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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The one with the leather pants

Did you know that it's been ten years since the Friends New Year's episode with Ross and the Leather Pants aired for the first time? It was still as funny as PapaBear and I watched it before bed tonight. It's also been ten years since I celebrated New Year's in Pasadena the night before the Rose Bowl. Go Badgers! Tonight I won't even be awake when the clock strikes midnight, but that's OK. What a difference a decade makes!

If I was making resolutions I'm sure one of them would be to get back in the habit of spending some quiet time with the Lord each day, but since Hilary's December Challenge I can for the first time in a long time say that I do my quiet time (just about) every day. Thank you Hilary for the encouragement to get back on track!

If I was making resolutions I would give up coffee, but I just love it too much. It's been hard enough giving up pop. It will be eight months tomorrow. I keep waiting for the day that I don't look at PapaBear's Pepsi and start to drool.

If I was making resolutions I would have put some thought into what I'd like to change/accomplish in the coming year before 11:17pm on New Year's Eve.

If I was more creative I would do more for a New Year's post than link back to 2007's post.

Cheers Everyone!

Christmas Day in Bear Country

We all made it on his good list this year....
SisterBear got the "Nem-nem-nems" (M&Ms) and Swedish Fish she asked for.
BrotherBear asked for boats, M&Ms, and Swedish Fish. He wasn't disappointed. In fact he was so busy playing with his new toys that I couldn't get him to let me take a picture of him.


Conor was more than willing to pose. :)


Then he was off to enjoy is "candy cane"


Santa brought me Burt's Bees lip balm. Just what I needed!

PapaBear's sweet tooth will be satisfied for a while with a package of gummy worms and a Toblerone Bar.

Later Christmas Day we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house for more gift opening fun. They spoil all of us with their unique, thoughtful, useful, and creative gifts. Would you believe PapaBear's dad made us a countertop? I now have twice the work space in my kitchen. Wahoo!!
BrotherBear's favorite gift was a camera. We've since learned that the Fisher Price digital cameras have a virus in them. If you that brand of camera I suggest you look into this before uploading any pictures to your computer.

Gifts were handed out one by one and the kids (when they weren't off playing T-ball or mixing up a batch of cupcakes, or changing WhinniePooh's diaper) helped everyone open their gifts.

For what seems like the hundredth time, we put the kids to bed late. Then the next morning we drove south see my mom and Paul. My sister, Kara, and her daughter, Lily, were in town and my other sister, Katie, and her husband, Brandon were able to join us as well. We played Cranium, drank homemade eggnog*, and showed the kids how to make homemade ice cream.


Paul (who's idea it was for this post title), is adding the ice and salt to the ice cream maker out in the garage.


It was great to see their new home and enjoy my mom's cooking.


Two days later PapaBear's family gathered here at the park for our final Christmas gathering of 2008. My new countertop was put to good use as we lined up chili, chicken noodle soup, cheese & crackers, a veggie tray, and a ton of Christmas cookies. I love that our house is big enough to have extended family gather here. It also comes in handy that we don't have a no running rule at our house. The wide hallways and big open spaces allow the kids to run and play. Does anyone else let their kids run in the house or is just us?


* Honey Eggnog

4 cups whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. honey
1/8 t cinnamon (I think it could use a bit more)
1/8 t nutmeg (again, needs a little more next time)
1/8 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring (this was omitted - never missed it)

In a large saucepan, combine milk, egg, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, and rum. Chill at least 2 hours.

4 the love of (extended) family

If I don't get these pictures from Christmas posted today I'm going to regret it when I get around to making my blog book. It's already an almost impossible task as it is to get 3 years worth of posts organized. Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution - to get my books put together? We'll see... Speaking of resolutions, check out Steph's post today...I think you'll be glad you did.

Before going to PapaBear's side of the we stopped by my cousin's house. Elsie turned nine on December 16th. I was her nanny until she was five. Where has the time gone? That boy with the goofy face? That would be Porter, hamming it up as usual.


Later, more cousins (2nd cousins this time) posed for a picture (or five)


PapaBear read the Christmas story and then we sang carols before opening gifts.


Hungry Hungry Hippo was a big hit with the kids.


For the adults, hearing of Kevin's engagement was the big news.


On the way home we went to late Mass. I wish I could have taken a picture of the church all lit up. It was -10 and I had Julia in the Kozy so I'll have to rely on my memory for that one.
We got home and put the kids to bed about 12:30 and put the Santa gifts in the stockings. We made an executive decision to leave the gate open so we wouldn't have to get up and open it six hours later. The kids slept until 8:30 and then with pumpkin muffins baking in the oven we checked out what Santa left for us.

Wordless Wednesday - Cub tested...MamaBear approved

From this, to this -


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chicken soup potpie for the soul

Tonight was a night for comfort food.
It was an emotional day and this chicken pot pie is our new favorite thing to make. It goes really well with a bottle of Pinot Grigio if you really want to know. Up until a couple of months ago I would have had to pass on the vino, but now that SisterBear is done nursing I can enjoy an occasional glass with dinner.


After five years of being pregnant or nursing it's nice to have my body back.

Like our bottle stopper? Our friend, Tony, made that for us. He's also responsible for the beautiful workmanship of these fishing rods he had up at the cabin over the summer. Woodworking isn't his only talent. We enjoyed listening to him play the guitar at the Christmas Eve service last week.


I should probably disclose that these potpie pictures weren't taken tonight. I took them the first time we made this dish. I should also disclose that this isn't what we had for dinner tonight. It is what I WISH we would have had, but it's time consuming (about 45 minutes to an hour) and requires heavy whipping cream that we didn't have in the house. We dined on chicken nuggets instead. Exciting huh? Even if I was privy to Tyson's recipe for their chicken nuggets, I'm guessing you'd rather know how to make this tasty, flaky crusted, comfort food instead.

MamaBear's Chicken Pot Pie

Pastry
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
1/3 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
3 T ice water

Glaze
1 large egg, lightly beaten


Filling
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 T butter
16 ounces frozen veggies (we use peas, carrots, and beans)
1/4 cup dry white wine or water
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 T flour
1 1/2 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth

To prepare pastry, in a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt, Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs form.

In a small bowl, beat together egg and water. Add to the four mixture; mix lightly until a soft dough forms. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

To prepare the filling, place chicken in a 2 quart casserole.

In large skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add veggies and increase to medium heat for five minutes. Add the wine; cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add to chicken and mix.

While the veggies cook, whisk together cream, flour, paprika, salt, and pepper, over low heat in a medium saucepan until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in broth. pour sauce over chicken mixture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the pastry to fit the top of the casserole. Place on top of pie; trim and seal the edges.

Roll out trimmings. cut out the decorative leaves. Brush pastry with glaze; add the decorations; brush again with glaze.

Bake until filling is bubbly and crust is browned, 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

We like to make this the day after we've boiled a large chicken. We always have extra chicken and homemade broth leftover to use for this recipe then. I freeze any extra broth for another time. One of these days I'll share my easy recipe for chicken noodle soup, but this one should keep you busy for a while. :) It sounds complicated, but if your hubby likes to cook, it's a great dish to make together. The homemade crust is SO worth it. Yummy!

Julia, the child

















I'm sure most of you are already praying for baby Stellan, but if you haven't heard yet, he's in the PICU with a severe case of RSV. I'm putting updates up on MckMama's blog when she has them. For some reason Children's won't let her access blogger, but that's not going to stop Stellan's prayer warriors from storming the gates of Heaven on his behalf.

Monday, December 29, 2008

BrotherBear


My Son

Sticky fingers,
dirty face,
Rugs and pillows
out of place,

Cars and tractors
here and there,
Blocks and boats
everywhere,

Gold and silver
have I none,
But worth a million
is my Son.

Life with Sam has been so fun these past few weeks. He's starting to get the meaning of Christmas. His face lights up at the wonder of it all. He was thankful for his gifts - so thankful in fact that he searched out the person who gave him the gift to look them in the eye and thank them before he ripped into the paper.

He has the biggest heart too. After his Christmas program he asked Julia to hold his hand on the way to the fellowship hall. I had to wipe away a tear or two after that.

He wants to know if he's being a good listener and soaks up the praise I give him. I learned a long time ago ways to encourage him and build his character without giving him a big head. We talk about doing our best, how he feels when he accomplishes something all by himself etc, how happy Jesus is when he listens etc... Even the hard times offer learning opportunities. Our new toddler devotional that I'll be reviewing after the first of the year is full of teachable moments for him and his mama. That's the beauty of motherhood isn't it? We learn just as much from our kids as they do from us.


I didn't write the poem (not sure who did) but it is so Sam.





Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not Me Monday - 15th Edition

We have a rule in our family that we do not go to any businesses on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It was PapaBear's idea. He figures if everybody would play along then all those businesses would stay closed those two days and employees could spend time with their families instead of catering to those who don't plan ahead.
Seeing that that I'm writing my Not Me post, you can probably see where this is going...

On the 23rd I packed everything for our two stops on Christmas Eve as well as my photo equipment for my photo shoot. All I left for the morning was to set out the kids Christmas outfits.
Sam's sweater vest - check
Sam's dress shirt - check
matching socks - check
khaki pants - check

Julia's Christmas dress (same one as last year) - check
tights - ______

Hi! My name is MamaBear and I did not break the Christmas rule. I did not run into Target (with 250 other last minute shoppers - no lie!) to get Julia some black tights. She did not wear 6x tights because they didn't have anything smaller. They did not fit my two year old perfectly.

Later that day we started a new tradition by taking a big family picture. First we took one of the kids like we always do. That is not my daughter standing on her head. Nope. I have no idea who that child belongs to!


Here's the proof that we actually got everyone to cooperate for the big family photo.

Sweet huh? Except maybe for only getting Julia from the chin up. :)
There wasn't an audible gasp the second after the shutter went off because the person nobody noticed was missing from the photo (she was in the basement) walked into the room. That wasn't embarrassing! Not one bit!


After four hours of food, fun, presents, laughter, and tears (PapaBear's cousin announced his engagement) we packed up and headed home. On the way we decided to give going to late Mass a shot. From what I remember Catholic services are usually an hour.
The service did not start late and then last an hour an a half. It was not midnight when we walked out into -10 degree temps. I was not wearing my four year old in my new Kozy Carrier
to stay warm because Julia had been in it on the way in and we only had one coat.
That same four year old did not spend the entire service coloring with Color Wonder or watching intently and very quietly...in his snowman pajamas. I don't know who he belongs to either. :)

Wanna see my new Kozy in action before you go check out more Not Me Monday posts at My Charming Kids?

This is me (yes, my hair is red again), with my niece, Lily.

I didn't get this carrier for free when I purchased a ToddlerHawk from a nice lady on Ebay.
I didn't almost end up with a black one with flames on it. Phew! I wasn't relieved to have asked the seller at the last second to describe the two patterns before I chose my free one. Not me! Free is free right? I would never be so bold to ask under the pretense that black might not be the greatest color because of our white dog.
It's not going to take some convincing to get my hubby out on our ski trails with a 37 pound kid strapped on his back.
Me? I'm ready to strap the 36 pounder on as soon as we get some fresh snow!

I have a feeling most Not Me posts this week are going to be Christmas themed. If you missed my Christmas edition of Not Me Monday you can read it here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve - Part 1

I don't know about you, but I'm at a loss as to how to creatively post pictures from Christmas this year. I don't like to get behind in posting about things because I feel like it loses the emotion of the day. Yet with so many things going on, I just didn't have the energy to deal with uploading and composing posts each day.

We're all loaded full of sugar (no puking this time!) and just about ready for life as we know it to return to normal.

Our Christmas marathon began at 7:30 Christmas Eve morning. BrotherBear wasn't that anxious to open gifts. He's gotten so used to being told he has to wait that his eyes got as big as saucers when I told him it was time to open gifts.

SisterBear, wearing buttflap jammies, received a Whinnie The Pooh book

and a dollhouse. PapaBear was thrilled to have to put that together. :)


We gave BrotherBear a tool set and a movie (An American Tail)


Even with so few gifts to open it was still chaos afterwards.

The kids made cookies for us and as is tradition, an ornament for Daddy.

I headed off for a photo shoot and PapaBear took care of getting the cubs down for their naps in time to leave for the afternoon/evening/late night.

Christmas was off to a good start. Well, except for that emergency Target run because Julia's black tights were M.I.A. I have no idea how that egg nog got in the bag too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Craziness

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.... ALL full of Christmas celebrations. I even squeezed in a photo shoot for this family on Christmas Eve. I love the expression on Grandma's face!


I had to include this one of the baby in the family. She's only six months old, but boy did she ever keep her eye on the lens!


We're off to my mom's house this morning. I better get dressed before PapaBear leaves without me!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not Me Monday - 14th edition

Christmas is almost upon us and unlike last week, I'm not nearly as stressed out about all I have to do yet. I'm down to two small gifts to purchase and a couple to wrap. My cards are in the mail or have been hand delivered at church or at Christmas parties.

The hot topic around here right now is the weather. When we awoke at PapaBear's parents house Sunday morning it was -37 with the windchill. The air temp was -12. Ouch. We only live fifteen minutes from their house but PapaBear made the wise call to spend the night instead of driving to and from their Christmas party Saturday. That morning we packed up bedding, clothes, snowsuits, the dog, and gifts and headed out before the storm got any worse.

Before the guests arrived at the party it was not me who bribed BrotherBear with five cookies if he'd take a nap....in the pack-n-play. He's four for crying out loud!

I made good on my offer and since he followed through on his end and played so nicely with the other kids, I let him have pretty much anything he asked for.
He didn't stay up until 11pm because of all the sugar. That is not three hours past his bedtime.
He did not eat so much that he made himself puke in the middle of the night and again first thing in the morning.

What else didn't I do this week? Let see.... Could this be the week that I only have a couple of Not Me moments?

I suppose making dentist appointments for 3 of us at the same time wouldn't help my cause at all, huh?

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I tried to get to the dentist, but a train stopped on the tracks and there wasn't time to detour around it. I did not see a semi truck (and trailer!) turn around behind me because of the delay.
I called the clinic to reschedule. I was secretly relieved. Now we could ALL go. At least then I wouldn't be outnumbered. On Thursday we made the hour drive for our 6pm appointments. PapaBear's name was called first and I tried not to worry about my name being called before he returned.
Nobody will believe the following series of events. Which is fine. They are completely fabricated. Isn't that the point of this post anyway? The things that didn't happen to me?
In that case: They didn't call my name 5 minutes into BrotherBear's cleaning.
He didn't have to look at me with scared eyes from across the room while I was also flat on my back trying to decipher the thick Russian accent of my hygienist.
SisterBear did not sit through half my cleaning with her chin propped up with her hands while contained in the sling - while I was in the dentist chair - flat on my back.
They did not squeeze SisterBear in for a cleaning at the last minute - not the dentist that takes four weeks to get an appointment with!
SisterBear did not take her turn in the dentist chair across the room while mommy was being examined by the doctor.
That was not my two year old getting her first teeth cleaning all by herself.
I am not devastated that BrotherBear has five cavities. If that doesn't qualify me for the bad mom of the year award, I don't know what does!

Oh wait. I know! Sloooowly killing our cat. That's what!
Let me explain....My good friend from college, Courtney, is a doctor - an animal one. She and I had plans to get together last weekend, but the icy roads made that impossible. During our phone conversation we got to talking about our new kitty, Houston. I mentioned that we are trying to keep him as an outside cat as much as possible so he'll be a good mouser. We give him some of our dog's food from time to time, but for the most part he's on his own. That's when she told me that a cat's diet that is made up of mostly dog food can kill them. They'll develop a heart condition and die. (Too much of a certain ingredient that's ok for dogs, but fatal for cats)

Hi, my name is MamaBear and I'm not killing our cat.

Courtney drove over an our on icy roads yesterday to spend the afternoon with me. How sweet was that!?!


Here's the rest of my list for the week:

See this beauty? It's not mine.Because it isn't mine, I can't be super excited that it only cost $25.
I didn't offer $40 for it after I heard I was second in line to purchase it. The guy didn't say "$25 is fine. I just want it out of my basement."

I did not feel like a complete outsider at the mall Wednesday night. I was just like all the other shoppers out buying buying buying. I didn't get anxious driving in all the traffic or being in an unfamiliar place. Not me! It's the mall. I used to work there. I took the kids there all the time. I'm was not like a fish out of water now that we live in the country on a tighter budget. I'm totally used to the hustle and bustle. It doesn't freak me out one bit.


PapaBear does not ever use my camera for mischief. There's no proof. None what-so-ever.








If you thought I was exaggerating about the snow getting inside our house, think again. This is not what we came home to find in our breezeway. I do not shudder when I think about how much snow there'd be if we didn't stick a towel along the bottom edge!

As for the snow in our dining room...it isn't melting - really it's not. Our house is not that cold and drafty. It's a warm 62 degrees in here! I'm not going to call the furnace company again in the morning. Not me!

SisterBear did not fall asleep in our bed in the two minutes it took me to get her brother out of the tub and into his pj's at nap time. (I'm not saying it's jammie day around here almost every day. Nope. I'm not admitting that.) She is not firmly planted in the dent wrote about in this post.


BrotherBear's Christmas program was Sunday afternoon. PapaBear ran the video camera and I snapped some pictures of the group. It was the cutest thing to watch.
I'd tell you why BrotherBear (red sweater vest) and a few of his friends are bending over, but there isn't a reason. It's just what they were doing while the teacher narrated the scene. To keep SisterBear from running down to the front to be with her brother I did not whisper loudly, "DO YOU WANT MONEY?" to get her back in the pew with us. Nope not me. You will NOT find that on video no matter how hard you look. You most certainly won't find four pennies in her denim jumper either. I don't give toddlers coins!


For more Not Me Monday fun, check out my friend MckMama's blog or to view the main page of my blog click here. I'm not adding that last link because when I visit some blogs of other Not Me participants I don't secretly wish I could, with a click of my mouse, see the rest of their blog without having to delete text in the address bar. Nope. Not me! I'm not THAT lazy!

Bob The Builder - meet Shirley Temple



I lost track of the number of people who I could here comment to me (or to their friends, but within earshot) about Julia's hair when we went to the mall Friday night.

It seems like it's taken forever, but her hair is starting to grow longer - at least on top. The back and sides are still really short in comparison because she rubs the hair off in her sleep. We can no longer leave the house without some sort of bow, headband, rubber band, or hat now that her bangs are down to her nose.


Move over Wendy - SisterBear is on the job!


I had completely forgotten that I saw Shirley Temple in California in 1999. (The Badgers were in the Rose Bowl and she and a few other famous people were the grand marshals.) I hardly remember the days of driving across the country on a whim to go to a football game!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The icing on the cake Christmas cookie

Our favorite Christmas party of the season was today. Six inches of snow and high winds didn't stop our crew from getting together to share some holiday cheer at PapaBear's parent's house. We are sleeping over because of the bad weather. You know you have wonderful inlaws when you can invite yourself over at the last minute to spend the night! Julia crashed at 7pm because she didn't take a nap, but Sam is watching The Santa Claus with us. I logged on tonight to check on the status of my offer on this fireplace mantel and to order a free 8x10 from Walgreens. (Use the code "FREEGIFT" by midnight (central time) to order a print for youself)


I'm still deciding which photo to enlarge but as for the fireplace - It's mine for only 25 bucks.
I just need to brave blizzard conditions to pick it up. I can't wait!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too cute for the cutting room floor



What's a mom to do when she has hundreds of photos that didn't make it into the Christmas card this year? Put them on her blog of course! :)

Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram . The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids beca...