Sunday, December 21, 2008

It All Began Innocently Enough...

... A few months ago a friend of mine mentioned having read a book she thought was original and interesting. She said I ought to pick up a copy--if I didn't mind reading something that was intended for "young adults." Well, I loved the Harry Potter series so I had no issue with that. However, it's not easy to find the time to read anything these days so I kind of forgot about her recommendation. 

Then I decided to take a short, solo trip to California. The day before I left I was doing a little Christmas shopping at Target and the book caught my eye. It was part of a big display because the movie version had recently been released. Anyhow, I thought to buy it so I would have something to read on the plane... 

If you don't recognize the cover (crawl out from under the rock where you live) it's called Twilight
That was the beginning.

I was captivated by the story. I fully bought-into the characters, the relationships, the plot... I loved it. I read the book the whole way there, on the shuttle to pick up my rental car, in the line waiting for my rental car... I basically read it every spare minute I had on my trip. I was visiting my Grandma and she takes frequent naps... I read while she slept. I read after we went to bed and stayed up WAY too late.

I bought the second book, New Moon at the Sacramento airport on my home because I knew I would be flying into a storm and once I got home, I didn't know when I would be able to leave the house again to get my hands on it.

I finished Twilight on Wednesday evening. I started New Moon on Wednesday night (my hubby was out of town so I was able to stay up super late and devour page after page). I finished New Moon by Thursday night.

In the meantime, I ignored everything else that needed my attention except my children. I did not do any shopping (and I would have been able to get to the stores), I did not wrap any presents, I did not make any of the crafty presents I needed to get finished and in the mail, I did not do any of my baking--I didn't even facebook or blog! With every moment my kids were entertained and content, I read--until I ran out of pages. 

Friday arrived. There was a nice break in the weather. I left the kiddos with Grandma Lulu and went out to finish my shopping. I got it all done and managed to pick up Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. I made a promise to myself that I would not start my new books until I had accomplished some of my "chores." I finished making the presents and packaging them for shipment that HAD to get in the mail by yesterday. I did a bit of baking. I had finished my shopping on Friday and I wrapped about half of my presents and got them under the tree. 

Then I started book 3...

What about you? Have you been caught under the spell? I MUST recommend that you get your "teeth" into these books as soon as possible. However, I caution you to take it on when you have the time to really invest.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Visiting Grandma Purse

I made an impromptu visit to California earlier this week. Greg and I had decided not to trek the family down for the Christmas holiday and I really wanted to see my Grandma. I was grateful to leave my girlies at home with Lulu and Daddy so I could focus on the time I had to spend with my Gram.

I flew into Sacramento on Monday evening and raced from the airport to Taro's in my tiny rental car to meet my girlfriend's for dinner. Staci, Janelle, Judy, Betsy, and Anne were able to make it. The sushi was great--the company was terrific! I spent the night at Staci's and had a quick breakfast (thanks Rusty!) with the Bills Family--then it was an hour drive to Manteca to see Gram.

Thankfully, it did not take much convincing to talk her into letting me bake her famous chocolate chip cookies with her careful supervision.

Everyone is always teasing Gram that she has a "secret" recipe--for which she absolutely denies. I can tell you this, they would not taste the same without her careful (but "tweaked") measurements, 30+ year-old baking sheets (which are coated with "love"), the mixing bowls she received from her girlfriends as a wedding gift (!), and her perfectly heated oven--from which every batch comes out.

Her recipe makes 80 small cookies--and those do not last long!

Pictured below is the "secret" recipe.
Can you believe she let me take it home??? Sadly, the cookies I make at home will never live up to the ones baked in Gram's kitchen.

Aunt Connie stopped by to visit Tuesday afternoon. Aunt Candy and Uncle Ron came for dinner. Felicity and Jackie switched their standing dinner-date with Grandma from Monday to Tuesday so they could join us as well. Fifteen year-old Jackie is taller than all of us now!

Grandma and I stayed up too late chatting. I was so happy to hear the romantic story of her elopement with my Grandfather again. We looked at pictures of my girls for a few hours on my laptop and she got to hear all about their funny lives and how we keep ourselves busy. At 8pm we were snuggled up in our chairs reading and visiting when the doorbell rang. It was several ladies from her church there to bring her a blanket they had made and sing us Christmas carols. It really was a special visit. We finally turned in at 10pm!

Wednesday morning, I had to get up early and get on my way. I stopped by my friend Kristen's house for a cup of tea before meeting my brother Bobby for breakfast in Sacramento. Kristen's son Liam is getting so big and he entertained us by being a cute as ever!

I was so happy when Billie called and asked to "crash" our breakfast! She couldn't make it Monday night for Girls' Dinner and so we got to catch up anyway during breakfast. Our dining experience at Cornerstone was comedy--horseraddish is not supposed to be brown!

This picture of Bobby and I would be so good if I were a little less excited about seeing him--then my smile would be a bit smaller and you might actually be able to see my upper lip!

After breakfast, it was back to the Bills household for another 30 minutes of visiting before racing to the airport. Norah and Natalie were funny and cuddly--who could ask for more?

It was easier to say good-bye to the Bills because we'll be seeing them up in Oregon in about 2 weeks! Yippee!

xxoo

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Waking to a Winter Wonderland

We awoke to the first snowfall of the season this beautiful Sunday morning!
We experienced a few snow "flurries" this past spring... but nothing like this... it's wonderful (but probably only thing so because I haven't had to drive anywhere yet).

To kick off the celebration, I made "snow waffles" for breakfast (aka: toasted Eggos with jam and powdered sugar).

The snowflakes falling outside were so big. It's cold enough too (28 degrees) for the snow to stick so we're currently enjoying about 3 inches.

The little ladies sat in the windows and watched it snow while they patiently (well, not so patiently) waited for Momma, Daddy, and Lulu to have some coffee and get geared up for the chilly weather outside...

Then is was time to bundle up and head on out!

The Cervenak Family had beat us in being the first to get outside to enjoy the weather... but many of the other neighbors joined the fun. The Dubin's instigated the snowball fight and spearheaded the building of the snowman, the Jordan's joined in with Tyler pulling the little kids on the sled, and the newest family to join our ranks came on down as soon as they noticed our big red cups full of "holiday cheer" (they're going to fit right in!).

This was Avery's second time "in" the snow... but during our recent trip to Mt. Hood (her first time)--she was sick and did not get a chance to really play. She loved it!

Here are a couple silly sisters enjoying themselves while trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues.

Below is Grandma Lulu with Geneva, Abby, Amanda, and Avery... They're working on building a snowman.

I got to work making a few pitchers of bloody mary's. The white on the rim is salt (mixed with dill) the white on the celery is snow!

We did a little driveway sledding--and yes, Piper is actually enjoying herself in this photo.

The snowman turned out to be more of a snow duck than anything else.

When we came inside, we warmed up with hot chocolate, a quick shower, and then naps (for everyone except me--who's busy blogging)!

Happy Winter!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Me Too!

Not to be outdone by her sister--you HAVE seen Geneva sing Christmas Carols (by clicking the link on the upper right side of my blog)?--Avery decided to do her own vocal performance. It's a medley of songs you might recognize (if you really use your imagination).
Enjoy!

video

And the Winners Are...

Not too long ago I had a little contest to see who could help me solve the "Cuddlebug Mystery." Unfortunately, for many of you... you did not bother to play along. However, there were a couple fun ladies who did play and I made both of them winners!

Miss Lia won a set of these cards (on their way to you as we speak):

And Miss Amanda won these (also on their way to you):

xxoo

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

  • Christmastime--once I feel that it's here.
  • Cold (dry) Oregon Decembers.
  • When my children appreciate and enjoy their breakfast:
  • Getting back into my routine at the gym and actually enjoying it.
  • Being liberated from my own expectations regarding holiday cards--no, you're getting one--be ok with that; I am.
  • Walking into Lulu's room and finding Avery pretending to be Lulu:
  • Living with royalty:
  • The smell of December: pine needles, cinnamon, baked goods, rain, coffee, fireplaces... 
  • Looking at all of our random, mismatched, funky ornaments and taking a moment now and then to recall the memories that are attached to each one. Where did it come from? Who gave it to us or who made it for us? What was our life like the year we bought that one? 
  • This set of stationary I made for Linda to give to Aunt Betty for her birthday... sorry if the surprise is ruined... I hope you've received it by now!
  • Advent calendars
  • White-haired people sporting santa hats while they go about their business during the day (however, if it weren't December I don't think this would make the list!).
  • Having nice big packages arrive from UPS in preparation for the holidays.
  • Anticipating the fun we'll have at Greg's company holiday party tomorrow night with all the great people he works with.
  • The prospect of staying the night at the hotel after the Aerotek holiday party and more specifically, sleeping in until at least 10am!
  • The ease of baking 7-layer bars with my girls (awesome recipe Aunt Tami!)...
  • ... and watching those 3 batches fill up 16 tins for Greg's sales people:
  • Linda's split pea soup. Seriously amazing stuff!
  • Chai lattes
  • Living with royalty... did I mention that already?
  • Receiving all the wonderful holiday cards from our friends and family--I hope you'll keep sending them even though we all know that you'll not be getting one from us this year!
  • Solving problems (thanks Simone). Someone you know likes getting naked and taking her diaper off any chance she gets... If you know our family at all, you are well-aware that we embrace nakedness; however, if you're not potty-trained then going diaper-less can be problematic. My friend Simone mentioned this little trick a long time ago. We never needed to institute it with Geneva... Avery has been a different child altogether (and of course we love her for that). Thank goodness it's December and not July because "footie-pajamas" are required for this "trick." Now if we could only prevent Piper from convincing Geneva to help her get unzipped...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tree Hunt

We spent 30 minutes getting ready to leave the house on our Christmas Tree Hunting Adventure Saturday morning; then drove 3 minutes down the street to one of the many tree farms near our house.

(Geneva and Daddy getting ready to start looking.)

If you look closely, you'll see someone dressed herself.
Grandma Lulu came to help us search--there were so many beautiful trees!
(And so many stumps to trip over too.)
We finally found this gorgeous one... 
... took a quick family picture...
... and made our selection "final."
The tree looks a lot bigger in the house (duh) and we were lucky it fit perfectly.
Next, we set about decorating the house a bit.

We introduced the little ladies to hot chocolate.
Which they enjoyed...
... immensely.
When they were finished, they helped trim the tree.
(Little Vanna Whites)
As Avery would say, "Ta da!"