Advent Calendar Activities: December 2-3

Muffin is enjoying the advent season because each day Ketchup the Elf moves to a new location, he gets to build a Lego piece for his Lego City advent calendar, and he gets to complete a new fun activity.

On Tuesday, Muffin built a mailbox for his advent calendar.  Ketchup the Elf planned to hang out and complete some cleaning.  But…watching the Frosty movie on Netflix didn’t happen.  Josh and Muffin were batching it that night since I had to work at a basketball game.  They played Minecraft instead.

Even though Josh’s birthday was Wednesday, Muffin and I let him open his presents Tuesday night after I got home from the game.

Wednesday, Josh’s birthday, coincided with the day to take our family picture for the Christmas card.

Wednesday’s Lego advent calendar creation was a snowman.

Ketchup the Elf was feeling a bit bashful.

How are your advent activities going?

Datus Nightus Interruptus: Muffin’s Spaceship!

Earlier this evening when Josh and I sat down to enjoy the Mama and Dada part of date night, Muffin didn’t seem to appreciate that concept.  He kept wanting to interrupt, playing games on the tablet with his own onomatopoeia sound effects, wanting popcorn, wanting a drink, having to go potty…you get the idea.

And then…he came to ask if he could build a spaceship.  He’s been watching Star Wars lately and playing the LEGO Star Wars (free) game on his iPOD.  When we told him he could, but that he had to build it in his room, he quickly came back out to show us what he had built.

At the time, it would have been after 10 P.M. Ontario time, but he wanted us to call Grandma (Josh’s mom) immediately so that she could see it.  He also wanted me to come and snuggle, something that has become a nightly ritual this week.

I decided right then and there that 1) I would photograph his spaceship during “snuggle time” for posterity (really–it’s the biggest one that he’s built to date) and 2) I would take the picture and post it on here so that grandma, his aunts, and anyone else reading the blog could see it.

So, here goes:

Winter Weather Warning and a Milestone…

For the past three weeks, we have watched as much of the west of the nation has had wild and wooly weather (snow, ice, sleet, ice storms, and the like).  Even my sister in the lower half of the state was down for the count, not once, but twice.

Yes, for the first time in over three years (and the second time as well), we had beautiful, fat snowflakes falling.  But snow doesn’t get us out of school.  And when you are a teacher who have students that expect a Snow Day…those days of complaints are not fun.  So, yesterday, we were all jazzed when it looked like (finally) the wild and wooly weather would hit.  We were under a winter weather advisory (for the third time this year…which should have clued us in to what an advisory entails…pretty much no accumulation…or in the case of last night…nothing).  We watched district after district around us announce school closures (Did I mention we don’t deal well with winter weather around here?  Considering the last time we had a winter-weather bad weather day I was pregnant with Muffin–pretty much four years ago–that should give you an idea of how often we experience winter precip.  So, I know people to the north (and in poor Atlanta) are looking down their nose at our complaints about a (lack of) winter precip.

Every district around us closed, the local community college in our district closed, a private school in our district closed, and we were open for business today.  It turns out the weather didn’t hit last night as predicted (Our weathermen get very hopeful at the thought of winter precip.  I think they are jealous of the rest of the country.)

I was gearing up for a truly horrendous day, teaching-wise.  But, oddly enough, (with only some grumbles at the beginning of a few classes) my students buckled down and did what was expected.  After all, several noted that the weather still had the chance of being bad tonight.  I pooh-poohed this, tired at this point of over-eager weathermen and their overzealous and overly optimistic guesses about winter weather.  (Especially since this morning they were a bit gun shy and had backed off from the prediction of bad weather)  So, I countered every “But we won’t be here tomorrow” with “Well, the weather forecasters changed their tune and have now pretty much said nothing will happen this evening.”

Takes a bite of crow.

Removes my ice-encrusted foot from my mouth.  Really, it doesn’t taste very yummy.

The temperature held steady right at freezing all day and remained cloudy.  I called to check on Josh late in the school day, and he said he had gotten a chirp on his phone from the local news station’s weather app that there was a new warning.  I again pooh-poohed it because we were solidly in the “advisory” category.  Then, just to be on the safe side, I pulled it up.

And we were in the pink (warning!).

So, for the first time in at least four years, we were now in the category of being under a winter weather warning.  And I thought back to the drops I had seen on windshields through the window of the back door of our building.  Hmmm, this might not go so well, was my main thought.

I knew the following:

1)  We had been right at freezing for well over 24 hours.  Anything that fell from the sky weather liquid or not was going to ice and stick to surfaces.

2)  I had to drive over an overpass that was notorious for icing over on the way home.

3)  I still had to pick up Muffin at Mom and Dad’s.

I resolved right then and there to leave right after the bell rang.  I called my parents and told them of my plan and reminded them that they might want to have everyone’s favorite nudist (Muffin) put his clothes back on before I arrived there.  So that we could leave before the weather got bad.  The weather was supposed to get bad around 5.

When I walked out of the building at 2:47 to sounds that were distinctly not liquid rainfall falling, I knew that the weathermen had gotten it WRONG AGAIN!  I drove home with wintry mix hitting my windshield and my back starting to lock up from my shoulders being held rigid.  I watched the temperature for the outside being reported inside my car as a troubling 32 degrees (that’s 0 degrees to all of you metric types).  When I reached a stretch of dry road, I pressed on the accelerator as much as I dared.  I needed to get home to pick up Muffin so that we could get home before it got bad at my parents.

When I pulled into the driveway of their house, the rain (wintry mix) had just started there.  I arrived inside to find Muffin watching Tom and Jerry (whom he loves).  Then, Josh called.  He had made it home because he had been afraid of the weather and recommended we get home because it was pelting ice…hard.  And I realized as I was talking to him that ice was hitting my parents’ den window right by where I stood.

I almost screamed at Muffin in my haste to get him to the car with sleet and ice pelting all four of us (Muffin, my mom, my dad, and me).  At this point, anything that fell was sticking, so I began the long and horrifying six mile trek to our house.

Let me just say to all of those people who think I’m a wuss…I’m okay with that.  I’m okay driving in snow.  I’m sort of okay driving in rain.  But driving on icy roads scares the pooh out of me.

And these roads were icing fast.  The wheels felt spongy and didn’t act like I wanted them to.  (Did I mention that these were not snow tires or tires with chains on them?  We don’t do that here.  If you visited a shop and asked for either item, there’s no guarantee they would have any idea what you were asking about.)

I managed to make it down the stretch of highway without skidding, over the scary rickety bridge without skidding, and into the subdivision without skidding.  But when I turned onto the street, I skidded.  And I decided right then and there that I was not going to risk my health and well-being or that of Muffin tomorrow by going to work if school was not called off.  I called the school secretary to ask if it was too early to call for a sub, and she informed me (after I skidded into the driveway of our house) that school had been called off for tomorrow.

It took two hours for my back and shoulders to unclench.

Did I mention that I HATE driving on ice?

Supper still seemed to be soupy weather, so I served the soup as an appetizer with the chicken spaghetti leftovers as the main.

But, on a happier note:  Muffin (of his own free will and determination) decided he needed to use the potty both ways before bath time tonight.  Yay!  It has been a long time coming, but I’m (cautiously) optimistic that we may finally be turning the corner and leaving diapers behind…soon.

Muffin Eating Dinner

Muffin Eating Dinner

Please ignore the mess! The mixing bowl in the background (between Muffin and the white mixer) is full of frosting waiting for me to frost the cupcakes. This is of Muffin enjoying his dinner. As I said in a previous post, he really liked the wonton (I think that was his second one with the bite taken out of it in the picture), and he said he liked the chicken and made an “O” surprised face when I told him the secret ingredient was peanut butter. “I love peanut butter,” he said.
He has decided that for the second year in a row he is going to have a Thomas party (although a robot party almost edged it out). So, in upcoming weeks, you will see lots of planning for the party.

Muffin Approved

Muffin’s Dinner Plate

Rene's Dinner Plate

I’m showing Muffin’s plate because his plating is more picturesque. This is the chicken peanut sauce stir fry (see stir fry veg picture for the recipe location) with the sort-of Melissa D’Arabian Ten Dollar Dinners Ginger-Orange Wontons. I say sort of because I don’t have any fresh ginger. I was going to use chopped crystallized ginger, but I couldn’t find it (It really has been one of those days).
So, basically, my version of the recipe is as follows:

Creamy Orange Wontons
16 wonton skins
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (which didn’t quite happen this way, but the next time I make them I will have it be room temperature)
2 T orange marmalade
water, for sealing the wontons
enough vegetable oil to come 3/4 inch up the side of a heavy skillet

Blend the cream cheese and marmalade together using a fork. (It’s kinda soupy.) Add more cream cheese if you want it thicker. Per wonton: place a wonton on a small plate in front of you “diamond shaped,” points up and down left and right (rather than a square). Spoon one rounded teaspoon onto the center of the wonton. Paint the top edges of the wonton with water using your finger. If Muffin had been more interested in the project, this is the part I would have had him do. Slide the bottom up to meet the top, being sure to seal it completely and making sure that no filling is slipping out. As you can tell from the picture, some filling leaked out…a lot. Repeat, placing the filled triangles on a plate, until you run out of filling. Mine made 16. Melissa D’Arabian’s recipe (with a bit less cream cheese and marmalade) made 12. She said it makes 4 3-wonton servings.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Place 3-4 wontons in the oil at a time. When you see the desired shade of golden brown peeking out at the edges, carefully flip over. There is a lot of oil spatter in this recipe. Next time, I will fry with hot mitts on. This is not a part that Muffin can help me with.
When the other side is the desired brownness, exit the wontons to a paper-towel-lined plate, being careful not to place them on top of each other and allowing them to drain of oil. Serve warm.
Note: I mentioned that Melissa D’Arabian said that the serving size is three wontons.
Muffin ate five! This recipe is definitely Muffin Approved.

For a printable version of the recipe, please check out my recipe page.

Muffin Approved

Rene and the Hose VS. Daisy

Rene’s day began with him doing one of his favorite chores:  unloading and loading the dishwasher.  He meticulously unloads it, placing the utensils in the drawer they belong in.  After that, he sort of loads it (although sometimes he loves unloading the dishwasher so much that he tries to unload what his daddy loads).  His other jobs are to load the dishwasher with soap, close the dishwasher door, and press the start button.  In his two-year-old independence, he becomes very upset if you help him with it (or even worse, complete the job before he can).  I’m so proud of him for wanting to help out so much, but it makes me realize that my little baby is growing up.

Rene loading the dishwasher with his favorite green mug (from the Target Dollar Spot)

Daisy breakfasted on chicken gizzards.

Then Rene snapped off a few shots, including a great one of Daisy and me (I think I’m going to let him digitally capture Daisy from now on).

Ultimately, Daisy’s day did not get better.  Her America’s Next Top Model marathon was interrupted with us going to the library and Brookshire’s.  When we returned home and lunched on chili dogs (from some hot dogs that Josh had grilled and we had frozen), I dropped the chili spoon on her just behind her neck so that the chili that remained was there for her to smell, but out of her reach to eat.  So…Josh and I decided to let Rene go play outside with the hose with directions to spray Daisy.  (This was the fun highlight of Rene’s day.  I think he loved this even more than the pool, which was the original plan, or the local city park with water, which has been planned for the last two days–oh well, maybe tomorrow.)  Daisy loves water, especially “biting” it (as you will see in the pictures below), but I felt bad for her when Rene was done because she resembled more drowned rat than diva girl puppy.  Plus, she was again banished from watching her shows since she couldn’t go anywhere with carpet to mess up.

We went to Granny and Granddaddy’s to take them one of the $0.88 ground chicken pound packages we picked up today at Brookshire’s, and we all laughed because Rene’s answer to everything now is ” ‘up” for “yup.”  He is saying more and more words everyday.  Last night he repeated the words “nose,” “hand,” “hair,” and what sounded a lot like “love” to me.  Of course, when we are Skype-ing with Grandma (Josh’s mom in Ontario), he won’t say ANYTHING!  (although he did finally say ‘up a few times this morning).

In other news, Josh found out that his “two weeks of training” in Georgia for his new job will actually be two sets of two weeks.  He’s really really excited about it.  I’m so proud of him; he has waited for this opportunity for a very long time to actually be able to work in his field of study.  I’m glad he’s had these past couple of months to spend so much time with Rene before transitioning into what will be a full-time-with-lots-of-overtime job.

What funny things happened to you today? (Poor Daisy, but it really was funny!)

Cheers and Happy Laughter!

Happy Mama