Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Liza says: Liza's first sledding day

We went sledding. It was a big hill. There were a few other people there. It was very, very cold. I wore snow pants, and a jacket, and an extra-fuzzy sweatshirt, and my new very new gloves. I had lots of trouble getting the gloves on.

Daddy went with me the first time. We had to walk to the top of the hill and Daddy pulled the sled. Then when we got to the top of the hill, we sledded down. We went fast! It was fun.

Mommy went, too. And then I went by myself! I went down half of the hill the first time, then I went to the top of the hill and slid down all by myself! And then I had to pull the sled by myself back to the top. And one time, when I was trying to pull the sled up, I accidentally let go and the sled started to slide down and then I started running and when I caught on to the sled I let it make me slide down!

Afterwards we went to Taco Bell, and then after we went to Taco Bell, we went to the ice skating rink. There were lots of people there, but I didn't mind. We saw Mrs. Craft, my teacher from last year at preschool. I skated very, very well. I did five swizzles in a row and then started skating again! Daddy and Mommy went skating, too. Daddy got to wear extra special skates - hockey skates! And I had to wear just brown and black skates, and Mommy got to wear her all-white skates.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 5: Ho!

And yea, verily, there was much rejoicing with new toys and old friends!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 4: Behind the scenes

Pirates - you can tell they're pirates because they yell things like "AHOY" and "MATEY" at random intervals - sing taunts to each other to the tune of carols, fire crackles in the hearth, and Playmobil people frolic in a Duplo zoo.

Liza is wearing the same outfit for the second day in a row, and the waistband is now so loose that she gets plumber's butt every time she stands up straight.

Nat King Cole might be playing on the radio while we eat dinner, but only because we've put a moratorium on the Bob Marley CD after hearing it for the 4,000th time this week.

Liza is actually helpful when she assists us with the preparation of the lasagna for dinner tomorrow night. That cottage cheese mixture didn't stir itself, you know.

For the first time ever, Santa's elves didn't assemble all the presents before they got here, so I had to lend some assistance in the late hours of the evening ... and then find a place to stash a trampoline until Christmas morning.

I breathe a sigh of relief when the kid is in bed and asleep, then cringe at the thought that I can no longer threaten her with, "Do you want me to call Santa on his cell phone and tell him that you're doing that? He can turn that sleigh right around and go home if you're bad, you know." Until next December, of course ...

Jason and I debate the merits of "eating all the carrots we left for the reindeer" vs. "nibbling pieces off of the carrots we left for the reindeer," because we know the kid will eventually parse the entire setup, detail by detail. We decide to eat all the carrots, because it's not like Santa was going to haul is soot-covered-fur-clad butt down the chimney again to drop the leftover carrot bits back on the plate once the reindeer were done.

All that's left is to sneak into her room to deposit a present under her tree, then knock myself unconscious so I have some chance of being awake when she storms into our room before the crack of dawn tomorrow. Ho, ho, ho.

Virtual Christmas, part 3: Making Merry

It wouldn't be Christmas without some serious baking going on around here.
This year I decided to use up some leftover Halloween candy to make stained glass cookies. Basically, you crush up hard candy (in our case, Dum-Dum lollipops) and sprinkle them in cut-out holes in whatever sugar cookie recipe you usually use.

In the oven they get all melty and gooey and bubbly, but once they come out and cool down, the sugar hardens into a pretty center.

Honestly, the pretty parts don't taste that great unless you're using expensive candies, but they sure look nice. We did some oversized ones like this to include with the cookies we're giving to neighbors and friends.

As you can see from the background in that picture, we got a bit of snow earlier this week. Not the 2 feet that are keeping my parents stuck on the east coast, but enough that we've had to go outside to play in it almost every day. There isn't enough for a proper snowman, and until recently it hasn't been the right consistency for snowballs, so we've been stuck with snow angels and tromping around aimlessly ... until now:

Of course, it's supposed to start raining soon, and continue through Christmas day, but it was nice to have snow on some days when we had nowhere we needed to go and nothing that had to be done.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This one's for you, Percy

Virtual Christmas, part 2: Caroling

We're full service around here - we bring the Christmas carols right to you, and don't even ask for wassail in return!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 1

Since some (well, actually ALL) of our extended family is unable to join us for Christmas this year, I'm doing the next best thing and bringing our Christmas to them ... online. It's like real Christmas, only with all the really boring parts edited out! Also, virtual cookies are calorie-free, and nobody has to suffer through traveling the entire length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in order to participate.

Without further ado, I bring you ...

Virtual Christmas, Part 1: Liza's Pre-school Christmas Concert

Best buddies, trying not to look nervous before the show:

The concert, with all the non-Liza parts edited out:

And no, the irony of having my daughter be a "wise man" was not lost on me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dang, now why didn't I think of that?

I still think the funniest thing is that some of our friends' kids used to use the Playmobil baby Jesus as a purchase at the Playmobil grocery store. I wonder how much a savior costs?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I guarantee this will make you smile

Liza's newest obsession: Boogie Woogie Hedgehog, which she acts out with the hedgehog figure from one of her Playmobil sets. Here's her inspiration:

Once our hedgehog has "got his head stuck in the Pharaoh's hat," Liza performs Boogie Woogie Badger, and Raccoon, and Kitten, and whatever else she can manage to get stuck in something else. I knew the advent calendar would come in handy for something ...

Good times, good times.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My child is a Speshul Snowflake**

Remember last year's winter dance recital, with the cute hairdo and the almost complete lack of dancing by my daughter?

This year we almost didn't get that much, as we spent all day listening to "I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I don't want to go." Listen to that for half a day, and I'm inclined to either shoot her or pull her out of dance classes entirely. After a great deal of bargaining, reasoning, and chocolate-coated bribery, we got her there, and she was doing okay-ish ...


... right up until it was time for the show to start, and she started blubbering like a bad soap opera actress. I was in the audience, she was sitting with the rest of her class in front of the stage, and I was very close to just calling the whole thing off ... but she pulled herself together.

"If I look interested enough in this dot-to-dot, maybe they won't make me go on stage."

At least, she did until it was time for her to perform with her class, at which point the waterworks started again, and she had to be carried on stage (not by me). After a 10-second pep talk by her dance teacher, we got to see her dance, on stage, in public, for realz, for the first time ever.

And she was fine the whole time, doing way more of her dance than I expected, managing to not freak out when the entire class managed to blank out during the whole "switch lines front to back" part at the end, and even sort of smiling for the pictures at the end.

And then she sat and watched the rest of the acts, and was all set to go sing in the big finale ... until she somehow managed to pinch her finger while she was waiting to go onstage, and she completely lost it, and I got to stand off to the side with my irritable crying child. Yes, out of seventeen acts and probably 70 kids, mine was the only one that cried. At all. The entire night. She didn't even want to go up and get her goody bag from her teacher, and usually the promise of candy canes is enough to get the kid to walk through walls of flames.

Turns out, she was just holding out for the floral tribute, courtesy of Daddy.

"Why yes, I was perfect - why do you ask?"

I swear, every time we do something like this, it takes six months off of my life expectancy, and it exponentially raises the amount we need to contribute to the kid's Future Therapy Fund. I so very much want to pull her out of dance classes, but she claims she loves dance with a passion that burns like a thousand suns. Never mind that I have to coax her into dressing for class, drag her to class, and she never is excited about anything at class other than whether she got a good sticker and/or got to turn on the lights in the room. At the very least I think I'm going to have her skip the spring recital, because I am just not up to having to pay $100 for costumes and tickets so that I can deal with this two years in a row.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh, hai. Are you still here? Here, have a cookie recipe, it will make you feel better.

Here's a new cookie recipe, courtesy of Liza pointing to a picture of a cookie and my tweaking of a recipe in my first edition copy of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book (published in 1963 and laboriously hunted down in an antique shop in Avon, Ohio, in 2000). Best. Cookbook. Ever.

And these cookies are pretty darn good - light, crispy, buttery, lots of orange flavor that's not overpowering, crunchy sugar on the outside, festive but still appropriate when it's not Christmas ... are you drooling yet? You should be.

adapted from Petticoat Tails/Kaleidoscope Cookies (makes 5 dozen)

1 cup butter
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp orange extract
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
food coloring
decorator sugar
red cinnamon candies

Mix butter, sugar, and extract thoroughly. Mix flour, salt, and orange rind; stir in. Mix with hands. Add food coloring to tint to desired color. Mold in rolls about 2" across. Wrap in waxed paper; chill several hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 400 F. Cut roll into slices about 1/8" thick. Roll the edge of each slice in decorator sugar. Place a little apart on ungreased baking sheet and press a red cinnamon candy into the center of each cookie. Bake 8 to 10 min., or until barely browned.

The original recipe was double this size, and it specified you could use vanilla, rose, wintergreen, or almond extract. The orange was my idea, as was the addition of the rind, which I got from two little tangerines I had in the fridge. The cinnamon candies were my idea, too, mainly because I know the rest of my family won't eat them, so the half of the recipe I baked with candies is safe from predation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Guess who bought a printer/scanner on Black Friday?

... and finally figured out how to use the scanner after the fifth failed installation attempt?

"Best Piece of Art Liza Ever Made," by Liza Woods, 2009