Friday, December 30, 2011

The well seasoned Dinner Party

I can throw an amazing dinner party.

A house that is remotely picked up
A beautifully created pastry masterpiece being showcased under glass on the buffet table
A decently set table- china choice depending on the formality of said party
A well planned and executed meal
Plenty of sweet tea to offer
Sometimes I even throw in some pleasant conversation

I rock at throwing dinner parties.

Just had to remind myself of that tiny fact because my dinner party throwing ego is suffering from last night's less than satisfactory effort.

It's not`that anything truly dramatic happened. Nobody died from food poisoning...nobody lost a tooth on rock-hard-overcooked food, nobody choked on an eggshell accidentally added in, I didn't set off any smoke detectors or evacuate the house due to a burning stench.

This story really needs to start yesterday morning when I looked around my house covered in three inches of stuff and remembered that the entire family was coming over to my house for dinner in twelve hours and in that time I also had to take Addison to a doctor's appointment and feed/take care of two needy children AND prepare/cook all of the food...

I wanted to use my new Shark steam mop but realized that I couldn't even SEE my floors...sigh.

Truly, I haven't been able to catch up with my housekeeping since the Michigan trip...shameful, I know. The practicality of taking care of two babies on top of all of the events of late have just been all that I can handle, let alone cleaning my house and folding laundry.

Yesterday was spent of a flurry of cleaning, Signing Time DVD watching for Addison, playmat alone play for Carter.

In between cleaning phases (and feeding/changing children), I made dough for the rolls, topping for the salad; marinated the meat for the main dish; desperately tried to pull myself together and out of this neglectful house/entertaining slump.

And I thought I had succeeded...even when I was trying to finish the meal and all of Aaron's family was in the kitchen breathing over my shoulder

"What are you doing now????"
"um....boiling water"
"And now???"
"cooking the noodles"
"And now???"
"Beating the next person who asks a question over the the head with a ladle"

OK, I didn't say that last one. But it was hard to focus with all those extra bodies in my kitchen observing cooking techniques. (I don't cook well under that kind of pressure)

And it wasn't until everyone was suspiciously silent while eating the meal and then the forced "THIS IS WONDERFUL"s started rolling forth that I knew something was wrong.

(I know that I threatened them before the meal that they had to pretend to like it even if they didn't...but I didn't realize what a disaster it was when I said that...the sympathy compliments were almost too much to take...note to self: stop threatening guests.)

I didn't think through the fact that doubling the recipe that many times would make the soy sauce to dish balance be off causing the entire dish to be VERY SALTY. (confession...I've made the recipe so many times that I no longer use a recipe and there's a slight chance that doubling it so many times caused there to be WAY TOO MUCH soy sauce. ahem.)

THE WORST.

It was one of our favorite dishes, so to see it desecrated in such a way was almost blasphemous. I couldn't look at it...couldn't eat it...my stomach was in knots for what I had done to our beautiful, wonderful favorite dish.

Looking around at the forced smiles combined with nose plugging while shoveling in and constant tea drinking...I knew that I would never hear the end of this. (when someone requested a camel back, I knew I was in trouble...fine they didn't but I know they wanted to.)

FAIL.

I tried to pin down my mother-in-law

"Did you like it?"
"Oh yes, I LOVED it. I think I'll try that recipe."
"Really? You didn't think it was too salty?"
"Oh, it was very salty"
"So you didn't like it?"
"No I loved it. I just imagined it with less salt."

mortifying.

I think I might have to take down my Queen of the Kitchen sign.

I asked my husband if it was too terrible (looking for a comforting "it was fine...you're imagining that extra salt" comment)

He stared at me intently and then walked away.

I HATE MAKING MISTAKES. (especially in front of family. What is it about normal things that we do every day for friends and our spouse all of a sudden we seem incapable of doing as soon as there are large family gatherings....this is NOT the first family gathering cooking mistake that I have made...yet that seems to be the only place I make these mistakes. Why is that???)

I admit, I might be a bit of a perfectionist and this is driving me crazy.

The positive thing is, a couple of days from now when anyone mentions this, I can say "Oh yes, but that was last year. I would never do that now"  distancing myself from the entire incident by a whole year.

well, at least the house was clean...

I know none of you will read this because you are all busy throwing your own, highly successful end-of-the-year family dinner parties. I envy your success and wish that there was a salt free DO OVER button in life.

(on that note...anyone want to come over for lunch? I have a ton of leftovers...)


I know I said I would announce this yesterday, but I didn't truly sit down at my computer all day! So here you go:
*Winner of the $50 Target gift card is Julie V! Congratulations Julie. Email me @ dsmith0806@gmail.com


Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ho-Ho-WHo wants my children....

I used to dream about Christmas with children.

They would excitedly open their presents and beam with happiness as every wish was realized with the crinkle of the perfectly creased wrapping paper. I would lounge nearby with a cup of coffee, relaxing and relishing the moment...wistfully thinking how my babies were growing up too fast. The family would chat, eat too many calories and laugh hysterically at nothing while the children continued to play quietly by the tree. The dream then got a bit hazy as I didn't know how it would end...perhaps like the Sound of Music scene where the children sing (in perfect harmony, of course) a good night song. Addison would do the lead in and Carter would dance behind...both of them floating up the staircase to their beds with smiles of glee permanently etched on their faces as they drift off to sleep thinking thoughts of pure thankfulness for their presents (and of course...their mommy). The adults would continue to party late into the night (after all, there is only one Christmas a year) while the children slept peacefully in the foreign beds at Gwampa and Gwandma's house...

and then, I had actual children.

I guess it never occurred to me that there would be several years of STRESS as the children both got off of their perfectly ordered schedules...spit up on the wrong people's shoulders (ahem Carter), scream hysterically and then refuse to sleep (for THREE HOURS) when put in the crib (ahem Addison), refuse to participate in present opening (ahem Carter and Addison), take turns demanding attention with various food needs/diaper changes/whiny moments right when I tried that relaxing thing I had heard so much about...pretty much creating chaos and drama wherever their deceptively cherub-looking chubby faces ended up...

I lie not...Addison lost SO MUCH sleep this weekend that not only did her croup return, but her body started turning on itself...creating an almost entire body petechia-like rash...sending me in a giant panic....schlepping her to the doctor and then to the hospital where they OPENED THE LAB JUST FOR US to make sure that she hadn't developed leukemia over the weekend (if you think I am overly nervous...you try having a child born with transient leukemia and see if you jump at every red freckle on your child's body)

so yeah...I feel a bit like I'm recovering from a month of all nighters...plus too much caffeine....plus constant wrestling of two twenty pound chunky pigs (I would say babies...but who wrestles babies???)...plus the usual Christmas drama of "will my dish turn out OK" and "I wish I had been able to lose 10 more pounds before this party" and "I hope I got them the right gift"

deep breaths.

I'm glad I got some pictures. This way I can pretend that the entire weekend was magical and wonderful (it did have some really great moments...sandwiched between two needy babies...and I do dearly love those needy babies)

this weekend had the food
 the family
 the tree
 the presents
(yes...those are really the only pictures that I managed to take)

and the inward celebration of the true meaning of Christmas and overwhelming thankfulness for being showered with goodness....

I choose to remember only the good...and am trying to will away this scratchy throat...and am silently singing

There's a sad sort of clanging
From the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple, too
And up in the nursery
An absurd little bird
Is popping out to say coo-coo
(Coo-coo, coo-coo)

So long, farewell
Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight

I hate to go and leave this pretty sight


and imagining Addison and Carter dressed up like cute little Austrian children...

I'm sure ten years from now when my children are actually like that (insert loud guffaws from future Deanna) I will be looking back and wishing they were cute little babies again...someone please remind me to read this post at that time...

Hope your Christmas was merry...and that you don't need quite as long of a recovery time as I do...(see you in February)

So Long, Farewell

(hey hey hey...there's still a day left in the giveaway....ENTER...or I will sick this sore throat on you...and both children)
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Quite Dinner Party Ready


We're working on self feeding.
Some days are more successful than others...
but you gotta give a girl credit for trying...
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mommy Grinch

I usually love Christmas- I really do. But something about having to keep up with two baby schedules on top of attending Christmas parties and such makes me feel positively Grinchlike.

Seriously, my heart shrinks and my skin tints pickle green.

I've spent the last four months fighting and wrestling with sleep schedules, and we've finally settled into a pretty decent routine.

But as soon as the apple cart is upset...things fall apart.

A Christmas party last night is why Addison spent her entire therapy session this morning lying on the floor rubbing her eyes and Carter cried and cried last night- wanting to fall asleep but too tired. sigh.

It doesn't make sense to get a sitter for family Christmas parties because the kids are part of the family and I feel it's part of their Christmas experience (and besides, the ones coming up...who would babysit on Christmas Eve and Day?)

So yeah, I feel like a Grinch. I want to stay home- put Addison down at 6, Carter down at 7 and get some sleep myself. (#Selfish) Two babies under two is exhausting and a lot of work and best taken care of in the comfort of your own home...

I think maybe this is why Skype was invented. Put a computer in the corner of the Christmas party and we'll participate that way (hey, it's calorie free that way too). Or perhaps I'll set up a computer on each of the sleeping babies and do a Skype split screen so that the partygoers can ooh and ahh from a distance while my kids stay on the blessed Schedule (I am a BIG schedule person...in case you haven't already picked up on that).

I was thinking such whiny thoughts last night and dreading the next party when I saw a friend posted a video on facebook about a child's last Christmas due to leukemia. sniff sniff. Because of Addison's history of transient leukemia and the possibility of it returning, that sort of thing always gets to me.

Looking at my sweet babies asleep in their respective cribs (finally) I stopped complaining that it was so hard to enjoy a family Christmas party when consoling Carter and worrying about who has Addison and if she's being trampled on the floor somewhere. I blinked sleepy eyes because of our disruptive schedule the past week due to Christmas and wiped away tears of thankfulness.

I have two beautiful, healthy children that I love more than I could ever have imagined. If something were to happen to either one of them, I would be completely devastated and wish I had taken advantage of each moment like "Remember that Christmas when..."

(And also, I'm so thankful to have family here that we can have parties with. These special times are a lot of work, but very important that we make them happen. Especially since losing a grandparent last week I was reminded how important family is and sacrificing to be with them- you can't get that time back.)

Truth is, Addison and Carter will most likely not remember this Christmas and each party, but I will. And if at the next party they say hello, open a present and then immediately get put down to avoid overstimulation and over tiredness (like happened last night), they won't care and will make all of us happier in the morning.

Here's to quality family time.....

What's your secret for keeping your kids on schedule while attending family Christmas parties?

The most comfortable signing time position (obviously)
my little chunk-a-lunk
I was addressing the Christmas cards before Addison got up from her nap yesterday (no remarks about why they weren't already sent out.gulp) and she somehow got her grubby paws on them right after she was done eating. (See the dirty tray?) yikes. When your Christmas card comes in the mail, give it a little lick -strawberry yogurt???
clearly enjoying his first Christmas...
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!!!!
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Monday, December 19, 2011

GIVEAWAY!

Well, it is here. The week of Christmas....and of course after Christmas comes the start of a brand new year.

This year my blogging has taken somewhat of a turn. While 2010 I would say my blog worked more as a personal journal and included a focus on Down syndrome, 2011 saw me become more of just a regular, boring mommy blogger. Truly living up to its name, the posts ranged from bats episodes to cherry pies to pregnancy to the birth of Carter and of course countless Chubbs pictures and such. I had fun writing every post and enjoyed finding a lightness to writing that some of my Down syndrome posts did not have. (although for the record, I still plan on writing about Down syndrome...it's a big part of my life)

I wanted to thank each and every one of you for putting up with my blogging swing this year and leaving such sweet comments (one of my new year's resolutions is to reply back to each comment...better)

But more than just to say "thank you" I want to host a giveaway!!! (I know, don't look so surprised)
(this picture could also be subtitled "Hand caught in the cookie jar")

The giveaway????

(drumroll please)

A $50 gift card to Target.

I realize that Vermont doesn't have Target (don't even get me started on this), but it is my absolute favorite store and you can get pretty much anything there. (and if you are a fellow Vermonter, you can order online and with the $50 purchase you get free shipping)

This giveaway is sponsored by S&D Landscapes.  If you aren't local, this probably won't interest you much (unless you can charter a private plane to bring their crew and equipment to you). But, if you are a fellow Vermonter, I encourage you to look to them for all of your landscaping needs! Whether you want a new look for your yard or you want an old look torn out or you want the awesome design you already have meticulously maintained or you just want your yard to always be the best looking one in the neighborhood (so not an exaggeration here)...consider S&D Landscapes!

S&D will be sure to impress you with their professional, amazing work no matter what the project is. And aren't they sweet to sponsor this giveaway???? (you should check them out if only because of that)

So yeah, one randomly chosen commenter will be the recipient of a $50 Target gift card courtesy of S&D Landscapes as a thank you for being such awesome, understanding bloggy friends!

To enter, you must leave a comment (well, duh). You may leave a comment for each of the following (to increase your chances of winning!):

1. Comment if you are a follower of my blog (or subscribe via email)
2. Comment if you like my facebook page (this is BRAND NEW!)
3. Comment if you share my facebook page
4. Comment if you grab my blog button and post it on your blog (it's in the upper right hand corner)
5. Comment if you share my blog (either on facebook, twitter or on your blog)...and this can be any of the posts
(these can be done once a day except #1 ,2 and 4)

So yeah, this is only my second giveaway ever, but like I said- boring, normal blogger

This giveaway will end on Wednesday, December 28th.

Thank you once again from Everything and Nothing from Essex...may the best most random person win!
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

rock-a-bye baby

There is nothing more amazing than a sleeping baby.

Long eyelashes brush chubby cheeks while perfectly formed nostrils gently move with each breath intake. Muffled coos come from pursed red lips while perhaps dreaming of that next feeding. A small body slowly moves up and down, up and down as air moves in and out-showing signs of life in the tightly swaddled, still form.

I stand over my baby's crib and observe all the things that I love most about him and think about how truly blessed I am that he is mine. I wish for him to be awake to smile his devilsh grin and laugh his infectuous giggle.

I can still feel his arms wrapped around my neck and smell his warm, milky breath on my cheek. My ears are ringing from previous cries which create the newest accompaniment to my life's soundtrack.

I see the red mark on his face where his sister smacked him with Daddy's shoe and the tiny bit of craddle cap that is still healing in his scalp. The intense stare down from his blue eyes and determined pushing from his strong legs as he works himself into trouble flashes to mind.

Marveling in his perfection, I thank the Lord for sending me my not-so-little baby Carter. I name each roll of fat (this takes a while) in thankfulness that he is mine to nurture and love.

I catch a whiff of my sweatshirt and realize it's still soaked in his latest vomit adventures from two hours ago and once again I think

"There is nothing more amazing than a sleeping baby."

It gives me a chance to reflect on what I love most about him (and actually miss him), but also...

It means that I CAN SLEEP...and there ain't nothin' better than that. ahhhhhhh sleep.......
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gingerbread Houses and Reindeer Babies

First of all, a giant THANK YOU for all of you who linked up(or left in the comments) a Christmas cookie exchange recipe! I know that all of you are very busy this time of year mothering, shopping and baking...so that you took the time to share your baking ideas with us means just that much more. I am leaving the linky open for ONE WEEK, so if you find yourself putting your Christmas goodies together and want to share, we would love to see!

Second of all, a while back I stocked up on two Carters Christmas outfits for the kids (I took a gamble with a 9 month one for Carter...and it fit. gulp.) Yesterday while out and about, I found two matching hats at Gymboree and completed the outfits....I found myself overwhelmed cuteness with this baby:
and this toddler:

But before I show you more of those pictures, remember the naked gingerbread house that I showed up on the cookie exchange post? Well, a decorating party, lots of laughs, time with awesome friends later...it is now decorated!

For some odd reason, I have a strange love affair with building and decorating gingerbread houses (completely from scratch). Am I good at it? nope. But every year I get better (not counting last year's that collapsed due to a rookie mistake) and every time Christmas rolls around my fingers get itching to try yet another gingerbread house.

Gingerbread house parties are one of my favorite things. (it takes two days prior to the party to prep the houses to make sure that collapsing isn't going to happen...yes I learned this the hard way)

Anyway, here is the finished product. My house is the one with the chocolate roof. (-:
The back of the houses.
When her house was starting to look more awesome than mine, things might have gotten a touch heated...(I have a lifelong struggle with a lethal dose of competitiveness)
No gingerbread house was hurt in the making of this post.

Anyway...back to the two little reindeer...
Is it just me or do they really look like siblings in this picture?
HAHAHA...I LOVE this picture.
This is how Carter sits in the Bumbo seat...he very aggressively throws his head back because he prefers to stand...he is such a stinkin' over achiever...
(Addison took off Carter's hat and then she very carefully put it back on him like this. lol)
Right about now I'm wishing that I could redo my Christmas cards...

Happy final weekend before Christmas! Maybe it's because it's unseasonably warm here for Vermont, but it doesn't seem possible that it's already a week away from Christmas!!!!


p.s. did you notice that I now have a blog button??? (Thanks to my friend, Erika) Check it out at the far top right...and feel free to share it!
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bloggy Cookie Exchange

When I cook, I tend to err towards the side of complicated...every dish in my kitchen ends up dirty in dramatic fashion...and it takes three loads through the dishwasher to finally restore order to my little kingdom (yes, I have a sign in my kitchen that reads Queen of the Kitchen...don't you?)

So, when deciding what cookie to share for today's bloggy cookie exchange, I decided to go simple because this week I've also been working on building this:
from scratch, of course (I warned you that I tend to complicate)...don't judge all of the extra frosting. I had to redo it twice because I'm challenged that way (thankful for a friend who can cut straight lines and can construct a house!)

Anyhoo, I digress, the gingerbread house will be for a different post. Today's post? I want to share the awesome SUPER SIMPLE recipe that I found online the other day. It's perhaps so simple that you all have known about it for years and it's just now that I'm catching up. But just in case you haven't heard about it...here's The World's Easiest Christmas Candy Recipe:
(I realize that's not a COOKIE...but you all get that I'm going for a concept here)
Start with a greased cookie sheet.
Lay down a row of saltine crackers.
Melt one stick of butter and one cup of brown sugar in a saucepan until gooey and then spread over crackers.
This is what it looks like if you don't cook it long enough. (not that I would ever do that. lol)
Put crackers coated in butter/brown sugar into the oven at 350 for 5 minutes.
Remove and pour on 2 cups of chocolate chips.
As the chocolate chips melt, spread around with spatula

(this dessert makes Addison make this face.crackers and chocolate are her two favorite things)
Put in freezer for 1 hour. (not Addison...the cookie sheet)
Break up into pieces and serve.
What'd I tell you? EASY PEASY....but sure to impress with the sweet/salty/candy thing going on here.

SO???? What Christmasy goodness is happening in your kitchen these days? (besides the constant wash, rinse, empty trash, make more coffee endless cycle)

Link up and grab this button:
you know you want to...
EverythingAndNothingFromEssex




It's like an actual cookie exchange...but you don't have to make a million dozen or consume 10,000 calories before lunch with all the sampling (Although I would recommend a cup of coffee while reading the posts...with lots of CREAMER of course)

If you don't have time to take your own pictures...that's OK. Just share with us the ideas you've found in a way unique to you. We're all looking for new ideas and why not have a little fun sharing?

(and if you're going to link up...consider following Everything and Nothing from Essex???? I don't bite...and even if I did, you're probably far enough away that it wouldn't matter anyway...)

Bloggy Cookie Exchange co-hosted by Chambanachik

and if you don't have a blog, you could always leave a recipe link in the comment section...would hate to have you miss out on the fun. (-:
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.
 
Minx Design
All Content © 2012
Everything and Nothing From Essex