Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. If you're looking for a good brunch recipe, here is the ultimate: Bacon, Potato and Egg Breakfast Casserole. It made our Christmas morning delicious, along with the gluten-free Cherry Oat Scones.

2. Lands End came through and sent me a gift card for $65 for my five-year-old snow boots that I sent back because the zipper had broken. Unfortunately they don't currently have any waterproof snow boots, so I am on the hunt for something I like, because although it was 50 degrees here yesterday, it is December, and we do live in Minnesota; therefore it will snow. I think.

3. It's 9 o'clock and Alla just came downstairs, Fisher in tow, with her book, A Masterpiece for Bess, to tell me she'd finished it. Off to find a new one tomorrow I suppose!

4. We're also reading the newest Ivy+Bean at bedtime.

5. I'm wondering if my Whole Living subscription has run out. I sure could use a month of detox-type recipes after all the rich foods of the past week.

6. I just realized tonight that Alla doesn't go back to school until next Tuesday, not Monday! A whole extra unexpected day with her.

7. Have I mentioned that we have no snow? The ice rinks are just ponds.

8. I am in the middle of Sarah's Key but goodness is it hard to read. Hoping to finish before the weekend - you know, fresh start in the New Year and all.

9. The tree is out, the decorations are back in the attic. Something about the impending New Year makes me want to put away and organize and see my floors again.

10. That is that, the last Ten on Tuesday of 2011. Here's to another year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Minnesota!

We had such a blessed, sunny Christmas Day.

A couple memories...

Alla: carrying around her winged fairy from Ireland, but not being able to find her the perfect name, playing all day with her new wedding polly princesses in her new purple boots that I don't think she'll ever wear out of the house.

Fisher: all in green going from firetruck to remote control to remote control to smokejumper.

Food: cherry oat "scrolls," breakfast casserole, delicious meatloaf, fudge!

Nana and Pappi here to share the joys with us.

The best slippers an elf could ever give me.

Sunshine and forty degrees.

Ron trying to capture the chaos on video.

Me instituting a mandatory time-out from wrapping to get everyone to eat something.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It is a dreary-weary Tuesday here in the Twin Cities, with hardly any snow to speak of, as it's all been washed away by rain and warm temperatures. Rain, in December, in Minnesota? They're talking BROWN Christmas, people. Kiddos are NOT excited about that prospect. (Me neither!)

2. Before it got all balmy here, we did have a very cold spell, which we decided meant footie weather. 3. Fisher and I had lunch with Alla today at school. I just love the surprise on her face when we show up!

4. I had my hands full with photo shoots during the fall, and haven't taken many pictures of my own family lately. Sunday I picked up my camera just to see what everyone was up to.

5. Alla: folding her laundry.6. Fisher and Daddy: reading a chapter of Fire-Fighting Aircraft and Smokejumpers in a fort.7. Me: making a Hot-Milk Sponge Cake, just because, just for a lazy Sunday.8. Today Alla reached one of her reading goals for first grade. Her teacher has the students write down not just minutes read, but also each book, and individual chapters for longer books, and with each 25, they get a small prize. There are bigger prizes to be earned the further along the chart they get, and Alla realized early on that "Read to Kindergarten" was the prize she had her eye on, but her old kindergarten teacher was on sabbatical for a few months. Last week she reached her goal of 350 books/chapters and then chatted with her current teacher about waiting to read until her preferred kindergarten teacher was back. When we pulled up to school yesterday and peered in the building, we spied her old teacher, so the appointment was made for this morning! Her book of choice was one of our favorites, When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, and she was complimented on using such an expressive voice that the kindergarteners were fully attentive. We're proud of you, Alla. Now on to her next goal: Teacher For A Day!

9. We have been checking out the pond at our park nearly everyday on the way home, just to see if it might be ready for skating on Saturday. How many days below freezing does it take to freeze a couple inches of water?

10. Nearly every single day we arrive home at 4:15 from picking up Alla. Nearly every day Fisher goes into firefighter mode, calling the fire chief and then Daddy to tell him to get home immediately because there are three fires to put out! And then he gets his entire firefighter outfit on and just goes around setting things up, and when Ron walks in the door about an hour later it's on.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Right now.

(I'd call this a Ten on Tuesday post, but it's Thursday, and this way I figure I'm not tied to the number ten.)

1. The snow came this weekend with a few inches, and of course it's still here. And freezing.

2. So far we've watched Charlie Brown and Shrek the Halls, and only have about a bazillion more Christmas specials DVR'd for the remaining days 'til Christmas.

3. My mom has been out of town for a few weeks on and off, and I miss her. I can't wait to see you Saturday, Mom!

4. Fisher said to me the other day, To be in first grade, do you have to say, It's twice the awesomeness people? Where does he come up with that kind of stuff? Oh, Kung Fu Panda commercials.

5. I am three books away from my 2011 goal. Right now I'm in the middle of a short one, I have an even shorter one on my shelf, and if all goes well, maybe I can read just one more over the holidays.

6. I think this is the weekend for a tree!

7. Cards are done! As in, made. Now, just to write them.

8. I'm putting Lands End customer service to the test tomorrow when I send back my 5-year-old snow boots because the zipper on the right one is genuinely stuck in the up position. They say they guarantee. Period. We shall see.

9. Fisher is obsessed with firefighting aircraft, fireboats, and smokejumpers.

10. Speaking of that little one, time to get him up from his nap.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ten on Tuesday-Wednesday.

1. This Thanksgiving I discovered my favorite way to enjoy stuffing is to nearly dehydrate it. Spread the leftovers on a baking sheet in a thin layer in a 300 degree oven until it is nicely toasted. Amazing. Kinda wishing we had more.

2. Speaking of leftovers, what did we eat before them? I literally had to ask my kids what they wanted me to put on the menu for the next couple weeks because I could not remember anything prior to turkey.

3. One more thing about leftovers, and then we can move on. Alla told me, "I'm only interested in eating Thanksgiving dinner ONCE."

4. Over the nice week-long Thanksgiving break, Alla and I started The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. We are two-thirds into it and it is such a remarkable story.

5. Only 16 more days of school til the long holiday break! Perhaps we will get some snow before then so there can be sledding?

6. Tomorrow is December 1st, and around here that means the number boxes adorn our mantel. The countdown to Santa begins!

7. On Sunday morning at 9:45 we took the kids to see the new Muppet (or Muffet, if you're Fisher) movie, and I think it was the nicest Sunday I've spent in awhile.

8. This weekend is the awesome craft fair I attend every year with my friend Nicole!

9. I thought I could wait until we remodeled our upstairs bathroom to get new towels, but it turns out 9+ years is the upper limit on ours and I had to break down and make a decision on new ones. I won't tell you how long that decision took me. How often do you buy towels?

10. Alla has some harder words on her spelling list this week: trumpet, trapeze, branches! 0.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving memories.

Thanksgiving is really about the food and the people with whom you share all that richness. Most of my memories of this holiday growing up are just a bunch of tastes and smells all rolled up into recipes that I re-create now in my own kitchen for turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and the rest of the trimmings, as Alla likes to call them.

But today, before the day had even gotten under way, I knew immediately that I had my favorite Thanksgiving memory of Fisher, when we said we had 5 minutes until the parade started and he rushed downstairs to the window to peek behind the shade. Oh yes, our very own parade on our very own street! We all realized at the same time in those innocent little three-year-old eyes, how terribly adorable and sweet and once in a lifetime. There would never be another mistake like that, because from this Thanksgiving, he will remember that we watch the parade on TV with sweet potato biscuits and sausages and coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving, littlest love. I am so thankful for you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Today I am thankful for having a little boy who is still on my hip lots during the day.

2. Today I did what I think is my last holiday session for the season. Today I am thankful for warm-enough weather to be outside.

3. Today I am thankful that Alla is home all week from school.

4. Today I am thankful for the one pair of stripey SmartWools I have left that do not have holes.

5. Today I am thankful that we started on our Thanksgiving feast. Cranberry sauce is in the fridge, flavors melding.

6. Today I am so so thankful to be staying put this holiday week.

7. My children will be thankful to see pomegranates on the table this Thanksgiving.

8. Everyday I am thankful for books. Yesterday Alla read Moose Crossing, and we've promised to take her to see the puppet show this weekend. I am in the middle of In Zanesville. Fisher discovered a wonderful lift-the-flap question and answer book at the library about Things That Go. And Ron is reading a 1000-pager he says is wonderful.

9. I was thankful this evening that Fisher asked me for blueberry yogurt, and that I could give it to him.

10. I am thankful for my husband, my partner. We've been cooking Thanksgiving dinners for over a decade and there isn't anyone I'd rather stick my arms in a turkey cavity with than him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Been eating a good deal of popcorn here. Our "recipe" is 3 tablespoons coconut oil + 1/2 cup kernels. Think we'll make some for afternoon snack today, yum!

2. Woke up to find a light on our dishwasher strangely flickering and were sure it was broken there for a bit, but it seems to be fine now. Hopefully it doesn't decide to die on, say, Thanksgiving or something.

3. Just the four of us for Thanksgiving this year, and Ron is very much looking forward to his sweet potato pie. Alla keeps telling me I need to make the turkey and the carrot souffle, and I keep telling her it is much too soon and not to worry, I promise I'll make it.

4. A little random advice for parents of kids under 5: start a change jar, separate from piggy banks, before they start learning about money in school, so when your kid's teacher sends homework that requires them to grab a handful of just pennies and nickels and see what they come up with, you aren't frantically tearing apart every top drawer in the house. Trust me.

5. Hate to jinx us, but I daresay my son has grown out of his dairy allergy. We've given him butter, cow's milk, and cheese, and so far so good. Can it be? After three years of either substituting or going without, we can add some old favorites back into our dinner rotation?

6. Too bad I don't have the stuff for the lumberjack hash on hand, because I have no other plan for dinner tonight. Things usually fall apart right before and after Thanksgiving - something about knowing I'm going to spend the better part of three days cooking sort of makes me stop doing it altogether the week before and after - ha!

7. After pulling out all of the winter stuff we have come to the following conclusions: Fisher needs a bigger coat. Alla needs a bigger coat, and unfortunately hers (blue, I am so smart) is just too big for Fisher this year. Alla also needs bigger snowpants and boots. Fisher, luckily will inherit her two pairs of grown-out-of snowpants. I better get on this while we're still snow-free.

8. November 15th and still snow-free. Crazy.

9. One night last week we did our Candy Buy Back night, whereby the kids "purchase" coupons with the Halloween candy they have left. It is their choice to participate or not, but since we wait about a week, the newness of the treat bag has worn off and they were eager. They lightened their loads considerably and came away with coupons for cool stuff like Stay Up 15 Minutes Past Bedtime, Watch an Extra Show Today, 20 Minutes Computer Time, Ice Cream Party for the Whole Family, Have a Treat After Breakfast, etc. Coupons are big in this house.

10. This morning Fisher and I drove down to the Mall of America for an Okee Dokee Brothers concert, and ended up staying for both shows. We had to go without Miss Alla, but don't worry, honey, we bought you a t-shirt!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I love you, too.

On the Wednesdays and Fridays that I drop off Fisher at school, we sign to each other I Love You, as I have with Alla since we started teaching her to sign as a baby. Fisher's I Love You has been just holding up some fingers and shaking his hand. Not today. Today he held up all five fingers, put down the third and fourth, and looked oh so proud of himself. So, Buddy, I love you, too. But then again I've always loved you.

Friday, November 04, 2011


It's November, and I haven't shared pictures of the all-important October event! My Cinderella and my firefighter. Sometimes he likes to call himself the "def-ity," or, as some people pronounce it, deputy. It was my year to go out with the kids, a situation of which I quickly lost control and had to call in reinforcement, aka Nana. In case it isn't clear why I, a very capable mother myself, could not handle my two delightful children for an evening of trick or treating, let me explain how my daughter is a trick or treating animal. Once I realized that Fisher was a slow trick or treater (well, a perfect pace for a three-year-old), and Alla was a crazy one, I had to get my mom out there and somehow (thank you, Mom!) she ended up traipsing all over the neighborhood with Alla while I peacefully strolled the block with "Defity" Fisher.

After trick or treating their hearts out, I took them to another neighborhood with some friends to see a seriously spooky house, and they both held my hand for dear life. It was a truly delightful year for tricks and treats.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quote to start the week.

Over garlic-lime chicken one night last week:

Alla: Daddy, you still have a lot of dinner to eat.

Daddy: Well, Mommy gave me a whole chicken breast.

Alla: What's a breast?

Mommy: A boobie!

Alla, to Daddy: You ate a whole chicken boobie?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. On our way out the door this morning, Alla asked me if she could bring her two pet slugs to school today.

2. We're in the week-long process of putting away shorts and tanks to make room for fleece and mittens. Kids' room done, only our room and the coat closet to switch out.

3. I am a new iphone owner.

4. How can it be that today is October 25th, meaning that two months from today we'll be sitting around a tree?

5. Today is the last day of our Farmer's Market. It's brisk out there, but I think we'll try and snag some sweet potatoes.

6. Saturday is Alla's first ice skating lesson, and afterward we are seeing The Okee Dokee Brothers! We're like groupies I think.

7. Alla discovered the Beatrix Potter collection at our library and has been making her way through the tiny books. I'm not sure what is more enchanting, the sweet little size of the books, or the old-fashioned language.

8. Hart of Dixie (yes, on the CW) is so enjoyable.

9. Have to go help Fisher clean up blocks from quiet time.

10. And then we're off to pick up Alla!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another journey to the Mississippi River.

As I mentioned, we do it up good when folks come to stay. Fisher pretty much thinks everyone needs to visit the Mississippi River in case there's a barge to come through the lock and dam, so we agreed and headed out to enjoy the sunshine.
We did in fact see a barge and a boat go through! Oh, happy day.
Jamie and Fisher, two peas.
Megan and her buddy.
Jamie got a close-up of the lock.If you notice Alla is absent from these pictures, poor girl had to go to school.
That little boy held onto his mama's hand the whole walk across the bridge.From the top of the bridge you look down at a rickety staircase (all those colorful steps are actually the ones marked to be fixed), and the kids were excited to find out that we were going down there!
The view from river's edge.
Love that buddy of mine!

Thanks, Stahrs! Goodness we had fun.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fire station open house.

We do it up here in Minnesota, when friends come to visit. First off, Alla's soccer game and the touch-a-truck event in the parking lot there (pictures to come), and then, after lunch, we drove a mile to the fire station for their open house. We are Big Time here, folks.
I just want to point out the beautiful skies and the fact that everyone is in summer attire, because surely in a few weeks, we won't be.
Spending the 4 days with these kiddos and their mama and daddy was just awesome. Tell me again why I can have all of my friends and family all in the same city?
Yep Fisher loves The Stahrs very much, but hello, he got to RIDE IN A FIRE TRUCK. IN. A. FIRE TRUCK.
I think I'm an honorary deputy or something.
He got to ride in the fire truck because he first practiced putting out the fire. Notice the stance.
Along with Firefighter Fisher, I introduce you to the other brave firefighters we love.
Firefighter Jacob.
Firefighter Mazie.
Firefighter Jamie.
Firefighter Ron.
And, Firefighter Alla.

The rest of us were too busy fighting fires to pose for pictures.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some fun kids.

We had some super fun house guests over the weekend, and took a bajillion pictures of them all, and mostly just enjoyed them being back together again. More to come!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Last picnic.

Tuesday after swimming class we enjoyed this burst of warm air with a walk through the Farmer's Market and a picnic on the grass. I told the kids this would probably be our last picnic of the season - October picnics are pretty unheard of in these parts. We watched geese and ducks fly in v-formation over our heads out of the pond, hoping they weren't aware of some weather change we can't yet sense. We hoped they weren't flying south.We let it get dark, saw the moon, the kids had fussed, but hopefully I won't remember that part.
And the next day Fisher asked me, Mommy, was that our last picnic? Yeah, buddy, for a few-ish months, anyway.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Computer is back, power cord is new. I am back in business. So, we should probably re-introduce ourselves. Hi, I'm J.J. I blog. I take pictures. I sometimes show them here.

2. Here's one now!3. Fisher fell asleep in the bike trailer on the way to get Alla from school yesterday and when she came out of her classroom and noticed him, she gushed over how cute he is, Mommy! for like five whole minutes. I mean, I know, he's my son and all. She just wanted to get in there and give him a kiss because he was so cute, Mommy!

4. Fisher is OBSESSED with the Rio soundtrack at the moment. He's currently in his room but it's not really "quiet" time when he's blasting me through the baby monitor with I Wanna Party! I Wanna Samba!

5. This morning he was up at 6:30, which is half-hour too early in this house, and very odd for either of my children, and how did I know he was up? Because at six-thirty, I was awoken by the Rio soundtrack blasting from their bedroom. We told him too early, try again later, and he did, at 6:55, with his sister then quite awake and ready to rock out with him. They will be excited when they find out that I got them the very movie of their dreams for this weekend's movie-watching.

6. First grade has eliminated weekday TV-watching for Alla. There just isn't any time.

7. Why is it that even though I grocery-shop for two weeks at a time, we are always out of produce within five days, tops?

8. Breakfast around here is as follows: Alla likes either a sunbuttered half of bagel and apples/applesauce or a waffle with "homemade yogurt" (which means plain yogurt with strawberry jam stirred in) and granola. Fisher is pretty steady with his granola and milk, but sometimes likes a waffle cut in strips with syrup, fruit and milk. He LOVES oatmeal. I like my plain yogurt with granola, pepitas, and maple syrup (and so does Ron), but I also love oatmeal, especially steel-cut, because you start it on the stove the night before and wake up to perfectly cooked oatmeal!

9. Another obsession in this house - Tic Tacs. The other day Fisher told me, "Mama, I need a Tic-Tacky mouth."

10. For some reason I put 14 things on my to-do list for today. This was number eight, so I have a bit of work to do! Next up, work out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday update.

1. My computer was picked-up on Tuesday, only to find that the power cord was damaged by a certain three-year-old, so now I'm still computer-less. Til tomorrow.

2. Fisher is now three-and-a-half. The extra half means he no longer pulls the kind of crap I spoke of in #1.

3. First grade is going splendidly. Tomorrow is the second spelling test. Spelling tests! It's the real deal, first grade.

4. My lovely Aunt Lois came for a visit on Sunday. It's lovely to have people visit your home and see how you live.

5. Fisher is doing super on his drop-off preschool days. I mean, the independence is astounding. When we're out he wants to pee in his own stall. Locked. I tell you.

6. Swim class started this week, and both kiddos are enjoying themselves. I am easily reminded of the sobbing Fisher in his first swimming class this past spring, and so happy to see how far he's come being comfortable and having fun in the water. And then I look a few lanes over and see Alla swimming, I mean doing her best at this new front crawl thing, and it's like with reading - you remember when they couldn't, and it wasn't that long ago, and now they can, and it's amazing.

7. I'm currently enjoying my afternoon cup of green tea with a tiny bit of raw honey. It's just above 50 out there. But supposed to be in the 70s next week!

8. I really want to take the kids to see The Lion King, and that is really hard to do when your six-year-old has two birthday parties and a soccer game this weekend.

9. Books we're currently reading: Game of Thrones (Ron), Secret Daughter (me), Prilla and the Butterfly Lie (Alla), and Machines Go to Work (Fisher).

10. Honeycrisps are here!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's been only six days of first grade and yet I feel like we are in the trenches already.

2. I love that Alla's school doesn't have to be at school until 9:15. We almost always have time to read a couple books in the morning before heading out.

3. This week both kids are working on saying antidisestablishmentarianism.

4. I didn't realize how relaxing summer was until it was over. During the summer I can read a few books a month, now I'm struggling to read a few pages at bedtime before I pass out with the book on my head.

5. As long as it's going to cool off here, I'm ready for fall TV! Hello, Parenthood and 90210!

6. By "cool off," I mean it should be in the upper 40s when my husband wakes me up in the morning. Hot coffee will taste amazing.

7. I looked at my "pins" on Pinterest and was proud that I've actually done half a dozen of them. Still, I'm not sure how to calculate the hours spent looking versus the ideas seen to fruition.

8. Alla came out of school on Friday reading a Henry and Mudge book, SHOUTING at me that she had found a whole shelf of them in the library and could not believe it and now that she's in first grade she can check out TWO at a time, EVERYDAY if she wants. Wow.

9. Tomorrow is Fisher's first day of preschool! Same teacher, same classroom as last year, even several same friends. He'll have two more days per month that he's dropped off, versus having me there. He seems very excited. We've come a long way.

10. And, this was supposed to be Ten on Tuesday but my computer chose to come down with a deadly virus when I got finished with #9, so now it's Wednesday and I'm finishing up on the kids' computer, which is faster than mine anyway. Hopefully my computer is on the mend so I can upload pictures from #9 later today!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

First grade.

Kind of hard to believe first grade is here. I could really go on and on, how big of a step, how much I'll miss her, how long the days are going to be without her, how pretty and ready and excited she was this morning, but you can see all that stuff in the pictures. So, I'm off to pick her up and get a report on the big day! It's been almost seven hours since I've seen her, she's got a lot to fill me in on!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Where we've been.

We hit up the State Fair today, so while I'm uploading those photos, I thought I'd show our photos from California, where we spent five days at the end of August, visiting my brother and his family. It's imperative that I post this picture of me and Fisher, though my eye makeup has turned me into a monster, because otherwise it may look as though my children vacationed on their own.

We spent two lovely afternoons at my sister-in-law's parents' pool watching my nephew jump into the water about 850 times. The kid is amazing, no fear.
He might have seen cousin Alla do that once, and that was it, he made it his own.
Another item checked off Fisher's to-do list: driving Ashton's Arctic Cat. (Not sure how Ash really felt about that.)
Let's be honest, the real reason we went was to meet our newest nephew, Declan, born in May and just adorable.
My viking daughter, at the airport when we left Minneapolis.
I was super excited to walk to their Saturday farmer's market, because, hello, peaches! The kids dug the craft table, where they all got to work decorating papers before folding them into airplanes.
I love how the farmer's markets in California are set up, just fruit and veggies piled up, and you pick what you want, they weigh it, you pay. Here in Minnesota, they've got a basket of five tomatoes all made up for you for three bucks and you pick the already made up basket you want.
More farmer's market - Alla posing with the statue, she loved that little girl there.
Have I yet mentioned Alla LOVING her new baby cousin? She was trying to take him out of my arms every time I had the kid. Baby stealer.
I think I mentioned Ashton being just amazing in the pool, so here he is loving his Daddy throwing him up super high!
I love seeing my brother with his two boys.
Alla did love the time she got to spend with her cousins, but she was also pretty impressed with being in the airplane and under the clouds.
And then over the clouds. Pretty amazing.
Also amazing - brother love. Welcome to the world of sibling life, you two. You are so lucky to have each other!