Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 Part Three!

Once Little B arose from his nap, we headed over to my parents' house for our immediate family Christmas celebration. After my son got his late lunch in his belly, we had him open a few gifts and his stocking.

It's too bad this kiddo isn't loved.

He set to work taking apart the magnetic pyramid my dad had constructed, then walked to the kitchen to throw the pieces on the hardwood floor. Such fun!

My sister got him a pretty sweet pitch-perfect xylophone.

Which he had to get the hang of playing.

We then settled down for a Christmas eve Chinese dinner, ironically enough a tradition for both of our families. If you're in the Grand Rapids, MI area, Golden Wok's chicken with pea pods is truly scrumptious! I highly recommend it!

Then it was time to open more gifts. My dad got a tie from my sister and decided to wear it the rest of the night.

My son got a pretty sweet Melissa and Doug numbers puzzle that kept him occupied for part of the night!

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say my dad got one tie? He got two ties ... and wore them for the rest of the night.

Apparently for Little B, Christmas is all about reading books because he had people reading to him all throughout the evening.

He did take some time out of reading, however, to open a John Deere farm implement set! Now he can bring in the harvest with the best of them.

And my husband got to open more heavily-packaged gifts for Little B. Fun! Fun!

Finally, everyone else was hungry enough to bust out the cookies, and even my son got to partake of the holiday goodies thanks to Aunt Christine, designated cookie wrangler.

Spritz cookies (turned into slice-and-bakes because of spritzer difficulties), sour cream cutout cookies, almond tartlets, homemade toffee, and (my favorite) mincemeat cookies - which my sister refers to as "beef bars". Ooh, howdy!

Aunt Christine got Baylor a pretty sweet rubber block set that he was instantly itching to open!

Oh, I apologize ... did I say two ties? I meant THREE! My dad is a funny guy.

We had such a good time visiting and opening gifts with everyone. It was a little break from tradition to do it on Christmas eve, but it worked out well and we were so appreciative of my family's flexibility. Thanks again for a wonderful time, guys!

Christmas 2009 Part Two!

As many of you know, the Midwest was hit with some difficult weather this holiday season, resulting in the cancellation of some of our usual holiday activities. On the 23rd we did a little scrambling and made new plans, and all-in-all I think things turned out pretty well.

First, we took Little B to the Gardens to see the Christmas tree/winter holiday exhibit. We typically do this every year with my husband's family (parents, grandparents, aunts, etc.) but the grandparents and aunts live far enough away that the driving would be treacherous. So they stayed home, and we went with my in-laws. (Ironically enough, we had originally planned not to go this year because we had switched up some of our usual plans and would be celebrating Christmas with my immediate family. Weird how things work themselves out, isn't it?)

For some reason, every year I am drawn to the Ukraine tree. It is just so fanciful looking.

And yes, it is covered with crystal spiders and faux-cobwebs. I don't know why I like it ... I just do.

My other favorite tree, one much nearer to my heart, is the Japanese tree. My mother-in-law used to be in charge of the Christmas trees (researching the traditions, procuring decorations, and setting them up) at the Gardens, and one year she enlisted me to help make a garland out of origami paper cranes. I learned how to make them then taught a bunch of volunteers how to make them so we could create the 500 or so needed to string around the tree. I probably ended up making about 100 of them myself (with a little help from the hubby), and I love seeing them every year.

She also enlisted me to make a new star for the Japanese tree, and I am proud to say it was still up there this year!

Then we headed over to the toy train they put up every year, and let's just say Baylor enjoyed that ... immensely.

Grandma helped him explore the little model of Grand Rapids made out of natural materials.

Then he and Grandpa got back to the train for some more choo-choo viewing.

We finally made our way to the conservatory, and Little B enjoyed walking around ... staring at his feet and the cobblestone beneath them.

I just love how humid it is in that giant room ... my skin instantly perks up and feels more moist! A welcome respite from the dry skin I get this time of year.
Anyhow, I digress.
We had to keep our eye on the little man since he wasn't watching where he was going. And he isn't used to navigating even gentle hills, so the walk around the conservatory was a bit tricky for him. But, man, he enjoyed the freedom!

Then, the guys checked out some Christmas lights on a palm tree of sorts, after which we headed out.

Once home, we decided to squeeze in our family Christmas before Baylor's nap. It might not have been the best idea since he was already staring to wind down, but it was the best time we could come up with to do it. Little B could have cared less that he got crayons and bath markers, but he was pretty geeked about the giant pad of paper we got for him. Though I think he thought it was just a huge blank book.

He helped pass out gifts a smidge and just generally stood around looking cute.

And then he decided he'd had enough of opening presents, so we broke down and took turns reading him stories.

Needless to say, our Christmas eve morning was a little chaotic, but we got to spend a lot of quality time together and that's what really counts.

Christmas 2009 Part One!

My brother-in-law is a paramedic and often works during the holidays and my sister-in-law is from a small town up north, so we sometimes end up celebrating Christmas with them either a few days before or after the actual day. This year we celebrated the Tuesday before Christmas at my in-laws, enjoying a lovely pork chop and stuffing dinner and opening gifts with everyone.

While my brother- and sister-in-law took my niece and nephew to see Santa, we hung out at my mother- and father-in-law's house and Little B got to do some pre-celebration exploring. First he checked out the dishwasher, a current favorite no matter whose house he is visiting.

Then he rediscovered the Tupperware cupboard and requested a few spins of the lids.

Then Grandma indulged him in a little light switch testing in the dining room. He even got to stand on a chair! This may have been his favorite gift of the night.

After dinner, we opened presents. Last year my son was a little blob in the corner who slept through the entire celebration; this year he got to participate a bit, though he seemed to have little idea what to do with these weird, wrapped boxes. And sometimes he was more interested in what his cousins were doing.

They finally got a hole poked in the paper and Baylor just wanted a peek. That's all.

His big gift this year from Grandma and Grandpa was an Elmo construction set, complete with adorable hat!

Then he returned to his little spot near the Christmas tree for some familiar toy time.

While Daddy began his first of many wrestling matches with toy packaging this year. To all of you MSU packaging majors out there, he cursed your names all Christmas!

My niece got a Sesame Street camera that she was nuts over.

But the gift that all the kids loved and focused on was Lucia's Snow White musical dancing princess. It played a couple Christmas songs and "Hi Ho Hi Ho" while Snow White danced in a circle. Every time she pushed the button to start it, the boys would flock to it and stand in awe of the twirling figure. Too cute!

Even though the party stretched on 'til almost 10:00 p.m., the kids were generally well-behaved and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a great way to kick off the holiday festivities!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Scrumptious Saturday: Onion Roll Appetizer

We needed a recipe for an appetizer for our first Christmas get-together of the season, and this one fit the bill nicely. I will warn you, it'll stink up your house a little bit to make it ... but it's sooo good I think it's worth it. Totally worth it.

This is recipe #38806 from, so you can check out the comments section for some variations and tips if need be.
Onion Roll Appetizers
3 large yellow onions
1/4 cup butter
1 (6 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (6 oz.) package Swiss cheese, grated
1 package burrito-size flour tortilla
1. Chop onions.
2. Place in frying pan with butter.
3. Fry for 20 minutes or until onions are limp.
4. Stir in cream cheese and grated Swiss cheese.
5. Stir until melts.
6. Spread on tortillas.
7. Roll and refrigerate overnight.
8. To cook: Grease baking sheet.
9. Cut into 1" slices.
10. Bake, upright, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until lightly brown.
We read in some of the comments that baking the rolls until the onions caramelize was tasty and they were right. To achieve this, my husband flipped them part way through and just kept them in the oven until they were browned.
Some of the comments said these were light on flavor, but I thought they were excellent without any of the additions people suggested. We also put out salsa in case anyone wanted an extra kick of flavor, though I thought they were flavorful all by themselves.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Update on the Crankiness

Yup, it was his teeth. Holy mackerel, it was his teeth. I stuck my fingers in there to rub some Oragel on them that night and they were a swollen mess.

Today was better ... less crying and fussiness.

We're hopeful for tomorrow.

Have a great night!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Because Everyday Isn't Sunshine and Rainbows ...

Nope, everyday isn't sunshine and rainbows at our house. I wish it was, and I do my best to encourage it, but truth be told we have crummy, cloudy days just like everyone else.
Today has most certainly been one of those days. From the moment he got up, my little man has been unhappy. I have no idea why; it isn't anything obvious. (Yes, I have a few guesses, but nothing seems truly worthy of the level of unhappiness that has settled into my son.) There are glimmers of the usual Baylor here and there, but they have been so few and far-between today, overshadowed by crying, sometimes intense sobbing, and pouting and a LOT of "No's". No to this, no to that. No, even when he wants something. (Yeah, he's been doing this a lot lately, but today it has more attitude.)
So today has been crappy for us. I have tried to keep the calm in the house and cheer things up as best as possible, but sometimes he just won't have it. And then it's down to a hug. Sometimes you just need a hug. Either which way, we all have our days, and I have amazing hope that tomorrow will be so much better.
Hoping your day has been better than ours.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Drinking Milk ... From a Cup

Today my husband decided to try Baylor out on drinking milk from a cup. Here's how it went.

There was a lot of this (which included a decent amount of backwashing) ...

A lot of mopping up ...
Some of this here and there ...

And a whole lot of this ...

Got milk, anyone?
In the end, Little B was soaked all the way through his t-shirt and onesie, and a bit down into his pants.

Whole milk is quite sticky when it starts to dry (all milk is, really), so we decided to let Little B and Big B hop in for a quick shower! At first, Baylor was a bit tentative about the whole water-falling-from-the-sky thing, but once we gave him a cup he was a-okay!

Ah, good times!

Gift Guide: A Few Stocking Stuffers

Depending on how I do finishing up gifts this weekend, this might be my last installment of the gift guide. I had a couple others planned, but I thought I would be done finding/making gifts for people by now. Ah, the best laid plans ...

Anyhow, stocking stuffers!

First up, a nail file. This could literally be for any adult; I know women are typically the recipients of nail files, but this one is so good it could be for anyone (especially if you buy a more gender-neutral color). Crystal nail files, while more expensive than your typical emery board, are amazing little tools to have around your house. They don't dull (at least not nearly as fast as any other nail file I've come across), aren't raspy like metal files, and leave your nails as smooth as can be. They also work amazingly quickly, and if you keep up with it you can file your nails instead of trim then file them ... I've taken to doing this, and I think it has saved me a lot of time. I got mine at Hallmark, but I know lots of places are apt to sell these now; I believe there is even a version sold at Walgreen's.

This next one is great for newlyweds, new homeowners, and the like. It is a self-inking address stamp, and I was so incredibly excited when I got this beauty for Christmas last year (or two years ago ... I forget which). While it is great as a stocking stuffer, this could also be used as a housewarming gift or paired with some beautiful stationary for a friend who loves to send snail mail.

These two books were in our stockings last year, and I know I have consulted mine several times since I've gotten it after having read through it cover to cover on Christmas day. The Mother to Son one has gems in it like "Remember, your encouragement breeds confidence. It always will." and "Don't get in the habit of offering him anything in the world to make him happy, or nothing in the world will." The Father to Son book has pearls like "Don't let him quit out of frustration. He won't learn anything." and "Give him responsibility. It separates boys from men." (They also feature light-hearted fare, but I didn't want you to think it was all fluff.) They also have Mother to Daughter and Father to Daughter versions that I am sure are delightful as well!

Lastly, a pair of winter "cleats" can go a long way to preventing nasty falls that can be so prevalent during the winter season. I got these for my birthday and have kept them on my boots ever since. They would make an excellent stocking stuffer for anyone, especially those of us who have to be extra careful of falling. They look like this when they are off ...

... and like this when they are on.

Now, you do have to be careful when walking on delicate flooring with these bad boys as the cleats could easily scratch some floors, but they are easily removed as the need arises.
I hope my posts about gift ideas have been helpful to you all. While I know they lean toward practicality, sometimes that's just what we need in life. Something to help make life easier ... not necessarily more opulent or elegant. I guess that's just my style.
Anyhow, happy shopping and happy holidays to you all!