Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cookie fail

I have not had the time or energy to make a lot of baked goods in the last month or two, plus it has been too hot to turn on the oven.  That has not stopped my cravings, though.  I had a major disaster last week when I attempted a new oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe from a trusted source that called for margarine.  I've almost never baked with margarine.  I'm a real butter gal.  However, I thought I'd take a risk and try it.  I knew it was an extra big risk since my official Taste of Home Baking Book implores you not to use less than 80% oil margarine and whatever I had was cheap and not labeled.  Needless to say, it was an epic failure.  After two disastrous pans of crusty, flatter-than-pancakes "cookies" I tried to salvage the rest of the dough by baking it as bars in a 9x9 pan.  After the kids & I each had one the rest went in the trash.  They weren't even worthy of being crumbled on top of ice cream.  It has always been a running joke in my family that there is no such thing as a baking disaster because "it will taste good on ice cream."  Not this.

Anyway, inspired by my sister's baking spree post that resulted in 222 scrumptious, beautiful looking cookies coming out of her kitchen last Saturday, I decided to try again after lunch today.  I had come across another oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe that I couldn't remember if I had tried or not. (I have been on a life-long quest for the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie recipe.)  My first clue should have been when the recipe called for lightly greased baking pans.  I never grease pans when using butter in cookies.  I followed the directions and double-checked all the measurements, but obviously mine did not exactly turn out looking like the picture.  And I'm pretty sure it wasn't because I cheated by using semi-sweet chips instead of chocolate chunks.  :op

I didn't even bother putting them on a cooling rack.  I just scraped them all off into a plastic container and then scooped out a portion into fancy glass bowls for Emily & me to eat with a spoon.  Think chocolate chip cookie dough cobbler.  It would have tasted even better with a big scoop of ice cream on top...

MRI update

I got the results back from my MRI, and it showed a bulging disc, not a herniated one.  Therefore, I'm going to do two more weeks of PT and then re-evaluate.  Maybe it was psychological, but I was feeling better today.  Let's hope it continues moving in that direction!

46 months old

Emily is inching closer to being four!  She loves coloring, pretending with her princess and other figurines and riding her bike in circles around the driveway.  This month I've been keeping track of some funny conversations we've had...

Emily: Mom, I think I've been watching too much T.V. just like the Berenstain Bears.
Me:  Okay, well you can certainly turn it off.  (Feeling guilty because it's probably true.)
Emily: No, thanks.
Although she loves watching "videos," she will sometimes grow weary of watching TV and just turn it off herself since she figured out the "Off" button on the remote.

Emily: Should I play with my bunny or the dress-up clothes?
Me:  How about the dress-up clothes.
Emily:  Nope, try again.
Me:  The bunny?
Emily:  Okay!

Me:  Emily, you need to drink your milk.
Emily:  I can't drink my milk.  See, it's in my story, "The girl can't drink her milk." 
Me:  Well, maybe Super Why can change the story.
Emily:  launches into a verbatim narrative of the Super Why show...With the power to read, I can change the story and save the day!  Let's change the word "can't"...proceeds to change "can't" to "can" and drinks her milk.  Whatever works.

Emily:  What are we having for supper?
Me:  Roast with potatoes and carrots.
Emily:  Carrots aren't for me to eat--they're for putting on snowmans.
She calls cooked carrots "pumpkins" and had two helpings that night.

MouldylocksWhile reading about Mouldylocks' birthday party for the seventh night in a row...
Emily: I'm not going to get a bat-in-a-box and talking-walking boots for my birthday.
Me:  What do you want for your birthday?
Emily:  Balloons, Cinderella stuff and a big radio.
Me:  But you already have a nice radio.
Emily:  Yeah, but that's a little one.  Don't worry.  I'm going to get a big one for my birthday.

After telling Emily for several days she should pick up her room she busied herself for a half hour one morning.
Emily:  Mom, come look at my clean room!
Me:  Wow--the floor looks great!  There's lots of piles on the shelves, though.  Where did the rest of the stuff go?
Emily:  Under my bed. (And it was!)

And the ever-popular...
Emily:  Mom, I need sumpin'.
Me:  What do you need?
Emily:  Ummm...silence because she can't remember or think of anything.

I'll leave you with pictures of Emily's latest self-portrait and the chalk drawing that has been decorating the driveway for the last week or so...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roofing week

As I mentioned in the last post, Austin took the entire week off from work last week and spent most of it on a roof.  He did a good job picking the only week this summer where it didn't rain!  The first Saturday was spent tearing off the old and installing a new brown metal roof on the slant above Emily's bedroom and the upstairs bathroom.  A good friend came over to help.  The heat index was close to 100 degrees that day and probably higher on the roof.  Austin also added a gutter because previously there was none. 

Most of the rest of the week was dedicated to the flat roof above the breakfast nook in the kitchen, which leaked through onto the kitchen table when the snow melted this spring.  It was in pretty bad shape. 

The tear-off revealed that even though the last roofers put rows of plywood, the original roof was actually slanted in many ways, coming to a slight peak just outside the door and creating valleys for runoff close to the house. 

It also revealed a rotting rafter and fascia boards. 

After replacing/fixing everything, Austin carefully put together the puzzle pieces to resheet the roof at the proper angles. 

He then installed a rubber roof.  I don't even pretend to know how it all works, but it looks pretty good!  He still has some final water-proofing measures to finish up after some additional materials come in. 

With brand new cedar shake shingles installed on the rest of the house in 1999, hopefully we're done with roofs on the house for the rest of the time we live there.  The detached garage has asphalt shingles, but that's pretty new, too.  Who else has four very different and distinct roofing materials on their dwelling?!?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A quick update on me

A couple weeks ago I posted about some issues I had with my leg/foot (click here to read about that).  After 2 weeks of physical therapy I am still experiencing some pain, weakness and sensitivity in my right foot and my lower right leg.  After a consultation with my regular doctor on Thursday this week, I had an MRI on Friday morning.  I am still waiting for the results.  If it is a herniated disc as he strongly suspects, he will be sending me to a neuro specialist, possibly in Cedar Rapids, next week.  Normally a herniated disc would be treated conservatively with physical therapy and pain management.  However, both my doctor and the PT are very concerned about the dorsiflexion weakness in my ankle, thus the specialist referral.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been a little rough going sometimes.  Walking is uncomfortable, wearing any kind of footwear is painful and sleep at night is touch and go.  I'm very thankful that Austin has been home all this week working on the house (post to come) and friends have graciously helped out when needed.  I'm also grateful for little things--like the fact that Lincoln is just barely over 20 lbs. and I'm not having to lift and lug around a 25+ lbs. kid.  However, much of this is also a psychological game, and honestly, right now I feel like I'm losing badly.  So please keep our family in your prayers as we navigate the next couple weeks.  Thanks!

Big chair

This week Lincoln officially graduated from the high chair to a "big chair".  I think he enjoys his new seat!  There are some downsides to having him in a chair at the table, but I'm certainly not missing tripping over the high chair all the time!

Lincoln has also started "praying" with us.  When he sees us folding our hands he clasps his hands together, too.  He doesn't always make it to the end of the prayer, but it's a start. :o)

Also, his 15-month check-up confirmed he is still a skinny guy with a big head.  He weighed in at 20.8 lbs (7th percentile), 31.25" (56th percentile) with a head circumference of 19" (80th percentile).  Thankfully, his follow-up finger prick revealed his hemoglobin levels are back to a normal level.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Silent danger

This is Lincoln's new favorite hang-out spot.  If it's quiet for more than 2 minutes you better go check it out.

He also enjoys climbing onto the kitchen chairs and throwing all the placemats onto the floor.
During the 2 minutes I was making brownie sundaes for Emily & me after supper this is where he ended up...

That little stinker is fast and sneaky.

Preschool countdown

Today was the first day of school here in Waverly.  Many of Emily's peers are starting at their preschools this week.  Emily doesn't start until after Labor Day.  She has asked many times if she can go to school yet, so we finally made a paper chain to represent the number of days before her school starts.  It was a long, drawn-out project over several days, but she was pretty proud of the results.  Here she is with the finished chain modeling one of her new "preschool" outfits.  Making the chain was one thing, but convincing her she can tear off and throw away a link each day is going to be quite another.  She already informed me that she would "rip it when I start preschool."  Unless, of course, Lincoln gets to it first.  Oh well.  At least we practiced some cutting and gluing skills.  I think I'm almost as excited as she is for her to go to preschool.  That chain looks awful long. ;o)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

15 months old

Lincoln is 15 months old today!  This month's drool has been dedicated to the second top tooth (fourth overall).  It is pretty much through but still not in far enough to be useful.  At the rate we're going Lincoln may possibly have a full set of teeth by age 4.  The chair picture this month is a perfect image of our 3.5-toothed drooly monster. :o)

Lincoln was super excited when I hauled the little rocking chair down from the attic.  He views any chair as a new climbing challenge.  He can now scale kitchen chairs and has made it on top of the table once.  Emily does not have many "safe" places left for her things.

Despite only having a few teeth, Lincoln continues to be a relatively good eater.  He loves absolutely any kind of fruit.  He continues to practice trying to eat with silverware out of bowls or divided plates, but usually resorts to fistfuls after awhile. 

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary Car
Fisher-Price Bubble MowerI'm very thankful for a break in the heat & humidity this week because Lincoln loves nothing more than to be outside.  Sometimes it's the only thing that will make him happy after 4:00pm.  He especially loves pushing around the Cozy Coupe and his bubble mower and going for rides in the wagon.  He tries to climb onto Emily's tricycle and longs for her bike.  He also loves chasing balls and bringing them back.  You know, like a dog.  This is both an indoor and outdoor activity.

Another indoor activity Lincoln loves is collecting random things and pushing them around in Emily's baby doll stroller.  This particular assortment consists of his water cup, a mixer beater, an empty almond flavoring bottle, a plastic pear and a stuffed kitten from a Happy Meal.

Lincoln can be quite an animated talker, but still really doesn't have any words.  He sometimes says "mum-mum" or "da-da" but not on a consistent basis.  He is also still teetering between being a one-napper and two-napper.  You honestly never know what you're going to get when you wake up in the morning, which makes planning anything a bit difficult.  I hope he makes the full transition soon because I'm counting on having some quiet afternoons when Emily starts preschool!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let's go fly a kite...

...up to the highest height.
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring!
(Name that movie tune)

Anyway, I have been wanting to go fly a kite with Emily all summer.  I was fascinated with kites for a time growing up and received a nice nylon one as a gift at some point.  Since the weather was absolutely gorgeous today and there was a nice breeze from the NW, I packed up the kids and headed to the high school football field, which is located on top of a hill.  We started off on the practice field but eventually moved to the actual field.  Unfortunately, the wind wasn't steady enough.  We got the kite up on several occasions, but only for 15-60 seconds at a time.  Emily was still thrilled.  Here are some pictures:

What did Lincoln do during our kiting attempts?  He had fun stomping around on the metal covering of the water drainage system and getting to know the football field. ;o)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Haulin' tree

After two days Austin hadn't heard back from any of the tree services he had called, so he decided he could take down the fallen chunk of tree himself.  After 4 hours with a borrowed chainsaw and 5 trips to the yard waste dump it's finally all cleaned up.

Thankfully, the neighbor lady's fence wasn't damaged at all.  However, one of the hedge bushes was pretty much wiped out with two others taking major hits.

Emily was excited about making the first pick-up trip with Daddy, but quickly grew bored with it.


We have observed a hummingbird visiting the garden phlox by our back porch on several occasions.  I attempted to photograph it yesterday.  There is also a video in the video player.


I think one of the most fun things to observe about kids are their amazing imaginations.  It is fascinating to see some of the things Emily comes up with.  As mentioned in her last monthly update, her current favorite show is Super Why! on PBS Kids.  Her favorite character is Princess Presto (aka Princess Pea).  She doesn't have an actual Princess Presto doll, but one of the princess dolls from her Little People castle set looks very similar.  Add to that a star wand Aunt Courtney found free at a garage sale and Emily's Easter dress and you have a perfect Princess Presto set up.  These items have provided literally hours of entertainment.

In addition, Emily has two other matching Little People from different sets.  The character's official name is Sonya Lee, but Emily has named the "twins" Annie & Tami.  They have all kinds of adventures together.  They especially like riding in the airplane ride from the Little People Amusement Park set, which look eerily similar to the Why Flyers from Super Why!  :o)

Super Why Vehicles Princess Presto and Wonder RedSuper Why Super Why and Alpha Pig Flyer Vehicles

Cool dude

Friday, August 13, 2010

This 'n That

A random collection of recent happenings:

I finally got my semi-annual haircut a couple weeks ago.  It was two months overdue.  It got a little shorter than I was planning, but that's okay.  I always forget how much it bounces up when it dries and curls.

Garage owie
In the midst of the chaos of last weekend our garage got a little owie.  A friend accidentally ran into it.  It's fixable, and surprisingly enough, the automatic door still works, so it's not a huge deal.

One-year house anniversary
We have officially been in our house for a year now.  It seems like a lot longer than that.  We have definitely made some progress, but still have quite a ways to go before it's exactly how we want it.  We absolutely love it, though, and are so glad to be here.

Austin was at an industry trade show this week and brought home some freebie giveaway items for the kids.  Thanks to a recent blog post from my sister, I know all about this contraption.  You, too, can read about it by clicking here.  Gee thanks, Dad!  At least she hasn't figured out how to really blow it yet.  She just talks through it.  :op

Honey squares
As mentioned in Emily's last monthly post, she has recently become a pickier eater.  One of her new favorite things, though, is "honey squares."  I believe she saw them on an episode of The Berenstain Bears.  However, her version of honey squares is a piece of plain toasted "yellow" bread (i.e. Honey Wheat bread from Kwik Star in a yellow package) with a slice of cheese and cut into four small squares.  It is honey wheat bread, but she doesn't know that.  Oh well.  It's quick, easy and relatively healthy.  We'll just go with it.

Old Lady
After my doctor appointment on Wednesday I took Emily to Old Navy to do some clothes shopping for preschool.   I was skeptical because of the few attempts in the past to take Emily clothes shopping, but they were having a huge sale, and I had a great coupon and a rewards card.  Emily totally surprised me by being perfectly compliant, trying on numerous things in the dressing room, and happily walking out with a pair of khaki capris, two pairs of leggings and four new shirts.  Wow!  She is so excited to wear them to preschool.  I'm excited to have more than four outfits in rotation!  Oh--the funny thing is that she calls the store "Old Lady". 

None of this is from her new wardrobe, but Emily was super excited and proud about how she matched everything pink while dressing herself this morning. :o)

Reaching new heights
Lincoln is becoming more daring every day in his climbing attempts.  This afternoon he reached a whole new height.  This picture makes me laugh because it is so typical of Emily to be combination tattletale/mother hen and scolding Lincoln for doing something he shouldn't.

Magnetic toilets
Last, but not least, Lincoln seems to experience a magnetic draw to toilets the last couple weeks.  I find him splashing in one more often than I care to admit.  It's hard to keep him out when the door to the half bath doesn't latch very well, if at all, and the master bath has two doors to keep track of, not to mention Emily's comings and goings and the need for air circulation.  Sigh.  We just use a lot of soap. ;o)