Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow fun - because we need more of that

We got two more inches of snow last night - just what we REALLY needed. Kind of like a swift kick in the backside after a tough workout with a nasty Hessian trainer.

The upside of this new snow was that it was the wet kind. The kind that's good for things like snowball fights and snowmen.

So we all bundled up and headed outside so M1 could attempt to prove his 7-year-old manliness to Oz.


RUN, boy, RUN!

Needless to say, M1 has a long way to go before he's besting Daddy at snowball wars.

M2 wanted to build a snowman. I tried to help, but I have a small problem called Chronically Cold Hands, and when you combine Chronically Cold Hands with No Decent Gloves, you get a serious case of Painfully Red Fingers in No Time Flat. So I went inside to thaw out my hands and Oz took over snowman duty. Ain't he wonderful?
M2 supervised the entire process. She's good at supervising. It skeers me a little sometimes, because she's so good at supervising that she has, on many an occasion, conned her brother and/or other kids in her class into doing her chores/classwork for her.

The unskeered part of me is proud as punch.
"See? I'm watching the snow lady while Daddy goes to get eyes!"

And for those of you wondering where my daughter's eyes actually are, they're behind her hair. One day I'll figure out how to keep her sheepdog tendencies under control while she's wearing a coat with a hood. It bugs me, too.
Sheepdog Girl and Daddy with their be-yew-ti-ful snow lady.

And what was M1 doing while M2 and Oz were working?

Why, he had been inspired to build his own snowman, of course. Never mind that he'd said he didn't want to build a snowman not 10 minutes before. Once his sister had one, he had to have one, too.
Pretty ingenious if you ask me. He got his own picture with his own snowman AND managed to figure out a way not to have to wear gloves. Clearly, he does not have Chronically Cold Hands.

Now... while we were outside... the cats started clammering at the door.

And even though we'd already had one proper Cat Toss this season, I figured if they were ASKING for it...

...it was only sporting to give them what they asked for, right? Hermes, by the way, did not actually appreciate another sojourn into the snow. Neither did Vixen.

Tempest, on the other hand, who tossed herself into the snow last time, got tossed properly this time and then jaunted across the yard just to show what a total Queen Cat she is, got halfway to her favorite scratching tree, stopped, realized that her paws were now in fact Chronically Cold and also very wet, started shaking them, and then came over to be brought back into the safe, warm house.

It's good to know that there are other species who appreciate a warm house as much as I do!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blizzard in Oklahoma - Evidence and Aftermath

So, I'm sure you remember yesterday when I mentioned that we were having a wee bit o' a blizzard around here. We were fortunate and didn't lose power, though some folks down the street did. When we lose power, we're usually without it for quite a while since our electric company has the majority of its customers in an entirely different metro area and prefer to get them back online first.

Where's the justice, I ask??

However, since our lights were shining all night long, I was able to get a few good shots of the sleet/snow/wind as it blew in from what seemed like all directions for many, many hours. The shots yesterday were taken at about 1:30 p.m.


By 3:30, the snow had blown in and the wind was kicking up. Those horses you see are the neighbor's, and they're not that far away. The wind was just blowing the snow that much!

By 6:30 p.m., the front porch had a fair amount of snow on it, and the steps were pretty well-covered.

By 9:45 p.m., the steps were officially covered and the snow had drifted... seriously drifted.

The drift was so big it extended all the way across the front of the house and past the garage, blocking the gate to the back yard quite effectively.

Did I mention my porch faces south? South. I've seen rain blow in from the south but never snow. This was a first for me. Oz got a kick out of it.

One last huzzah for the snow before it finally gave up the ghost around 11. All in all, for our neck of the woods, it was quite a long snowstorm.

When we got up this morning, Christmas morning, this is what we found. That snowdrift was nearly 30 inches tall. There were 'dunes' of snow across the yard, so in one spot you'd be standing in 2-3 inches of snow. Then you'd take two steps to the left and be up to your knees. Thank heaven Mama has a good pair of snowboots!

Despite the fact that it was Christmas Day (and yes, there are pictures of gifts and food forthcoming), the children thought it would be delightful to go out in sub-freezing temperatures and test out the snow.

The kittens weren't as thrilled about the concept, but they got tossed in, anyway. Since I was participating in the tossing, no pictures of this are available, but let me assure you that it is officially hilarious to watch a fuzzy gray kitten get balls of snow in her tail and try to twitch it in anger. MOST amusing.
M1 wasn't too sure about this whole 'deep snow' bit. He's my cautious one and had to test every step before he'd go there. This theory only worked until he realized that you sink a lot deeper when you finally put your full weight on the foot in question.

M2, on the other hand, bounded her way into snowdrifts that she couldn't get out of without help. I think I spent as much time hauling her OUT of the dunes as she did getting INto them. She was a most enthusiastic snow angel maker, even if she did only make one to her brother's very scientifically and strategically-located two.

Still testing out the 'waters.' I'd have snowman and snow fort pictures to show except this snow was perfect powder, horrid for snowballs and snowmen. Skiers - eat your heart out.

Off to watch M1's new Wallace & Gromit movie and eat popcorn and red velvet cake for supper! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve, in all its blizzardy glory

First of all, to those who comment on my blog, either once in a while or more regularly, I appreciate it! Thanks! It's nice to know my blog is being read :)


I went to bed last night thinking that today was going to be a horribly busy day.


I had to do things like...


three loads of laundry...



make and frost a red velvet cake...

clean the house...

and just generally get ready for about 15 people to descend on my house on Christmas Day for the traditional Christmas fried turkey, ham, stuffing, and all the other fixin's.

The Powers That Be, however, had other ideas.

I woke up to this:

A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6:00AM CST FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25
Issued: Thursday, December 24, 2009 2:21 PM CST
Expires: Thursday, December 24, 2009 10:30 PM CST

Wait... BLIZZARD.

That's not a word we use around here, ya know.

I had to check again. I still didn't believe it, so I did the laundry and made the cake and even conned Oz into helping me clean the entire house, just in case the Powers That Be were wrong.

By the time I got most of the house cleaned, though, this was happening to my front yard...

and this to my back yard...


And that was a couple of hours ago. Now the radar looks like THIS...

The pink is sleet/freezing rain, and the blue is snow of varying intensities.

Methinks we'll be having a White Christmas Sans Visitors this year. As long as we have power, I'm okay with that!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Baking: Scourge or Savior?

Every year, I make bread for the family. I make three different recipes - pumpkin, cranberry (with or without nuts), and banana (with or without nuts), and everyone gets to pick what they want. It's a LOT of work, and I seriously contemplated NOT making the bread this year. Seriously contemplated it. It takes a whole day to make 40+ mini-loaves of bread, a whole day that I could spend playing with the kids two or three days before Christmas. It's hard work.


On the other hand, everyone in the family loves the bread. I once made the "mistake" of making molded chocolates instead, and everyone asked for the bread back. That was heartwarming. And... and this is seriously horrid but true... it also means I don't have to worry about findings presents for everyone in years we don't draw names. I'm not good at coming up with gifts to begin with, but finding gifts for everyone is a herculean effort. I make the bread even in years when we do draw names, but it's more crucial when we don't.

A few tips, though: When grating the peel for oranges, don't grate your thumb as well. And when chopping cranberries, don't forget the cut you already had on another finger. Both of those kinda sting a bit!

This year, I have also discovered the world's best recipe for cinnamon rolls. It came out of a cookbook from... 1923. That's right, 1923. From before my grandmother was born. I found the cookbook at a flea market, and to complete the wonderfulness of this find, it came from the small town where my grandmother and mother both went to college! It's a fantastic little cookbook, complete with terms like "mango" for bell peppers. Did I mention it has the world's best recipe for cinnamon rolls? They're perfect - squishy soft in the middle and just hard enough on the outside to be right. Tasty. Wonderful. Just perfect.

And between the knowledge that I'm giving the family something they really want for Christmas and the ability to finally make perfect cinnamon rolls, Christmas baking is, in the end, actually worth it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snowflakes!

If only they were real! I haven't seen a single snowflake in real life this year, and it's driving me batty. Usually we get at least one good snow before Christmas, but we got nuttin'. El Paso, Texas? Snow. Southern Houston? Snow. Northeastern Oklahoma? Zilch.

Grr. I need snow to do some good ol'-fashioned cat tossing! It's a tradition here - all cats get tossed into the first snow of the season. It would be cruel if we didn't gather them right back up and haul them back in for treats.

But anyway... snowflakes.

Oz is in charge of snowflake making. M2 still needs help, but M1 is pretty self-sufficient. We hang them all on the wall and add to the collection each year.


Oz always starts by reminding the kids of the 'rules' - don't cut the sides off, and make small cuts.

M2 had help from Mama to make hers - she'd make the first cut, and I'd finish whatever shape she wanted.

M1 slaved for ages on his. It did come out very well in the end, clever little booger.

Even Oz made a couple.

If even half of these traditions get passed along to my children's children someday, I'll be a proud woman!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas lightseeing!

One more thing that we do every year is visit the lights at Rhema. There are millions of them, some set to music, all gorgeous. They work for months setting these up and testing them, all for the Christmas season. They light 'em up right at Thanksgiving. They're gorgeous, and it's all done by folks at the school for no profit! Absolutely wonderful.


We try to go every year. Some years it doesn't happen, but most years it does.

Usually we go with my in-laws, and this year was no exception.

There was supposed to be a violin recital for M2 before we visited tonight, but that got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, so we went early - and even then, it was still frigid!

In addition to the parts you can walk through, there are also parts that run alongside the driveways that run around the campus, bits like the Nativity or a representation of Noah's Ark. I didn't get decent pictures of those, though. Hard to take photos with six people in a moving vehicle.

Still, it's a gorgeous place, and I hope my children are one day able to bring their children.

Traditions should last.

Feast time, Greek edition

Remember our African feast? The kids do! So when M1 started studying the ancient Greeks as part of history and Mama said we were going to have a Greek feast, they got VERY excited. Oz was slightly less than excited since's not a fan of feta, yogurt, and many other Greek cuisine staples, but he was willing to try what I made. I could have really gotten into it and had the kids wear togas, but I think I'll wait till we have a Roman festival to do that - besides anything else, this meal was set for the same day we did the cookie decorating, and there was no way I was managing all of the above! Life's crazy enough as it is.

The first thing I made was spanakopita.


It took a little while to make, but YUM. I could not stay out of them. They reheat well, too!


These were the cookies I made to go with the meal. They're traditional Greek cookies called kourabiethes apparently typically made at Christmastime, and they have - wait for it - brandy in them!

I also made some souvlaki with tzatziki. Oz tentatively agreed to try the tzatziki even though yogurt is on his list of theings he absolutely despises (it's a long list, but I do try to accommodate). His verdict? "It's edible!" Did I mention he also doesn't like mint, which was also in the tzatziki? I take this as high praise.

Here was the table with the meal all laid out. I also served some Kalamatas and plain black olives and got a bottle of sparkling purple grape juice. M1 even made place cards with our names written in Greek! He was delighted at his contribution. The kids now think we're going to move to Greece in a few years. I think I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

COOOOOOkieeees

Yet another tradition around here - do we have enough? - is decorating sugar cookies. If I was a good blogger, I'd have taken photos of the cookie-making process, but when you're up to your elbows in dough and are busy dashing back and forth from one kid to another trying to help mix, roll, cut, breathe, blink, and NOT slip on the flour that decorates your dining room floor like an indoor snow blanket... cameras don't come in handy. In the end, though, the cookies got made (yes, I realize I could buy the dough, but the kids like making them from scratch almost as much as they like eating them), and not all of them fell apart lol. Only a few. Darn casualties of war. They were, naturally, put out of their misery as soon as possible.

Can't have any amputees.

Now... normally... I help decorate. I help spread the icing, help with the sprinkles, help make sure that the kitchen stays just this side of unsanitary should DHS randomly show up at my door... normally. (In other words, normally I care.)

This year, I got out all the sprinkles, food markers, icings, and spreaders, sat the kids down, handed them their containers of cookies, and said, "Have at it!"

The kids thought I had lost my mind at first and just sat there, waiting, thinking that at any moment Chaos Mommy is going to go back to whatever planet she came from and OCD Mommy will be back.

That's what they get for thinking. I do love mind games.

Eventually M1 picked up a spreader...

"Like this, Mom?"

"Whatever, son... it's your cookie."

The amazement was palpable.


M2 quickly caught on. I provided a place for them to take their cookies when they were done and told them to let me know when they needed some wax paper in between the layers, which they did. I even provided wet paper towels for my touch-sensitive boy who didn't like the feeling of icing all over his fingers (M2 had no such qualms and was quite the little mess by the time she was done).

Speaking of mess, this is about three cookies in. The mess DID procreate exponentially, and when Oz showed up right as they finished, his eyes nearly bugged out of his head at the size of the mess. I'm not sure whether that was because he didn't expect the mess to be that big or if he just didn't believe me when I told him on the phone that the kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off. Either way, the reaction and the mess were both spectacular.

The cookies are, too. Nom nom nom...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Decorating, Act the Second

My Christmas Elf prompted Oz to get up and around this morning so we could finish our decorating today. The first order of business was to find the rest of the decorations. Oz was quite sure that he had gotten everything out until I started listing off all the missing decorations.


Another trip to the attic in the garage showed that these boxes had gotten shoved back into the nether regions of the attic where we don't often get.

I appreciate the great lengths that Oz went to for my decorating efforts.
Like funding my trips to Yankee Candle. Like bookstores and craft stores, candle stores are a place I should never be trusted.

So we got the lights up. It's a pre-lit tree, but we always add a couple strands of colored lights as well. Each strand has its own flashing pattern, so it's a very twinkly tree by the time we're done.

We also add a strand of red beads. These beads have survived several moves and were one of the first decorations that Oz and I purchased for ourselves when we were first married.

They have history.
Then M1 and M2 broke into their boxes and started hanging their decorations. They're both getting so big now that it's hard to convince them that they DO, in fact, have to hang things near the bottom of the tree. They want to hang everything right up at the top. If it was up to them, there'd be one ring of ornaments about 2/3 of the way up the tree and none anywhere else.

I also had to convince them that some ornaments have to go around the back.

It does always come out looking good in the end. This was immediately after it was finished. It won't look like this tomorrow, I can assure you. How do I know? See that black blob underneath the tree? That'd be a kitten. Specifically, it'd be a kitten that thinks trees are for climbing and sleeping in and ornaments are for batting around and chewing on.

The tree cannot survive Onslaught of Kitten.

It was M2's year to put the star on the top of the tree. This star is a survivor of many years as well, and it's the only ornament that Oz really cares about. He picked it, and he likes it a lot.

After the star went up, the stockings got hung. Stockings are always the very last Christmas decoration to go up, and the kids can't wait to write their wish lists for Santa this year.

They grow so fast! I remember when they couldn't write at all! Soon they'll be too big to write letters. Time to hold on to them as tightly as possible!