Friday, November 27, 2009

They're multiplying.

Coffee talk, in honor of Black Friday.

I do love my recycle-themed Starbucks mug, but I'm not sure I really need a whole family of them.

I started with the little one. I was looking for something with a lid that really seals, even for hot beverages, had no handle to get in the way of my car's cupholders, and was pretty. This one has been great for all those requirements. It was the only size they had at the time, though, and it was just so small. Eventually, they added larger sizes and I decided to spring for a larger one - the medium sized one above. That one was really perfect, but in a string of pigeon-brained item losses, I misplaced it. I finally gave it up for lost and bought a new one (then, as you see, I eventually found the lost one). When I bought the third one, I was in the drive-thru and just told them to give me "the large one", thinking I would get another of the same size. Apparently they've added yet another size. Large indeed.

I have to confess that the large one is ridiculously large. It's a vat of coffee. It's laughable to call it "a cup" of coffee.

That's why it's my favorite one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Minor Emergencies

Don't things change in just an instant?

A few weeks ago we were happily enjoying a birthday party in Zilker park. It was a hot day and the bees were everywhere, but we were having a great time. The kids ran off to play on the playscape. If you have been to Zilker park, you know how hard it is to supervise kids there with the playscape spanning the mini-train tracks and the multiple areas. But, it wouldn't have mattered if we had been standing two feet away when Zack fell - it was just one of those falls that lands wrong. He was playing on the Firetruck and slipped, landing on his mouth on a part of the metal. Two teeth were bashed in, sitting at a 45 degree angle to his other teeth, towards the inside of his mouth. His lips and gums were bleeding and he was screaming bloody murder.

It was a Sunday (of course) so we called through the chain of doctors, nurses and dentists on call for the weekend, reaching a very flippant dentist and then finally giving up and taking him directly to the house of a friend who is a dentist and oral surgeon. Our friend was unbelievably kind and gracious and was able to show him how to gently move the teeth forward (over the course of the next 24 hours) far enough for him to close his mouth. We saw the dentist the next morning, and there was no damage (that we can see) to the adult teeth, but we really can't tell what will happen to the injured baby teeth. They might survive, might turn gray, might abscess and require a root canal, might die and have to be extracted, etc. And they could survive for now and then any of this could happen later.

I was very calm when it happened, but I've thought about it a lot. It's hard not to worry. Zack was a late teether and probably won't get his adult teeth for about two years, so we would love to have him keep his current teeth as long as possible. A root canal or extraction requires anesthesia, which always has the potential for problems. The difference in his appearance is very slight but it reminds me that I just never appreciated his perfect little teeth when he had them.

And now, after hearing the spectrum of reactions (most of them extremely caring and compassionate) from all sorts of people, something from the tiny minority of reactions stands out clearly to me right now: Something may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but when its my family, and my children, and happening now, it's a big deal to me. And when it is your child, it's a big deal to you. I hope this experience can help me remember to be compassionate to others, even (or maybe especially) in the very minor emergencies.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Game Day

As the college football season approaches the home stretch, I'm thinking about all the fun we had getting to go to a home game this season.

A couple of Saturdays ago I took Zack to his first ever University of Texas Longhorn Football game at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium! A momentous event, to be sure. His daddy was playing in the Alumni band, which gave us an opportunity to buy tickets. Our seats were separate from his, but we ended up getting to sit with him after all.

It was not only Alumni Band day, but also the day chosen to honor Veterans. It was also my first time to be in the stadium now that it seats over 100,000 people. I found the traditions of the game, the pregame show, and all the honoring done surprisingly emotional. It meant a lot to me that every time uniformed military personnel were shown on the jumbo-tron (even just candid shots), people cheered.

I think one reason I'm just a strident convert to UT Football (people are often surprised to learn that I didn't go to school at UT, but University of Arizona - though I'll never waver in my allegiance to U of A basketball!) is the richness and intensity of the football tradition. I love the songs, the band, the flips, the cannon shots, everything. We had a great time. Zack said his favorite thing was getting to play Daddy's trumpet at the game, but I think his first taste of cotton candy had to have been a close second!

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Good to Have Friends

The scale on this photo is not coming through. See that spoon? Its a very large buffet spoon. Meaning that even though it doesn't show, that Turkey Pot Pie is gigantic.

A few days ago a gentleman from church called and said that his business had been so so he'd been doing a lot of cooking and would like to give us a Turkey Pot Pie. He even brought it over. We aren't ill and we don't have a newborn and things are just normal right now, but it was still so nice to recieve a homemade dinner. The portion missing is what all four of us ate for dinner, so we have lots of leftovers for lunches and probably one more dinner!

It's times like this that make me so grateful for the extended family formed by a shared faith, and for the kindness of others.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

My First Risotto

I'm so proud (*little tear*).

I was thrilled that my first attempt at risotto came out well! I used Ina Garten's recipe for Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash from Barefoot Contessa Family Style. It was easy to follow, so maybe that's where things went right. I even sprung for the saffron (I had prepared myself, expecting it to be pricey, but I was still a little taken aback. Although, I have enough for four recipes, so if I continue to use it, it's not that bad). I had chosen not to buy chicken stock, remembering that I had a large container of homemade stock in the freezer, but when I went to thaw it, no stock at all. I had forgotten that I had used that for a giant vat of tortilla soup my mom and I made when she was here. So James had to make an emergency stop on the way home for stock-in-a-box, which I'm sure doesn't have as much flavor as real stock, but it all turned out beautifully. My family was given very clear signals that they should be enthusiastic on the result, and they seemed happy to comply.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Kentuky Wonders

We got to harvest green beans from the garden this week. Picturesque scene, yes? Just to keep it real, let me share James' words:
"We got to harvest over a POUND of the toughest green beans I've ever eaten!"
I think we got busy and neglected them on the vine too long because they didn't quite live up to our high hopes for the homegrown produce! (Or, it could have been the cook. No, no, surely not...)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Just sharing a photo today! Back with more another day.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


My fingernails are stained black, but I'm not complaining! Well, I was complaining. It took forever.

We pulled the basil plants out of the garden this weekend and I pulled off all the leaves, blanched them, pureed them with oil, and put them in the freezer. Most of the steps went very quickly, but taking the leaves off all the tough, overgrown stems was very time-consuming, just because there were so many. The sink was completely full of basil - in the picture they are covered in water but not floating: it's solid packed basil leaves all the way through. They pureed way (way) down so there isn't a crazy amount to store.

I'm excited that we'll have this base for pesto or seasonings in the chillier months to come!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween at our house

I'm loving looking at the Halloween pictures at your houses; I had to share these from ours.

Sammy was a train engineer with overalls and an engineer hat and a coal bucket to put his treats in. It was a nice costume because it was easy to wear and didn't have any parts to cover his face or trip him up. He looked cute, though not very costumed, I guess.

Zack was a cowboy. He had a perfectly adorable fireman costume already but he really, really, really wanted to be a cowboy. I felt like a big sucker giving in, especially since I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of toy guns (our family hunts- I am not anti-gun, I'm just not sure guns need to be toys). Everything besides the guns and the hat was stuff we already had (including the vest, which is a dress vest turned inside out). He has loved this costume so much that I really can't be sorry about it.

Both boys wore their costumes to storytime at the library on Wednesday, then Zack wore his to school on Thursday, then we did the Trick or Treating thing on Saturday. Each day we ended up running errands to which they wore their costumes. And in between, Zack has still been wearing his costume and playing cowboy. He showed up first thing in his morning with his guns shoved in the waistband of his pajama shorts, and didn't let them go all day long. I tried to redeem the gun thing a little by getting a bunch of cowboy books at the library so that we could have a thematically educational experience, but that didn't change that I let my son go to multiple stores with his toy guns. I really had to wonder what alien had taken over my body as he sat in the big part of the basket at Costco and shot elderly men as they snacked on samples (the elderly men were generally amused).

Why is he so crazy about guns? James and I have talked about this a lot. It's not easily explainable from our activities or habits. But then, as far as we can tell, all the little boys are crazy about guns. And look at the really cool movies for adults - they all have guns or something like them. I guess kids have a keen sense of the same thing that everyone else has about what's cool.

Whatever the reason, this cowboy costume was a big hit at our house, and I don't think the fun will pass as quickly as Halloween did!
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Sunday, November 01, 2009


Let the holiday season begin!

(You knew it was already November, right? I'm not sure how it happened, but apparently it did.)

My mom made my three-pound bag of fresh cranberries into one of my favorites: cranberry cookies! These babies are so tasty. And now I have a fabulous supply.