Monday, December 28, 2009

A Very Merry Wedding

In the middle of moving, we all went to the wedding of some dear friends, Tom and Alaina, in Friday Harbor. Nick was an usher, Bethelle was the flower girl, and Rigby the ring bearer.

Isn't Rigby cute with all those men?
Bethelle looked forward to this day for a long time. She knew she would really get to be a princess. She had tried on her beautiful dress and practiced walking. Slow and sprinkle, slow and sprinkle, slow and sprinkle...
The wedding was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. On Friday, we drove up to Anacourtes to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands. On the ferry, a fun strings-and-harmonica band was playing folk music and the kids ran and danced. The views as we navigated thru the islands were phenominal. The islands jut out of the water like forested volcanos.
Once there, we went straight to the wedding rehearsal. We knew Bethelle would be great at her part, but Rigby was a wild card, so we trained him to walk down the aisle with Twizzlers and Starburst waiting for him at the end.
Of course, Bethelle had to get the candy too. We had some pretty sugar-jittery kids by the end of practice.
After the rehearsal was the rehearsal dinner. What fun. We sat with another little family in a beautiful restaurant called Vinny's. The kids were troopers, but we did end up leaving a little early. They are not used to adult schedules. Before we left, the bride and groom handed out presents and the kids got theirs first. Bethelle ran up to the bride and whispered in her ear, "You look just like Cinderella, and that's my favorite princess!" Alaina almost teared up telling the assembly about it as she gave Bethelle her gift: a tiara, rhinestone bracelet, and a My Little Pony coloring book. Then Rigby got a race car, and Nick received a black, engraved baseball bat.
After a good night's sleep, it was all we could do to keep up with the wedding schedule. Nick had a special breakfast and usher duties to attend to and I had to get the kids ready. Isn't Bethelle's hair beautiful? I had eagerly anticipated doing that! Also, I made Rigby's vest and tie to match. Don't tell the bride, but I didn't finish it until the night before we left. I take that back; I sewed on the buttons the morning of the wedding itself.
Right at what would otherwise be nap time for Rigby, we all went to the church for pictures. Considering the lack of sleep, I would say that Rigby did fairly well. He had never missed a nap before, so I was nervous for his role he had to play. The wedding was to start at 4pm, and I wasn't sure what state he would be in.

When it came their turn to walk down the aisle, they both did so great! They walked slowly and went straight to the rest of the bridal party. Bethelle sprinkled her flower petals, and Rigby picked them back up to put in her basket! So cute.
The ceremony was beautiful, and I could really feel the spirit of the music and the words spoken. Afterwards, there were more pictures. The bridal party was all seated on pews in the church and Rigby just leaned onto the nearest bridesmaid and fell asleep.

Then we went to the dinner and reception. The bride's father, a pastor, gave a welcome speech and prayer. In the speech, he quoted Bethelle's earlier "Cinderella" comment, and said that she really was a princess today, but that someday the fairy tale would fade, and she would be Alaina again, but that what remains true is Christ. It was a beautiful speech, and again, Bethelle felt special.

As we were eating, Bethelle commented that all the princesses (bridal party) were at the front of the room except her! She needed to join them! After eating, she went straight to the bride and didn't leave her for the next hour. When the couple got up to wander through the room to greet all of their guests, Bethelle was right there with them, thanking everyone for coming to her special day.

And then the dancing. Oh, the dancing. I took Rigby and Curie back to the hotel to go to bed, but Nick and Bethelle stayed. Bethelle danced. To every song. Until midnight. She was the talk of the party. It was truly the best day of her life. The entire wedding might as well have been hers, as far as she knew.

Bethelle has two dreams: to fly with angels and to go to Disneyland. That night when I tucked her in, she was laying in bed with an unstoppable smile on her face. I said to her, "That was as fun as going to Disneyland, wasn't it, Bethelle?"

"No," she said. "It was better."

Monday, December 21, 2009

An Answer

Here is a comment from a recent post:

Just curious and for the record, Elke, did you and your brothers ever find where I hide gifts? Did you try?
Love, Mom

And here is the answer:

I once found (after looking for it... ) a big shopping bag full of what seemed to be presents in my mom's closet. Excitedly, I looked in and found a rubic-type toy (not a cube, a flat thing made of about 5 squares that fold around each other). I felt so bad about it and so disappointed at the lack of mo-jo that generally exists when you open a present, I put it back and didn't dig any deeper.

What about the rest of you readers out there? Leave me a story about finding/not finding presents. My favorite will get a Christmas itune of my choice. Tell me if you would want my favorite quirky Christmas song, or my favorite Christmas standard.

Here's What I'm Making for Christmas Dinner

This is sooooo yummy!!! A few of you out there requested this recipe when I made it at Curie's blessing dinner. Warm up your printers; here it is!

original recipe:

Scalloped Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Gratin with Fresh Herbs
1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese (about 5 ounces)

Fill large bowl with cold water. Working with 1 Yukon Gold potato at a time, peel, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and place in bowl with water. Repeat with sweet potatoes. Combine cream, butter, and garlic in medium saucepan; bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Mix all herbs in small bowl. Mix sea salt and black pepper in another small bowl.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Drain potatoes, then pat dry with kitchen towels. Transfer half of potatoes to prepared baking dish. Use hands to distribute and spread evenly. Sprinkle with half of salt-pepper mixture, then half of herb mixture. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes, salt-pepper mixture, herb mixture, and cheese. Pour cream mixture over gratin, pressing lightly to submerge potato mixture as much as possible. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Remove plastic wrap before baking.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover gratin tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until top of gratin is golden and most of liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes; serve.

my changes:
1) I use all Yukon Golds. I'm just not a big sweet potato fan. But I had this at Trisha's when she made it with sweet potatoes, and everyone loved it.
2) I save my oven space for the ham by making this in the slow cooker. I cook it covered on high for three hours, then uncovered for half an hour.
3) You can save yourself $15 on this dish by using Swiss cheese in place of the gruyere.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Time to step it up

I've never really had to hide Christmas presents before. I just stick them in a closet or something. This year, Bethelle keeps showing me the great things she is finding in the most unusual places! How exciting!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Murphy's Law-ndry

I just wanted to do some laundry...

I put off hooking up the laundry machines in the new house until I really needed them. Then I got behind the dryer and found that I would have to run to the store for a flexible dryer vent connection. With three kids at home, this would take a few days to schedule.

When I finally got it, I found that our dryer plug did not match the outlet in the wall. After another few days and a trip to the store, I had a new cord with plug (the only other kind at THD) to install on my dryer. Turns out, this did not fit my outlet either. More time and another trip, and I had returned the cord and bought a new outlet to switch out on the wall. Here you go, Nick. Just be sure to turn off the breaker first and have at it!

The breaker box is in the garage. Behind the mountain of stuff that we are storing. Centered, behind the mountain. With several hours of labor, we were to it. Breaker off. Outlet installed. Mountain in garage put back together. And the dryer was working.

Another day and time to install the washing machine. Easy, right?

The faucets leak. Both of them. My brother (and landlord) came over to inspect and fix. I hooked up my machine's hoses and got to the laundry, finally! In the middle of the load, the drain hose popped out. Good thing we caught it. And good thing we had towels. Catastrophe avoided. Drain pipe re-secured. The load finished washing and I got the newly wet towels in as a second load.

We started up the dryer for the first time and the breaker tripped. I spent a couple of days without the power, as we had to move the mountain in the garage again to get it started back up.

We were all wearing dirty clothes that did not match.

Finally, we were up and running again. I had cleaned a couple loads and was feeling like everything that could go wrong with the laundry had already happened. It could only get better from here. I started up a load as I went to bed. In the morning, Nick asked if I had been getting up in the night to keep the laundry going. No. Good idea, but no.

Nick replied that the dryer had been going all night. The clothes were OK, but really hot. We seem to have burnt out a heat element or something. Now, it takes all day to dry a load.

That afternoon, Nick called to tell me that the offer on our house (the first one, see below) had been terminated.

As I sat, a bit dazed, holding a sleeping Curie on my lap while the kids watched a cartoon, I heard a noise, like a loud faucet. I threw Curie on the floor and just knew it had to be the laundry room. Good thing I had that load of freshly cleaned and dried towels. They came in pretty handy again, as the connection to the faucet had come a bit loose and was spewing water. Catastrophe was avoided once again, but laundry could no longer be done. At least I had gotten a few loads clean.

It took at least a week to get new hoses. I didn't even want to think about it for a while. I finally just bought them on Thursday, and am installed and running.

Could anything else go wrong in the laundry room? I just want to be prepared. I seem to be jinxed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Property in Gig Harbor

We have some property for sale in Gig Harbor. It is currently wooded and very buildable. There is enough slope for a basement. Perk tests are all great for a septic. It is currently .4 acres, but there has been a lot of talk from the county about abandoning a strip of land they own next to this lot. Our lot would get half of the abandoned section, making it .7 acres.

It is off of Artondale Drive, near the Gig Harbor Golf Course, if you are familiar with the area. Despite the picture of GH above, it does not have a view of the harbor. Sorry.

If you or anyone you know may be remotely interested in it, let me know asap. We are going to list it with a realtor this weekend, but I can make a list of names that would not have to pay realtor fees if they purchase it later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And that's not the half of it

We had to move to our new place a week before close, as we had a wedding to attend the next weekend (that's a post and a half, but I'm waiting for pictures). So when the closing date came, we were already settled in our new place. And paying rent. And the buyers wanted a three week extension.

Then another week went by and we got a sale termination notice.

What do we do? Move back? Stay and see if it sells again? How long can we make two payments? Should we start packing right now? What if we move back in just as we get another offer? What if it takes another year to get an offer?

I think I put my brain in hibernation as a self-defense mechanism.

In the next 36 hours, our house had three showings. We got an offer the following day. We'll be staying here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Move Itself

What a fiasco!

After our buyer's inspection, they sent us a wishlist of items to complete before close. What are you to do in a buyers' market? I looked at that list and and my house full of stuff to be packed and realized that I had an impossible task ahead of me. Nick was out of days off and takes an evening class... so it was all me. Until I enlisted a lot of help. I had contractors, in-laws, my parents, my brother, and several church friends over to help or watching my children. For a stay-at-home mom, I sure didn't see much of my little best friends for a couple weeks.

After working my fingers to the bone, not sleeping, not eating (I literally lost 6 pounds), not seeing my kids, and spending too much money, the list and the packing was complete. On time. Nick asked the men at church to come help us load the moving truck. 30 people showed up. I could cry just thinking about it. Thank you all so much. We will miss you!

To my great shame, we filled a 24 foot moving truck and a long trailer. Our new house is less than half the size of our old house, so we will be going through things for a while...

When we arrived at the new house, my brother had arranged for men from the church here to meet us and unload. Again, we had a great group and we were unloaded quickly. Nick then left to return the truck. About ten minutes down the road, the truck broke down. He called the company and they arranged to have it towed. I picked Nick up and brought him back home. It actually saved us from having to take it all the way back, but can you imagine if that had happened while full of our stuff?! Quelle désastre!

The biggest kudos go to the Congers for packing, cleaning, loading, driving the extra trailer all the way to the new house, and unloading. Wow.

Thanks to all who helped with the move. I don't think any of the helpers read this blog, so pass the message along for me.

Back in the Saddle

The move was never complete until we got our internet service.

Let the blogging begin.