Wednesday, December 5, 2012

THE Meal (a slightly delayed post)

Okay, I am finally getting around to posting about our first Thanksgiving here in Washington. It was pretty great! Since Jacob kept me home from work almost that entire week, I had plenty of time to prepare our meal. And boy, did I prepare a meal! I must admit, I'm a pretty darn good cook. The key is finding great recipes, so... I'm sharing some of mine here. Lucky you!

First up was brining the turkey. Brining is a must for a super juicy, tender, flavorful bird. Here is the recipe I used for my brine :
  • 3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
  • 2 gallons Cold Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  • Peel Of Three Large Oranges
Bring all of the ingredients, except the water, to a boil in a large pot. Allow it to cool (I put mine outside for a couple of hours). Then, put turkey in a brining bag (I got mine at Target, or you can use a CLEAN 5 gallon bucket), add cooled brine mixture, and the 2 gallons of water. Let turkey sit refrigerated for 24 hours (or outside if its cold enough where you live, I put mine in a cooler in the garage so the bears couldn't get it. Seriously, I have bears), then rinse the brine off before roasting the turkey.
 Here is Asher, very curious about my brined turkey.

When it comes to roasting, I just discovered the absolute best way of roasting for a beautiful, moist, evenly cooked bird.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and heat oven to 425.  Rub turkey all over with 4 T softened butter. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place bird breast side down in roasting pan. (On a V rack if you have one- I didn't and it was fine). Chop 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 ribs celery. Place vegetables in the pan.  Roast for one hour. Remove from oven. Lower oven to 325. CAREFULLY turn turkey breast side up, emptying drippings from the cavity into the pan in the process. Return to oven and continue to roast about 2 hrs until a thermometer in the thigh reads 175 (my 22 lb bird needed 2 1/2 hours). Remove from oven, transfer to carving board, and allow to rest for 30-40 minutes before carving. Ta da!
 My glorious bird
 Rolls, before they were baked. I totally cheated and used frozen Rhodes rolls, they were awesome.
 Adam's professional carving job on the turkey
 The spread, which included: The turkey, rolls, stuffing (from a box, of course!), green bean casserole (recipe here), candied sweet potato casserole (here), creamy mashed potatoes (here), cranberry sauce AND jelly, olives, and amazing gravy. Appetizers were muddy buddies (a classic!), and a cheese ball. I baked my little heart out, and could have fed an army. Dessert was a store bought pumpkin pie (I'm not that good!); and it didn't even come close to my Grandma Patty's homemade pie. Oh well!

I forgot to mention- Adam has been super sick with this awful cold for about a month. He's been on antibiotics and steroids. Finally Thanksgiving Day he went to Urgent Care again, was put on a different antibiotic, more steroids, and now he is back to his healthy self. I think he just wanted to get out of the house and away from our little monkeys for a couple of peaceful hours!
 Sweet little Jacob-man that night
 Thanksgiving was pretty great. We missed the extended family, but it was nice having a relaxing day with my little family. The day after Thanksgiving, we decorated the house for Christmas and listened to carols. Then, I took Taylor and Jonny to see "Rise of the Guardians" with Jonny's buddy Jake and his mom. Cute movie!
Jon being a silly sticker monster!

I was looking forward to everyone being healthy come Monday. And wouldn't you know it, Jonathan came down with a fever Sunday night. Gaah! Thankfully, my boss is amazing, and I work with only 2 people in a huge office suite, so Jon came to work with me and set up house in the guest office.
He got tired of mixing up his office with the other two, so he created the sign above and taped it to the wall. Cute kid!

He felt better that night, and went back to daycare Tuesday (much to his disappointment, he wanted to go to work with me again!). Life has resumed normalcy since (knock on wood!).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just When You Thing You Have Things Under Control...

 Well, rather foolishly, I've been thinking lately that things are going pretty smoothly around here. Life doesn't feel like constant chaos anymore. We have time to just BE. Like watching Arthur Christmas with all the kids on the weekend!

Then- Jacob gets a fever at daycare the Monday before Thanksgiving, and throws a wrench in everything. I have to leave work early, because Adam is in crunch time at school (end of the quarter, finals are next week!).

I was frazzled and stressed, and Papa John's came to the rescue for dinner that night (the on n Issaquah has hot & ready pepperoni pizza's for only $5!).

The Washington State Health Department doesn't allow a child to go to school/daycare until they have 24 hours WITHOUT a fever. So, I took Tuesday off of work also, thinking surely his fever would be gone that day and he could go back to daycare Wednesday. Nope. Still had a fever Tuesday.

So Jacob and I paid a visit to Urgent Care (He is trying desperately to escape the doctor's office in t his pic). I hoped it was an ear infection, because he could start antibiotics and go back to daycare Wednesday still. Nope- couldn't figure out what was wrong. Uuugh. I called in and took Wednesday off of work as well. Goodbye sick days.
On the bright side, Jacob was a really sweet boy while I was home with him. And- Taylor lost her top tooth! She woke up, and it had fallen out in her sleep and was on her tongue.

In other good (okay, pretty stinking AWESEOME) news, Taylor won the Reflections contest at her school! If you have school age kids, you knwo what this is. For those who don't: It is a voluntary art contest, held every year. Each school has one, and those winners move on to the school district, then the state, etc. They have a theme, and you can submit visual art, photography, dance, music, etc.

The theme this year was The Magic of a Moment. Taylor spent a lot of time thinking and planning her artwork. She painted a watercolor blue sky, then used oil pastels to draw the branches of an apple tree. Then she cut out scraps of fabric for the leaves, and for the apples. She wrote a paragraph about how magical it was to spend time with her family this summer, playing in the apple tree, napping under it, and even eating the apples. (Sorry, I don't have a pic, it's on Adam's phone!)

Anyway, she was very proud of it (so was I!) so I matted it (Thank you Mr. Egan for teaching me how important the presentation of your artwork is!), and she dropped it off at school. We anxiously waited weeks to find out, and last Wednesday found out she won for Best Interpretation in the Visual Arts category for her school. Woo Hoo! We go to an Open House at the high school in early January, and then we will find out if she wins for the district (fingers crossed!).

(On a side note- I can't wait to get the painting back, because I robbed the mat from my large family portrait and it looks very odd without it!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

All is Well!

Well, we got up bright and early today, and took the WHOLE family to Seattle Childrens for Asher's cardiologist appointment today. I did not have my thinking cap on when I made his appointment, and didn't realize November 12th was Veterans Day and school AND daycare would be closed. Oops. It's a good thing they have an awesome sibling daycare/playroom at the hospital (although Jacob is too young for it, so we still had wrestle with him during the appointment)!
Here is my big boy getting an EKG done. He was less than thrilled with this, and this was the calmest he was for it. Oh well... hopefully in 6 months at his next appointment, he will understand a little better and won't be so scared of the wires.

Asher had an echocardiogram done today, also. They wanted to check his heart, valves, arteries, etc. and see how they are doing. At Primary Childrens, Asher was always sedated for these (because he is crazy active and wouldn't sit still to save his life). Here at Seattle Childrens, they only sedate if it is absolutely necessary. So, Asher was NOT sedated, and actually did quite well! He was upset at first, he didn't like the gel on his chest, and the wand scared him. But "Cars" and a bubble machine helped. He finally settled down, and I explained to him that she was looking at pictures of the inside of his body on her computer. He thought that was cool, and started looking at the computer screen instead of the movie. I asked him where his heart was, and he showed me (smart boy!), and I told him that the pictures were his heart. I think he understood me; at any rate, it kept him pre-occupied!

So- the appointment went very well. There is a very slight leak in his pulmonary valve, but otherwise no issues. Yay! he will continue to be monitored every 6 months, but no major imaging will be done until he shows symptoms, or the echo shows a problem. Dr. Likes thinks it will likely be years before we need to do any intervention with his heart. YEARS! That sounds so fantastic.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I'm Alive!

I know, I know, it's been a LONG time!
Life is moving along here. We enjoyed a beautiful, mild, long summer in Washington. Adam did stellar for his first quarter of college- he earned a 4.0! Woo-hoo! He's almost done with his second quarter, and is doing quite well again.

I got a job! I started the end of June. I am an administrative assistant for Healthcare Realty (a publicly traded REIT that owns and manages medical properties in 28 states). I assist the asset manager of 5 different medical office buildings in Washington and Oregon. I love it! I work out of our office in Bellevue, in a beautiful, brand-spanking-new medical tower that we manage. It's a great job- I started interviewing for it when we still lived in Utah. I thought it was a long shot, but I kept moving on to the next interview process. I was elated when I got the job- it was my top choice of all the companies I interviewed with.  

Life has been busy, busy. The kids got to school/daycare/pre-school while I work, and Adam goes to school. Our day starts bright and early at 6am, and most days we aren't home until 6pm. But it's worth it, and we are so glad we are here and have this opportunity for Adam to go to school.

Most recently, we enjoyed Halloween:
Jacob was an adorable dragon- all of my kids have worn this costume now!
Asher was a milk-chugging vampire
John was Batman- the costume doubled as his birthday present (in September)

For some reason Taylor's picture won't load- She was a bride. Imagine her in her baptism dress, only with a veil and flowers.

I took the day off of work and went to the daycare Halloween Party, and Taylor's class Halloween Party. Then, I had a meeting with Early Intervention and the Issaquah School District to discuss Asher's transition into the District's therapy program when he turns 3 in April. It's crazy to even think about! He will be in their pre-school, 2 1/2 hours a day, 4 days a week. Speech, feeding, and Occupational therapists will come in on a regular basis to work with him there.

In other news- Asher has his next cardiology appointment Monday! Can't believe it came so fast. Keep your fingers crossed for good results. He seems to be doing well, but you never really know.

That's all for now- I'll post Monday about his appointment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Taylor's Baptism

Taylor Marie turned 8 the end of May, and chose to be baptised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This past Saturday was her baptism; her daddy baptised her, and she wore a dress that I made for  her, from my wedding dress. The weather was very nice, and she and I had fun taking some sweet pictures of her at a park near our church.
 She was a wonderful little model
 She had a great day, and felt very special
 Our cousin who also lives in Washington was able to come to the baptism with her children
 There were also several other church members there, and her teacher at church
 It was nice having people there to support her, since we are SO new to Washington and have very little family here
 We had a nice simple barbecue at our house afterwards
 The best part for the kids: ice cream sundaes
 After our cousin and the kids left, we decided to take advantage of the rest of the nice weather
 We took Taylor to the Deseret Book in Bellevue and let her pick out a gift (she chose a Liahona). Earlier in the day I also gave her the bible I received from my Grandmother when I was baptised.
 After the store, we went to a a beach park in Bellevue
 It was a great little hidden gem, tucked in a neighborhood that has waterfront property on Lake Washington
 It was a great way to round out the day. It was a very special, lovely, and relaxing day. I can't believe my little baby is already 8!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Surprise! A LONG Overdue Post

Soo... We moved! April 30th we packed up or home of the last almost 7 years, and moved to Washington (the State). A couple of months ago, after EXTENSIVE thought, prayer, research, and discussion, we decided that Adam needs to go back to school. He is pursuing a degree in Medical Dosimetry (an advanced degree in Radiation Therapy, treating cancer patients). It is a very big change for us. We sold our home in Utah, found an adorable place to rent in Washington, and I am now looking for a full time job here. Needless to say, the past few months have been BUSY! Now we are here, and we absolutely love it. We truly haven't been happier.
 Our adorable home- 4 bedrooms and sits on just shy of an acre. Surrounded by the forest, and across the street from a lake.
 Our vintage 1940's doorknocker on our front door. The little hatch opens from the inside to see who is there- so stinking cute!
 Pretty girl climbing one of the massive, ancient apple trees in our yard.
 Dining room light fixture
 Cute boy in the apple tree
 Our town has a wonderful little farmers market. We go almost every Saturday, and they have amazing flowers for dirt cheap. This huge bouquet was $5!
 The trail across the street from our house, that runs alongside the lake. I go running on this almost every day.
 Lake Sammamish
 Little Lu on her first day of her new school
 Many evenings we can be found having a nice campfire in the backyard
 Our garden- the fence needs to be taller to help fend off the deer. It's a work in progress!
Cute little monkeys! We walked to the lake, and Ash got super wet. So, we stripped him down for the walk back home.

Things are great here. Job hunt is going well- I just started looking, and already had 3 interviews in the last week. Adam registers for classes on Tuesday; school starts the last week of June. In the meantime, we are just enjoying our extended vacation. More posts to come- we finally have Internet figured out here!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sweet Little Lu

This girl.

She can be the sweetest little thing ever.

Our elderly neighbor, who we love dearly, recently spent some time in the hospital. We nearly lost him. When Taylor heard the news, she knew just what to do. She sat and drew an adorable picture for him of his garden (it is an amazing garden!), and wrote a get well note for him. She ran it right over. I didn't think much of it- Taylor is always making little things for people. The next day I was in the driveway, waiting for Tay to come out so we could run errands. My neighbor was getting mail, and came over asking for Taylor. She came out, and he said he had a treat for her. He told her how much he liked her picture and note, and gave her 3 candy bars. So sweet- you never know how something small can touch someone else.

The elementary school is doing "candygrams" this week. It's a little card, with a sucker attached. You buy them for 25 cents, put your name on the card, and they deliver them to whoever you want at school. I gave Taylor 50 cents today so she could send two. When she came home, I asked who she sent them to. "Samantha and Mr. Austin" Who is Mr. Austin? Her teacher, her principal? Maybe a counselor, or librarian? No-Mr. Austin is the janitor at the elementary school. Adam has helped him a few times at RC Willey, and Taylor thought it would be nice to send him a candygram. Seriously, so sweet. I told Adam about it tonight, and he said that probably made Mr. Austin's year.

Love this girl.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who Knew...

Who knew that this silly little California girl...

And this adorable little Nebraska boy...
Would grow up, and meet at a mall in Utah. And date, and date some more, and get ENGAGED!

Then, get married....

Have a blast on their honeymoon...

And still be going strong, nine years and 4 kids later!

The last nine years have been a whirlwind... we've had our ups and downs, but the positive experiences far outweigh the negative. I wouldn't change anything we've gone through together- our trials have shaped who we are today. I look forward to facing many more storms together (though hopefully not TOO many!), and enjoying every ounce of sunshine that comes our way.

I love you Mr. James! Happy Anniversary!