Monday, January 31, 2011

For the Grandmas: 1/31/11, the Julia Edition

Julia is full of creative energy these days. She is constantly mimicking real life and finding objects around the house to help her out. For example: she likes to play "Sacrament Meeting." She pulls out the guitar stand and reconstructs it so it looks like a microphone:

Then she says, "Welcome, brothers and sisters!" And there is a song and a prayer and announcements and all sorts of stuff. The other day she had a pencil and was waving it around saying, "Repent!" Kids pick up a lot more than we think.

A week or so ago we happened to see a folk music group having a jam session. One of the instruments was a bass. A few days later, Julia was found playing her own bass, made of her wand and the ukulele. She even gave us a concert. And we got it on video!

It's a long video. But it is pretty impressive how well she knows I Am a Child of God, even if the last bit is a little rocky. I especially like the line, "To live with me someday."

Clark was trying to teach her to catch the other day. The attempt was hilarious. Especially when it devolved into Julia the monkey.

And finally, she has been working on writing her name. This was completely unprompted. She was coloring and said, "Look, I wrote my name!" And she really did. Oh, not well, mind you. But there was most definitely a J, and she knows that the L is a line, the I has a dot, and the A is a circle. I thought it was pretty impressive. If I could find the paper, I'd post it. But being the amazing mother I am, I lost it. Oopsy. No one ever put me in charge of documenting special events, ok?

For the Grandmas: 1/31/11, the Ella Edition

Ella has been working on a few things the last couple of weeks. First, we started her on solid foods. Our first attempts with rice cereal were less than successful. Meaning not at all successful. And then we tried oatmeal. Oatmeal seemed to be much better. She was eating the whole bowl without complaint. And getting a fabulous oatmeal beard in the process:
Then I tried rice cereal again one night on a whim, only to discover that she most definitely still hated the rice cereal, and then the next night would have nothing to do with the oatmeal either. It's like she wasn't going to be fooled into eating the gross stuff. No sir. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. So then I thought I'd try applesauce. Everyone likes applesauce! Everyone but Ella, it turns out. I'm not sure if she was still concerned about the rice cereal or what, but she hated that applesauce with the fire of a thousand suns. It was like I was poisoning her. She'd spit it out violently, fling the spoon across the room, and bawl her eyes out. Which is really uncommon behavior for my sweet Ella. So I have now purchased a variety of baby foods and we'll just keep trying until we find one we like. Squash is first up. She seemed to do pretty well with it tonight. Clark was feeding her. Maybe that helped. I'm hopeful.

Next, she's been working on her jumping. Ella does not like to sit. I'm not entirely sure how well she can sit on her own, because if you sit her down it's only a matter of seconds before she tries to either stand up or lunge for a toy. And if she's standing, you'd better believe she'll be jumping. In a stroke of genius, I bought her a Johnny Jump Up. It arrived on Saturday. Best purchase I've ever made. She loves the thing. Here's the proof:

And finally, she's been getting ready to crawl. The days of putting Ella on a blanket to play are about over. She is most definitely mobile, she rolls and scoots and turns in circles to get where she wants to go. She also goes backward, but I don't think that's on purpose. And in the past week she's started getting up on her hands and knees and rocking back and forth. She's so close. And she's been a bit of a fuss bucket lately, and a crummy sleeper to boot, so I'm hoping she'll figure this crawling thing out and let us all get some sleep.

Weekly Quote 1/31/11

"Couldn't keep quiet, could we? Just had to invite him to stay, didn't we? 'Serve him tea. Sit in the master's chair. Pet the pooch.'"

Beauty and the Beast is an all-time favorite of mine. New quote up!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The More Things Change. . .

Before we moved, a sister from the Green Springs ward told me something very wise. She said that after you move, once you get settled in, you'll find that your life is just the same as it was before, just with different people. I've been thinking a lot about that lately, and feeling that it is really, really true.

OK, St George and Midland are definitely different. I feel like in St George you have a fair number of people who were born and raised there, who have their mom and sister and cousin down the street, and then a bunch of retired people. In Midland, there are very few "lifers," at least in our ward, which is the only way I meet people, so that is what I am basing all this off of. A lot of people move here to work for Dow, and then after a few years they move on. And our first week at church Clark looked at me and said, "Where are all the old people?" So it's a different demographic.

Obviously, there is the weather. Need I say more?

We are in a completely different part of the country. We're in the "Midwest" I suppose, that's what people keep saying, but I'd call it the Great Lakes region. But most definitely not the West. And being further from the Mexican border means? NO MEXICAN RESTAURANTS! Ok, that's a lie. There are 2. Taco Bell, and Qdoba. So maybe that wasn't a lie. No. Mexican. Restaurants. And, in fact, not many Hispanic people in general. One of the movers mentioned that there are Mexican restaurants around. If you go down to Utica. To which I had to say, Uh, remember how we just moved here? I have no idea where Utica is. Turns out it's in the Detroit area. I have to go to Detroit for a burrito. Not good, my friends, not good.

You get the point. Things are different.

And yet, things are the same. We still go to church every week. Clark still goes to work, and does vaguely the same things, and I still stay home with the girls. We still go to storytimes whenever we can, and in the summer I'm sure we'll hit up the parks, of which there are MANY. We still go through the same motions, there are just different people surrounding us. It's really quite amazing, actually, how quickly this place has felt like home. So go ahead, call us Michiganders. I think we'll be here a while.

For the Grandmas: 1/18/11

I dressed the girls in matching outfits the other day, which I think is so cute, so I pulled out the camera.

I even took a video! We are forever singing the Mellow Yellow song for Ella Bella. And Julia likes to do the, "Quite rightly," part, but she often sings, "Quite quite lee," and I think it's darling.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Quote 1/17/11

"It's got raisins in it. You like raisins."

I love Better Off Dead so much. And I'm so glad we got it for Christmas. But, as I watched it recently, I realized that I really can't recommend it to others. It's so random. And kind of weird. In more than one spot. But I love it, and I think it's hilarious! I could quote it all day. And, in fact, did so not very long ago.

New quote up!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Chocolate Cake

Here is the recipe for my from-scratch cake. And the frosting recipe is there as well. Yummy yummy!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

For the Grandmas: 1/4/11

Yesterday the girls were having fun playing on our stripped bed. Ella basically thinks Julia is the most hilarious, fascinating ball of fun to ever exist. We got some great laughs on this video:

And then we had some fun taking pictures. Here are my favorites.

My cute girls.

And Julia is off!

Look at that drool, LOOK at that DROOL!

Fake smile.

Real smile!

And then Julia got a hold of the camera and snapped one of mom.

Good times.

Monday, January 03, 2011

30 by 30, #18: Bake a cake from scratch

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

Thanks to the invention of the cake mix, any 13-year-old with a sweet tooth can whip up a chocolate cake, and pop open a can of frosting to go with it, if she so desires. I was just such a 13-year-old, and thus I have been baking cakes for a long time. Cake mix cakes. Sweet, fairly tasty, and easy. My life was transformed when I discovered The Cake Mix Doctor. My cakes went from regular-from-the-box to delicious-moist-to-die-for. I was pretty happy with my discovery, especially since these new cakes were in no way difficult. Make a cake mix cake, add a few ingredients, voila!

But as I was creating my 30 by 30 list, I came to the conclusion that I don't recall having ever baked a cake from scratch. (Maybe I have, maybe I haven't, my long-term memory apparently sucks.) So I decided now was the time. Since "Create a new recipe" was on the list too, I figured that baking a cake from scratch might help me in that area as well.

I searched and searched for a recipe (really, I just asked my friend Al for one), and decided on a chocolate cake. Christmas Eve, we had the missionaries over for dinner, so we needed a dessert. And I thought to myself, "Why don't we bake a birthday cake for Jesus? What a fun idea!" It was the perfect opportunity to bake the cake.

The results? Well, take a look (at a picture taken the next day, because, of course, I forgot to take a picture before we ate it):

It was absolutely delicious! So moist, and the frosting was my favorite part I think. Sweet and smooth and buttery. I was glad to have made it. Compared to a straight box cake? Oh, about 20 times better. 200 times better. Much preferred. Compared to a Cake Mix Doctor cake? Oh, probably about the same. Both are fabulous.

I think the most surprising part of this whole endeavor was that baking a cake from scratch is almost no different from baking a cake from a box. Scratch cakes require you to measure out the flour and sugar and all that stuff. And then, it's almost exactly the same. I was shocked at how easy it really is.

Will I make a "from scratch" cake again? Well, sure. I am definitely not going to shy away from it, now that I know how simple it is. And especially that recipe, it was really quite good. But, will I eschew all cake mixes? No. Nothing wrong with making someone else measure the ingredients for you. Especially if you doctor it up.

Random side note: I was worried we'd run out of cocoa for the frosting, so I sent poor Clark to the grocery store on Christmas Eve, and then it turned out we had just barely enough, so I felt bad that I'd made him go get it, but he was out doing shopping anyway (Christmas shopping, on Christmas Eve) so I didn't feel too bad.

Weekly Quote 1/3/11

"There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago."

Another Christmas song with lyrics that don't make much sense. Ghost stories? All I can think of is possibly A Christmas Carol, which has ghosts, but I wouldn't call it a ghost story. And that is only one, not "stories." So, whatever. Christmas is over. New quote up!