilled the pie plates...After searching online, I finally learned that a pie should have a 3-2-1 ratio of flour-fat-liquid. My trial crust was WAY out of whack. WAY too much fat. Like 50% too much.

So in the morning, I got out the trusty recipe handed down from my lovely mother in law. And, of course, it was perfect. It mixed perfectly, rolled out perfectly, held together perfectly and got countless compliments. My mom told me she normally doesn't like crust but this one was yummy. Why oh why did I put myself through that frustration when I had a tried and true recipe? Heck, you don't even have to chill it, it is so good.

I like to just roll out my crust on the counter. This is after rolling out four crusts-kinda thick in some spots, huh.

After our Saturday night crust debacle, I learned to not prepare the filling until the bottom crusts are in the pie plates ready to be filled. See that giant pile of peels? I peeled 26 little apples from our century old tree. Nora helped slice them (with a child safe knife, not the one pictured!) and we mixed lemon juice in so they wouldn't brown. I feel like home grown apples brown really quickly. The filling was really tasty even unbaked! Nora snitched several sliced apples covered in cinnamon and sugar. I never thought of that for a snack, but now I know.

The finished product. Isn't it almost too pretty to eat? Maybe not. But I think it turned out really well considering the path we took to get there. We brought one pie to Sunday dinner and came home with an empty plate. The second pie is half gone, which is cool because tomorrow I am going to haul the 30-footer out to the tree and get to work.

The one good lesson I learned from my crust mistake was that my food processor mixes up pie crust with absolutely no hassle. The reason I rarely bake pie is that I hate mixing up the crust. I just don't get any enjoyment out of using a pastry blender, and I have a really nice one. Now that I can use my food processor, I am all about pies. The good thing about that is I don't really like pie. I mean, I don't really like to eat it. It isn't my favorite. That pie would still be uncut if Nora hadn't eyed it the second she got off the school bus today. But really, there are much worse snacks than fruit pie. With thirteen apples per pie, you are bound to eat an entire apple without even realizing it. Yay pie! Yay fall!

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Nora's first day of first grade. She was so excited that she didn't fall asleep until 10:15 last night! She kept hollering questions about school.

Here she is waiting for the bus. Her morning bus driver is the same one as last year.

Here she is getting on the bus. She was really excited about saving a seat for her cousin, Adrea, who lives behind us and started kindergarten today.

Home at last! First grade doesn't let out until 3:50, and Nora didn't get home until about 4:15 today. Long days! She didn't provide many details about school, but she thinks her teacher and principal are both "really nice" and she earned a trip to the Skittle machine in her classroom, which was pretty cool. I thought she would return home tired, but instead she came home starving! I made her eggs for breakfast. She came home with some of her lunch left, which she finished as soon as she walked in the door. So she ate a sandwich, applesauce, blueberries, cheese crackers, celery, yogurt and a juice box, and we had dinner an hour after she got home. She ate two bowls of soup and asked for a third while I was cleaning up! Then she ate half of a dinner roll and two brownies. Maybe she'll fit into her size 6 clothes sooner than Christmas!


New Hair for a New School Year

Dana is 3 years and 5 months old and the only haircut she had ever had was the one Nora gave her (she cut one small strand). Her hair needed to be trimmed and evened out, and the little Nora 'do blended in. She was super excited about her first haircut, jumping right into the chair. She didn't make a peep the entire time. She just looked at herself in the mirror.

Trimming the back.

I was reluctant to get her hair cut, fearing that once the curls were cut off her hair would be straight. As you can see, it still has lovely waves. Yay!

Believe it or not, Nora was really nervous to get her hair cut! She has had so many haircuts, but this was a new stylist, and her first cut since getting her ears pierced in June. She was worried that the stylist would snag her earrings on the comb. Luckily, she has dealt with pierced ears before, so there were no problems.

Happy Birthday Nora!

Nora turned six on August 29. She picked this flower cake in purple and pink, but it was so warm out that the frosting got kind of melty and oozy. Nora thought it was beautiful despite the flaws.

I took the Wilton cake decorating classes at Michael's before I had kids. Like ten years ago.

Nora hauled her doll, Lucy, around all summer using a plastic grocery bag to haul her extra clothes and such. We ordered this cool backpack for her instead. She can stuff it full of clothes, "food", diapering tools, etc. (the other part of her gift) and put Lucy in the doll carrier. Very handy!

We went bowling and had pizza but those photos are on Kevin's camera...

Random Dana

The last week has been really big for Nora, between turning six and starting first grade. Before I post THOSE photos, here are a couple cute ones of Dana.

Dana has been having a lot of fun drawing guys on the white board. I love this guy! It is technically a monster and you can see how proud of it she is.

Dana, clad in pajamas and rubber boots, thought she would get some morning sun and mow the lawn before it got too hot.