Friday, December 28, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Last night on the way to our family Christmas party, Bobby asked Franny to count to 20 for him. After she was finished, he asked her to count in Spanish. Here's what she said:
"Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis, siete. . . taco meat."
The other day I was doing her hair and she took the water bottle I was using and chucked it across the room because she wasn't happy with me for combing out all the snarls. After we were done, she walked over to the water bottle, picked it up and asked, "Are you okay?"
For a few weeks Franny was waking up every morning at 5 AM. One morning I definitely had not had enough sleep the night before and was less than thrilled with the wake-up call. I enlisted the help of our trusty DVD player and gave Franny her choice of DVD's so I could steal a few more minutes of sleep. She settled in with Cinderella with the volume turned down low, and I curled up on our couch. Ten minutes later Franny wants milk. Fine, no problem. Half an hour later she wants to eat. I sleepily pour her a bowl of cereal with some rice milk and then crawl back to my nest of blankets on the couch. I'm just starting to get comfortable when Franny demands another glass of milk. "Mommy, milk. Milk, please. Milk, milk, MILK! MILK!" So I get up, stomp in too the kitchen, pour a small glass of milk and practically throw it at her. No I'm not proud. On my way back to the couch I hear Franny say in a loud whisper, "She's mad."
Franny had a toilet training accident and I was cleaning up the mess and didn't really want an audience. I asked her to leave the room and I shut the door behind her. After about 30 seconds, I heard the door open and Franny stuck her head in and said, "That's disgustin'!"
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Here's my absolute favorite one from that category. (Franny just saw this picture on the computer screen and said, "she's scared!")
I used to get a lot of pictures like these of Franny. To get her to even look at the camera, I used to have to "neigh" like a horse really obnoxiously or scream at the top of my lungs. There's a lost and hazy look in these eyes that to me seems very autistic. I'm not saying that I don't ever see that look in her eyes anymore, but it is becoming more and more of a rarity. I'm glad she lets us see her eyes more.
I'm not really sure how many parents there are out there who read my blog and have a kid with an ASD, but my Dad has been checking out Autism websites lately and that has prompted some searching of my own. I found this cool website about setting up playdates and how to take data and how to set up ideal situations where our kids can learn how to play and be social. I think it's worth reading. Reading this is helping me realize that there is so much available out there!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I finally got into the Christmas spirit the other day after a really fun afternoon of Christmas-candy making with some friends. While we were all indoors recreating Williams-Sonoma's peppermint bark (Natalie's vision and we're all so glad she had it), our town was dumped on with big beautiful snowflakes. It was so pretty outside! It seemed like the perfect day to put on some Christmas music and decorate the house.
The next day we took the kids outside to play in the snow. Bobby and I were not at all surprised at Franny's eagerness to dive into the snow. She loves to get wet and dirty and doesn't care about being too cold usually. Sophie, on the other hand, did surprise us with her aversion to the cold snow. At first she was having a good time, but that all changed when the smallest little bit of snow crept between her gloves and coat sleeve and touched her skin. She could not be consoled, so we stuck her in this sleigh for a few minutes to watch us have some fun. (Sophie has a mean mommy.)
At first she pouted and tried to freeze us out. When that didn't work, it turned ugly.
Naturally, Franny could not be bothered with photographs, thus these lovely pictures...
We tried to appease Miss Sophie with a sleighride, but she wasn't too happy when she fell out of the sleigh into the cold wet snow. Franny of course had a ball. Poor Sophie, but I just love figuring out their little personalities and how they can be so different!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I had fun coming up with this recipe and was really happy with the result. Scones are really fun to play test kitchen with because they're so easy and roll out so quickly.
2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp almond extract
2/3 c buttermilk
glaze for scones:
1 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbs milk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
Mix dry ingredients in food processor. Add diced butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add orange zest and pulse again. Add buttermilk and almond extract all at once and process until dough starts to come together. Then add almonds and pulse 2 or 3 more times. Pat dough on a floured surface into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into circles or half-moons. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and brush with glaze.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This was taken at the bowling alley the night before Thanksgiving. Franny's a pretty good bowler. I love this picture!
Here are some of Franny's words that have been flying around my house lately:
When Sophie cries or whines, "Sophie, use your words!"
"Hi Miss Mommy" and my favorite: "Hi Miss Daddy!"
If we're in a hurry and I don't bother putting socks on with her shoes, she says, "bye-bye socks."
"Give her the hug"- then she comes up to me and hugs me.
She's learning about actions at school and she'll start running and then she'll say, "What am I doing? Running!" Today I saw her jumping and I said, "What are you doing?" And she stopped and bent over, touched the ground with one hand and reached towards the ceiling with the other hand and said, "Stretching!"
Narration for all of our actions: "Daddy sleeping." "Sophie crying." "Mommy go potty."
It's really fun to see how much her speech and language have improved. I'm so grateful for the wonderful people who work with her and help her to achieve so much.
Sophie has had some things to say lately, too. I made this in photoshop a few weeks ago but never put it on my blog because I got busy with Thanksgiving. It's a strange feeling for Bobby and I to feel so calm about Sophie's development. Of course we are grateful and relieved with how well she is doing, but it also makes us feel a little sad for Miss Franny and how hard she's had to work to learn the things that seem to come so easy to Sophie. Most of the time, we try not to compare our children, but it's not always easy.
I am really excited about Sophie's new words, though. Today Bobby was leaving and she waved at him and said, "bye!" in her sweet and tiny little voice. It was so cute!
2 cups crushed chocolate wafers (I grind them up in my food processor. I couldn't find the traditional chocolate wafers that we usually use, so this time I made my sister Maggie scrape the cream filling off a bag of Oreos.)
5 Tbs butter, softened
1 half-gallon peppermint ice cream, softened slightly
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3 egg whites
Combine wafer crumbs and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl; reserve 1/4 cup for topping (I skip this step and use all the crumbs for the crust.) Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread ice cream over and freeze.
In a medium size saucepan melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove from heat and gradually add beaten egg yolks, stirring continuously. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Mix together and cool thoroughly. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into cooled chocolate mixture. Spread over ice cream layer, sprinkle with reserved crumbs and freeze. Allow to soften slightly before cutting into squares and serving.
A couple hints with this recipe- this last time I put the crust in the freezer for 30 minutes before I spread the ice cream, that made it easier to spread. Also, heat the chocolate VERY slowly. I almost always screw the sauce up once and have to start over. This time I screwed it up TWICE. I probably should have just pulled out the double boiler. This fudge sauce can't be beat. I also always make sure to prepare this the night before I plan to serve it, so it has plenty of time to harden. I love this recipe!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have no picture of the beautiful golden turkey. I feel a little bit sad about that, but I do have a funny story to share. I brought the turkey to Natalie's house to roast. (Thank you Natalie!) I brought it over at 6:45 AM and knew it would need a long time to roast due to it's enormous size. At 1:30, two hours before showtime, I called Ashley who was staying at Natalie's for an update on the bird's internal temperature. She checked the thermometer and reported a whopping 197 degrees! I couldn't stifle the "WHAT?!!!" when I heard such a high number. Luckily, I had inserted the thermometer into the wrong part of the turkey, and the temperature was exactly where it needed to be. Phew!! I ended up using a combination of this and this for my brine. I stuffed the cavity with the apple-sausage stuffing, which tasted fabulous by the way.
A disclaimer: I was having camera issues that day but no time to deal with them, so the pictures I do have leave something to be desired. That said, let's get a look at the food!
My mother's artichoke dip. This recipe is a holiday party staple in our family. It's easy and delicious and gets the people going! I don't know about that last bit, but it's definitely a crowd-pleaser. 1 cup mayo, 1 cup shredded parmesan, 1 softened package of cream cheese, 1 drained can of artichoke hearts, blended with a hand mixer and baked in a dish at 350 for one hour. Serve with tortilla chips. Also pictured above is the spinach gratin. It was definitely good, but I'm not sure it can hold its own on the Thanksgiving table and therefore will most likely not be making an appearance next year.
Ah, here are my two FAVORITE Thanksgiving side dishes. Mmmm.... raspberry pretzel jello salad and Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples.
We were lucky enough to have Ashley's famous dinner rolls prepared by Ashley herself and served with raspberry butter. Also, a delicious homeade cranberry sauce prepared by Chrissy that was perfect. And here is my Thanksgiving dinner plate masterpiece. I love all the pretty bright colors- like an artist's palette! (Not pictured: creamed corn. Creamed corn and I have had a volatile relationship ever since my Mom forced me to eat it as a kid and I gagged. Maggie loves it and insisted on Aunt Gayle's recipe. She and I have had several conversations about my creamed corn aversion and this time something she said finally got through to me: corn, cream, and parmesan cheese.... what's not to like? Hmmm... a valid point, Maggie. Well put. Still couldn't make room on my Thanksgiving plate for it, however. Maybe next year I'll make a little room for some yellow.)
I am so glad I only made two pumpkin pies, and not three. I also made an apple pie and my mother's peppermint dessert. I thought it seemed like an appropriate way to usher in the Christmas season after a big Thanksgiving meal. I am fully aware that I think about food way too much. Even with all the people, we still had a lot of leftover dessert, so I've been having a little helping of each of them with just about every meal since Thursday. Naughty.
And our guests. (Bobby is missing from this photo because he was helping Franny.) We were so glad to be able to have friends and family with us on Thanksgiving. I had so much fun with all of you. I am so pleased with my first Thanksgiving-hosting experience and I think my Mom would be proud. I tried to do it "Marianne-style" and even got to use her table cloth and napkins and Thanksgiving salt and pepper shakers, thanks to my Dad. He also brought See's candy like she always served at parties. Dad, you're the best. It was fun to use the china she helped me pick out and the beautiful Lenox casserole dish she surprised me with at one of my bridal showers for the mashed potatoes. There is nothing like having the perfect serving dish! Thanks for coming everyone and for all your help! Some of you had to travel to get to us and we were so grateful to have you all there with us.
Monday, November 26, 2007
1 cup chopped pineapple
3 cups diced cooked turkey
1 cup celery, sliced on the slant
1 cup diced apples (Rome, Winesap, or any red-skinned variety)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
Toss pineapple in large bowl with turkey, celery, apple, and pomegranate seeds. In separate bowl, combine mayonnaise and sour cream. Toss dressing with turkey mix in the larger bowl. Garnish with additional pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds.
This vegetable recipe is so good, I would almost call it a dessert. It is so delicious! I don't make it that much because it seems a little too labor-intensive for a side dish, but it is worth it!
Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled
3/4 pound zucchini
1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, gratedPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Brush a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.
Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes until browned. Serve warm.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Some of us made the drive to Nauvoo today to go to the temple and see some of the sites. It was a really nice day. We had a wonderful time. I'm so happy they're here. I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was funny- it seems like every time we're together for a long car ride, no matter what time of day it is, everyone zonks out and takes a nap while my Mom or Dad drives us home. Well tonight it was me driving my slumbering family home. Which is weird, because as I've said before, I'm a borderline narcoleptic, so it doesn't seem very prudent to let me drive in the dark unsupervised. It was great to be together and laugh and talk.
We asked this groundskeeper to take our picture after our session and he sweetly offered to walk with us to a spot he knew of where he could get the whole temple in the picture. But my heart sank when he crouched down to take a picture from every woman's least favorite angle. Yuck. Oh well, I'm posting it anyway. Just know I am not happy with that picture. Oh yeah, and I'm glad he was sure to include the horse's rear in the photo.
Yikes- it's really late. I'm going to go to bed before I think too much about all the ladybug nonsense I just wrote about.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Mom's artichoke dip with tortilla chips
Smoked salmon served with crackers, cream cheese and lemon wedges
Turkey (still working on the recipe. Looking for the perfect brine.)
Green Bean Casserole (courtesy of French's Fried Onions and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom- per Maggie's request)
Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples
Raspberry Pretzel Jello
Creamed Corn (Aunt Gayle's recipe)
Rolls (Ashley's recipe)
Pumpkin Pie (3)
Peppermint Dessert (this is my mother's recipe. It is fabulous! Will post the recipe when I get a spare minute.)
What other dessert can you prepare in five minutes with a baby on your hip?
But I don't follow the recipe. I'm about to share the secret to really amazing rice krispie treats with you.
Start with one bag of marshmallows- large, mini, it doesn't matter which. Now here come's the secret. Add 1 cube of butter instead of the 1/4 cup the recipe suggests. Trust me.
Melt in microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Mix marshmallows and butter until butter melts and mixture is smooth. (If the butter doesn't melt, microwave for an extra 15 seconds or so.)
Now this part I'm afraid I can't teach you. I just pour the rice krispies into the bowl without messing with measuring cups. I can tell you that it's nearly a whole 15 oz. box of cereal.
Mix away. What we're trying to avoid here is big gloppy amounts of white marshmallow. That is how all the recipes on the backs of marshmallow bags and on the side of rice krispie boxes try and lead you astray. You see, what I'm proposing is not actually doubling the butter (although that's not always a bad idea), but reducing the marshmallows by half. Once the marshmallow-butter mixture is evenly mixed in, pour into a pan and allow to set. Enjoy, and come back and tell me about it.