Sunday, January 25, 2009


The silly kid was goofing around while taking off her snow gear yesterday afternoon and we laughed when we saw how she took her hat off part-way!

But the funniest thing that happened this week was from a few mornings ago, while we were taking a tubby. Renee and mommy were not exactly arguing, but debating perhaps about why Mommy didn't want Renee to throw her tubby toys. Suddenly (as a comeback..?) Renee says to me, "I don't WANT to survive, I want to LIVE!" And I stared at her, thinking to myself while I started giggling, did she really just say that?

Have you seen the movie WALL-E, about the robots? Well this is a line from the movie when the humans are debating with the robots about going back to earth or staying in space, and the captain of the humans (who wants to go back to earth) says that line to the "autopilot" robot. Yes, we've been watching WALL-E a few times a week ever since New Years, and we all love it! I recommend it highly if you have not seen it yet! Who would have thought Renee would remember *that* particular line? Does that mean my daughter is watching too many movies?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Renee, Sofia and Melena love the Bounce Around

Renee and Sofia with crazy hair!

Melena *really* has the crazy hair! We love static electricity!

Ok, not the bounce around, this is the great big dog park in Lincoln, where we took APollo, Tiberius, Little Man and Pinky to go romp. It was a beautiful day that sunday, almost 50 degrees! There was a tree with a perfectly placed low limb that Renee wanted to "climb" so here she triumphantly sits!

Jeremy and Angela had the fantastic idea of setting up the Bounce Around inside their garage. This turned out to be a great way for the girls to let off some energy without having to bundle them up and schlep them outside. John and Jeremy also had a blast as they launched the girls from one side of the Bounce Around to the other. The girls eagerly lined up to get pushed by one uncle (daddy) and then tackled by the other daddy (uncle)!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Thanksmas King Day 2009- whole crew

More New Thanksmas King Day 2009 pictures

Tiberius and Tamara snuggling!

Molly has her hands full with Baby Lucy and Melena!

Gordon, what is your daughter drinking?

Schmotz doing what he does best.

Carol relaxes with baby Jada.

New Thanksmas King Day 2009

The boys do Gravy Shots!

Don't forget the Tabasco!

The official "My First Thanksmas" sweater, as modeled by baby Lucy!

Christian grabs a snack!

'Tis again the season to celebrate celebrating, and New Thanksmas King Day 2009 did not disappoint on any level. Old friends, amazing food, the merriment, the mess, the babies, the bounce around, the Catchphrase crew, the "garage band" boys, Gravy Shots, CaboWabo... Honorable mention goes to the unanimous favorite of the gift exchange: the calendar with everyone's pictures!! Great idea Tamara! There were a few New Thanksmas King Day virgins, who thankfully avoided having to do any embarrassing initiation! Please enjoy a few of our favorite memories!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Facebook, or why I still havn't posted new pictures since last week

I'm a technophobe or maybe more precisely, a techno-laksidaisicalist. I just tend to be behind the times in my knowledge and use of electronic information. But I finally made the plunge on Sunday night and joined Facebook. The reason I have avoided it until now, is that I was a little afraid of my personal info being available to the whole-wide-web-world, and I guess I just didn't make 'finding my old pals' a top priority. Then out of the blue I got an itch. It started with listening to Josh Ritter, whom I went to school with at Oberlin. Then I Googled my old high school buddy, Chad, and then I wanted to know where Thalia has been, and I wondered if I would be able to find Cindy, or maybe Fernando. So I am finally catching up! If you do Facebook, too, then please look me up or link me up- however it goes!

As for what's been happening since last week. We went sledding this past weekend, and I can't believe we forgot to bring the camera both times! I promise before the snow is gone to get a video of Renee going down the hill on her sled -all by herself- screaming the whole way down (which will never stop being funny!) and to top it off, Apollo is running down the hill right next to her trying to make sure that she is OK!

John finally got the old snow blower working, and that makes him feel like a real man! And better yet, he even taught me how to use it -oooh baby- talk about power! He also taught me that "ether" is actually a real thing (which I didn't know).

I am also frantically trying to practice my trumpet again since I was invited to "audition" and play with the University of Northern Iowa's Wind Symphony. (I just happen to know the conductor's wife, and he just happens to be low on trumpet players for this semester.) In order to attend rehearsals twice a week, I'm also trying to research and setup an official babysitting co-op for our Stay At Home Mom's club. That way I can get all my babysitting needs met without paying a penny! Maybe playing trumpet again will be part of my New Year's Resolution...?? Thank goodness I have such good friends out here who can help me out on such short notice! My feeling is, if I don't really try to make this opportunity work, to play with the UNI group, that I might never perform trumpet again -because I will only have MORE CHILDREN and LESS TIME in the future! I'm a bit nervous, but ready to forge ahead, because this is what is best for me, for my family and for my 1 trumpet student, too! As my favorite bumper sticker reads: "be the change you wish to see in the world". Playing trumpet isn't like creating "World Peace" but it is a big deal for me!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Josh Ritter

I just got in the mood tonight to listen to the music of Josh Ritter. I found out he had "made it big" about a year and a half ago. I know, so you're saying "who's Josh Ritter?" I went to Oberlin College with him, and if I remember correctly we graduated together as well. I saw him play on campus a few times, but to be honest I wasn't at all into his sound while I was in school. Probably because I also had not developed an appreciation for Bob Dylan either- I guess I was just too focused on my classical music world being in the Conservatory. So check out his music, and let me see who else I went to school with who's making music now. (link coming soon)

Did you hear the one about ...

A few nights ago, John was taking Apollo on his evening g-fer (since I'm not about to walk the dog at night and fall on my butt again), and out of the blue he called me on the phone from the park, saying "I think there's a coyote here at the park and it's following me and Monster". What?? A coyote in town? Here? John said as he and Apollo started to walk away and head for home the coyote followed them, hiding in the shadows. It sounded like it was stalking them! Well, if any of you know the story of how my old cat met his maker, then you know how I feel about a hungry coyote hunting my dog. And though a dog probably has a better fighting chance than a fat cat, at least Apollo isn't wearing a dinner bell like my old cat.

So John asks me to give him the phone number to animal control, and lets me know that he's going to stay in the park to wait for the officer to arrive. Of course he DOESN'T have a flash light with him. Finally a nice young kid shows up in a patrol car (you can bet they weren't going to send a senior officer on such a silly call!) Then, with the help of the flashlight the officer brought, the make their way back across the park and then they see it...a red body and the black fluffy tail. Just a fox having some fun. It would be a little weird to see a coyote in this setting, but a fox is apparently completely normal. It's a good thing John didn't say he'd seen something else. Heck, in the dark it could have been anything- a bear for crying out loud! That would have been humiliating. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter breaks my heart

This is a story of disenchantment, of love lost and betrayal. All spring, summer and fall, living here in Iowa has been an adventure, a whole new strange world to explore and understand. Humidity, ooh wow! Tornadoes, oh my! Experiencing our first full winter has made us like astronauts; this new planet called Iowa is so different from the old world. We have loved the snow, the blizzard was exciting, and learning how to drive on these icy roads has been... energizing, certainly requiring all of our focus at times. We could almost pass for natives now, below freezing is no big deal. Heck, even 10 degrees with no wind blowing isn't bad at all! But our (MY) naive feeling of wonder and awe came to a sudden, bruising end- literally.

Monday night, I was taking Monster on his usual evening "g-fer" (translation: go for a walk). A large douse of freezing rain last weekend had made things very icy. There was easily 1/4 inch of ice on everything, the snow, the sidewalks, the cars, everywhere. It can take 30 minutes to thaw out the windows on our van, and it's even slippery walking on top of the snow at the park because of the thick crust of ice on top. I'd gotten a little bit of practice walking on the ice over the weekend, so I figured as long as I went slowly, and Apollo didn't pull his leash too much we'd be fine. Apollo actually does very well on his leash in the ice. Every time I start to lose my balance, he stops and looks back to make sure I'm alright. So Monday night, we made it all 2 blocks over to the park, and we headed back home. That's when I fell- hard. Right on my butt in the middle of the street, I had slipped on the ice trying to move over to the side of the road to give a passing car more room. I yowled something fierce! Snow pants look a LOT more cushy than they actually are!

I rolled over on my hand and knees, yelling my pain and frustration into the night. Getting up was s l o w. Waddling painfully back home I decided it wasn't a good idea for me to do any more g-fers until I got some spikes for my boots! We made it home, and I took some Aleve, and tossed and turned all night, trying not to sleep on my butt.

Today, Wednessday, I feel almost entirely recovered, though sometimes standing up and squatting down cause a twinge. I took Apollo to the Paw Park this morning and one of the other owners was talking up some kind of ice kleats his wife bought him- and he was certianly the only one showing any confidence walking around the slippery paw park- even the mutts slipp and slide, nail marks grazing the surface as a reminder of the trecherous terrain. So on our way home we made a stop into Scheels to pick up those same kleats- or whatever you call them. Now I am armed and ready for the next g-fer.

For now though, I'm still grumpy. Maybe I just need to wear my kleats a lot over the next few days- get my confidence back. Then I might be able to enjoy the next 4 months of winter weather we still have ahead of us.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This explains why a trip to the dentist doesn't guarantee you will lose weight

OK, I have to admit I kind of enjoy going to the dentist. My old dentist in WA was great, I could watch my favorite movie while they worked, and I researched my new dentist in IA with that same prerequisite, too. Then again, it might just be the nitrous oxide talking! But after my trip to the dentist earlier this week I was actually looking forward to an easy diet. Sore mouth usually equals eating less food, which is a good thing since it's tough to exercise with all the ice outside right now!

But the problem became clear when I looked back at the recipes I've made the past few days- I thought I wouldn't be eating very much, so I figured I could eat whatever I wanted! We had Spinach Artichoke Dip (Though this one is easy and yummy, Steph Fischer actually makes a better one!), and Bean Dip for New Year's Eve. Later I made an awesome Lemon Cheesecake, and tonight topped it off with a homemade pizza! Toppings: chicken, artichoke, bacon, tomato slices. Sauce: garlic Italian Alfredo. Crust: whole wheat. (Please note if you make the cheesecake: I recommend stirring the batter with an electric mixer for a very long time, because it will make the cheesecake very light and fluffy. But also note that this cheesecake recipe makes way too much cheesecake for the crust, I used about 60% of the cheesecake batter to fill my 9inch spring form pan, and then just used the extra batter to make mini cheesecakes in my jumbo muffin pan with a new batch of crumb crust. Also simplify the water bath for your cheesecake as my sister-in law Deb taught me: while you preheat the oven, put a large 9X13 pan filled with water on the lowest rack. This lets humidity build up and keeps the cake from cracking, if you also don't open the oven to check on your cake! I had to bake my cake a bit longer as well, and opening the oven before it was done did crack the top of the cake a bit.)

Did I mention we all have colds right now? We're getting better, but as soon as I can breathe comfortably again I'd better get back to swimming! But hey, rather than feel guilty about my indulgence, I have decided to share my successful recipes with you! The dips and cheesecake are recipes I found online, through the Food Network and Epicurious websites. The pizza was inspired by a Papa Murphy's commercial that's been playing in between every football game this weekend, for a chicken artichoke bacon pizza. It was actually John's idea that we make the pizza ourselves, so I have to give him credit! The pizza crust and alfredo recipes came from my beloved Fannie Farmer Cookbook, with a few small changes of course. :)

Pizza Crust:

1 1/3 Cups of warm water
1 package dry yeast
3-4 cups of flour (this time I split using 60% regular unbleached flour and 40% whole wheat flour)
olive oil
2 tsp salt
corn meal

1. In large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of regular flour, 2 Tbs oil, 1 Cup warm water and the salt, and beat. Gradually add more regular flour, mixing well until the dough holds together in a rough mass and mostly doesn't stick the sides of the bowl.
2. Knead the dough for 10 minutes (thank goodness for my Kitchen Aid!) Put in an oiled bowl to rise, covered with plastic wrap.
3. When the dough has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, punch it down and divide into thirds (or according to the sizes of your baking dishes). Let rest for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 450degreesF.
4. Scatter a generous but thin layer of corn meal over the entire surface of your baking dishes (I used 2 cake pans and a jellyroll pan.) Stretch the dough with your hands to the size of your baking dishes and put dough in each baking dish, then prick dough all over with a fork.
5. Add your sauce, toppings and cheese and bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned. To test for doneness, lift an edge- if the bottom has turned golden it is probably done.

Garlic Italian Alfredo Sauce:

2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat Stonyfield Farms organic super yummy yogurt)
1 Cup heavy cream
3/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs Italian seasonings
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped garlic. Add yogurt and cream until yogurt clumps are all melted. Add cheese, seasonings, salt and pepper and stir until melted.

Pizza toppings:

2 chicken breast halves, cooked and diced (I pan-fried chicken strips in olive oil with garlic and Italian seasonings, then diced into bite-size chunks.)
5-7 slices of bacon, cooked and diced
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into 8ths or your choice of bite-size
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
Mozzarella cheese to taste

On a healthier note, we did also get a tastey recipe from Jeremy, John's brother, for a good drink to soothe a scratchy throat...

Throat Remedy

a spoonful of honey
a spoonful of orange juice concentrate
a squirt of lemon juice (or cranberry juice)
wedge of orange or clementine fruit with peel

Put all ingredients in a mug, add hot water, seep (herb) tea bag. (optional: add swig of bourbon, or other liquor of choice!)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New word: "snog"

snog (noun): from the words snuggle, and dog. A snuggly dog. Found especially on couches and beds, hogging/sharing any available space with its owner(s).

New Year's Eve videos

For New Year's Eve we stayed home, laying low as we dealt with the cold we seem to have brought home as a souvenir from our trip to Yankton. We had a blast watching Renee sing and dance all night!

It doesn't matter how we're feeling, watching these just makes me laugh!

This adorable hand made puppy-hat, mittens and scarf set was a gift from some dear friends here in Cedar Falls, made in Peru and bought from a fair trade store right here in town!