Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Tis the season.

We are in the Christmas spirit around here.

Last Christmas was fun, but I remember thinking ahead to this Christmas last year. Wondering what it would be like with two kids.....having Micah home....being all together.

And now here it is.

Our FIRST and LAST Christmas all together in our house. {There's a slim chance we could be here next year, but it's very slim}.

So I am trying to enjoy every second.

We wasted no time getting the tree up.....

It's always fun to see your kids experiencing Christmas for the first time. Finley was dazzled by all the shiny and sparkly things....

{Please excuse the runny nose...homeboy got 4 new teeth in 48 hours}.

Oh how I'm going to miss those cheeks when he grows out of them....

Meanwhile Skylar and Micah snacked on chocolate covered strawberries.....

I guess we were supposed to be munching on Christmas cookies and eggnog, but chocolate covered strawberries are a favorite in this house.

Last year Skylar couldn't get the ornaments on by herself. This year she hung her first one, and looked at me with a supremely satisfied smile and said "Well, I guess I'm a big girl now!"

She loves this little straw angel that my mom passed on from my childhood. She takes it off the tree and plays with it everyday. Actually, she spends a lot of her time undecorating the tree. We haven't outgrown that one yet.

Now all we need is some snow around here. It's been unseasonably warm in the North Country, and I'm ready for it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Rockland Bakery.

It has previously been established on this blog that:

1. The Austins are eaters.

2. We are also feeders, aka "food pushers"

3. We don't apologize for this, so just open your mouth and eat the food already. You don't have to be hungry, okay?

4. Bakeries are a BIG deal. We can sniff them out like blood hounds.

Enter the Rock-my-land Bakery.

The bakery to end all bakeries. A mecca of pastries, breads and all things delicious. Open until 10:30 pm.

So what to do on a Friday night after a couple rousing rounds of bowling?

Go to the bakery of course.

After putting Skylar to bed, and attempting to put Finley to bed, we piled into the car and took Bekah, Karen and our friend Justin to Rockland for the first time.

I had to document the occasion.

Please note the unbridled joy on Bekah's face.

Karen and Bekah were in the third row seat.

My dad drove with steely determination. Micah played music to get everyone pumped up. We relived past bakery experiences.

By the time we got there we were pumped up. Ready to pillage and plunder.

Do you hear the angels singing? I do.

First order of business, get those gloves on and get to the bread room ASAP. {Notice Micah playing it cool on the side}.

Bekah and Karen were giddy and unashamed.....

 Everywhere you look there are racks and bins of rolls, bread, bagels, pretzels, etc. Large machines spit them out fresh and warm and people just scoop them right up and put them in bags.

The choices are overwhelming.....

I could not believe there was a half-eaten loaf sitting on a rack. Shortly after I took this picture an elderly couple came over and finished it off. Who knows how many people shared it.

Behold the goods....

A little bakery lover in the making.....

Micah may have gotten carsick on the way over, but that was just a minor setback....

 Hello pastries, nice to eat you....

We got home, all grabbed forks and sampled everything.

The aftermath.....

Micah and I are currently hashing through a long list of job assignments to choose our next place to live. He thinks we should put all the jobs close to a Rockland bakery at the top of our wish list. That's how we make major life decisions....one cream puff at a time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The solo act.

 This past weekend was Skylar's first dance recital. She spends a good part of every day dancing around the house, so this was the pinnacle of her little ballet dreams.

Her biggest complaint about ballet class is that she "doesn't get to do ballet" because she has to stand in line, practice positions, stretch, etc. and it's so booooring. She thinks her class should be a dance party every week.

She doesn't get that whole "ballet takes discipline" concept.

She also finds an excuse to leave class every week so she can come out to the lobby and say hi to the parents and watch her friends on the tv monitor. They think it's hilarious. I don't.


As I was trying to get her out the door for the rehearsal she said "I don't want to be on stage with everybody watching me!" I had flashbacks to my childhood stage fright. I was a wreck before every recital I had. So I told her she would get to watch the big girls on stage dance, and she was happy to go.

I should not have worried about the glimmer of stage fright. After watching the big girls practice she couldn't wait for her turn.

That child came alive on the stage.

 A little too alive.

All 25 preschoolers were standing in a row when the curtain opened and "We are Christmas Elves" started playing. Skylar was on the far left sticking out like a sore thumb because I didn't get the memo about putting her in her Christmas costume like all the other children.

(It wouldn't have mattered if I had gotten the memo, because she didn't even HAVE a costume yet. It was up to the parents to choose the outfit. I had decided she could squeeze into last year's size 2T Christmas dress. Then I realized that wasn't going to cut it. So as of rehearsal night, there was no Christmas finery to show off anyway).

Back to the stage....

So the music starts and all the little girls just freeze. Nobody is dancing. The teachers are stage right and left trying to show them the motions and nobody is paying attention.

And then IT happens.

Skylar steps out about 3 feet in front of the line.


And then she free-styles it just like Olivia the Pig. Twirling, jumping, kicking her way all the way down the stage.

The crowd roared. But I overheard a parent say "Does she have a solo part? Why does she get a solo part?"

Um, she gave herself the solo part.

When she got to the end of the stage a teacher jumped out and put her back in line.

But she wasn't done, oh no, she was just getting warmed up.

She got right back out in front and gave a strong finish with a large dramatic bow at the end. The crowd ate it up.

Oh.my.gosh. I could have died.

I thought for the millionth time, where did this child come from?

In fact I think I must have been mumbling "that is not my child" because the person in front of me turned around and said "That's YOUR child?"

When she came down I said "Wow Skylar, that was some performance you gave."

She said very proudly "I know!"

So I asked her why she didn't stay in line with her friends and do the dance her teacher taught her.

To which she replied, "But mom, I wanted to do ballet!"

I couldn't really argue with that since clearly she was the only one on stage doing ballet.

I mean, I guess I should be proud that she took some initiative and gave a performance of some kind.

 But I still reiterated that she needed to stand next to all of her friends. And so did her teacher the next day at her lesson.

The night before the performance had me frantically driving around town collecting up materials to make a costume and then gathering and hand stitching 6 layers of sequined  and glittered tulle to her old Christmas dress to get it performance ready (all the while wishing I had just been like the other moms and ordered a dang costume off etsy).

It appears I am still the procrastinator I was in college.

The the big day came. I was a little nervous to see what kind of tricks she had up her tutu.

But she stayed right in her spot and did exactly what she was supposed to. She couldn't resist adding a nice dramatic curtsy at the end. That's my girl.

Her daddy gave her a rose:

I'm thinking she might be a born performer. Just maybe. I could be wrong. We'll see.

Her friend Maddie came to watch her. Skylar LOVED that Maddie was there.

The performance was really secondary to the fish and turtle pond in the lobby. It was the main attraction for sure.

Santa gave her a candy cane. She love love loves candy canes. And those little round peppermints that grandpas keep in their pockets. In fact, she will pick a peppermint over chocolate. Further proof that she cannot be my child.

We had to sit through an hour of ballet performances before we slipped out at intermission. Finley was Micah's ticket out. He got fussy. Luuuuucky.

We all look a little goofy in this picture. I guess ballet just really takes it out of us.....

Micah taught Skylar to do the stink-eye. So I'll leave you with that.....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Different from birth.

It's amazing how rough little boys are. Even as babies.

The things that would have scared Skylar are hilarious to Finley.

Give him two shots....not a tear.

He hits his head and he shakes it off.

Physical pain, no problem.

But try to wipe his nose or change his diaper and he flips out.

I think it's funny that acts of hygiene really annoy him. Probably until he starts noticing girls.

And he loves to wrestle with his dad.

Actually, unless he's hungry, he seems to prefer his dad most of the time.

This evening I caught them playing "attack the face":

He's such a little nut. I can't wait to see all the trouble he's going to cause around here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Important life lesson #274

Being sick and missing play dates is a bummer.

But being sick has it's perks.....

Like unlimited jello, popsicles and being able to watch lots of movies in your bed.

And something I have finally learned.....

I'm not so quick to lower fevers with tylenol or motrin anymore. (Within reason of course.) A raging fever keeps a child lethargic and resting which actually helps them heal faster, as opposed to feeling better and running around like a mad person when the meds kick in and then feeling even worse when they wear off. I was always too scared to let Skylar run a fever. But now that she's older, I kind of enjoy how mellow and cuddly she gets. And I can actually get something done too. Bonus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The chocolate chip cookie.

We have been doing a lot a lot a lot of baking around here.

It makes Skylar and I both relaxed and happy, and Micah enjoys the fruits of our labors.

I love that she is such a little cook, and hopefully she has lots of good memories from all of these hours in the kitchen together.

I've discovered so many great new things, I could probably blog recipes for two straight weeks.

But alas, this isn't a food blog remember? It's a blog about absolutely nothing. And I take that responsibility very seriously.

Since I haven't posted a recipe in awhile, allow me to introduce you to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever tried. EVER.

If you aren't a baker then this will mean nothing to you.

But for at least a dozen years I have been making the basic chocolate chip cookie. I've tried the recipes on the back of the chocolate chip bags. Fail. Always too thick, or too runny, never quite right. Same with online recipes.

And it always annoyed me that I couldn't get it quite right. How hard can a stinkin' cookie be? But it alluded me.

Then the other day I cracked open a Hershey's cookbook that someone gave me many years ago and I confess I have never used before.

I had low expectations.

But then..... 

Not only did they look exactly right, they had the perfect texture.

Like the kind of giant cookie you would pay way too much money for at Starbucks.

Then I made more to make sure it wasn't a fluke. It isn't.

I feel triumphant.

So here's the recipe in the off-chance that this is as exciting for you as it is for me....

Giant Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

I won't tell you how to mix it all together, I'm sure you know what to do. Bake at 350. 10 minutes for smaller cookies, 15 for the giant kind.

Then do a victory dance around your kitchen!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Little Mermaiding"

My brother Josh is currently working in Asia. He recently made a request.

Well Josh, the people have answered.

In a show of support, your incredibly dorky cool and agile family did some "Little Mermaiding" just for you....

Micah took a break from bagging leaves.....

Then we all went to the park, and that's when the fun really began.

Mother mermaid.....

I risked life and limb to achieve the greatest heights the playground could offer.

And we may have thrown in a few extra poses.

I bring you, The Dead Cockroach.....

Micah was by far the most eager mermaid. He got really into it.....

Ooops, that would be a plank, not a mermaid....

And still another plank (I told you he got really into it)....

And now for the littlest mermaid.....

The end.


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