Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Family: A Composition in Balloons

Corinne loves to color, much like her mother did (ok, still does) and draw. She's my regular little chip off the old block. She's getting better every day, too. She now colors inside the lines and uses appropriate colors (except on Rainbow Fridays, of course). She gets a lot of practice, as she averages 2 -3 pages a day in her coloring books (I often find her with the bedroom lights back on, coloring, and hour or more after she went to bed, and again first thing in the morning). And her drawing, I feel, is exceptionally good for her age. She does the typical sun with many rays and grass at the bottom and sky at the top, but what impresses me is her little houses have curtains in them and her people are usually wearing a shirt with a picture on it. She also writes random letters along the top and then tells me what it says. I could post dozens of pictures of her work, so proud am I (and believe me, I considered it), but decided to limit it to this particular series. For now. After her birthday part she decided to draw our family members on the left over balloons.

This one is me (note the red balloon, and the long hair).

This one is Lily. See how she made her smaller, and with just a little clump of hair on top. She kind of looks like Stewie Griffin.
Emma, our cat. Can't forget the pets (no Phineas, as no one ever actually sees him)
And Seven. I think those are supposed to be her ears sprouting out of the eyes.

This one is Papa. He doesn't wear glasses, but he does have a mustache (although not like Hitler's)

This one is my favorite. It's Pete. Note the glasses and teeny tiny little hairs on top of his head.
More to come, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Corinne's Coming Out...Oops, I Mean Rainbow Birthday Party

So Corinne decided on a rainbow theme for her birthday party this year. (She actually wanted a fish theme again, but I encouraged her to do something different). She really likes rainbows. Actually, it's not the rainbow itself, but the use of every color that appeals to her. In school her teachers have instituted Rainbow Fridays, the day that she gets to cut loose and use all the crayon colors to do her work (on regular days it's more about function over form, and she has to use just one color to color such things as the biggest object in a group of pictures, or the shortest, etc.) But I digress. Suffice it to say that the girl digs rainbows. And of course, you know how understated I like to keep these parties... As we like to say in our house: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing
You could say we got a little carried away with the rainbow theme (ba dum bum)
We had rainbow face paint Rainbow crafts

And of course rainbow cake (made by my friend Meghan)

Rainbow cake cross section
and rainbow cupcakes

The last two rainbow cookies

Rainbow fruit platter (for the diet conscious and diabetic)

Rainbow friends

Rainbow after-party
(I can't talk about Corinne's rainbow party without mentioning Marc, Emma's daddy, who perhaps had one too many rainbow cookies. This was taken just before Marc passed out at the base of the slide. The girls had tons of fun sliding repeatedly onto his head.)

Icky Jello

So gross was the jello for Corinne's Rainbow Party, it warranted its own blog post. Just to give a bit of history, I had a jello disaster at Corinne's last birthday party, too. As you may recall, last year's theme was under the sea. I had seen a cute idea on a website to put blue jello into small clear plastic cups with little swedish fish in them and voila, little fish bowls.

The problem began when I only bought one package of jello, which ended up making only 4 fish bowls. Too lazy to go back out to the store, I thought I'd improvise (the demise of so many of my cooking adventures, yet I never learn) and make my own jello using blue gatorade and gelatin. Well, gatorade doesn't quite have enough flavor to carry itself in jello form, it turns out, but I forged on anyway. And then just to make it look as bad as it tasted, I decided to be clever and add sprinkles to it, you know, to make a little layer of aquarium gravel. Except that sprinkles float. And dissolve. So all it did was make really cloudy, water flavored jello with mystery things floating in it. The swedish fish were cute, though. *

Never one to learn from past mistakes, I decided once again to dabble in the medium of jello. This time I wanted to make rainbow layered jello. I think that would have been OK but, as always, I had to take it up a notch. Our friend Karen makes a great layered jello salad at Christmas. It has these delicious white "inter-layers" that are firm, yet creamy. Kind of cheesecake textured. I remembered that she said these layers were sour cream based, so I went on line and found what I believed to be the recipe. I started my jello a day ahead of time to give the layers plenty of time to set (rushing and cutting corners time-wise is another of my oft repeated cooking mishaps). The purple layer came out great, but the white cream layer wasn't quite right. It contained gelatin, so it took on a jello-like texture. I managed to get it onto the purple layer more or less OK, and then set to work on the blue layer. By the time the blue layer had hardened, the white cream stuff was also hard. I figured I'd just beat it with my mixer (this seems to work with cream cheese frosting, so why not here?) Well, it didn't. At this point anyone with any sense would have simply aborted the mission but oh no, not this chick. I proceeded with the next two layers and just globbed that white mess on in between. Somewhere around the yellow layer I decided that this just wasn't working, and finished off the orange and red minus the white. The problem with this was the last layers were too clear, and you could see the globules lurking beneath the surface. See:

Again, normal people would have thrown in the towel and said "who really likes jello, anyway?" Or they would have just started over again, maybe minus the white layers (or would have called Karen for the recipe, which is what I should have done in the first place) But I was afraid I didn't have enough time left, and damn it, I paid all of 99 cents per box of jello**. I just threw some whipped cream on top to cover it up and, well, I think the picture really speaks for itself: Yeah. You know you want it. By now so much time and effort had gone into it I had to put it out, even if no one in their right mind would find it the least bit appetizing. I explained to those who politely inquired that the white stuff was not curdled cream, as it may appear, and even convinced a couple people to have some (and they said it tasted pretty good, as long as you didn't look at it.) See; I even have pictures to prove it:
Some were not convinced:
In the end it sat around in our refrigerator for a few days getting all mixed together and runny in that way that jello does. Ultimately I ate some myself, and only when it was 2/3 of the way gone did I finally feel it was OK to part with it.

And so ends this year's jello tragedy. I swear I won't make it again next year, and now I have pictures to remind me why (as if Pete won't).
*One more related note regarding last year's party: I also had a cupcake disaster. The oil I used smelled a little... well, it had a smell, and I'm pretty sure vegetable oil's not supposed to (Hey Erin- remember the time when we made daddy's birthday cake using olive oil?) But I used it anyway and the resulting cupcakes tasted like they smelled. The worst part was that I brought a big batch of them to Corinne's Early Intervention playgroup and gave them to her teachers, peers, and their families before tasting them myself. In fact, I didn't know there was anything wrong with them until I noticed at the party that Pete's Uncle David ate only one bite before abandoning it. At that point I tasted one. I later mentioned the unpleasant flavor to David and he gave the the accurate descriptive word: "rancid". Oopsie!
** Pete returned home from the grocery store later that day with a pre-made rainbow jello, complete with whipped cream. And it was only 99 cents. He labelled it "Plan B".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Whew! It sure has been awhile. Like all summer. I have many excuses: Lily not sleeping much, lots of summer plans, paid painting projects, Lily not sleeping much... Mostly I was just overwhelmed with the task of bringing the blog up to date. I have a number of post ideas rolling around in my head, but as always I felt the need to post in order and lacked the motivation to back fill in order to do so. I have finally decided, in the interest of actually bringing this poor blog back from the dead, to just do a brief summary of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" using Facebook posts, which I did post on pretty regularly (making me a big ol' hypocrite, as ignoring my blog in favor of Facebook was something I swore I wouldn't do), to at least get me started. I can then add pictures and other details as I see fit, and post some of the other things later, in no particular order. This offends me to the very core of my obsessive/ compulsive nature, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Pointless Drivel From Facebook

For all two of you who read this blog but not Facebook (Dad), here is some of how I have been wasting my valuable free time for the past 3 months (the rest of the world can just skip this post, cause you've already read it, although I did add some pictures to keep it fresh):

June 5- In just 3 more hours both of my kids are heading up to Maine to stay at Grandma's for the whole weekend, so Pete and I can enjoy our 7th (!) wedding anniversary. Yay for us! No plans, just relaxing, sleeping in, enjoying having it be all about us for a change.

June 6- Andrea is listening to music at an excessively high volume and NOT watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!

June 7- Andrea has thoroughly enjoyed a weekend of eating (japanese steak house, brunch, cheesecake and all you can eat sushi buffet- not necessarily in that order), sleeping in, movie watching (Land of the Lost, sadly, a big thumbs down), dog walking, and wedding day nostalgia

(I found this photo on our camera, which we had sent up to Maine with Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa. I'm guessing it was taken "the morning after")

June 11- Andrea just got back from Corinne's end-of-the-year preschool party. Can't believe how far she's come this year, and how big she's gotten. My baby's all growed up :(

June 15- Andrea is back home after attending the wedding of forever bachelor Mark F, in lovely Ithaca. Then a couple days in Toga with mom and dad (who so graciously took Thing 1 for the weekend. Thing 2 came with us) Had a great time.
June 16- Andrea really wishes she didn't have kids, just for today, so she could go stand in line at Whole Foods in Cambridge for 8 hours to meet and get a signed bottle of wine from the normally reclusive Maynard James Keenan (wine maker and singer for all-time favorite band, Tool)

June 16- Andrea is jealous... Pete went and got two bottles signed, and only had to wait an hour for his 8 seconds with Maynard.
June 19- Yay! I just got us tickets to see Tool in August, thereby making this the BEST summer of music EVER!! Now all that's left is to go see Blue Man Group, right Mark?!

June 20- Andrea woke up at 8:30 this morning to the strangest thing: no rain and a still sleeping baby. I thought I was dreaming. Or the end of the world is upon us. Or hell has frozen over.

June 22- Andrea is wondering if it's wrong of me to enjoy that my baby is sick with a cold. She's just so sweet and cuddly. And she sleeps a lot.

June 25- Andrea is very tired and cranky. Lily was up every single hour, on the hour, last night for no apparent reason. Until 4, that is. Then she was crying every 15 minutes.

June 25- So remember when I thought my baby was sweet and cuddly when she's sick? Yeah. Not so much anymore.

June 29- Andrea just got back from a rainy, rainy weekend up in Maine with Pete's family. Then it was sunny and hot here in Maynard when we got home. Doesn't it just figure. Had a great time nonetheless. Vic- give Seven a kiss for us and tell her to have fun at Camp Vicky.
June 30- Andrea managed to squeeze in mowing the lawn, raking, seeding and beetle killing this afternoon. It's amazing what you can accomplish when your baby finally tales a long nap again (and it stops raining for more than an hour).

July 2- Andrea is wondering if the suicide rate is higher this month from all this F-ing rain. Or the murder rate...

July 3- Andrea is installing a linoleum floor in her kitchen all by herself. Go me. I am woman, hear me roar!

July 7- Andrea's cat just puked in his own water bowl. How stupid does one have to be to willingly foul one's own food/ water supply?

July 13- Andrea just got home from the Morgan Family Reunion. Had a great time swimming, drinking, s'more making, ice cream eating, parade go-er harassing, carnival attending. But we now need the proverbial vacation to recover from the vacation. Oh, and Seven's got fleas. Sorry people-Who's-House-We-Were-Staying-At-As-A-Favor-Who-We-Don't-Even-Know!

July 23- Andrea was a little bit disappointed with the new Harry Potter movie. Lots of details changed and left out unnecessarily. Too much emphasis on romance and not enough on the history and background of Voldemort and the horcruxes (God I sound like a dork)

July 26- Andrea is enjoying an afternoon to herself. Pete took the girls for a hike/ flower picking/ ice cream so I can get some stuff done. On my list: sanding/ priming wood for a sign, designing said sign, sketches for pending truck mural and hopefully updating my blog. So what am I doing? facebooking, of course!

July 28- Andrea wants to know why Miss Lil' pill is sleeping for shorter periods at night instead of longer? If she wasn't so damn cute and smiley, I think I'd strangle her (just kidding- don't anyone report me to DCFS. If I were going to kill a baby, it surely would have been Corinne, who was so cute, but not so damn smiley)

July 31- Andrea was quite surprised to come home to find that one of the trees in our yard has fallen. No wind, completely alive, just lying on the ground. Fortunately, it could not have fallen at a better angle, so house, deck, swingset and fence were spared. I suspect the ground hog who has turned our yard into a labyrinth of tunnels. I'm gonna have to get all Bill Murray from Caddyshack on it's ass.
Aug 2- Tool concert tonight! Hope they play "Prison Sex" :)

Aug 3- People I had on my bedroom wall when I was growing up:
Duran Duran, The Outsiders, Van Halen, A Ha, Han Solo

Aug 5- Andrea just finished sorting through all of Corinne's school work and art work from the past year. I threw a lot away, which breaks my heart, but we are being overrun with paper bag turkeys, paper plate crafts, glitter glue and macaroni art, mural sized finger paintings, coloring book pages and drawings.

Aug 6- Andrea is pretty bummed out to see that John Hughes died. I was kind of hoping he'd make another masterpiece like The Breakfast Club someday. Sigh. My youth is truly gone.

Aug 9- Andrea is OD'd on rainbows.

Aug 11- Andrea could just cry right now. After my 6 month battle with thrush, failed breast feeding, the inconvenience of pumping every 3-5 hours, and my slowly depleting milk supply, I have just discovered that the 20 or so bags of frozen breast milk that I had stored in my freezer that were supposed to take us through the next couple of months have all gone sour.

Aug 12- Andrea is heading off tot he Bolton Fair for some vestibular stimulation.

Aug 13- Today Corinne asked me where skin comes from. We've entered the realm of the complicated questions. We've already covered "where do babies come from?", "what is God?" and "what does dead mean?" Of course, there are also still plenty of questions like "mama, am I wearing pants?"

Aug 18- Andrea is trying to enjoy Pete being home from work for a whole week, despite the fact that it has already been dubbed "worst vacation ever"

Aug 20- Andrea is so very tired. Day two of "Ferberizing" Lily. it ultimately worked with Corinne, but God does the process suck.
Aug 21- Andrea feels terrible. Lily fell forward while practicing her sitting and of course fell onto the one hard thing in the area (that I was sure was safely out of her range); a tin box with the lid off. Now she has a nice, inch- long, bruised line on her little baldie head :(

Aug 24- Andrea hates bugs! So far this morning I put my hand onto some kind of big, mushy insect exoskeleton-type-thing and then proceeded to walk through a huge spider web with a huge, fat, ugly spider in it. Thank God it didn't get onto my face or anything, I would have had a heart attack right there on the spot and my poor kids would grow up motherless. YUCK!

Aug 26- After netting only 3 ounces of milk in an average day, I am officially finished with pumping. These babies are all wrung out. I feel liberated, but also disappointed that my body failed me again at the 6 month mark.

Aug 27- Corinne's a celebrity! At least here in M-- (even if they did spell her name wrong)... Not only is she featured in this story in our local paper, she also happened to get her picture taken for a completely unrelated story. If only we could have somehow worked in a plug for Bouncing Off the Walls...

Aug 27- So I asked Corinne if she thought the doctor that gave her her physical was nice (he was not her usual pediatrician). She said, and I quote: "yes, but he wasn't much to look at." I'm still laughing about it. I have NO idea where she came up with that one. it's not anything Pete or I have said. It's like she was just waiting for the opportunity to use the line.

Aug 28- Andrea is spending the evening with Pete, celebrating her body being her own again!

Aug 30- It's good to be back :)

Sept 2- Andrea's name anagram is: MAN DEAR GROAN. Corinne is IGNORANCE NORM and Lily is ROLLING ANIMAL. Hmm, maybe that is why she keeps rolling to her tummy a million times a night, requiring someone to come and roll her back over to make the screaming stop.

Sept 10- Why will Lily happily shove fistful after fistful of beach sand or soap suds into her mouth, but when it comes to baby food she gags and acts like I'm feeding her, well, beach sand and soap suds?