Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Days

My mom went to Gettysburg a couple weeks ago and brought back bonnets for the girls. They were pretty excited to "Laura and Mary hats". Cyprian thought one was for him, but not too sad when I told him the hidden object cylinder was for him. But he still wore Kateri's hat all the way home.

I've been fighting off a cold for a couple days. With the aid of Zicam and chicken soup, I am doing well. And so far my efforts to keep it from the kids is working. I am so relieved and determined to stay vigilant in the war on bugs. We are leaving for Palau in a little over a week and I hate thought of the kids being sick, and I am sure Shane and I will be able to enjoy the wind and sun much better without head colds.

This soup was courtesy of Cooks Illustrated. It was very tasty, especially with some french bread and butter, no we are obviously not doing the strict fast this lent. With little kids and Shane's exercise regimen, it just wasn't feasible this year. I am actually enjoying, and thinking of making more permanent, the no treats, no movies, no computer-for the kids-fast. Although i admit when I was first feeling coldish, the thought of resting on the couch while the kids watched Ratatouille sounded very tempting. But we persevered and got through it.

The recipe actually called for sauteing ground chicken, extracting all the flavor from the meat and vegetables for the stock, and then straining it and adding fresh chicken pieces and more vegetables. QFC was out of ground chicken so I just chopped up chicken legs and used those. Besides that way you can get some of the marrow and cartilage in the stock.

Kateri had to make something new and there just happened to be a recipe for blueberry muffins in Cooks Illustrated. Very Best Blueberry Muffins, to be exact. And as I had some frozen berries we picked out that recipe for Saturday morning. She was so excited she woke up early and got dressed by herself because of it.

She zested the lemon herself. We all thought they were yummy. She, apparently, liked the process more than the eating them. We haven't picked out our next recipe. I sort of stuck on the chicken soup.

The other day, I was doing something with the little kids, and I realized I had not seen or heard the big kids for over an hour. If it had been Pippin and Kateri I would have been worried. But I went upstairs just to see and found Audrey and Cyril in the middle of creating a doll house, complete with furniture,

a garbage can,

a desk with laptop and documents

a chandelier, bookshelves and books, and even stairs. The room on the left is Audrey's the one on the right, Cyril's. For some reason his room also has the stove and little frying pan cut out of cardboard and covered in duct tape. Audrey made a little safe and hid it in the underpart of her chair.
I'm thinking some of the financial states are getting through to them. Several of their books have titles like "Boom, Bills Are Dead" and "Bills, too Much Money". I didn't tell them the current news of the government aka taxpayers propping up the automotive industry. I wasn't sure if they could handle it.

I was really pleased they were being so creative and co-operative. This was a book I had when I was young. It was from the 'Bookshelf for Boys and Girls'. I actually found and bought my own set when I was 12 or 13, thinking someday I hope my kids can enjoy these. volume 5, I think, "Things to make and do" was my favorite. My brother Damien and I spend hours doing the art projects. But I loved making the doll furniture out of cupcake holders and match boxes. And cardborad boxes. It was satisfying to see the kids using boxes, ductape, sticks, and even champagne nets- on the chandlier. Who needs Plastics R Us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Popovers anyone?

But first, a costume change. Kateri found an old pink baby coat and hat, actually made by my sister for Audrey, and decided she needed to wear them with her fairy wings. Because, according to her, fairies wear pink. I'm not entirely sure what her look means. She's keeping it a secret. It must have been a busy fairy day as she is really dragging wings. The elastic has gotten stretched a bit.

Of course, Tiri had to make something else today. because we still have eggs. So I looked up a recipe in the Simply Classics cookbook and we decided to make popovers to go with dinner. She was pretty thrilled. She cracked the eggs herself while I oiled and got the muffin pan heating. We poured the batter in, and 20 min later,

We had these. Tempted? I'm not entirely sure what went wrong. You basically make the batter for dutch babies, although the recipe calls for fewer eggs, and then add chives. We did also add some Parmesan for flavor. It said to gently pierce them with a knife after you took them out of the oven to keep them from falling. There was no chance of these sturdy muffins going anywhere. The tops were hard as cement. They softened slightly when I put butter on them.

But not so much as to make them hard to resist. Pippin and Tiri said they were tasty. I ate one top just for show. I'm not sure why the recipe called for oil instead of butter. That's what you use for dutch babies. I think with a little variation they could be tasty. Could be.

Just to end on a tasty note , the recipe for Dutch Babies, which we all love, is:

Place 1/2 stick butter in 9x13 baking dish. Place in oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

While the butter melts mix in blender

6 eggs
1c flour
1c milk
Blend for several minutes- the longer you blend it the fluffier it gets.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 10-15 min until puffy.
Serve with powdered sugar and lemon wedges.

I have to go see if I can remove the bottoms of the popovers from the muffin pan now.

McDonald's- would you like a side of fountain of youth with that?

Yes, I already posted today. But I wanted to share something I found highly entertaining. And it was either post, or fold laundry. And I can't drink a latte while folding clothes so here I am.

I read an article in the WSJ on a couple practicing "transhumanism" by way of architecture. Their basic premise is we age because we are not challenged, or something like that, and if we could live like we were always a toddler our bodies would also respond to the constant stimulation and we could live indefinitely. Apparently, we get too comfortable with our surroundings and die- death by boredom. I wonder.

Did a caveman die because with flint he no longer needed to sit and rub sticks together? Did the pioneers die because they got to the end of the trail, built a house, put out a cozy bear skin and got comfortable? If only they had known that not needing to constantly adapt to their surroundings would be the death of them, they might not have feared disease, marauding warriors, frostbite, starvation etc. They would have embraced them with joy and then, died.

But not to worry. Just because we live in a society that builds stairs with even spacings, bed room floors without a slope, windows at eye level, and tables with four right angles doesn't mean we can't enjoy the life giving benefits of a Ronald McDonald Fun House. Mr Arakawa and Madeline Gins have built living spaces, for adults and children, that will keep you guessing where your next step will take you. Maybe into that pole coming down through the ceiling, possibly into that dining table that looks like a really bad shop project, perhaps into the door jamb built for a 3ft person, and with the textured, lumpy, and uneven floor who knows. I'm guessing the ER.

So get out there. Take Grandma for some therapeutic play at your nearest fast food restaurant. Be sure to get some time slithering through the chutes and slides, crouching and crawling her way back to her 20s. Who knows. Maybe it can reverse the effects of the biggie sized grease burger and fries you just ate. Or at least the direction they were headed.

Well unfortunately, we may never get to see Mr. Arakawa's plans for hotels, villages, and playgrounds come to its full potential. Apparently, their plan has been put 6 feet under, death by investing with Madoff. But I am sure they can appreciate the benefits of unpredictability.

Oh well. All things come to an end, good or bad, naturally or not. If you want to check out some of the buildings- they did complete a set of lofts in Japan-and some people do live there- click the link below. click through the lofts and hotel sketches. It will take you back to the wacky room at the Children's Museum.

I guess I should be thankful for the obstacle courses the kids provide in my living room. Or the constant interruptions during a meal. And the never being quite comfortable , sleeping perched on the edge of the mattress. They were only trying to help.


Shane's Birthday!

We celebrated Shane's birthday on Sunday. He doesn't like parties much, for himself, but it worked out that his mom and dad stopped by on Sunday with an ice cream cake and a gift. It also worked out that his sister Kim had her baby the next day, his actual birthday, so it was good we got the festivities in before Grandma and Grandpa headed out for Eastern WA. the birth went well. 9lbs, and as of yet she does not have a name. The kids are excited to meet their newest cousin soon.
I won't say how old he turned, but it was more than the candles we had for the cake.

His mom and dad gave him a thermometer for outside our kitchen window. Now we can tell if its cold enough for snow. It came complete with delivery and installation.

Past two days I've taken the kids shopping. Audrey is usually more inclined to save her earnings, Cyril typically has a hole in his pocket, or he loses his money. He lost two teeth in the last week and as the tooth fairy did not seem to be hit by the economic downturn, he was eager to look for anything "boy".

I'm not sure the best way to teach the kids about money and the wise use of it. I think right now we are on the lesson of if you spend it, its gone. Cyril did remark how if he had not bought such and such, he would have had enough to get the really big thing. As it was he picked out a super anoying gizmo. One of those little voice changing things which makes it impossible for you to not say "Luke, I am your father." I warned him before he purchased it, that it might be one of those toys that stays in his room.
So, I wasn't too sad when he brought it down yesterday and said Audrey had dropped it and now it wasn't working. So we took it apart and he found where a wire had come undone and said we needed to solder it back in place. So then we had to rummage around in the garage until we found everything we needed. Then we needed to decide who was going to hold the wire still and who going to wield the soldering iron. After a couple trial runs it seemed best for me to hold the tiny wire in just the right spot while he soldered in place. I guess I am happy he had a successful experience diagnosing and fixing a problem. And that no one got burned. But now it works again.
She reminds me of a Dr. Who character. "Are you my mummy?"

Kateri found a little kitchen set, and as it was only $5 and I know how much she loves to play cooking, we got it. The next morning I came down and she a bowl with melted butter, the flour, vanilla, and soy sauce all ready.

Just like in the picture. Although personally, I'd like to see her picture on the box. You might want to add just a splash of some dish soap, bleach, and ammonia to taste.

I was out of eggs, but as it was the feast of the Annunciation, we celebrated by making Russian Tea Cakes. This morning she was excited because I had bought eggs and she was sure there was no limit to what she could make now. I have such a hard time because when everyone needs breakfast, and we have school work to do, and tons of laundry, I do not feel her enthusiasm for starting out the day late and with a big kitchen mess. But I do love how excited she is and totally get the wanting to cook "just like in the picture". So we made a stove top version of Dutch babies, but more like polacinta ( not sure of the spelling)- it actually came out fine. A very eggy chewy crepe, which we put jam on and rolled up. And it solved the "what do I make for breakfast?' dilemma as well. Although she told me afterwards I could wash her dishes. And clean up the egg whites.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dress Up

So I've decided to hire a personal shopper. Well, actually she hired herself. And I'd have to say I am really pleased. And actually, she's my mother in law. The pictures are not the greatest but they'll have to do for now. My allergies were disruptive enough this morning as to persuade me to take a Bendryl, so I'm feeling a little sleepy and slow this morning. Usually it only last the first hour and if I make it through that I'm fine. So far so good.
Here is a little sarong-wrap thingy she found for me. Nice because size it not so crucial. I actually picked out the bathing suit myself, with Shane seconding it. Its great because there is nothing fussy, no wandering straps that wont say up, no uncomfortable wires of boning to poke you. I wanted something I could wear all day and not worry about anything. And this is it. Notice the imperfection-camouflaging pattern of the fabric. And the fabric is really thick and supportive. And I won't model it until I've been doing the ab workout for at least one month.

I was really surprised with this dress. Trudy found it at the thrift store for $3.99. It's hard to find fitted things for me when I am shopping, but not even trying it on first and having it fit is amazing. But this one couldn't fit better if I had made it myself. And actually , might have fit worse.

This ones a little blurry, but you can see the style better.

And she also sent me some links to sundresses she found online. Yes, she makes cakes, flower arrangements, fabulous food and does personal shopping. And yes, I know how fortunate of a daughter-in-law I am.
Which reminds me, a little heads up, but she is in the process of putting together a website where she will share all her party ideas, decorating, wedding planning, cake decorating, cooking, etc. It will be a wealth of information and of course with fabulous pictures and delicious recipes and beautiful presentations. I'm super excited and will keep you updated on its progress. Also, I had Courtney's old link, but I've fixed it and now have her new one, so if you want some Seattle style and fashion tips and ideas, take a look at her site.
I'm thinking it might be time for coffee #2. Only another 30 min to go until I should be out of the sleepy zone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

This photo was from a couple weeks ago, but I thought the green would look nice for today. I went to check on Kateri after lights out, and found her asleep, wearing these. I'm not sure what they were all about, but I thought it was cute. Boys are so creative, especially when it comes to weapons. A stick becomes a sword, a pine cone a grenade, and in this case a toy pan, a rubber band, and pencil, become a "shooter" I especially liked the scope he made using my milk frother attachment.

This morning I came into the kitchen and found this. Audrey and Cyril had done his phonogram dictation and were moving on to his reading lesson. Cyril said he prefers Audrey's teaching methods.
"She knows how to calm me down. And I only got four wrong."

His reading time improved from 15 to 10 min as well. It was cute to see Audrey reading the manual and setting up the lessons. I think its good for her too to reinforce what she learned. And she likes teaching. Maybe I'll get her started on the younger kids soon too.

We had dinner at Shane's parents' house on Sunday. When it was time to leave we could not find Cyril's shoes anywhere. After 30 min I said we needed to leave. It was late and the kids needed to get to bed- Kateri had already fallen sleep under the dining room table-so we left without the shoes.
The next morning , while I was on the phone with Trudy, I interrogated Kateri. She was the only one unavailable for questioning the night before. She sat up in bed and looked like she was thinking, then said with an 'I'm not certain of this' look on her face,
"I think I saw someone put them in that thing. I don't know whats it called. You know that thing by the door?"
"You mean in the hall tree? The little lid you lift up?"
"No, not that. I mean like that little door. With the vacuum things. I think maybe they put them in there."
Trudy moved the boxes blocking the door and opened the front hall closet. And there were Cyril's shoes. I could just picture her carefully moving all the boxes, stashing the shoes, putting the boxes back, and going to lie under the table, where she fell asleep.
And then Kateri, realizing the shoe's had been found, revealed the true motive behind her master plan,
"Now we can go to Grandma's?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Black Holes

Ok. Only one black hole. But apparently one is enough for concern.
I had my annual MRI on Friday. The imaging place was super efficient this time and actually had me stop filling out paper work so they could get me in the machine sooner. And the doctors office scheduled us right afterwards so we didn't have the time in between where we usually go out to lunch. But we did get coffee on the way in and had lunch afterwards so it all worked out.

So the bad news. The neuroligst didn't like the look of my scans, but to each his own, I say. Not too much new activity and he thought the areas of activity could have been worse. Most of the spots are in the area of the brain that affect your thinking, as opposed to areas that involve your mobility. So I can walk and talk. I just may not make much sense. not sure which is better. One are has "gone dark" meaning the damage is deep enough to cause fluid build up- the water on the brain he mentioned last year-and it shows up like a black spot on the scans. As he pointed out, clinically I look great- I did get my hair done recently-but he is concerned about any more activity and thinks it is time to change my medication. Which we are not thrilled about. I have been on Copaxone off and on the last 5 years and aside from a daily poke and the build up of scar tissue in various sites- Shane tried to make me feel better by saying "at least you weren't a model and had to give up your career" He has such a way with words. But really, it was not a big deal and as I could take it while nursing, it was not too much of a disruption to how we like to live.
However, the new drug, is an iterferon and does come with some side effects and warnings, possible liver damage, suicidal thoughts, flu like symptoms and a host of other pleasantries. And possibly no alcohol or other things that tax the liver. And you have to get you liver enzymes minitored every three months. I'm not sure if I'm more apprehensive about those or the fact that is made from a human protien which they get from plasma. Human plasma. And I think somehow a chinese monkey ovum might be involved. That last bit sounds funny. But its true. Or at least something close to the truth. As is the name they use for their little injector. Copaxone has one called the "Autoject". Which sounds like what it is. A little spring loaded contraption that shoots the needle into you so you don't have to manually stab yourself. Well we were driving back from lunch and I was reading over the "welcome" package from Rebif and found their version is called, I am not making this up, the "Rebiject". Immediately, Shane and I came up with the various ways we could use the word, like how when I the last one chosen on the soccer field, I felt "rebijected." Don't people think of these things when they make up names? maybe they are just no imaginative enough. I thought Rebif was silly enough. It makes me think of the Narnia books: Reepicheep felt rebijected when he lost his tail. OK maybe its getting silly. But Shane, always looking on the bright side, pointed out we never would have learned the word if we hadn't gotten the packet. I guess I'm not feeling like I have gotten enough mileage from it to tip the scales yet. And I'm not convinced that is the way I'm going to go. There are other interferons, but they are all basically made the same way. One drug site boasted that mad cow has never been found to be transmitted from albium. That does make me feel much safer.
So I told the dr. Id think about it for a few months, take a vacation to Palau with Shane, and get back to him. Or I may choose secret option #4 and come back from vacation pregnant. Then I could put switching drugs on hold until after the new one was weaned. They need to come up with a drug that makes your body act like you are in your third trimester all the time. Minus the burgeoning belly. But if the Rebif is basically morning sickness, might as well get the real protective and natural benefits of being pregnant.
Oh, and on the way home we stopped and I finally found an acceptable bathing suit. But Shane was with me again and as I said, I usually come home with something if he's there. And I discovered, a patterned fabric can hid a multitude of whatevers, whereas a solid is a blank canvas just waiting to show off your evey irregularity. And its a two piece so it could work for maternity wear too.
Thats all our news here. Time to get the kids up and ready for liturgy. Have fun with "rebiject" and let me know what you come up with. We can all always use a laugh.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nothing Terribly New

New shoes. Trudy kept the kids overnight and Shane had the day off. So we decided to go downtown and visit Courtney and do some shopping. I don't really enjoy shopping. Mostly because its hard to find things I like, that fit, and are not too expensive. Shopping with Shane is a little different. He has more varied tastes, thinks everything looks cute, and if you can't decide which, says get both. So I usually come home with something if he's there. It was also really nice to not have the four kids crowded into the changing room with me as well. I found these shoes at REI and thought they were cute. And comfortable. And I actually needed some summer shoes. And they were about the same price as the tank top at Courtney's store.

A new recipe, French Onion soup from cooks Illustrated. I think I got the proportions wrong. I made my own chicken stock but I think it needed to be diluted. And I think I used too many onions as well. It was a neat recipe where you roast the sliced onions for two hours in the oven and then on the stove top, de-glazing it 3-4 times with stock. and then dry sherry, which I was out of. That would have cut the richness a bit. I tried cutting it with half and half. It was still too much for me to have much of. Shane ate it but said he's fine if I don't make it again. A new snowfall. In March. We have had very strange weather. The nights have been very cold and then we woke up to snow and hail throughout the day on Monday. The kids were excited. I was sort of bummed to be pulling out all the snow gear again. I'm ready for Spring. I actually did some "gardening" a few weeks ago, on a nice sunny day. Actually, I just stuck all the potted plants we bought last year and never put in because I hadn't figured out where I wanted them to be. I figured if they live where I stuck them, great. If not I'll have to come up with a new planting scheme. And plants. I only had rosemary and lavender, and the kids strawberries. They look kind of sad right now. But if they perk up grow, I'll take a picture.

A new look for Pippin. We went to Richland the other week-end to visit Gran and Great Aunt Adele. WE had nice visits with both and even got to play with the cousins for a little bit at the park. For dinner that night, we went to Anthony's and had some tasty mahi-mahi and crab. Cyril got the crab. We had a very nice waiter, Larry, who suggested ways to get Cyril some warm crab with butter without having to order him a whole Dungeness. He was very friendly and helpful and took it in stride when Pippin announced to him,

"We are going to da hotel and go swimmeeen, but you tan't 'cause you have to stay at da westwant."

Towards the end of dinner I noticed Pippin's eye looking a little swollen. I was afraid he was re-acting to the seafood. Last lent we had two episodes where he ate crab/shrimp, and then threw up. We quickly finished and ran back to the hotel, where I had luckily packed the Benadryl. However, in a couple hours, it was clear that instead of allergies, he had Kateri's eye infection. Luckily, I had brought her eye drops and started him on them as well. And when we got home we went right to the walk in to get a re-fill. Actually, Pippin and I sat in the waiting room for almost 2 hrs, while Shane and the other kids continued on down the road to Grandmas for dinner. We were both starving by the time we finally got done and were able to eat too. But I got the refill and now everyone is well.

It was kind of cute to see his eye all puffy. The Doctor said eye infections always make the kids look so pitiful. That coupled with Pippin's meek little voice makes for a pathetic little boy.