Friday, February 8, 2013

Franny turns 9

I'm not even going to say anything about how long it's been.  Okay maybe I will.  I don't even hardly recognize blogger anymore.  It's been a year since my last post!  I've been trying to get back to this for a while, but I've let life get in the way.  Now that Mabel is a year old and 2012 is over (thank goodness- he lived away from us for five months because of work), I feel like I might be able to find the time.  Then again, my to-do list for the next five months involves:  selling our home, packing our house, helping my husband find a job, preparing my children for the first out of town move that any of them can remember, and moving into a new house!  So... we'll see.

It's hard to know where to start after a year, so I'm just going to start with what's most current:  my Franny turned nine!  Today I'll be decorating our basement for her birthday party tomorrow.  She's going to have a "fashion" theme, kind of.  The girl insists that fashion is what she's interested in.  But the girl refuses to wear anything but jeans to school and I'm pretty sure she'd be happy wearing the same five t-shirts to school every week.  But I still it's cute that she says that.

Franny has a lot of things she's into right now.  She can tell you more than anyone I know about superheroes.  She has three very large books filled with anything you would ever want to know about superheroes, both DC and Marvel.  Her favorite female superhero is Black Widow and her favorite male superhero is Thor.  We let her watch Avengers and Captain America last December and she was in heaven.  One day when I was driving her to school she asked me a question.  I wish I could remember what it was- maybe something like, "Are there any villains with secret identities?"  And I said, "Um, yeah, in Spider-man there's the Green Goblin."  And she said, "oh yeah, you mean Norman Osborn?"  Hilarious.  For a while we couldn't get her to talk about anything else.  Around Christmas, she kind of lost some of her interest in superheroes.  (Kind of a bummer, because there may have been a bit of a focus on them for Christmas... oh well.)  Now she is crazy for Calvin and Hobbes.  She has seven books and has read all of them.  She just finished reading the first Harry Potter last night.  It's not uncommon for her to read three or four different books at the same time.  She just has a stack next to her bed and keeps her little bookmarks in them.  I'm so glad she likes to read.

It may be the Calvin and Hobbes, but she's really into expressions lately.  She has been using all these "old lady" terms lately like:  "beats me" or "I'll say" or "not on my watch!"  It cracks us up.  A few weeks ago she noticed I was irritated and said, "Are you ok, mom?  You seem kind of down in the dumps."

She's had her own room for about a year and a half now and it suits her well.  She likes having her own room and I think she especially likes being able to read out loud without having to worry about disturbing anyone while they're sleeping.

Franny loves to be on stage.  She's a good little actress.  She auditioned to be a community play last fall, had a call-back and got the part!  It was awesome.  She played a Yorkshire child in the play "The Secret Garden."  It was one of my proudest moments as her parent.  And she loved every minute of it.

She's involved in A LOT of activities right now.  A few too many, I think.  It might not be so bad if they didn't all fall on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  She's taking ballet, piano, and she's playing basketball.  Plus she has activity days for church on Wednesday nights.  We're lucky if we make it through Wednesdays without any tears.  But she enjoys them all, so it would be hard to know which to drop.  Basketball is over in a week and a half, so we don't have to worry about it too much longer.

Franny is a good big sister.  And of course her younger sisters love her.  I've noticed she often looks for ways to help them.  If Mabel drops something on the floor from her high chair, Franny is the first one to pick it up for her.  Although sometimes she's not the most considerate.  We've had a ton of sickness in this house over the last few months and a few days ago I was holding back Claire's hair while she puked in a bucket and Franny was covering her ears and holding her head down and said, "Please tell me when it's over!"  Ha ha.

This kid cracks me up!  I love her personality.  I love the direction she's heading.  She's a good girl- sweet, kind, funny and smart.  And beautiful.  I'm so proud of my little Franny! 

I made this video for Franny's 2nd grade class last spring when she was student of the week.  It's a little out of date, but I never posted it so I thought I would now.

Franny Student of the Week from COLE WARNER on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Lately I've been crashing as soon as Mabel finishes her last feeding. Like, literally before the next minute has passed. It doesn't matter if I've changed into my pajamas, or washed my face, or brushed my teeth- I am out, until about midnight when I have to get up and take care of those things. I just can't sleep if I haven't taken my contacts out. Well, I was having a hard time getting back to sleep this early morning, and I kept thinking about how I haven't written enough about Claire or Mabel, so that is what I'm here to do.

Have I already said this? I didn't know it was actually going to be fun to have two babies! I'm surprised that thought hadn't occurred to me. It's definitely a challenge- don't get me wrong. I'm totally exhausted, but it's so much fun to have two babies at such cute stages!

Mabel is a pretty perfect baby. She sleeps as well as Franny did as an infant- she's 12 weeks old now and sleeping 8 hours at night consistently- and she's just as mellow as Sophie and Claire were during the day. She started cooing a few weeks ago and started with the social smiles. That is the sweetest sound. I've even heard her try to laugh a few times. It just goes so fast! I don't remember it going this fast with Franny. It seems like with each subsequent child, the infancy stage flies by more and more quickly. I'm going to miss all this since this is likely our last baby.

Claire is such a wild and crazy little sweetheart. She constantly has me on my toes, but says and does the most adorable things that it's sometimes hard to remember the things that drive me crazy about her (like pulling all the books off the shelf just for the fun of it, coloring on my books, emptying a basket of folded clothes, etc.). She loves Mabel. Once I heard her call her "baby Maby." She's pretty protective. I usually put Claire in the car first when we go anywhere, because she's sort of a flight risk, but sometimes she screams "baby! BABY!" as if she thinks I'm leaving the baby behind or I'm going to forget her (the second might actually be a valid concern- it is unsettling how often I check the rearview mirror to make sure I remembered to pack Mabel int he car.) Claire does not like it when I let someone else hold Mabel. She screams and screams like maybe they're going to take Mabel away from us. I think that's sweet. When she tells Franny sorry or thank you, she says, "Ke ke (thank you), Mommy Fra-ye!" Same with Sophie, but she calls her "Fo-fof." I sometimes wonder if she feels like she has three mommies. Franny can sometimes drive her nuts, and vice versa. Franny can't stand to see the rules broken, and most 22-month-olds have a hard time keeping all the rules. When we're loading up the car, Claire will already be buckled in and Franny has to pass her bucket seat to get the back. Lately I've been hearing Claire yell at Franny: "Go de oyer way!" (Go the other way.) Franny gets right up in her face and yells back, "NO!" Sheesh. Claire's favorite songs are "The Popcorn Song" and "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider." I love to see her face when we sing those to her- she focuses on our mouths like she's trying to memorize the words and she does one or two of the actions way early and just holds her hands there until we get there in the song, like "smell so sweet" or "out came the sun." But lately she's into "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam." I love when she sings that! She'll ask me to sing it five times in a row and the way she asks me is she sings, "Uh-be! Jesus da da ub-be! please?" She's counting a little. She likes to pick certain ranges of numbers between 1 and 10 and tends to focus on those for a while. Right now she's saying, "Five, six, eight, nine, ten!" Which is unfortunate because the way she says seven is so cute (sebby.) She also loves when we sing the ABC's and she's even trying to sing them herself. It sounds like this: "ABCDE ah G". She's always twice as loud as any situation requires. Especially at church during sacrament. A few weeks ago after the sacrament was passed and she took the water, she said, "YEAH! Wooo!!! I did it!" And it was very loud. One of my favorite thing she says is, "No touch it." Usually we're talking about scissors, or the space heater, or the rocks outside my gym. Today when we were leaving the gym she said, "No touch it. da rocks."

Every once in a while she just decides she wants a hug from everyone in the room. Sometimes it's a kiss. Sometimes if Bobby and I are laying down on the couch she'll just come over and kiss us on the forehead. If Bobby and I ever have to reprimand her harshly (sometimes she hits mabel!), then she hangs her head down and covers her eyes with her fingers! It breaks my heart.

She calls all women besides me "nono." The girls call Bobby's mom Nona and Claire was calling her this when she was here to help when Mabel was born. I was so glad to hear her calling Nona by the right name! But then a few weeks later we were at Walmart and we passed an older lady who looks nothing like my mother-in-law. Claire said, "Hi Nono." I didn't tell Louise this because I was hoping it was just a fluke and she would revert to only calling her grandmother by this name. Then two minutes later we almost hit another lady's cart with our's and Claire said, "Sorry baby Nono." Ever since then she's been calling every woman besides me Nono.

She says "bleshee" whenever one of sneezes, coughs, or burps. This morning she coughed and noone said anything so she said, "Bleshee baby!"

She carries one of those stuffed animal/blanket things around with her all the time and we call it her woobzy. She loves it! She keeps it up by her face when she sleeps and sucks her thumb. She is so attached and I admit, so am I. I'm a mess every time we misplace it. Once we left it at my friend Jill's when we stopped by her house in Kansas City. I had to ask her to mail it to us! And she did the next morning- such a good friend. I was so angry with myself! We realized it we didn't have it when Claire was in the back chanting, "woozy woozy woozy." She was actually more chill about it's absence then I was. I was so excited when it came in the mail and I let her pull it out of the package and turned the video camera on and everything. I was kind of disappointed when she wasn't more excited, but then a few minutes later I saw her sucking her thumb and resting her head on the woobzy tucked on her shoulder. Then she raised it up with both hands, looked at it and said, "Hi baby." It was so sweet.

Ah, there's so much more... but I'm going to try and get some more sleep now. Sleeping is one of my favorite things to do right now!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Claire's first time in the snow.

Over the 4 day weekend the girls went outside to play while Bobby shoveled the driveway. He suggested this might be a good time to let Claire bear out for her first time in the snow. She liked it. A lot better than Sophie did! It was cute to see her all bundled up in her snow gear, and she was really excited about it! Franny laid face down in the snow and Claire went right over to her and did the same thing. I'm pretty sure they were eating the snow, but I didn't want to know so I didn't pay very close attention. She stayed out there for a good fifteen minutes while I stayed inside with Mabel and fixed up some hot chocolate.

When Bobby brought her back in, I took her sippie cup and filled it halfway with milk, then added some hot chocolate. I wanted her to have the full experience with playing in the snow and have her hot (or in her case warm) chocolate after coming inside. She took one sip and spit it across the room. All over me, the floor, and her clothes. It was so funny.

Franny was probably happiest about the snow. (That's her in the bottom left corner of the picture below.) She has been so frustrated with the unseasonably warm weather we've been having. (It's supposed to snow in January!) I couldn't be happier about it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Tree down

I have a crazy story to share about my 20 month old, Claire:

One day last week I was in my room, minding my own business- never a good idea when you're dealing with a toddler- when I thought to myself, "maybe I should go see what Claire is up to." I walk into the family room where Claire is [supposed to be] watching Elmo and I find her there, sitting on the couch with SIX candy canes in her lap. I look to the left and this is what I find:

My 7-foot Christmas tree was lying on the ground. (The space heater was face down as well.) She saw the candy canes, decided they ought to be hers, and pulled the whole thing down. She didn't scream, she didn't cry- she didn't even come and get me. She had this smug little look I had to hide my face so she wouldn't see me laughing. I thought about snapping a quick shot of her with the candy canes, but I didn't want to reinforce the behavior so I put her cute little bum in time-out.

I sure love this girl. I have to admire her moxie. Here's a picture from another night when Bobby was reading scriptures to the girls. When I pulled the camera out, she was sitting next to Franny listening to Bobby read. But as soon as she saw the camera she was flashing me cheesy grins like this one.

Gingerbread Houses 2011

I knew I needed to cut out some of the things we like to do around the holidays with the new baby and my recovery and everything- but Bobby loves gingerbread houses and I love seeing him get so excited about them. And it really wasn't that much work once I got the gingerbread baked and put together. We had most of the candy because we save what we don't use each year. We had so much stuff and two big houses so we invited the Johnson's to come over and join us. Our kids had a blast with their kids and I was totally impressed with the way both houses turned out. It was a fun night.

Homemade Gnocchi

Bobby bought me some of the Giada pasta sauce they sell at Target and I thought it would taste great on some homemade gnocchi. So I looked for a recipe and tried this one out and thought they were fantastic!

Potato Gnocchi

adapted from serious eats


serves 4-6, active time 50 minutes, total time 1 hour 50 minutes

  • 2 pounds potatoes (about 4 medium baking potatoes, such as Russet and one medium waxy potato, like Yukon Gold)
  • 1 whole egg, plus one egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for adding to boiling water and for final seasoning
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. With a fork, poke a few holes in each potato and spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 1 hour.

  3. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still very warm, scoop out the flesh and pass it through a potato ricer or a food mill fitted with a small hole insert. Spread the potatoes onto a clean, cool, lightly floured surface.

  4. Whisk together the eggs and salt together and drizzle over the riced potatoes. Sprinkle ¾ to 1 cup of the flour over the eggs. With a bench scraper, work the ingredients together, cutting into them and gathering them into a mass. Add flour to reduce stickiness.

  5. When the mixture holds together, knead briefly, continuing to flour the work surface to prevent sticking and adding flour if the dough is sticky. As soon as the dough is smooth and soft and holds together, stop kneading and shape it into a thick log.

  6. Working with ¼ of the dough at a time, roll the dough into long ½- to ¾-inch ropes. With the bench scraper, cut them into 1-inch-long pieces. Optionally, form ridges on the gnocchi by rolling them over the back of a dinner fork. Transfer the gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet while rolling out remaining dough.

  7. At this point, you may refrigerate the uncooked gnocchi for up to 2 hours or freeze them on the baking sheet and then transfer them into a covered container and store in the freezer for several weeks.

  8. Boil a large pot of water, add a generous pinch of salt, and blanch the gnocchi in two batches until they float. With a slotted spoon or spider, remove the gnocchi and spread on a baking sheet while brown-butter sauce finishes cooking. (Alternatively, you can shock the cooked gnocchi in ice water, remove and spread them onto a baking sheet, toss with a little olive oil, and refrigerate until needed.)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce

This was just as good as I was hoping it would be. I saw this on the Food Network while I was in the hospital after Mabel was born- made me realize how much I miss the Food Network. I had to cut a few things out like star anise, bourbon, and apple schnapps. I searched and searched my cupboards, but I could not find any bourbon. Maybe it's in the same place as the apple schnapps. ;)

The original recipe also calls for vanilla creme anglaise. I don't know about you, but a caramel sauce, creme anglaise, AND whipped cream seems a little indulgent, even to me. But I am sure it would have been DELICIOUS. Scandalous, but delicious.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
adapted from Food Network


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
  • Pumpkin Bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows
  • Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
  • Freshly whipped cream


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.

Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.

Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Drizzle the bread pudding with the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream. Bread pudding is best served warm.

Pumpkin Bread:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces (scant 1 cup) canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar, and oil at high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times.

Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. At low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Once the bread is cool, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven until lightly toasted, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce:

Combine the cream, apple juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.

Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it's a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.

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