Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Favorite Christmas Recipes (for next year or maybe just for anytime I get the urge to make them)

I am officially in sugar-detox mode here. I didn't even get a caramel macchiato at the Bux this morning. Gasp. Just a plain old americano. Let's just not talk about those three milk bordeauxs I ate out of the See's Candies box this morning. Mmm'kay? It's not my fault anyway - Eric got me an entire box full of just milk bordeauxs for Christmas. I have no choice but to eat them before they get stale. So, they don't count in my sugar detox this week. That's right - I will probably eat the entire box of chocolate this week. Just to get them out of the house. We'll just call it sugar detox (except for See's Candies) week. 

As long as we are on the topic of sugar, I have three new recipes that I'm going to file away for next year. (I love to say "file away" because it makes me sound like I am really organized with a filing system. But don't you worry Dad ... I'm just as disorganized as ever). One of the recipes I found on a fave food blog called Our Best Bites and it's for Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies. The only change I am making for next year is I'm going to try using a box brownie mix for the base layer. I just cannot get from-scratch brownies to come out quite right - at least not the edges. The middle of the pan was super fudge-y but the edges were way too dry. Oh, I also chose to add an extra half-batch of the chocolate glaze to the top of the brownies. Because why would you want to skimp on a layer of chocolate?

Darn! There went the sugar detox . . . a few bites of those peppermint brownies ended up in my mouth while I was setting up that picture. But, bites don't count right? Just whole brownies. And, they weren't whole . . . nope, just, oh, 20 little (really tiny) bites.

The other two recipes are both for Oreo cookie balls. Yummy, yummy Oreo cookie balls. I will also confess to eating a lot of these too, since I discovered them on Christmas Day. My amazing dessert-maker-mother-in-law, Robyn, made them. I cannot even describe how delicious these little balls of heaven are. She sent a lot of them home with us too. Yes, they are already gone. They didn't stand a chance around here.

There are Peppermint Oreo Cookie Balls. Robyn's only change to the recipe was to use the Oreos that have the green mint filling rather than the original variety.  They look like this:

If you're not super fond of peppermint, there are also Snowman Cookie Balls.  And, these you can turn into adorable little snowmen, if you are so inclined.  See . . .

(I had to use the stock photos from the Kraft website because mine are all gone.  Oops! But, the ones Robyn made did turn out just like these.)

So - y'all just go file these fab ideas away for next year.  Or go right ahead and make them tomorrow, or in the middle of summer.  Because they are just that good.  (Oh!!  And, maybe I was the last one to figure this out, but you can now buy crushed candy canes at the store or on Amazon.  I'll miss taking a plastic bag of candy canes into the garage and pounding the heck out of it with a hammer.) Happy sugar high!

Christmas Highlights

Hmmm .... this blog post is highlights of our Christmas because I just took a few pics of different parts of our Christmas season. My goal for 2012 is to learn how to use my nice Canon camera that I've had for over a year now. And then actually take pictures. Good ones. Lots of them. Our family photog/my fun friend, Daveen, said she would give me a camera lesson only after I read the instruction manual. Novel idea, eh?

So - here's a few pics of Christmas Compton-style. Some taken with my Canon, others taken with my iPhone. Ha!

My Oregon wreath on my front door:

Taking Eliza to the Nutcracker in Portland and out to dinner at Papa Haydn. In particular, watching her enjoy her very own slice of marjolaine. And, the look of awe on her face when the ballerinas were dancing on pointe. My mom took me to the Nutcracker almost every year growing up, usually just her and me. And now, I'm the mom. I loved looking in the rearview mirror and seeing that little blonde dimpled smiling sweetpea in the backseat as we drove up I-5 to Portland. And, realizing how much my mom loved having a daughter to take to the ballet.

Christmas-Eve-Eve with the Cole family. We heart them. We met the Coles when they started coming to West Valley this past year, but we feel like we've known them forever. The night was complete with cookie decorating and egg nog or chocolate milkshakes (with homemade-by-the-Coles egg nog):

This conversation between Eric and Marshall:
While walking into Marshall's messy room ...
Eric: I don't know why Santa would bring you new toys when your floor is covered with toys.
M: Santa doesn't bring me toys anyway. You guys do.
Eric: You don't believe in Santa?
M: No. I believe in God.

If you're curious about how we handle Santa at our house, check out this article.

Jameson's pure elation over his new Cozy Coupe. He likes to sit in it all day long now. I had no idea it was going to occupy him so well. But, don't try pushing him in it. He doesn't want it to move. He just likes to sit there and pretend to drive. And get out. And then get back in.:

Big kids and some of their gifts:

Three kids in matching pajamas.

Eliza's new pink coat from Papa and Nor-Nor:

Stocking love.
A visit with one of my very best friends from law school, Jen Powell. Jen is a JAG officer and lives in Omaha, Nebraska (for the moment - military life requires a lot of moving!). We try to get a visit in at least once a year when she is home. My kids love her (for her curly hair and the Christmas gifts she is always so faithful to bring them!). And, I miss her dearly. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we saw each other daily for three years, since we see each other so rarely now. (And please excuse my greasy hair in the picture - hopefully if I see Jen this week I will actually wash my hair and have a cuter pic!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

Last Saturday we joined Santa and his elves for breakfast at the McMenamin's Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland. Breakfast with Santa is pretty self explanatory. The kids each got a chance to sit with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. Here's what the kids had to say about it all:

Marshall: My favorite part was not sitting on his lap. And getting a balloon sword. (yes, that's right, Marshall refused to get anywhere near Santa. He decided that 6 years old is just too old for talking to Santa).
Eliza: My favorite part was going up there with Santa and telling him I wanted Barbies. And my flower balloon. (Oh yes, thank you Santa for telling me daughter that Barbies are a GREAT choice and that she would be getting them for Christmas. Not so much.)

Jameson just says: Thanks Papa Greg and Nor-Nor for the really cute Christmas outfit :)

The best picture I could get of all three kids:

Our family in front of the bicycle sculpture by McMenamins. Very Portland, isn't it? My kids loved it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Little Leprechaun

No, no . . . I don't have the wrong holiday. I know it is almost Christmas, not St. Patrick's Day. Remember? I have almost nothing done. Although, I made progress at Target today. Eliza really wants Barbie dolls for Christmas. Not so sure how we feel about that. But, today she saw Disney Princess dolls that are Barbie doll size and she really wanted them. Even better, they were on sale through today for 60% off. So, when we finished our shopping Eric took the kids out to the car and I went back into Target and got the dolls. Phew. Finally.

Side note: Please don't attempt Target with three children on the Saturday before Christmas. What a zoo. And, Jameson lost a boot. If anyone happens to be at the Keizer Station Target anytime soon and finds a single brown UGG baby boot I would be willing to pay you in cookies for it. And, you all know how good those cookies are!

Anyway - the leprechaun thing. Marshall has been taking Irish dance since September. We think it is fitting, seeing as he has all of that red hair. There are two boys in his class . . . and about a million girls. Marshall says that the girls are lucky because they get to be paired up to dance with each other. But the boys have to dance with girls. It is just SO cute though. Here's a couple of videos of our little leprechaun doing his thing. (Hit pause on the little music gadget/box to your right to quiet the blog music so that you can hear the video)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ballet and Birthdays

There are a lot of days with my family that I just don't want to forget. Like yesterday. And this morning. We are rapidly approaching Christmas. I'm not ready at all. So much left to do. It often makes me think of my mom and all of the work that she did getting us ready for Christmas. I have no idea how she did it while working full-time. But, being a mom has made me grateful for all of the time and effort that she put into the Christmas season for our family. And it motivates me to work joyfully to put Christmas together for my family. And, it makes me wish that my mom was still here so that I could thank her for all of the work she did year after year.

Okay - so timely. My brother just posted this picture of me with my parents during my dad's first campaign for judge. Isn't my mom beautiful?

Wow. That diverged quickly to seriousness. Back to my original train of thought ... no I'm not ready for Christmas. I have zero gifts for Eliza. none. nada. as in nothing. at. all. But, I'll get it done by Decmeber 25th. There are more important things right now, like birthday parties with friends and Eliza's ballet performance.

Yesterday was Eliza's open house for ballet. Maggie graciously came and baby-sat Jameson while Marshall and I went to watch Eliza dance .

This is Maggie (I think that she is deserving of having her picture on the blog because she cleaned my house for me yesterday while I was at the open house:

So, Eliza has the sweetest class this year with just three other little girls. The are darling. Here is a video from yesterday's open house. I realize that it is probably just the grandparents who will want to watch it!!

We also had a birthday party to go to yesterday for our good friend Owen Gay. He was turning five! It was FUN - I probably had more fun than my kids did, as we are finally out of our quarantine and it was the first time I've seen friends from church in weeks. Such a sweet bunch of kids. And such a sweet little party decorating Christmas cookies.

Eliza and sweet Ava:

Bunches of Babies - I think EVERYONE in our church who could have been pregnant in the last two years was pregnant. It was like a baby explosion. They are going to be trouble!

And, Eliza helped me finish up our Christmas cards yesterday. She stuffed so many envelopes full of cards. And provided lots of lively conversation to make it go quickly. Can I say for the millionth time that she is so sweet?!

Finally, this morning. By my kids' request here is a picture of them on the couch. Just having fun. In their pajamas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Half (Marathon That Is)

It finally arrived - the big day we'd all been waiting for - the Holiday Half-Marathon! Eric has been training for months to run his first half-marathon with our good friend, Conrad Venti. We'd been watching the Weather Channel with vigilance hoping against hope that there would be sunny skies without rain for a Sunday. In December. In Oregon.

Well, we can't say that the skies were sunny per se, but the rain was (almost) non-existent. Just a little bit of misty sprinkles. Eric's goal was to run the half-marathon in under two hours. He would be satisfied with a time of 1:59:59! So, Eric left at 5:45am to meet Conrad to drive up to Portland. The race started at 8:00 so I figured I needed to be at the finish line close to 9:50 or so in order to catch his finish.

Of course I was perfectly on time, 20 minutes early even, with all 3 kids freshly bathed in matching "Go Daddy" t-shirts and signs, and there was no crying in the car, no temper tantrum over having to wear a sweatshirt that was "itchy" and no arguments over wearing hats when it was 30 degrees outside. Yep. All of that really happened. Hmm - not so much.

Let's just say I was feeling blessed that the race had started late and that the race clock was only at 1:47:00 when we arrived at the finish line. Picture me with Jameson in the Ergo pushing both of the older kids in the double stroller while their blanket continues getting caught under the stroller wheels, oh yes, walking several blocks through a North Portland neighborhood with Eliza screaming in hysterical fear every time we were within 30 feet of a dog and Eliza somehow falling out of the stroller at one point. Woo hoo! Yay me! I'm just proud of myself that we made it! And we had 10 minutes to spare before Eric came down the final stretch (thank you race-people for starting the race late).

The kids and I found a great spot on the sidelines just ahead of the finish line. We were all entertained by the runners and their festive holiday attire. Jameson loved clapping for all of the runners as they went by. Finally, we caught the glimpse of Eric we'd been waiting for. He looked awesome and finished well as we cheered him on. His finishing time was 1:57:25, a pace of 8:57 per mile!!

Figuring that Eric had burned over 1600 calories, we thought he deserved an awesome calorie-packed lunch at one of his favorite Portland spots, Pine State Biscuits. So delicious. Nothing beats the Reggie Deluxe with Egg - see below:

Fried Chicken, Bacon, Cheese and Egg on a biscuit. All topped with gravy. Yum.
Marshall, Eliza and Jameson all devoured Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. To die for.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jameson is the Big ONE!! (and Thanksgiving too)

Jameson is ONE! I cannot believe that my THIRD baby has made it to his first birthday. And, it happened to land on Thanksgiving. We got to combine two family events into one - only one party to clean up (and it wasn't even at my house - thanks Robyn!!)

We were so blessed to have extended family together for Thanksgiving and to add a birthday cake and gifts for Jameson. He had no idea what was going on, but he had fun. Although, Eric says the cake was a little anti-climactic this time around because I've been giving Jameson sugar for months now. What am I supposed to do with my third? He watches Marshall and Eliza eat goodies and as far as Jameson knows, he is just as big as they are. So, we all give him bites. And, it is fun and he likes it.

Wow! We just adore this little guy. He has been an amazingly easy baby. Good eater. Good sleeper. Easy teether. Happy and smiley 99% of the time.

Jameson opened presents. (Read: Marshall and Eliza opened Jameson's presents and he played with them.)

All three kids received matching Christmas pajamas and slippers from Gram (thanks Robyn!). Aren't they uh-dorable? I simply heart them (the kids. the pajamas. and the cute husband in the last picture). We were all pretty tired by the end of the night but it was too good of an opportunity for a picture of all five of us to pass it up. Happy Birthday Jameson!