Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello, Monday! A Christmas Recap.

photo 1

Hello, Christmas Eve with the cousins.

photo 3

Hello, best gift EVER.

Pop Pop tried to steal it so she wrote her name in Sharpie on the shipping box it was wrapped in.

And wrote an "X" on Pop Pop's hand.

photo 5

And slept with the empty shipping box later that night.

My baby has issues.

photo 2

Hello, favorite Christmas party dress of all time.

photo 4

Hello, Gingerbread decorating with the cousins.

This is for her friend Vidal.

Or it is Vidal.

Or both.

Issues.

photo 1 copy

Hello Christmas morning.

Some awesome bedhead.

And toothless, matching PJ grins.

Oh time, I wish you would freeze.

photo 4 copy 2

Hello, first fire.

We are slow.

Hello, first every progressive Christmas.

Breakfast at our house.

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Hello, matching Lion King shirts.

I'm embarrassed.

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Early dinner at Mom and Dad's.

And a plethora of 1994 Lion King toys my mom found on EBay.

Yay us!

photo 3 copy

Hello, Hansen.

Uncle Branden and Auntie Kennah's new dog.

She pretended he was her present and stalked him all day.

photo 4 copy

Hello, snowman pinata and elf hat blind-fold.

Did you not have one?

photo 2 copy 2

And final stop?

Dessert at Grandmums.

Progressive Christmas for the win.

Goodbye, Christmas 2012.

You were fun.

Unrelated, January Pintertest Kitchen is THIS Thursday.

Link up or I'll make you wear a Lion King shirt.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas (A Few Days Late...) and Happy 2013!

Our card this year.

I know.

It's borderline blasphemous with all the baseball worship at Christmastime.

But it's one of my favorite ones yet.

And if there's any doubt?

Jesus' birth means more to us than the Giants do.

Which means we REALLY love Jesus.

jessicafront copy

jessicaback copy

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

2013 is gonna be a good one.

{Card by KatyGirl Designs}

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's the day before Christmas and we're ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Presents are wrapped and under the tree.

Baking is done.

Christmas morning casseroles are prepped.

Family festivities commence in just a few hours.

We are excited and joyful.  And thankful for so much.

It's been a fun month.

photo 1 copy

 It's not every day that your dad is Santa.

At a Foster City storage unit Holiday Open House.

His throne of lies was inflatable.

Ashlyn: "Let's go see the real Santa.  That's just dad."

photo 2

My Little Pony and waffles under the tree lights.

It just doesn't get more magical.

photo 3

Holiday baking quality control.

They are tough.

photo 5

Hope's Second Annual Ladies Ornament Exchange.

These women are so special.

It's my favorite church tradition.

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Ashlyn and I shared the story of the birth of Christ at her school.

She replaced baby Jesus with a cat in the paper nativity scene manger.

We have some work to do.

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Adressing Christmas cards while the cat lover flashes the neighborhood in her skivies.

Again, work to do.

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A surprise guest at Ashlyn's school.

Not dad.

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Celebrating the servants that make Sunday mornings happen.

Dave made us put our phones in an empty chip bowl.

Our presence was his present.

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"Sailing" to Madagascar.

In a triple horse-drawn carriage.

What happens when mom hides in the bedroom wrapping gifts.

kids

Hope's kids choir during service.

Such sweet little ones.

Singing their hearts out for Jesus.

And as Dave preached yesterday,

He's not the reason for the season.

He's the reason for everything.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Almond and Cream Cheese Iced Sugar Cookies

Do you ever discover a recipe by mistake?


Or ingredient substitution desperation?


Or a desire to morph your two favorite recipes into one delicious cookie?


This happened to me yesterday.


And you guys.


This might be my favorite baked good of all time.


I'm on my fifth and its 's not even 6 am yet.


I'm ignoring My Fitness Pal.


Things are going downhill fast.


Recipe adapted from here and here.


cookies


For the cookies:


Preheat oven to 350.


Prepare baking sheet.


I use Pampered Chef's Rectangle Baking Stone.


The best $29.00 you'll ever spend.


Makes it impossible to burn cookie bottoms.


I've tried.


If you don't have a baking stone, use parchment paper.


You'll need:


1.5 cups white sugar


2/3 cup unsalted butter (cold)


2/3 cup cream cheese (approx 6 oz.)


2 eggs


2 tsp almond extract


4 cups all-purpose flour


2 tsp cornstarch


2 tsp baking powder


1 tsp salt


course, granulated raw sugar (for rolling cookies)


Cream sugar, cream cheese and butter.


Add eggs and almond extract.


In separate bowl, whisk flours, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.


Slowly add to butter/egg mixture.


Form dough in small, walnut sized balls (I use a cookie scoop) and roll in raw sugar.


DON'T SKIP THE RAW SUGAR PART.


It makes these cookies.


Bake for 10-12 minutes.


Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.


For the glaze:


1/2 cup unsalted butter


1/4 cup milk


3 cups powdered sugar


1 tsp almond extract


Bring milk and butter to boil.


Add at once to powdered sugar.


Add almond extract.


Mix well.


Place a baking sheet under cooling rack (to catch excess)


Pour over cooled cookies.


Let icing cool for several hours.


They are best the next day.


For breakfast.


At 5:45 in the morning.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Born For Glory.

Dave preached a sermon on Sunday.

About a blind man.

And Jesus.

And it became about Ashlyn.

And my heart in caring for a little girl with special needs.

And was still about Jesus.

Dave has a gift in that.

God uses him to dissect texts I've read over hundreds of times

and breathe new life into them.

But it's always about Jesus.

John9
Why was Ashlyn born deaf?

So God can be glorified in her life.

Period.

Why was your son born with autism?

Or your daughter with Down Syndrome?

So God can be glorified.

Why did He give them to YOU?

So God can be glorified in your parenting.

We make it so complicated.

And it's easy to complicate.

We mourn.

We question.

We turn our backs on God.

We blame.

Hear this.

Christians should not live burdened by their child with special needs.

We should live looking for chances for God to be honored and elevated in our situation.

Sure, there are hard days.

Exhausting days.

And it's perfectly acceptable to be exhausted.

But let's also be joyful in our purposeful lives.

Ashlyn

He gave us our sweet little girl.

That He may be made known through imperfect ears.

And imperfect lives.

And imperfect, overwhelmed parenting.

That His works might be displayed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

PinterTest Kitchen 15: Sweet Treat November

Good morning, party people.


Welcome to the 15th monthly installment of the PinterTest Kitchen.


Dave took our fancy camera to New Jersey.


So, well.  My pictures are not very fancy.



I tried a plethora of pins from my "Sweet Treats" board last month.


Some for Thanksgiving.


Some because I coped with the loss of my favorite four legged friend with chocolate.


And peanut butter.


And almond extract laced desserts.


Sue me.


I'm excited to review them.


My extra pounds are not in vain.


 Ready?


OK.



We spent Thanksgiving in the country this year.


At my sister-in-law's parents house.


It was beautiful.


I took more pictures of my kids with horses than desserts.


I blame pet loss grief.


You'll just have to trust when I say they were ALL winners.


Be sure to click over for each of the recipes.


And pretty pictures without horses.


Some I've tried before.


Like my most favorite



Almond Cake


in all the world.


Modified to glazed cupcakes.


I use silicone baking cups.


Adjust bake time to 17 minutes, let cool in cups for about 20 minutes.


Remove from baking cups, place cupcakes on cooling rack (with baking sheet underneath to collect excess) and slowly pour glaze on top.  Let cool for an hour or so.


Place each glazed cupcake in a cute cupcake liner and you are good to go.


This is my favorite Pinterest recipe BY FAR.


I make them all the time.


I also whipped up some tried and true



White Chocolate Cranberry Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles.


A holiday classic.


And there were some new recipes.


Like



Coconut Oreo Brownies.


A HUGE hit.


Magical, I would say.


Easy.  From a box.  Taste like they took hours.


And my new favorite



Soft Almond Sugar Cookie.


Which is quickly surpassing the almond cake in frequency produced.


I'm obsessed with them.


I add a bit more cake flour and regular flour than recipe calls for to thicken them up.


And bake longer, too.


12 minutes is perfect.


And I didn't press down, mid-bake like recipe calls for.


I used my thumb to press down on the center before baking and they turned out perfect.


And chopped cherries are a delicious add-in.


Try them.


Today.


It's a life choice you will not regret.



After Thanksgiving was over, I dabbled in the



Sugar Cookie Bar


department.


For no good reason.


Well, or pet loss grief.


I think I may have over-baked the bars because they were a little dry.


And next time, I would sub shortening in the frosting for butter to make it less soft.


But not bad, I tell you.




Buckeye Truffles.


Because it was Monday.


And oh my goodness, they are GOOD.


Double the recipe because the peanut butter mixture is a little difficult to work with.


I had to wash my hands after every three because the peanut butter would get angry and sticky.


I'm sure I washed away 1/3 of the mixture.


Next time I make them (like tomorrow), I may chill the mixture a bit before rolling into balls.


But, you guys?


They are crazy delicious.




Your turn!


What have you and Pinterest been up to this month?


Grab a button in my sidebar and link up below.


I can't wait to hear.




Monday, December 3, 2012

Life Without A Dog. And Dave.

We're alive.

Not as sad.

Kobi's overpriced ashes are sealed in a cedar box on top of Kayla's dresser.

She added an angel Squinkie on top.

I can't decide if it's cute or weird.

I'm going to go with cute.

But now that I type it, it sounds weird.

When Dave gets home we'll bury him under the Japanese maple in our backyard.

She is doing well.

Sad that we couldn't fix him.

"You guys fixed Grandmums, mom!"

(Grandmums had a knee replacement a few months ago).

But we're all adjusting to the new dogless normal that is our house.

That will most likely only last through Spring.

Kayla is just not fully Kayla without a 4-legged creature by her side.

You may notice I haven't mentioned Ashlyn's reaction much.

There's not much to say.

She whined for about five minutes and told me Kobi is with Mufasa now.

Also, she likes cats.


Dave (and team pictured above) is in New Jersey working with Samaritan's Purse/Sandy Disaster Relief.

It's been interesting to see pictures and hear stories.

I'm excited for them to come home and hear more.


We've been filling our rainy days with puppy play dates.


Little Miss Muffet reinactments at school.

Cutie Vidal has a huge crush on our girl.

He saves her carpet marker on the piano until he sees her walk in and sets it down next to his.


Avoiding floods at church.


And cousin birthday dinners at Red Robin.

Oh, also.

Pintertest Kitchen link up is THIS Thursday.

I've been drowning my pet loss sorrows in sweets.

You'll hear all about them.

Kayla just left a panicky voicemail from the school office:

"There's something wrong with my eyes.  I can't see the board!!  I can't even see my friends hair!!
So, I probably need some help seeing...  Love you.  Bye..."

And another one.  5 minutes later.

"My friend sat on my lunch.  Can you bring a new one?"

Yay!

Happy Monday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Goodbye, Friend.

March 2, 2001 is forever etched in my memory.

Dave was working on an ambulance in Santa Clara county.

I was working in a cubicle in Foster City.

We had just moved into our first house.

He called telling me that he and his partner had just come across a litter of puppies.

His partner was taking one, the rest were already claimed.

Except for one.

A clumsy little guy with gigantic paws.

That had already been returned once.

I asked what breed.

He told me.

I said no way.

He said ok.

Then we hung up.

Then he called back.

And I caved.

And I'm so happy I did.


He was our first baby.

He taught us so much about life, parenting and sacrifice.

And replacing couches.  And dining room chairs.  And sheetrock.  And sod.

He grew to be kind, loyal and so patient.

The best dog for our family.

He endured tea parties.

And dress-up.

And was often a puppy school teacher or student.

Or the ringmaster of a faux circus.

He loved our girls.

And they loved him.

I have peace with the fact that he lived a full life and left without suffering.

But our house is so quiet this morning.

And we are sad.

Thanks for being the best dog ever, Kobi boy.

We miss you so much.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday.

So, today.

I have a sick little seal, hacking on the couch.

And another one at school stressing over a contraction spelling test.

"Mama, did you know that o'clock is short for 'of the clock'?"

Girl needs to RELAX in the quiz department.

It's raining outside.

Our front porch is about to collapse thanks to wood rot.

Our Christmas gift to each other is fixing it.

So I'm hoping it waits a few weeks.

I made these for dinner last night.

They were easy and good.

I just thought you should know.

Maybe you want to try them, too?

Mumford is on repeat.


Kid-less (thanks Grandma Cee Cee) and care free.

Times like these are good for this mama's soul.

They help me remember who I am as a wife.

And friend.

I love my kids.

But I like selfish adventures, too.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxDVj6FPHwQ&w=480&h=360]
Kim sent me this video a while back.

I can't stop watching it.

This was taken right before her surgery.

Her signing is so cute.

Her words, so hard to comprehend.

Now she is speaking to strangers.

And they understand her.

And starting to read.  And spelling.

She'll be stressing like her sister in no time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Full Fall.

Over the past few Sundays, I've left church with the same thought swirling in my head.

And holding 15 horse models, 8 Lion King figurines, 2 jackets, 4 books and a cupcake caddy.

Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to bring a suitcase.

But back to the swirling thought.

God wants us to be joyful.

He wants GOOD for us.

Not to say that things will always go "our way" or "as planned" or perfectly.

Regardless, we are to be content in all circumstances.

The unplanned, unexpected and difficult detours work for good to those who trust Him.

And it's usually AFTER you've passed them that you realize this precious truth.

Our fall season has been joyful.

And just plain FULL.

We've done far more living than I've been documenting.

So this is a catch-up of sorts.

About our little family.

Because that is why I blog.

To document the happy peaks and the life-lesson valleys.

And all that's in between.


Dave played softball on Friday nights.

And may have been ejected from a game.

For accusing the ump of having a vision impairment.

"Mommy, why is daddy not playing?"

"Ask your daddy."


Ashlyn tried soccer for the first time.

Kayla opted out and offered to help with the banner.

And eat orange wedges.

She scored two goals all season.

For opposing teams.

And cheered like she won the World Cup.

We all have to start somewhere.


The girls started kindergarten and fourth grade.

Both have teachers that are Giants fans and love their schools.

Although Ashlyn's not thrilled with certain extracurriculars.

"I don't Liiiike yoga!  It's too hot!"

Such a sad life.


Kayla enjoys helping Ashlyn with her homework.

Which is a good thing.

I wasn't a big fan of homework in 1984 and I'm still not.

"Um.  Siri... what's a trapezoid?"


My mom treated my aunt, cousin and I to a fun girls trip in September.

To Sin City.

Go ahead and judge away.

Every city has it's rough parts.

I kind of feel like Vegas gets a bad wrap.

I mean.

Have you BEEN to House of Humor lately?!

Redwood City can be just as seedy.

We had a fabulous time.

And we didn't sin.

Promise.


Perks of having a Captain for a Pop Pop?

Port access when the Disney cruise ship is in town.

Ashlyn was busy looking for the characters who were busy sight-seeing.

And wasn't thrilled with our plan to leave the ship without swimming.


We spent a few days in the desert last month thanks to Grandma Cee Cee.

We went swimming.

We snuck in a date night while Grandma stayed with the girls.

We saw animals at the Out of Africa wildlife park.

Including an exhibit with swimming tigers and trainers waving pool toys in the air and swimming with them.

No, thank you.

Ashlyn was asking for a blue uniform shirt so she could join them.

No, thank you.

The Giants almost gave Dave a coronary in front of the Jungle Hut.

It didn't help that all three of our phones died simultaneously during the bottom of the ninth.

And then we picked the tram back to the parking lot with the world's slowest, chattiest driver.

That stopped unexpectedly at the meerkat habitat.

To chat about meerkats for longer than anyone needs to know about meerkats.


But Kayla kissed a giraffe and the Giants won.

So all was right with the world.


Hope celebrated it's second birthday.

With a BBQ and baptisms after service.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate.


It's a privilege to serve alongside such wonderful people.

Here's to many more birthdays, sweet church.


We went to a few Giants games.

And watched lots of Giants games at home.


We drove around our city after they won the World Series.

Ashlyn fell asleep sitting up due to all the excitement.


We welcomed them back to the stadium like a nuerotic fan family.

It was crowded and the girls were starving because I forgot snacks.


And my shoulders ached.

And we saw zero players.

Good old-fashioned family fun.


Ashlyn was Silver Myst, one of the fairy princesses from Tinkerbell.

Pronounced "Shhhhilvah Mishhhhht."

My favorite.

Kayla was Secretariat's horse jockey, Ronnie.

In case you couldn't tell.

The 60's Go-Go hat was on sale at seedy House of Humor for $3.99.

Her costume never really came together because her boots were too small and she didn't feel like changing her shirt.


So my daughter became one of those annoying, zero-effort costume wearers that don't deserve treats.

Throw on a $3.99 hat and have at it.


Christmas card photo shoot adventures with Kim last weekend.

I love the pictures she took.

Katy is designing our card.

I can't wait.


Ashlyn was Star of the Week on Monday.

And the teacher accidentally hit her in the eyeball with the microphone.

She recovered gracefully.

Vidal asked her what her favorite animal was and she answered lion.

Brandon asked what her favorite color was and she answered light blue.

Alvaro asked if she had a bike and she said yes.

Kyla asked what color her bike was and she said red and pink.

Adrianne asked if she had any balls and she said that she had a rainbow ball.

Very deep conversations.

She was so proud.

And so are we.

And that's our fall so far.

Life is good.