Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Santa arrived in Big Bend National Park on Engine number One.. Sam learned to say Santa, but he was a bit more fascinated with the truck he rode in on than the jolly red guy himself. Posted by Picasa

Awyn wanted to see the man behind the beard, I think. She kept looking up at him. Isn't she adorable in her new pink fur coat? She didn't cry. Neither did Sam, but he was more interested in the fire truck. Posted by Picasa

Sam wasn't too sure about sitting on Santa's lap. He kept reaching out for daddy. Posted by Picasa

All these kids were lining up to see Santa! They were keeping our Santa's identity a secret. Eric says we might also be able to call him Romaldo, but I don't think we'll tell Sam that... Posted by Picasa

Sam got a chance to drive Santa's fire truck. Posted by Picasa

Sam gets to turn on the hoses Sam was very fixated on the fire truck that brought Santa. Posted by Picasa

A boy and his dog. Tasha was providing incentive for Sam to take a nap in his bed. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Sam pops out of the dryer. I posted a still picture of this earlier, and I wanted to add the video. For those of you who seem to have trouble with zippyvideos, I'm sorry, but my e-mail won't let me send this around. I can try again, but it's a 5+ megabyte file.

Sam discover's daddy's cape. It's too long for him and he keeps tripping over it. He was asking for a cape, so I pulled Eric's out of the closet. I guess I need to make him a new cape for Christmas. I have lots of shiny red satin. Eric says I have to put an S on the back. Posted by Picasa

After a morning of lots of play Sam finally takes a nap. We've been having some sleep issues. We're trying to get a routine going again, but Sam just doesn't want to miss anything. He was actually curled up with a pair of Awyn's socks here. Posted by Picasa

A Late Thanksgiving...

While Thanksgiving is past, for some reason today I am feeling a little more thankful than I was on Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for lots of things, ordinary and not so ordinary. Obviously, I'm thankful for my kids, husband, parents, siblings, etc. Not to short-change them or anything, but they aren't what put me in the mood, I just want you to understand that I do appreciate them, especially everything they do for me. Eric is a fantastic husband. This post just isn't about him.

I was thinking about friends. I have a lot of friends. That's something that I actually have to stop and think about from time to time when I feel lonely, or neglected. I really do have lots of friends who care a lot about me, and take care of me when I need it, sometimes listening for hours when I'm going on about something, ranting or raving. Friends have made having children much easier than it could be. Friends have thrown me baby showers and provided a lot of needed clothing and equipment for my babies. One friend, Alisha, even re-painted her daughter's crib, delivered it, and set it up for me and Sam. Did I mention we had been living in Arkansas and she drove from Louisiana with her three children? She also painted and decorated Sam's bedroom. I still miss that room, she did such a great job! She gave me a baby carrier, a swing, and the list can go on. Friends combed garage sales for baby clothes. They sewed things for my babies. Friends have cared for Tasha on numerous occasions when we've been out of town. Our friend Sherrie has even taken care of her when we were just visiting Kansas. I lived in her basement for a semester rent-free, and while I was supposed to be helping her out around the house, I doubt I was much help. From Sherrie I learned about doing thoughtful things for those I love, no strings attached. Something as simple as getting up off the couch and getting a coke for my son/brother/sister/husband/friend just because they asked, even if they know where the coke is, and are in no way handicapped. It's just because we love them.

I don't have everyone's address, but I'm trying to get Christmas cards to all of you. Christmas cards to me are more than just a newsletter or pretty card or family portrait. They are a way of saying, "Thanks for being my friend!" I love getting Christmas cards. I love sending Christmas cards. Every year I write a newsletter, and I even put it in the first person instead of the third person, as if I wasn't the one writing the letter. Yep, it's me, the Liz in Eric, Liz, Sam, and Awyn. Obviously Sam, Awyn, and Tasha have a little trouble, as they are illiterate so far. Eric does the editing and corrections. He does enought newsletter and newspaper stuff with work that he gets a little burnt out in the publications department. But he's an excellent proof-reader and keeps me from going off too far on a tangent. (Gee, can you tell he doesn't do my editing for my blog?) The easiest way to get Christmas cards is to send Christmas cards. Eric and I have yet to get to the point where we are sending out so many cards that we have to start culling our list back, pruning away the names and addresses of those who don't send cards back. As we've slipped in past years, we are fairly understanding of those who simply are bad about cards. We also use our cards as a way to confirm our address and contact information so that everyone has the latest updates. Some years that can change a lot, as you might have noticed. Two years ago, as we were sending out cards, our address was to change the following month. We'd already sent out half our cards before we knew about Eric's transfer, and in our little newsletter we talked all about the house we'd just bought and our plans for staying put for a few years. Then we moved. Sigh. So keeping up with us can be a real challenge.

We have friends who move without providing forwarding addresses too. I've even sent out a Sam-Spam to everyone on our address book to try to confirm addresses, and I've really had a lack of response. A few have replied, but many of the people it was aimed at didn't reply. Some I know are bad about checking e-mail and won't read it for a few months. Others haven't kept us current on e-mail addresses, so they didn't get the original message anyway. In fact, one of the big reasons we quit sending regular Sam-Spams is because our list of addresses was so big that we had a hard time pulling the bad addresses. On average we get back around 20 wrong addresses or full in-boxes or the like. I have friends in Japan who wrote their forwarding address so badly that every year I try writing in different numbers in hopes that one of these years I'll get it right. Half her postcard was written in Japanese, and I'm way too rusty to read it. It's been long enough that we aren't getting forwarded mail from Arkansas anymore, so I doubt they'll get another card to us.

So, if you are reading this blog, you probably have already provided us with an address. If not, Thank you. You are still my friend. I doubt there is anything in the newsletter that you can't get from reading my blog. I'm not pregnant, Awyn and Sam are it for two legged children, and we aren't planning on moving in the near future.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

Today I made a roast chicken with lots and lots of garlic. It's pretty simple, really. A whole chicken, put into a dutch oven, along with three bulbs of garlic broken up, some fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and something else that I can't remember), and just over a cup of dry white wine. Oh, and rub the poor bird down with some salt and pepper. I over-baked it a little, but it was still fairly tender and tasty. We were smooshing the garlic cloves onto the slices of chicken. Yum.

Eric is putting laundry away, Awyn is snoozing in my arms because she won't sleep otherwise. Sam went to bed around 9. Last night our low temp. was 14 degrees. Brrrrr. It didn't break 60 today, outside or inside the house. We are debating on turning on the furnace tonight. The only problem with that is that we'll have to find all the vents, make sure they aren't blocked, and change the filter on the furnace. We also need to start addressing our Christmas cards and finish our Christmas shopping so we can get it all shipped.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finally, I post a picture of the new TV. it's huge, bigger than I expected. It fit into the cabinet by about a 1/4 inch. We're still learning about the different settings. Regular format movies can either be stretched, left alone, or modified. And we've discovered that widescreen isn't a universal ratio, some movies have a wider aspect ratio than others. So depending on what we're watching, it can take up the whole screen, have black bands top/bottom, or grey bands on the sides. Posted by Picasa

Another Awyn picture. Awyn is perfecting her parade wave. I think she's getting ready for pageants. She sits and rocks, and then out pops the right arm, elbow elbow wrist wrist wrist. Posted by Picasa

Awyn loves the Christmas Tree too. She was trying to eat the branches. I'd let her chew on them, but the needles sometimes come off, and I think they are a bit of a choking hazard. Posted by Picasa

Benefit Auction & Trader Joes

last night we went to an auction. Eric donated a book, and I donated a customized baby carrier. Eric's book went for about what we expected, but the Mei Tai didn't get much. The crowd I'd anticipated wasn't there, as I know there are several people here in the park that have been after me to make them carriers too. So one of the fantastic volunteers in the park got a great deal. Eric and I bid on a few things, winning the Day of Babysitting for a steal. I almost bid on the 10 loads of laundry, as I don't like washing diapers. What I really missed out on was the Trader Joe's basket. It went for over $75. As the nearest Trader Joe's is rumored to be in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the bidding went high. I dropped out somewhere around $50, as we have lots of family in the Pacific Northwest with access not only to Trader Joe's, but the USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex with which to mail us goodies. Last year my sister Keri drew my name in the family present lottery, and she got me this enormous box of stuff from Trader Joe's. We ate a little bit from day to day, to try to make it stretch out as much as possible. It sure was delicious! (this is a HUGE Christmas present hint...) We also could use queen size sheets with a high thread count. I keep thinking of things we'd like, but as I don't write them down, well, I don't remember them. I have to get going, as I promised to go help out with craft day at a friends house. I'll put up pictures of the new TV when I get home.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's Here!

Our new television has arrived. It was sitting on our front porch, but I moved it inside so it could warm up to inside temperatures, not that it was all that cold outside, but still. I opened the box, and the manual contained a pink flyer stating that this is a refurbished set. Hmm. I can't actually hook it up until Eric and Sam get home. It's too big for me to get out of the box, and it will take two of us and an engineering degree to get it into our entertainment center. I think we'll have to put it in through the back because there is a 2 inch frame around one side of the cabinet, and the TV will just fit, with less than a 1/4 inch to spare. I'm not joking, I just measured it. Wow. I didn't think it would be that big. I'll post a picture once we install it. For those who are curious, it's a Toshiba 30 inch TheaterWide (widescreen) TV. While it is a flat screen, it's not one of those thin ones, it's very big, bulky, and weighs more than 100 lbs.

Christmas present givers, please note: We prefer widescreen movies. We could also now use a new DVD player meant for nice digital viewing, as this is indeed an HDTV, something that is rather wasted on us, as we don't even have a satelite (darn spelling anyway) dish or any kind of TV reception. We just watch videos. Hey, I think we'll need new cables to hook things up with too, but I guess we'll get them at Radio Shack tomorrow when we run up to Alpine. Sigh. Universal remote anyone? We now have a Toshiba TV, RCA DVD, Sylvania VCR and Pioneer mini-surround sound. Oh, and another remote for the satelite radio. That's just too many remote controls! We bought the DVD player to match the TV on purpose so they could at least share a remote. I think the DVD player will be our next thing to replace, but it has to seriously die before we'll replace it. We bought it when they'd gotten cheaper, but not nearly so cheap as they are today. We also refuse to buy the combo things, like a DVD/VCR or even worse, a DVD/VCR/TV combo. The VCR always breaks first, and then you have to buy a separate one and hook it in. Why bother when they are so cheap by themselves? Now I've sidetracked the original point of the post. Let's hope I'm still this excited about the new TV once we get it going. Even though I did lots of research, I didn't find the bad reviews until today. It's about 50/50 love/hate.

Today I'm trying to be a sewing fool, but Awyn is refusing to be independent. She must nap in my arms and play in my arms. My arms are needed for ripping fabric into strips for baby carriers and cutting out little pieces for fabric balls. I plan to give a few of my favorite people baby carriers, and I wannt to give one up to be auctioned off tomorrow for the Casa Grande benefit auction. If they want me to custom sew it, they'll have to buy the fabric. I'm starting to run low, finally!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Yet More Christmas Wishes...

I was talking to various family members today, and as we were being asked what we want for Christmas, I realized I don't have a very good list so far. The kids love toys and clothes, Sam will love anything with trucks, dogs, bugs, etc on it. Oh, and I almost forgot. He's taken to playing with the metal horses in his room, and would probably LOVE more of the toy kind. He's got one toy horse as part of a really cool animal set his Grandma Joyce got him last year, and he plays with the cows, goats, pig and horse all the time, making the noises and everything. My brother Gus asked about movies. Wow. We do have a lot of movies, but not a lot of kid friendly movies, and there are a few movies coming out that I really want to own as well. So this post is aimed at my siblings who have us. Kassandra has offered to overnight a kitten, if we'd like one. I'm not sure UPS would be that happy about shipping a cat, but hey, if you get it out here, I guess we'd have to keep it!

Movies on our wish list:
Serenity (based on the Firefly series, sci-fi for us, not Sam)
Shrek 2

I'm sure there are others. Of the recent releases, we already have Star Wars Episode III, as we just had to have it the last time we were in town. We've been getting Battlestar Galactica from Netflix.

Here's a short list of what we already have of the kid friendly variety, and I seriously think you should just call and ask because I'm typing this from memory. I'll repeat the need for a good scratch repair kit. Sam is getting better about handling the discs, but he's done some bad damage to a few of them. He also goes through VHS tapes faster than we can rewind them. DVDs seem to hold up a little better.
101 Dalmations
Beauty and the Beast
Elmo in Grouchland
Finding Nemo
Lion King
Muppet Show season 1
Muppet Movie
Monsters Inc
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White
Toy Story (We had both, but Sam has seriously damaged TS2)
and the complete collection of the Signing Time videos

While I'd say we aren't really into Disney, as you can see from the list, we do like Disney after all. There are just a few that aren't really very kid friendly. Sam gets scared when things move too fast, get suddenly loud, and is prone to nightmares. He prefers movies with lots of music, singing music, dancing music, and LOVES the Muppet Show right now. If that new Pixar movie about the racecars was out, I bet he'd love it, but I don't think it is. I think Eric and I'd hate it, but Sam would watch it daily. Right now he asks for 'uppits, piggies & kermits' and is convinced that Snoopy is a cow. So he's 2. What did your kids like at 2?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Kids and Christmas Decorations

Kids are rough on decorations. Sam has already broken a few things, torn a few things apart, and redecorated the tree many times. Awyn would just like to chew on it all. So far the items I can't repair or replace or redistribute include a mini snowglobe and a couple of our trek ornaments. The Star Trek ornaments I'm talking about started life out as micro-machines, toys that Eric and I were given or bought around Christmastime for our first Christmas together in Kansas. We turned them into ornaments because we didn't have any. I thought the ones I gave Sam were fairly indestructible, but I was wrong. The NC1701 has lost it's saucer section, and another has lost it's base in such a way as I can't put it back together. He was traumatized by the self-decapitating reindeer, so I had to put that up on a shelf to be pretty. He's tried to break a couple of my cardinals, so the one in danger of losing it's wings is higher up on the tree. It's too bad some of these sturdy ornaments aren't so sturdy. I want Sam to be able to touch the tree and other things. He loves the lights and the tree, and has to tell it goodnight when he goes to bed, and when he wakes up, he runs to the tree and claps, shouting, "Hooray! Tree!" On another side note, Sam still thinks Snoopy is a cow. We have a Snoopy Christmas flag we're hanging on the outside of our house, and he likes to run onto the front porch and moo at it. He points to Snoopy and calls him a cow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sam is throwing a tantrum because he wants to plug the lights in, and Eric isn't ready yet because he's still putting them on the tree. Sam saw lights up at the Lodge today, and wanted to touch them. He was beyond excited when he saw Daddy getting out some lights to go right in our living room. Can you imagine how excited he'd be if we lived in a city with a real lights display? Posted by Picasa

Hooray, pretty lights! Eric plugged in the lights and Sam got to help us track down the bad light. Then they all lit up and looked pretty! Posted by Picasa

Here we're taking a break from the tree to read some Christmas stories. Sam and Awyn both liked this one, where there are shapes to sort and drop into the pages of the books as we read the story. Posted by Picasa

See my spaceship? Sammy loves Star Trek, and since we do a combo theme for Christmas, he's loving it. Every year we do red white and blue, and Star Trek. So our tree and other decorations include red, white, and blue ornaments, and we have Deep Space Nine, the Defiant, and the shuttlecraft Galileo, with Mr. Spock wishing us happy holidays. Posted by Picasa

Wish list continued...

We can keep adding to our list, especially since I didn't list anything for Eric and myself. We were putting up the tree last night, and decided that we really need stocking hangers. You know, those heavy weighted things you can put on a shelf or the like. We have two different pieces of furniture that would be great for hanging stockings, and we don't really want to put tacks in them. There are four of us, and sometimes we hang stockings for grandparents or visitors, should we have them. I think they usually come either individually or in sets of 4. We'd like six, but 4 would be just the size of our family.

Sam would like me to add to his list that he wants a truck that can go in his sandbox and scoop sand and also an indoor truck to chase his sister with. He also loves DVD's. We actually have a limited selection of kid friendly videos. Sam was raised so far on Star Trek, Signing time, and Star Wars. We have a few video cassettes, like baby einstein, but the attrition rate is high on those and they didn't last long. So I don't know if this gets added to Sam's list or ours, but a Scratch repair kit for all those damaged DVD's would be nice. He can't watch Toy Story 2 anymore. For the most part, the sky's the limit on movies.
He'd probably like things like Shrek 2, Brother Bear, and any educational genre would be fine. If you think we might already have it, just ask first, and we'll let you know.

Awyn is oblivious to the Christmas stuff surrounding he, but Sam is currently roaming the living room, going from decoration to decoration exclaiming, "Ooh, pretty!, Ooh, Lights!" and generally having a lot to say about the whole thing. My favorite, for now, is, "Ooh, MINE!"

I think I'll have to keep presents in the closet until Christmas, because something tells me he's going to get that part about unwrapping presents this year. So bring it on, this little boy is ready for Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dear Santa,

I’m writing to you on behalf of my children, Sam and Awyn. Both are too young to write themselves, and if I let them try, I don’t think you’d understand the jumble of letters. Both have been good kids this year. Sam is drawn to anything related to Trucks, Doggies, and Bugs. Neither of the kids really knows who theme characters are, other than the Incredibles and Toy Story. They don’t watch TV, only movies. This means they don’t know who Dora is, or Bob the builder, or Blue or Magenta, or Captain Feathersword. Sam’s contact with these shows is limited to our stays in motels with cable and our willingness to put that stuff on for him. His babysitter never watched those shows either.

We are looking for bunkbeds that can be separated out, twin over twin. This means we’ll need frames, mattresses, sheets, and blankets, all in twin size. The kids will be sharing a room for a while, but I’m not picky about themes having to match. Awyn already sleeps best on her brother’s toddler bed, so I would imagine she’ll spend less time in a crib than he did. While we don’t own any beds yet, the extra trimmings like sheets don’t come cheap, so they’d make good presents.

Sam wants/needs:
Pants, 3T
Shirts 4T
Socks (he wears a size 10 toddler shoe)
Pajamas 4T
Big Boy underwear (hey, we can dream, and I think this present would be more for mama and daddy)
Sam picks out his own clothes from time to time, and will choose anything with a truck, doggie, frog, or bugs on it.
Books for his little touch leap-pad (he already owns Where the Wild Things Are, Stella Songbird’s world music, and One Bear in the Bedroom.)
Sam has a lot of toys. In fact, he has more toys than he can even wrap his little mind around and doesn’t play with most of them. We’ve put multiple boxes of toys in the garage to try and scale back on his available selection. We understand that buying toys for your relatives is a fun thing to do. Sam will probably love the first toy he unwraps, and like a good kid, not care much about the clothes.

Awyn needs:
More pink princess clothes, monogrammed with “pussycat” across her butt or other inappropriate place; excluding any item from the Disney Princess line.
Cell phone with camera
Prada handbag
Her own bedroom
Seriously, Awyn wears a 6-9 month size, and isn’t growing all that fast. She has some but not tons of winter clothes and could use some tights, pants, long sleeve shirts. She has sweaters and jackets and shoes and socks and some dresses, and a ton of onesies. 9-12 month fits over the cloth diapers so far. For summer, she’ll probably be in 12-18 month clothes, but if she hits a serious growth spurt and makes it above the 25th percentile, she’ll possible outgrow any clothing purchased for summer. Due to extreme generosity, she isn’t lacking in lightweight clothing. Winter here is mild and short. Today it was 60 degrees out.
A larger sleep sack would get her through the winter. She’s currently in a 0-6 month sack, and could use the next size up.As much as I dislike the color pink, she does look good in it. Her eyes are blue, and her hair is probably dark blond, like her father and brother. So shades of blue and purple are great too.

Sam was helping me with laundry. He's reaching for the things at the back of the drier. He had some difficulty grabbing things over the door, so he just hopped right in. Posted by Picasa

Awyn models her cookie monster outfit. This was Sam's. His Grandma Joyce bought this for him, and it's just one of the cutest outfits ever. Posted by Picasa

This is what Awyn really thought of her Cookie Monster outfit. It was way too big, and way too warm. She hated it all day long. Posted by Picasa

I couldn't resist this picture because Awyn's just so happy in it. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

TV Success

I went TV shopping online yesterday and finally decided on a nice 30 inch TV from Overstock.com. I think I found a great deal on a TV, and the shipping was only $1 as they were having a holiday special on shipping. I decided against getting the overstock.com credit card to save 5%. Our new TV should ship soon, and take about a week in transit.

As you can see from the picture I just posted, Sam got into a bit of trouble early today. Luckily I have lots of baby cereal, as a friend gave me several boxes and Awyn doesn't eat that much of it. I'm not too into the baby cereal. I'd rather she ate more veggies and the like. Did you know that in Europe they don't start with the single grain cereals, they start with veggies and quickly move to meat and fruit. The new wonder fruit/veggie is avacado, which was gaining popularity when Sam was a baby. Also, Gerber has introduced a new line of baby foods, Recetas Latinas. They use mango, zucchini, papaya, and guava, and in combinations with meats. It is available throughout most of the southwest, including Texas. Baby food changes constantly. When Sam was a baby the organic baby foods were a new thing.

Sam got too quiet this morning during breakfast. He'd been throwing a tantrum because I wouldn't give him goldfish for breakfast, and I should have known he was up to something when the screaming stopped. He dumped a nearly full box of baby oatmeal on the floor, and ate quite a bit of it. I guess he picked his own breakfast after all. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday Sales

Or whatever they're called. I've been shopping online to see what kind of a deal I can get on a new TV. Yesterday taught me that I really do need a new one as soon as possible. I was hoping to find that kind of sale price you get when you wait in line to get into a store at 5 am. No such luck. Well, I did find one super great online deal, but it's a little out of my league. For only $899 I can get a 54" widescreen flat panel HDTV, with free delivery. It's a whole $900 off retail price. Not only is that a little out of our budget, they don't deliver to our area and the kids would kill it in about 6 months or less. For those of you in the market, it's at Best Buy. I'm also being perhaps a little too picky. I want a set for under $300, and I'd prefer it to be at least 30 inches, because that's what we have now. Really, I'd like a 35 inch widescreen TV, but that would run me anywhere from $400-800. Not counting shipping, which is averaging $50-300 depending on the merchant. And most of the online specials are for monster TV's like the one at Best Buy.

Yesterday I was cooking up a storm, with Sam and Awyn both being very helpful. My stove decided to go bonkers and turned itself up while I was baking the rolls I'd been working on for the last 4.5 hours. In just 8 minutes I had a house with 3 feet of smoke on the ceiling, and I do mean the entire house, the alarms blaring, and little black bottomed hockey pucks. At least our fancy new sprinkler system is heat activated, or I'd really have been in trouble. As it was, I couldn't turn off the electric smoke detector in the living room, and we had to endure some serious ear damage until I could get the house aired out enough. Sam helped me make a molded cranberry jello salad, and then got in the way and I think I was starting to lose my voice from yelling at him. He just wanted to help, so I was trying to be patient, but the hundred or so times I told him to put the knife down or to leave the water off, and other things, I did start to lose my grip on things. We took lots of breaks to go play, but that still wasn't enough.

Taro root soup is pretty good. I've never had Taro root before. I really hadn't planned on trying it anytime soon either. I thought I was buying a horseradish root. It was in the bin marked 'horseradish' and it looked like horseradish, but when Eric came back in from outside with his two tablespoons of horseradish and his sinuses weren't bleeding, I had to go look at the grocery receipt to see just what I'd purchased. Taro root, $5/lb, I think. It wasn't a cheap little root. Also, a tip for those in the market, horseradish isn't usually dipped in wax, but taro root is. I called around, and we drove in to the Terlingua Springs market and bought their last bottle of horseradish.

And now the picture you've all been waiting for. Me posing with my hair. Posted by Picasa

Eric and Sam are making Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. They used an old fashioned meat grinder to grind up the onion and cranberries. Then they mixed in the horseradish, sour cream, and a little sugar. The horseradish has a story behind it. Posted by Picasa

This was so cute I had to grab the camera. Sam was reading the book out loud, and even seemed to be getting the right parts with the right pages. Posted by Picasa

Awyn is enjoying the story Sam is reading to her. Posted by Picasa