Sunday, December 30, 2007

Duct Tape...

What is it about boys and duct tape???


Porter recently discovered and claimed a 16+ ft fallen tree in the woods behind our home... during the trek home it broke into several pieces... the solution? A half a roll of duct tape to piece it back together...

Doug's first thought when he saw Porter's handiwork? "Wow, that's a strong hold that took some diligent effort to create.... Wait a second... that's a lot of duct tape... wait a second... that's my duct tape! Porter, where are you?"

I didn't get my camera out until the next day, when by that time, the two ends had come apart, but the picture shows the work Porter went to, around and around again...






Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sitting Up












Christmas Morn

Christmas is so much fun with kids! We had a magical Christmas morning... much better than last year! Namely because we didn't let our kids stay up too late the night before. They awoke rested and therefore eager to enjoy Christmas surprises!














Presents from Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Jack... Thank you!

Sophia gave Porter the new Star Wars light saber... the kind that glows in the dark and shoots out with one touch... yeah, I wasn't really thinking on this one. My quandary now is, do I wait until he pokes some one's eye out with that thing before I confiscate it and banish it to the attic, or do I trust that he'll be careful with it?





All Sophia kept telling me that she wanted for Christmas was a ballerina (meaning ballerina clothes. We've had 'Jocelyn and the Ballerina,' the children's book from the library for six weeks, reading it almost daily. It's about a little girl who refuses to take off her ballerina, she says she's going to wear it forever . Needless to say, Sophia squealed with delight when she opened her very own ballerina.



Porter wanted to get Sophia her very own hermit crab. Now his pet has a buddy.

Christmas Eve

We had a Christmas Eve dinner, a Buche de Noel, and a Family Home Evening.

The kids were very wound up with much excitement!

A new Christmas Eve family tradition of opening one present... new jammies!

Our attempt at a Nativity program and Christmas Carols...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa





Much to my father's dismay (the proud owner of a beautiful Santa suit), Porter has never really been into Santa... actually, that's putting it mildly. Porter believes in Santa, and believes that Santa will bring him a present on Christmas. But Porter usually won't go near Santa. He doesn't trust Santa. He doesn't like Santa. He puts on his scariest face when Santa is around.

I was curious to see what Sophia's reaction would be to Santa.

So when we saw the sign "Santa in Store" at the local garden store near our home, we stopped. Kind of a funny place for Santa to be, but there were no lines, so that was good, and the kids had time to warm up to him.

Sophia was cautious, but intrigued and although she wouldn't approach him by herself, she wanted to tell him what she wanted for Christmas (ballerina clothes and Polly Pockets.)

I agreed to Doug's request to buy the $10 picture (for a 4x6--highway robbery!). Doug accused me of being ruthless, but Doug is such a good guy and felt guilty just stopping by to say hi to Santa, without paying him for his time. The kids, feeling safely in numbers I suppose, came close enough for a picture.

I guess it's all about the memory, and now I have something to send to my dad... this should put a smile on his Santa loving face!

*** please note Porter's Indian shirt from his kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration. He loves that shirt, and if it's clean, it's the first shirt he picks. His teacher told me he's gotten the most use out of his Thanksgiving shirt than any other kindergartner in history, I believe her!

Toys

I love toys... I think I love them more than my kids. There are certain toys that I think are essential to every toy room. When we were house hunting, I really wanted a game room, just so I could have one room devoted to toys... I've made myself sick worrying over what to get Porter for Christmas this year... I want to get him more toys, but I don't know if that's what he will love... I can't understand why my kids don't play more with their Little People toys, they were my favorite when I was little... So of course, my kids had to have all of the classic sets, and even though they collect dust in the closet, I can not let go of them, because maybe Preston will come through for me and love them as they ought to be loved!


Houdini the Hermit Crab

We woke up Sunday morning and our Hermit Crab was missing from his cage on the small table in the kitchen... I called Doug at the church. He hadn't moved the Hermit Crab... The home security alarm hadn't gone off in the middle of the night, so I didn't think he'd been kidnapped...

The only explanation was that he had escaped... so we pulled out the flashlight and started searching... under couches, chairs, cabinets... No luck...

At one point I looked up and Porter was on his knees in the corner saying a prayer... he was in tears telling me, "I loved my hermit crab so much"... When Doug got home he asked Porter, did you think to pray? Porter's answer? "yes, twice!"

Doug finally located our missing crab behind the presents, under the Christmas tree... I can't believe he survived the falls, I think his new name should be Houdini...

The Hermit Crab's home on the kid table

The hall he crawled down

The presents and tree he hid behind

it's fun to match

A couple of weeks ago I was wearing my jean jacket and Sophia insisted on wearing hers too. As I buckled her into the car seat, she smiled at me so sweetly and said, "Mommy, it's fun to match!" I love that cute little girl! I'll have to make more of an effort to match her now, because I know some day, so will not think it's cool at all to match her mom!

While I'm mentioning cute things she's said...

Next year's sunbeams have been coming into Primary for jr. sharing time for the last couple of weeks. I was teaching Sharing Time during Sophia's first visit. While I was teaching she raised her hand.

Me: Yes, Sophia?

Sophia: Mommy, I'm hungry. (she says this to me all of the time)

a few minutes later... she raises her hand again...

Me: Yes, Sophia?

Sophia: Mommy, what time is is? (AS I've mentioned earlier, she also says this to me multiple times through out the day. It's so funny, she has little concept of time, but if I respond with, dinner time, or bed time, it's not a good enough answer. I have to say the exact time, 2:10 or 5:30.)


story #2
I made Sophia and Porter capes, you know, like superhero capes. Shortly after this Doug's mom was on her way here for a visit.

I said to Sophia, "Grandma's flying here right now. Sophia got a thoughtful, slightly awe struck look on her face, and said, as she wrinkled her nose up, "With her cape?"

Holiday Houses

Porter's school went on a field trip to see these holiday houses decorated entirely with candy. Our neighbor helped her bible study class decorate one of the homes. I wanted to see them myself, and Porter wanted to show them to us, so we went to see the display last week.

A church did the display. It was cool to see, and fun to hear how many m& m's or sticks of gum had been used to decorate one home, but I couldn't help thinking, What a waste of time! If you want to get people into your church at Christmas there are more Christ centered ways to do it. But maybe their goal was not to bring people unto Christ, maybe it was to build unity amongst the different bible study classes who spent so many hours together decorating. What ever their goal was, we did enjoy the festive activity. And I felt even more gratitude for the amazing and spiritual Nativity weekend our stake put on several weekends ago.







Sophia's favorite (because it's pink, or course!)

My favorite


sibling time





Arboretum

Thanks to Porter's Christmas vacation, we've been getting out and doing some fun things to help celebrate! It's so nice to have him home, although he hates running errands. We managed the post office, it was do or die if the grandparents and cousins were going to get their gifts in time. I waited in line with three kids for 45 minutes, but we survived! When the subject of running errands comes up, Porter asks me to go when he's in school. All of the men in my immediate family (even my baby) hate shopping!

Doug had to go to B* for work, and Porter was able to go with him. We met up for lunch afterwards.

We've spent time outside in this crazy warm December. Riding bikes. Sophia has figured out how to ride her trike with out assistance, so she dons her helmet and tries in vain to keep up with Porter.

We have a ticket system to reward the kids for good behavior, good attitudes, and chores completed. They cashed in a lot of tickets for a morning trip to Chuckee Cheese. ( I've found mornings to be much less crowded, thus making a more enjoyable trip.)

We also went to the arboretum twice. I love it there. In Utah or Idaho, you go up the canyon for a peaceful experience with nature. Here, we go to the arboretum. I just walk in and feel calmer and more grounded. The J* family had never been, so they accompanied us on one of our trips.










I found these pictures from almost two years ago... Same places... bigger kids. It was fun to see how much my kids have grown in such a short time.














***Notice that Sophia is wearing the same skirt in both pictures... two years later, it still fits fine and it's still one of her favorites...

Preston's Six Month Stats



Weight-- 17 lbs 3 oz -- 50th percentile

Height-- 26 1/2 inches -- 50th percentile
Head Circ-- 17 1/8 -- 50th percentile

Friday, December 14, 2007

Buche de Noel



The theme for Enrichment this year was Christmas around the World. The committee asked me to make something from French Christmas traditions. The only thing I could think of is a Buche de Noel... or Christmas Yule Log. The cake is very important to the French people's Christmas traditions.

I researched the reason behind the cake. Apparently in pre-Christian days the French people celebrated the Winter Solstice and honored God Thor by creating a large bon fire. As Christmas time began to replace the Winter Solstice the people cut down a yule log to burn in their fireplace. The ashes were thought to have magical and medicinal powers to chase away evil spirits and bless and protect the family for the upcoming year. When homes started to be built without fireplaces in the late 1800's a French pastry chef created a cake that looked like a log so the French people could still have a log around which they could center their family holiday traditions.

I didn't know you could make them at home. But they don't make them in America. So I found several recipes, selected the two most simple ones, stressed for several days, started cooking on Wednesday, finished a few hours before Enrichment on Thursday and created two beautiful cakes. The Lord must have wanted Enrichment to go well, because I know He helped me. They turned out great... the taste and look of both was so authentic. Now I have another tradition for my family. Every year I will be making a Buche de Noel.

Some people asked me for the recipe, and I told them I would post it here. I made both recipes, and I think I like the chocolate creme from the first recipe and the cake from the second recipe. I learned that you must follow ALL of the directions, down to the cooling, exactly for the the cake to turn out.

Recipe #1
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
1/4 cup (50 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (112 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate Whipped Cream:
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoon (40 grams) granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with Pam, a 17 inch (43 cm) by 12 inch (30 cm) jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then butter and flour the paper (or spray with Baker's Joy). Set aside.
While the eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature before using (takes about 30 minutes).
Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and beat until this mixture is light and fluffy (about five minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and beat only to combine. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

In a clean mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of sugar until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula or whisk to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the batter will deflate. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan with an offset spatula. Bake until the cake is puffed, has lost its shine, and springs back when gently pressed, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp towel.

Chocolate Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least one hour so the cocoa powder has time to dissolve. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

Once the cake has cooled, spread with the chocolate whipped cream (set 2 tablespoons aside) and then gently roll the cake, peeling off the parchment paper as you roll. The sponge cake will crack, and, in fact, this makes it look more like a real log. Trim one end of the cake at an angle and set it aside. Then place the sponge cake, seam side down, on your serving platter. Take the slice of reserved cake and, using the reserved whipped cream, attach it to the side of the sponge cake (to look like the end of a branch). Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving time. Just before serving remove the cake from the refrigerator, dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar (to resemble snow), and decorate with meringue mushrooms (if desired). You can also decorate the Yule Log with miniature pine cones and pine needles.

Recipe #2
INGREDIENTS
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar
confectioners' sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.
Unroll the cake, and spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate until serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving