Monday, December 31, 2007

What a trip

We're back and we survived. Although not the worst trip to my in-laws, not one of the better ones. Claire spent the night before we left throwing up (Ben had the stomach virus about a week before and it's been going around school). We were about to cancel our trip, but by morning she seemed to be doing better. When I mentioned that we might not be going, the older ones were very sad and Ellie cried. I called my SIL and she said her parents were in good health and that we should still come. I was worried of sick children in the car, hotel, etc. but we went ahead.

On the way down we stopped at Rock City to enjoy their Christmas lights. We had visited this summer-first time for the kids-and they were very excited. We got very wet from rain and mist, but the kids really enjoyed themselves once again. Sunday night Trent and I got to go to the Melting Pot restaurant for a date and that was nice. We have one here, but we have to find a babysitter, pay the babysitter and pay for the Melting Pot, which is not cheap. At least down in Georgia we have free babysitters. Well, we don't have to pay them money, but it comes at a cost in other ways!

Early Monday morning Ellie was the next one to get sick. Fortunately she's older than Claire and able to aim a bit better. I stayed home with her most of the day while Trent and the kids went here and there. On Christmas Day Trent was the one who was sick and I had to take the kids, by myself, to the family part of Christmas. This would be fine if it were my family, but it's not and they never seem to really know what to do with me when Trent's not there. At least the kids had fun.

The most stressful part of the trip, other than sickness, was my MIL. She refuses to cook any meat using a meat thermometer or put any kind of leftovers away within the two hour window recommended to prevent food poisoning. Christmas dinner leftovers were left out for over 8 hours and then she proceeded to heat them up a few days later and serve them for dinner. This is where part of the stress comes in. Do I let my children eat those leftovers and take the chance of making them very ill, but not hurt her feelings (which isn't hard to do anyway) or do I put my foot down and say I will not risk my children's health?

Well, I took the risk and said a prayer. Most of the foods were not my children's favorites so they didn't eat most of them. She did make a fresh roast, but again the dilemma-no meat thermometer. Then she didn't cook it long enough so it was extremely rare and bloody. I had to microwave each of my children's meals to make sure they were safe to eat. That upset her and made her cry. UGH. She then put the roast back in the oven at 200 degrees and cooked for a long time after that, but at that temperature she was just inviting bacteria growth. After a few more hours, she asked me, "Do you think it's done?" to which I said, "I don't know. I always go by what the meat thermometer says." This is what I always tell her when she asks me if the meat (whatever she's cooking) looks done. She has a meat thermometer, I know she does, because I gave her and every other female member of my husband's family one for Christmas one year, along with literature on safe food handling practices. She still has the thermometer, just refuses to use it. When I question her about that or leaving out leftovers for extended periods of time, she just says, "Well my mother/MIL did it and we never got sick." How they manage to keep doing that and not get sick is beyond me. My husband has had severe food poisoning (from a restaurant) and I have had to witness the dehydration and seizures that accompanied it and so I am very careful!
On a happier note, here we are the day before we came home at the World of Coke in Atlanta. None of us had been to the new one they built this past year (?) so we decided to go. We were going to go to the zoo, but it had been raining and Ben didn't think that was very exciting, so we decided to go to the World of Coke instead. My children really had a fun time. Of course Ben would drink coke every living moment if we let him, so he was in heaven. Here Macy and he are waiting to go into the 4D movie:
I did manage to do a bit of knitting. Here are some socks I started working on for my daughter Ellie. They are the second pair I've ever made (well, they're not finished yet, but hopefully will be soon) and the first I've used double pointed needles. I bought two sets of sock sticks for a Christmas present for myself (so I could knit two socks at the same time) and I have already broken one of the needles-UGH! They are not cheap! The first pair of socks I made were for my husband and I used two circular needles. That was fun, but I wanted to try this way too. I'm using some kind of yarn that makes the stripes and designs for you. They are acrylic, so I don't really care for how they feel, but Ellie likes them. I just need to finish the feet and do the toes.
If you stuck with me this long, thanks. Sorry about the venting! I keep telling myself "what is one or two weeks out of the year?" and my children love going to Georgia so much. At least I won't have to go this summer, since I'll have the new baby. I stopped going when they were so young after taking Ben and the conflicts that caused (another post for another time). Trent will go with the four older ones by himself and they'll have a grand time. That means I won't have to stress for another year. :)

Here's hoping you all have a fun, non-stressful and food safe 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cookies

In just two days we will be leaving for Georgia to visit my in-laws, but for the last few days I've been frantically trying to bake half batches of several different kinds of cookies to take with us on our trip (we'll be driving-ugh). The above cookies are a new venture for me this year. I got them from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. They are a slightly sweet, very soft cookie with a colored egg wash. After you bake them, you add a powdered sugar/milk/egg white frosting to accent. Her's were much prettier to look at than mine, but my children helped with the painting of these cookies and my icing was too thick and hard to squirt out of my piping tip to really make it do what I wanted. As far as eating, I really enjoyed these cookies, as I'm not fond of very sweet sugar cookies. These were just the right amount of sweet for me. If you like a very sweet sugar cookie, these are not for you.

In addition to the above cookies, we made chocolate chip, shortbread, chocolate peanut butter chip, Oatmeal raisin (my husband's favorite), oatmeal scotchies and Chocolate Peppermint Drops. The chocolate peppermint drops were a new favorite from last year. This is only the third time I'm made them. They are very good right out of the oven and the first time I made them they were moist, brownie like and wonderful. My husband and I agreed they were a fairworthy cookie and I saved some candy canes to replicate them this past year at the fair. Unfortunately they were not fairworthy when I made them a second time. They were fine right out of the oven-delicious even, but by the next day they were awful. They were chewy and just wrong. So of course I didn't enter them. Although not awful, they weren't as wonderful this time either. Better tasting, but still chewy and kind of tough. Luckily we ate a bunch right out of the oven and since I only made about 2 dozen, they are almost gone.

I've been trying not to eat too many as anything sweet has made me very ill this pregnancy. I will say though the Pioneer Woman's sugar cookies have been worth the risk. Maybe because they aren't too sweet? All I know is that I just ate four and hope to go to bed in the next 15 minutes or so before the resulting nausea hits me. I think it's okay to eat four at one time since I found out I lost 3 pounds at my midwife appointment and it's a bit too early for me to be losing weight. So I'm just trying to play catch up. At least that's my story. :)

One last parting shot of my youngest Claire. She was very quiet this past Saturday and I wondered what she was doing. She filled up a laundry tub with sheets of stickers, sat inside the tub and proceeded in applying the stickers to the inside of the tub. Why can't they do anything like just read a book when they're off being really quiet? At least now we have a very decorative laundry tub-on the inside anyway.I hope everyone has a nice couple of weeks. I will be glad when we're back from Georgia. Except for all the smocking and knitting I will have a chance to do, along with a date or two with my husband, I don't enjoy the trip very much. My children, on the other hand, love going to visit my husband's family, so I will have to let that be good enough for me! Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

A gift for an Angel

A Salvation Army angel that is. I made this dress for their angel program. Every year Ellie's preschool picks several children through the Salvation Army's Angel program to provide clothes and toys for the holidays. I asked if they thought it would be okay if I made something and they said yes. Our angel was the same size as Ellie so it was nice to see if everything would fit. Just perfect with room to grow.

Ellie helped pick out the material from my stash (a pink sweatshirt knit from All I had to get was the butterfly applique since I don't have an embroidery machine and wanted to add something to liven up the dress. Pattern is Kwik Sew 2708. It was very easy to sew up-much easier than Macy's dress. It was the fabric.

I would definitely enter this in the fair if I were to keep it. I think I'll enter Macy's dress that I gave her for her birthday. Remember her coat? It already has ink stains and a big black smudge from who knows where. If those don't come out, it's not going in the fair. That's why I like to make most of my items in July before anyone has a chance to wear them and ruin them for the fair!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Den Flag Completed

This is not the best picture, but here it is finished. I wanted to have my children hold it up, but they were busy doing other things today. I put it on the floor and stood on a chair to get the picture.

As I mentioned before, I got help/ideas/suggestions from Mary. I actually found her site while googling the words den flag or cub scout flag-I don't remember which. She was nice enough to write to me and post an extra post about her flag making experience. There's not much out there. So if you look at her flag, you'll see some similarities. I did make a couple of mock ups for the boys to vote on and the above design is what they chose.

I wish I could say this went as planned or smoothly, but of course that would be too easy! I had this great idea that I would have the boys draw pictures of what they liked about scouting on paper, scan those in and then print them out on fabric that I had soaked in Bubble Jet Set. I would then apply the fabric to the flag and outline the pictures with yellow ribbon. I had been wanting to try out the Bubble Jet Set ever since I read about Rowena using it to make dolls for her daughter.

I already had the Bubble Jet Set. Soaked the fabric (although not as long as I was supposed to because I hadn't read the directions in a while), let it dry and then ironed it onto freezer paper. So far, so good. Then I tried to use it in my printer. Sometimes it worked, but more often it didn't. The paper/fabric would jam, get folded over or get these black streaks. The colors were just okay. I could see I would need a plan B. So I thought about it and remembered I had some iron on transfers I had tried after reading about Debbie using them to make T-shirts for her sons. They worked like a charm! I applied them to the fabric I had left over (but hadn't soaked) and then cut them out and applied as planned. The colors were much more vibrant and the pictures turned out really well. Here's Ben's (the invisible man is camping and roasting marshmallows apparently):

My application of the pack and den numbers is a little off, but hey, that's the story of my life. I told my husband you won't notice from a galloping horse!

I'm glad that's done, although I'm glad I volunteered to do it. I'm still waiting on one more picture and hopefully can add that by next week. It will go in the blank space above the pack number.

I just finished a dress for the adopt an angel program my daughter's preschool participates in this time of year. I want to apply a bit of embellishment and hope to have that up by tomorrow.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm famous!

Okay, I'm not really famous, but I did get a little blip posted in our local newspaper, a little publication called The Washington Post.

In the metro section they have a column called page three which appropriately enough is on page three of the metro section. It covers all sorts of topics that people write in about with their personal experiences-random acts (of kindness), observations and one I submitted for called "What Bugs Me". Without further delay here's the blip (it's the very first one!):

Put on hold at a Parent-Teacher Talk

You may have to register to see it, but it's free and I haven't been bugged with spam or anything so it should be safe.

Hopefully by tomorrow or the next day I will post a picture of the den flag I've been working on for my son's cub scout troop. Special thanks to Mary for giving me tips from her den flag making experience.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Chocolate!!!

It has been a rough couple of weeks with the goings on with life. Mainly feeling poorly with nausea, tired with running around for all the things I have to do just being a wife and mother and to top that off a particularly contentious woman who I should be grateful to for taking over my daughter's brownie troop next year (since I will have a hard time being the leader with a baby) but instead she has been the bane of my exsistence. She has caused me all sorts of grief and in the end I will be unceremoniously pushed out and really who will care as long as there is a troop for everyone's daughter.

What does that have to do with Christmas chocolate? Nothing, but today was the first day that my children were able to start opening their Chocolate Advent calendars. Each year I go to Trader Joes and get these for my kids. I think I do it because one year someone gave one to me when I was a child and I loved it. My children are no different. It's amazing how a $1.00 worth of cardboard and chocolate can make someone so happy. It's all they've been able to talk about since I got the calendars last week. Godiva has nothing on these chocolates let me tell you. The fun of watching my children write their names on their calendars, search for the number one, wrestle the little spot open and popping out that chocolate was just what I needed.

On top of that, today was the secret shop run by my daughter Macy's old preschool. This is the fourth year we've participated and my children love it so much they talk about going as early as January! They love getting presents for Christmas, but not as much as they love going to that shop without my husband or me and buying presents for us and the rest of the family. They are so excited and can hardly wait to give everyone what they bought. You can tell they are thinking about what they bought by the way they get all giggly and keep looking under the tree. Most of the gifts are handmade, although nothing fancy, but it gives my children an inexpensive way to give presents to everyone in the family. I've had the hardest time keeping them away from the packages which are now stored under the tree.

Now if I could only get that silly woman out of my head. Compared to Christmas chocolate and presents picked especially for me by my children who is she?