Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silence is Golden

Oh, the sound of silence in the minivan.  It's a bea - u - ti - ful thing.  When it happens.

It seems like it has been the year of bickering in the car, so I've been putting one of my mom's tricks into practice:  The Silence Contest.  Whining?  Crying?  Hitting?  Biting?  Bickering?  It's time for a silence contest. 

I don't know why this worked with my sister and me when we were kids or why it works with my kids, but it does.  My mom used to promise a piece of gum to the person who could stay silent the longest in the car.  I don't often have gum in my purse {maybe I should, but that's another story}, so it's just the simple allure of being the winner that has to suffice.  And by some miracle, it usually does.

Today on the way home from church, there was a lot of whining and bickering, and one of the kids actually proposed a silence contest.  Of course I went right along with that idea.  All three managed to make it all the way home (almost 15 minutes) in silence with one exception.  Anna had to cough and then had to whisper-ask me if coughing counted.  Of course it doesn't, but asking about coughing does, so we had to start over.  When we pulled into the garage, I told them they all did a great job and were all winners, but Christian reminded me that Anna only got "silver" because of her interruption, and he and Ehren got "gold."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Give Us Time

Just one last birthday story... There were two girls at Ehren and Christian's birthday party this year.  They are friends of our family, so they know and love our au pair, Bara.  Anna and the girls spent a lot of time playing together at the party, but they were all clamoring for attention from Bara {yes, she's very fun}.  Finally, after Bara had been playing with the other girls for awhile, Anna said to them, "Now I'm playing with Bara, so give us time."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Stress Chess

Ehren and Christian got a game called No Stress Chess for their birthday.  When they opened it, I thought to myself, "They'll never play this."  As predicted, they went for their new Lego sets first.  But an hour later, Christian was opening the chess game, ravenous to set it up.  First he started a game with Grandpa.  Then Ehren wanted in on the action.  With a little coaching, they picked up on the moves and the strategy more quickly than some of the adults in the house.  When kitchen business threatened to shut down the game, Ehren moved it to a table of his own, so they could continue.

They played one full game.  Christian won, and they began a second.  Who knows how long they would have continued if they hadn't been interrupted by more birthday festivities with the grandparents.  {Funny side note: They kept calling the Bishop the "British."} 

The game is a perfect introduction to chess.  It's just like regular chess, except that on each turn, you draw a card that tells you which type of piece to move.  If you can't move that piece, you lose your turn.  If you can move that piece, you must make a move.  Coolest gift ever {from Mom's point of view}!  I can't wait to play with them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Birthdays (and Cakes) in Review

Wow, were these boys born {almost} seven years ago?  I must be getting old.  Continuing the cake parade from my One Cake Wonder post, here are birthdays 1-5.  You can see the years {most of them} I was tired and not too creative in the cake department.

Fifth Birthday - Ehren
{no picture of Christian w/ his cupcake due to camera problems}

Fourth Birthday - Ehren at preschool
{Crazy!  I bought them Scooby cakes from the store!}

Fourth Birthday - Christian at preschool
{Actually, we couldn't bring homemade cake to preschool.}

Third Birthday - Christian and Ehren

Second Birthday
First Birthday
{Ooohh la la, chocolate frosting from the a can!}
First Birthday - Ehren and Christian
{I had a lot of fun making this figure eight race track cake.}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Cake Wonder

When it comes to birthdays, I am a one-cake wonder.  The cake may take many shapes, but underneath, it's always my mom's devil's food cake with "Sharon's White Frosting."  Ehren and Christian's birthday is coming up soon, and tomorrow is the day they are taking birthday treats to school to share with their classmates.  Tomorrow morning, they will wake up to these little monster cupcakes:

Last year, Ehren and Christian wanted a strawberry cake, so they got this version:

Mom's Devil's Food Cake

1 c strong coffee
1 c buttermilk or sour milk (just add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar to the milk to sour it)
2/3 c oil
2 c flour
1 3/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 c cocoa
1 egg

Mix all ingredients (if the coffee is still hot, add the egg after mixing the other ingredients).  Batter will be thin.  Pour into either two round cake pans, one rectangular cake pan, or 24 cup cakes.  If using a cake pan, make sure to butter and flour the pan before adding the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes (or shorter if making cupcakes). 

Sharon's White Frosting (Sharon is my Godmother)

1/4 c sugar
3/4 c light corn syrup with vanilla
2 egg whites

Bring sugar and corn syrup to a rolling boil over medium high heat.  Stir constantly.  Let boil for about 1 minute.  Beat egg whites until stiff and pour the sugar/corn syrup mixture into the egg whites in a thin stream while beating on high speed.  Frosting will be soft.  It's a lot like marshmallow.  1-2 drops of red food coloring makes a beautiful pale pink frosting!

Wordless Wednesday: Valentine

I just love the "roots of love" on Anna's Valentine from her brother Ehren.

Friday, February 11, 2011

twenty five percent more mom

I have exciting news.  Soon we will be seeing this scene a little more often {me wrangling my three}. 

I now have signed papers in my possession that say I will finally be working part-time (instead of full-time) starting this summer!  I know this is only a small step forward for our family, but this is a major accomplishment at my office.  I have been trying to make this happen on and off for about five years.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, boss!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Miracle of the Moon

One night as we left Grandma's house, the boys ran ahead to get in the van (this was around Christmas and they were highly motivated to get home and play with their new toys).  It was a beautiful moonlit night with clouds moving through the sky.  When I came outside, Ehren and Christian were both standing beside the van saying, "Mom, Mom, look at the moon.  It's moving!  Mom, it's really moving."  I tried to convince them that is was the clouds that were moving, not the moon, but then they took it up and notch, and said, "No just look, Mom.  It's a miracle."  On my second trip back into the house, Anna overheard me laughing about this with my Mom and Bara.  She marched out and told the boys very matter of factly, "It's just the clouds moving, not the moon."  But they were not convinced.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Own Stanley Cup for Superbowl Sunday

I think we might have a new Superbowl Sunday tradition.  For the second year in a row, we were invited to our friends' house for Superbowl Sunday.  This year, we decided to play our own family hockey game before the watching the football game.  I wish I had pictures, but I forgot my camera.  Besides, I was too busy sliding around on the pond ice trying to stay upright on my skates {holding a hockey stick does help a lot}. 

It was a perfect day for pond hockey with the temperature holding at around 28 degrees {balmy skating weather and no mushy ice}.  Picture twelve of us out there skating:  a three year old, 2 four year olds, 3 six year olds, a third grader, a sixth grader, and 4 adults.  We played two games, and it was really fun.  Even Anna was out there skating around with a stick and a puck.  Thanks neighbors for a great day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One Thousand and Three

Tonight my little kisser, Christian said, "Mom, ever since I was a baby 'til now, it was 1000 kisses [that he has given me]."  Then he kissed my cheek three quick times in a row and said, "There.  1003."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Travel Notes - Cozumel Mexico

The second port of call on our recent cruise was Cozumel, Mexico.  Dan and I have been to Cozumel before.  Frankly, aside from the wonderful weather, it's not our favorite stop {it's crazy commercialized}.  The good news is that our ship docked near the town center of San Miguel, so we could take a casual stroll around the shops and restaurants without paying a cab fare. 

The bad news is that passengers are herded through a two-story, winding shopping maze when leaving the ship.  It's ridiculous.  I was so lost that for a minute, I wasn't even sure when I was out on the real street or which direction the town square was.

I had only three goals while in Cozumel:

1)  Find some wi-fi so I could check in at home and see how the kids were doing.
2)  Get the kids a souvenir.
3)  Drink one nice cold beer at a nice cheap Mexican price.

Dan was only interested in goal number 2 and 3 and then he wanted back on the ship to do some quiet poolside reading while all the other people were off the ship.  Here's how we fared.  First, we rode the escalator into Senor Frogs because they advertised free wi-fi, and of course, they have beer.  However, we didn't stay because the music was so loud that there was no way I could sit and quietly nerd out on my iPod.  It was lucky we left because on our way out I heard someone say that a drink there cost $15.

We re-focused on goal number 2 and bought the boys some Spiderman Mexican wrestling masks at a street stand.  Then, after enjoying a cold one, Dan went back to the ship, while I continued shopping.  As a woman alone, I felt like a total spectacle, but I really didn't feel unsafe.  After a lot of wandering in town, I bought Anna a pink dolphin scarf and a little dolphin bracelet at a dollar store {ok, it was a street shop that had a handwritten cardboard sign that said "dollar store"}.  Before re-boarding the ship, I wandered back to the unadventurous comfort of Starbucks for some iced tea and wi-fi.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What is That "X" Again?

Watching your kids learn is so exciting!  Here's what happened at our house the other night.  Christian saw a multiplication equation on TV, and asked me, "What's that 'x' mean again?"  I said it meant "times" but knew I had to find a way to explain it.  The boys have story problems in their homework every night, so I know how they go... I drew the picture below and said, "Here are three baskets of strawberries.  How many baskets are there?"  He answered, "three."  I wrote that down and continued, "How many strawberries are in each basket?"  He answered "two."  Going for the finish, I said, "So if I have three baskets and there are two strawberries in each one, how many strawberries do I have?"  He answered correctly, and I wrote down the rest of the equation {or number sentence, if you're a first grader}. 

I added another basket, walked him through the equation, and kept talking, hoping he was understanding the concept.  {Are you admiring my phenomenal art skills yet?}

Then I said, do you want to do a really tough one?  Of course he couldn't resist a challenge, so I drew the picture below and asked him to write the number sentence.  He wrote it immediately and with the right answer!

I asked him if he could draw his own picture with a number sentence.  He did this one, and thought it was pretty funny.  {When you're used to 1 + 1 = 2, it's hilarious that 1 x 1 = 1.}

I didn't know this stuff until third grade.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Little Milestones

Anna has had a big week.  She started "Learn to Skate" at the beginning of January.  This is where, once a week, prospective preschool hockey players learn how to skate.  {I know, crazy to put those words together:  preschool + hockey?  When I married my husband, I honestly didn't know I was going to have preschool hockey players in my house.  He's a truly amazing hockey dad.  I'm still working up to the title of hockey mom.}  Anyway, after skating, Anna burst through the door throwing her coat off and talking a mile a minute.  I was on the phone at the time and I couldn't understand anything she was was saying, but I heard, "Mom!  Mom!  Moooooommmmm!...."  After hanging up the phone and getting her to slow down, I found out that she made the leap from shuffling on the ice to actually gliding on her skates.  Father and daughter were both excited.

Then last night Dan and I took Anna to Kindergarten Roundup.  All I can say is wow, baby to Kindergarten in no time flat.  I can't believe all our kids will be in school next year!  It was fun to see her with all her future classmates.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Officially Have a First Grader

That's right.  As of tonight, Ehren is missing one of his two front teeth, so in my book that makes him look like an official first grader.  Dad (otherwise known as Dr. Dan because he fearlessly performs all the gruesome medical tasks in our house) helped him yank it right out.  Yuck.