Friday, January 27, 2012

Way old stuff

Ok.  Stuff I meant to blog last summer and never did, coming right up!

We made this little gate thingy for our driveway to remind our kids not to get too close to the road.  It's not actually a fence, obviously, but it works pretty well.  They just need to be reminded of the limits.

It also works as a deterrent to people driving in the driveway while the kids are playing. They can park on the road and then nobody (mama) gets nervous.

The kids loooove getting the mail and our mailman, Jimbo, is their favorite guy.
And now, a few things I made...

A quilt for my Annie baby. 

A Fourth of July birthday cake for Curtis (at Tommy and Laurie's annual 4th of July bash).  This was three days before Annie was born and yes, I did drink that whole case of Bud.  Mmmmm.

Do yourself a favor...

...and make this pie.

It's basically a fresh blueberry pie with a little cooked berry yumminess to keep it all together.

2 pints blueberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar (can adjust if berries are too sour or sweet)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 baked pie crust

Boil 1 1/2 cups blueberries with water for 1-2 minutes.  Combine dry ingredients and add to cooked berries.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice.  Pour over the rest of the berries in the baked pie crust.  Let cool in fridge until firm enough to slice.  Garnish with whipped cream.

If the berries aren't sweet enough and you need to add more sugar, add a little more cornstarch.

I thought this pie was DELISH and we enjoyed it for my birthday.

Vivian made me a little paper flower clip for my birthday.

Yep.  I'm 37 now.  Whatever.  Sometimes I despair when I look in the mirror and see what's going on with my eyelids or my crow's feet, and sometimes I look and think "Hey.  Not bad."

On the good days I come away from the mirror and go find Curtis and have him tell me I'm still cute.

On the bed days, I just blame it on the lighting.  We need better lighting in that bathroom, that's all.  I'm not really getting old.  Nope.


Birthday tulips from Curtis and the kids.  Aww.

I made a little Valentines Day banner for the fireplace.  I think it came out pretty sweet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Morning! (and other stuff)

Morning, everyone!

What happens when I don't get the recycling out for three weeks.

I made roasted butternut squash soup the other night.

I sauteed apples and onions, then cooked everything for a while in some chicken stock.

My stick/immersion blender!  I LOVE my stick blender!  It's the way to go.  None of that transferring hot soup to a blender, pureeing in batches and making a big old mess.

Unfortunately, the resulting soup was just ok.  Curtis liked it, and (most of) the kids could be convinced to eat it, but I don't think it'll be in regular rotation.

In other exciting news, Vivian, Kathryn and Curtis hit the slopes for the first time this season.  It was Viv's first time ever on skis and she was excited!  Curtis is not convinced, after observing her first lesson, that she is a natural, but she came home just as enthused as when she left.  So that's something.  Fingers crossed on that one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Move over, Katie Couric

This could be the start of something big.  I can see us now, in our fine evening wear, beaming proudly as our daughter accepts her first Emmy for broadcast journalism and we think back to this day, the day it all began...

Vivian read her own version of the MLK "I Have a Dream" speech to the whole school today during morning announcements.

Here, you can see it for yourself:

(Fair warning: this will likely only be interesting for grandmas and aunties.)

Wow, was she excited.  Almost as excited as her sweet teacher, Mrs. D.  The whole office staff was pretty excited for her, actually.  You can hear the applause at the end and then the principal came out and gave her a big hug and said she started tearing up when she heard Vivian's speech.  Aww.  (Viv also got an impressive round of applause from a third-grade class as she walked back to her classroom.  CUTE.)

In case you couldn't hear Viv speaking (it's kind of quiet), here's the speech.

I have a dream that one day my family will have a room finished so Annie will have a room.

I have a dream that one day my school will get right down to work.

I have a dream that my world will never fight.

With the exception of dream #3, not exactly the lofty goals that Dr. King had, but still.  Not too bad for a kindergartener.

Curtis kept shaking his head at the "I have a dream that one day my family will have a room finished so Annie will have a room" line.

He said "It sounds like I'm some lazy guy who's not doing anything, or like we don't have any rooms finished at all!"

I reassured him that I was pretty sure people wouldn't think that at all.  Pretty sure.

We took a few minutes to visit Kathryn's classroom as well, and it turned into an impromptu show-and-tell with Annie.

Such an excellent big sister.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm early! (for once...)

Of all my many flaws, one of the ones that I dislike most (and one I am working to overcome) is my propensity to procrastinate.  I always think I have more time to get things done than I really do, and then I end up scrambling or staying up all night before a deadline/trip/holiday/party trying to get it all done.

Two things have been working for me as I try to free myself of the stress that procrastination brings: 

1) DO LESS STUFF.  Not everything has to be homemade or the cutest or perfectly organized or whatever.  I'm trying to let go of some of my self-imposed expectations and you know what?  It's really working out for me.  Sleep is my friend.  Stress is not.

2)  The stuff I need (or choose) to do - try and do it earlier.  That sounds so simple but it's been like a revelation to me.  I've learned that I can't get much done in the a.m. before the girls head to school, so I have to pack lunches/snacks/backpacks etc. the night before.  Same goes for getting their clothes ready.  They MUST be laid out the night before.  Every night.  Every article of clothing.  No exceptions.  Otherwise, the morning just doesn't work.

So, in that spirit, I found myself with a little free(ish) time yesterday and thought we'd get a jump on making Valentines cards.  I'd never made potato stamps before and was always interested in giving it a try and they were so fun and easy to make, I'm hooked!  Now I'm imagining all the possibilities...We can stamp our own birthday cards! Christmas wrapping paper! Halloween decorations!

And then I have to tell myself to dial it back because I can't do it all and keep my head from popping off at the same time.

But aaaaanyway, we DID make the Valentines cards and we had so much fun!

The potato was a bit dried out by the time I got around to taking a photo, but you get the idea.  You can cut your own shape or use a cookie cutter like this.  It really worked well.  I just pressed the cutter in, used a paring knife to trim off about a 1/4 inch slice, then pulled the cutter out.  One tip - when you cut your potato in half, try to get as clean a cut as possible so your stamp will have a flat surface.

Then we just pressed them into ink pads and stamped away!  I hear paint (poster paint/kids art paint) works really well too, but I haven't tried that yet.

I printed out these super-simple cards onto cardstock, four to a page and then cut with a little paper cutter.

Cheap, easy prep, easy clean up. That's what I'm talking about.

Happy Valentines Day a month early!

p.s.  "That's what I'm talking about" - Viv's new favorite phrase.  ????

Good and sad, all at once

People die all the time, especially people who are grandparents.  It just seems like they do.  I'm not a fan of this trend.  My grandfather died two Septembers ago and I'm still not particularly happy about it.

But the sadness is significantly lessened when the person who passes on was totally ready to go - unafraid, perhaps even a little eager for the next phase of their existence.  Such was the case with the passing of Curtis's sweet/funny/fiesty/witty/sharp Grandma Helen Wells.  She died two weeks ago in Salt Lake City.

It was expected by all, even by her.  I had heard her cheerfully say more than once that she was "ready for Lewis to come get me!"  (Her husband, Lewis, died in 2004.)  So, it was with sadness tempered with okay-ness (does that make sense?) that Curtis, Annie and I traveled out to Utah for Grandma Wells' funeral.

I wish I had the wisdom to take more photos, but sometimes I get caught up in experiencing the moment and forget that I even have a camera.  Even still, I did get a few family memories on (digital) film.

Annie with Grandpa Rice (Jim).  He spent quite a bit of time holding her and they both seemed to like the arrangement just fine.

After the viewing on Sunday night, some of Grandma Wells' good-for-nothing grandsons came back to her house and played cards until the wee hours.  Sure, they look respectable (would you believe there are two lawyers, a financial planner and a dentist in this photo?), but guess what happens when you lose at Hearts in the Wells family?

Yep, you have to stick your head in the toilet and flush (or do something equally awful).  It's called a Swirley and it's a proud tradition.  Note the younger generation, watching and learning how to be a Wells Man. 

And everybody watches and takes pictures (it was a veritable stampede down to the basement bathroom).  I used to think they took pictures to taunt the loser, to shame him, but I quickly learned that no, it's just because they think it's so funny.  (Curtis has a photo album full of his cousins' similar shame.) The wives/girlfriends just shake their heads.  But we can't judge each other because we all chose these men.

Oh yes.  That's my fine husband, coming out of the bathroom, head wet.  For the record, he washed his hair before we ever left Grandma's house.  Also, for the record, Curtis was not the only loser - his cousin Bret (the other guy stripped down to his t-shirt) lost the first round.  And also ALSO, for the record, Curtis wants me to point out that they cleaned the toilet first.  They're not completely uncivilized.

(For those who are wondering how these guys could play cards the night before their grandma was to be buried, don't worry.  Grandma Wells knew her grandsons pretty well.  I'm pretty sure she would have been happy to see them all showing their love for each other in their own, twisted way.)

After the funeral on Monday, the Rice family wanted to spend a little more time together before Karen and Michaela had to fly back to LA, so we all went out for ice cream.  Check out Conner and his enormous vanilla ice cream!  That kid is so Norman Rockwell-esque.  So cute.

Curtis and his sister Karen.

Grandma Rice, McKenna, Marc.

Tiny Kamryn ate a huuuuge strawberry shake all by herself.  It was actually quite impressive.

Cousins!  Annie, Kylie, Michaela.

Kylie spent every second she could with Annie.  I LOVE this shot!

We don't see these people often enough!

Sisters-in-law Karen, me, Stephanie.

I even got to spend a precious few hours with Gwen and her family.  What a great bunch of kids!

Even though Grandma Wells is no longer here with us, I feel certain she's in a wonderful place with people she loves.  Until we see her again, we'll remember her like this:

telling it like it is.  xoxo Grandma Wells.  You were a great lady.