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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Auld Lang Syne


What a year. It's had its ups and downs, but it is still one of the best years of my life. Why, you ask? Because we had Sera with us the entire year. This was our first complete calendar year together. Any downs are minor compared to that major up.

It's been a low-key week in Casa Kaffee Klatsch. We've pretty much stayed close to home. Okay, we haven't left the house. We've spent hours playing in the kitchen, putting clothes on Cindy and Snow White, playing doctor, and watching Disney dvds.

Yesterday, Jim had an echo cardiogram and passed with flying colors. Today, he had oral surgery. These were two major events that had been stressing him out. Having both behind us and with no negative effect is a great way to end the year.

Our exciting NYE menu was Hot and Sour Soup for the "must eat soft food" hubby, shrimp with veggies & rice for Sera, and leftover Chicken Parmesan (last night's dinner) for me. At 7:30, we toasted to the new year with sparkling red grape juice.

Jim is downstairs enjoying his weekly rpg game with his buddies. Most live nearby, but several have moved. They all get on Skype, play together, and reconnect.

I am here and watching the last of the Hallmark/Lifetime/?? cheesy, holiday movies that I love. It's an addiction that has an expiration date.

I wish all of you the best in 2009. We have it sleeping upstairs.


Monday, December 29, 2008
It's About Time
PIPO is a mommy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008
Holiday Food
I haven't posted any recipes lately. Sorry about that. I actually want to start doing more food posts, but it just seemed like time, inspiration, or both has been lacking.

I did try some amazing new recipes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'd love to post them, but I have to give credit where credit is due. That's why I'll post links instead.

First, I love cranberries. Doesn't matter the form. I like the juice. I like them added to baked goods. I like them covered in chocolate. I love fresh cranberry sauce and have made it for years. I even like the jellied version out of the can. I've always used the recipe that comes on the bag and just cooked them down in simple syrup. Jim, on the other hand, can't stand them. He hates them so much that I usually substitute dried cherries in any recipe calling for them. I can't eat a full batch of cranberry sauce, so I either skip it or buy the can.

This year we had two more for dinner (my dad and stepmother). That was all the excuse I needed to make a batch of cranberry sauce. I decided to give Pioneer Woman's recipe a shot. If you aren't reading her blog, you are missing out on some funny stuff and some awesome recipes. I didn't realize until I went to make it that I forgot to buy cranberry juice, so I used all orange juice. It was a big hit. More impressive? Even Jim liked it.

For dessert, I decided to make two new recipes. Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake had a ton of good reviews. I was glad I read them though and took the advice to cut back the sugar a bit. Next time, I'd cut it back even more. It was still a delicious version of a pumpkin pie-type dessert.

A couple of years ago, Jim had a slice of bourbon chocolate pecan pie for dessert at a restaurant and loved it. Last year, I made a version of it that we both enjoyed. Honestly though, I never thought to make it again. At the last minute, I found this recipe on The Karmic Kitchen blog. It was simple. I had all the ingredients on hand, and I didn't have a chocolate dessert. I decided to give it a shot. It was amazing. I won't forget to make this one again. Hmm...maybe even this week.

The last new recipe I tried came from a non-food blog, American Family. I cut the recipe in half, and it still made a ton of cookies. It's an easy recipe that uses basic staples. Best of all, the cookies are delicious. I baked them all for 10 minutes regardless of thickness, and they were always perfect. The thinner ones were a little crispier. The thicker ones were softer. It was all good, and Sera loved adding the sprinkles.

All four were delicious, and I'd recommend them for next year or sooner.


Saturday, December 27, 2008
Kitchen Love
To say the kitchen is a big hit would be the understatement of the year. She alternated between this and her doctor kit all day long.

Santa also brought her two "ballerina" dresses, tights, and shoes.
She decided she didn't need the tights today.
Isn't this what you wear to cook?

Connie, I'm so sorry. I never dreamed she'd put the duck in the freezer!
Though duck is a tasty dinner...hmmm

under the sink

The best ingredient when you're cooking.


Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas 2008
This year, Sera "sorta" got Santa. She woke at 7:00 am as she usually does. We had left cookies for Santa the night before and told her he was coming, but it was clear that she didn't really get it. Jim told her that he'd been downstairs already and had seen some surprises left by Santa. She wanted to get into our bed and watch TV. Jim ran down ahead of us to set up the camcorder while Sera and I brushed our teeth. We didn't dress because Christmas morning is all about pjs. New pjs in fact. One of my old family traditions is new pjs on Christmas Eve. Sera was very excited about her new pink flannel jammies with Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Booty.

When we came downstairs, I positioned myself in the corner with my camera while Daddy brought Sera into the living room. Sera insisted on bringing her polar bear down with her. He lasted a few moments before being tossed aside. Sera was awestruck when she saw her kitchen.

Daddy, Kitchen!

A closer view because I love this face. That's one happy girl.
Oh, look! There's more!

This is getting fun! Note the polar bear. Tossed aside!

Modelling the medicine bag Grandpa John made.

Thank you, Aunt Wendy!

Mommy, I Dr. Meier!

Sera spotted this months ago in Target.
She was absolutely thrilled to see it again.

She didn't quite understand this gift yet. But when we opened it up,
she recognized the camera right away. I think she's already maxed the memory.
I need to load the software and download her pictures.
Thank you, Granddaddy and Grandma Nora!
Santa didn't forget Daddy. He was thrilled with this stocking stuffer.
It's an Atari plug 'n play with eight of the original video games, including Pong!

Sera is just fascinated watching Daddy play his game. He still remembered
how to get through the maze on this one.

Sera was taking Daddy's picture when she asked me to take Daddy's picture, too. I love this picture because there you see one daddy who loves his little girl.
Sera loved this little doll from Grandpa John and Grandma Dee.
She wanted to call her Santa, but we decided on Cindy instead.

Look, a comb and mirror case for me, too!

I can comb my own hair!

Now this. This is a whole 'nother story. Christmas Eve was quite the adventure for Jim. That kitchen is awesome, but it weighs a ton and came in a gazillion pieces. No, I do not exaggerate. Why would you think that? Anyway, Sera was in bed at 8, and Jim was hard at work by 8:30. It took him over three hours to build it. Three hours he says were worth it because of the joy it has already brought Sera. But that put us at about midnight when the box for the above gift was opened. It only had half a gazillion pieces, but it was missing one very important piece...the directions.

If this had been her only big gift, we would have persevered. It wasn't, however, we already had the kitchen. This got boxed back up and put away. I've been in contact with the company and directions are in the mail. I don't know if we'll hold on to it until her birthday, family day, Chinese New Year, Valentine's, or a just because day, but it's put aside for now.

For months, she's said she wanted two things from Santa: a kitchen and a baby bath. She hasn't even noticed that the baby bath is missing. It does help being only two.

Oh, and that "sorta" getting Santa thing? When I asked her last night if she liked her kitchen, she told me Santa bring me kitchen. I think she gets it now.

The day was perfect. I couldn't have dreamed a better Christmas in my home with my family.


Thursday, December 25, 2008
Christmas Eve Remembered
I'm going to be a day behind with the holiday recaps as I'm far too tired to cover both days at once.

We had a great day on Christmas Eve staying close to home. When Sera went down for her nap, I mixed up some cookie dough for sugar cookies. After her nap, we got all gussied up and headed out for dinner. We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant.

I mentioned before that this was a tradition Jim and I have had for years. His grandmother's birthday was Christmas Eve. They shared a December birthday and knew how often they got combined gifts. This was one of the bonds they had between them. Jim was very close to his grandmother. She loved Chinese food and introduced him to it when he was a young boy. This was another bond they shared as the other members of their family did not like it at all. When Jim and I flew out to Arizona in 1999 to introduce me to his family, we made a point of taking his grandmother out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Jim's dad had moved to Arizona years before and brought his mother to live there. She lived in an assisted living home, so was always thrilled to get out to dinner. She was a lovely woman and very sweet to me. Jim proposed on that trip, and it was, unfortunately, the last time he saw his grandmother.

Since her death, we've gone to eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve/her birthday in her honor. She would have adored being a great-grandmother to Sera. She was the light in Jim's very difficult childhood.

Sera posing in front of the fireplace at the restaurant

Daddy & Sera (I love this picture!)

Sera asked me to take a picture of her eating soup

Sera & Mommy making cookies for Santa

Sera sneaking her 900th bite of cookie dough.
A timeout followed shortly because she didn't stop after being told to do so.
Life is hard when you're 2.
Sera and this crazy woman with wild hair adding sprinkles to the cookies
Sera and I baked one batch. We then ate one cookie and put the rest out for Santa with a glass of milk. She went to bed easily after a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

On the other hand, Jim and I were up to about 1:00 am. Major construction took place, lots of presents wrapped, the rest of the cookies rolled out, cut out, sprinkled, and baked, and an overnight coffee cake put together.

This was our first Christmas at home and our second Christmas with Sera. This was really the first where she got the idea of Santa, and he came to visit her. We didn't bother last year as she didn't get it, and she received tons of presents without him. For the first time, I think we did okay. We definitely need to make some changes though. I'm going to need to do a better job of separating types of wrapping paper, tags, etc... so that there is no overlap with Santa. I also need to be a little more organized leading up to the big day. All in all, though, it was great!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Merry Christmas!
Without planning it, I took a little bloggy break. In between getting ready for Christmas, we've battled a couple of cases of food poisoning and a bad cold. Luckily, it's all been Jim and me. Sera is just fine and enjoying the holiday.

We'll be going to eat tonight to honor Jim's grandmother. Years ago (before Sera was even a thought), Jim and I started going out to eat Chinese on Christmas Eve whenever we stayed home. We weren't home last year, but we will go out tonight. The forecast is for more snow and dropping back down to 15 from our high of 36 today. Santa will have plenty of snow to land on when he visits.

Now, I'm about to mix up a batch of sugar cookie dough. Sera and I will make cookies after naptime.

I'll be back with pictures and stories. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and Chanukah.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Breakfast - The Most Important Meal of the Day?
I'm a breakfast eater. I must eat breakfast. Of course, the fact that I take a medication that needs to be taken with food is a factor, too. But still, I must have my breakfast.

My morning routine does not have any extra time to stop and eat. I'm not willing to wake up even earlier to have that time. We've gone through all sorts of variations of trying to get breakfast in the morning. For the last couple of weeks, I've tried something new. I happen to love soggy raisin bran. I'll let it sit until the bran absorbs most of the milk when I'm home. I've started putting cereal and milk in one of those twist top reusable/throw away containers. I then put it in my insulated lunch bag. It's been great. I have about 20 minutes after I get settled in my room before students are allowed upstairs, and that's when I enjoy my breakfast.

This morning I realized we were almost out of milk. There certainly wasn't enough for my cereal, and there was nothing else I could take for breakfast. I asked Jim to stop after we dropped off Sera so I could get breakfast. We've stopped at this familiar eating establishment often. I ordered my standard #1, the one with an egg and Canadian bacon on an English muffin. You know the one.

I opened up the paper wrapper at my desk and was a little annoyed. What has always been a hot and fresh sandwich had cheese that had dried out at the corners while the bread had become slightly mushy. Without a further thought (stupid me) other than disappoint that they served me a sandwich that had been sitting in the window, I ate it.

My regret started about two hours later. I first blamed my discomfort on an occasional side effect of that morning medication, but it soon became apparent that the real culprit was my less than fresh breakfast.

Jim had to come and pick me up. We just spent two hours watching Hancock, an unexpectedly good movie, and hanging out while my stomach gurgled, churned and ached.

Oh Arches, how could you have let me down this way?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Pop-tarts = grain and fruit serving

At least it does according to my students.


Monday, December 15, 2008
Crunchberries - The New Fruit
One of the classes I teach is an intro class for business. I always start with the students completing online personality and career assessments. From there, we do some career research, learn to fill out job applications, do mock interviews, etc... We end up with them "getting the job," and then we move into budgeting and investing.

We just entered budgeting. I came up with a project last trimester and am doing it again. I've done a little fine-tuning, and I'm sure that will continue, but I really like this project.

My students have to come up with one week's worth of menus, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack, for a family of four. Their family consists of two adults and two young children. They will then multiply this menu by four and feed their family for a month.

Their meals must follow USDA guidelines for adults and children. They must include dairy, protein, grains, and fruit or vegetables. I provide them with the most current food pyramid to use as a guide.

Over the weekend, they had to go to the grocery store and price a list of staples. I also provided them with last week's sales flyers for three grocery stores.

Once they have created their week's worth of menus, they have to create a shopping list using the above prices to calculate the costs of their grocery bill. If they want to add something that is not on one of those documents, they have to get the current price. I help them breakdown prices to calculate the cost of a slice of bread, etc...

Today, we got started. Oh, did I mention their budget? It's $75 a week. This is food only. They do not have to buy cleaning supplies, paper products, spices, or condiments. They think I'm incredibly cruel. I tell them this is a realistic number for many families. Students took turns coming to my desk to ask questions about the project, check on menu ideas, and whatever question they came up with to try and circumvent the rules.

The prize goes to one student though. He sincerely and truly tried to convince me that the crunchberries in Cap'n Crunch counted as the fruit portion of his breakfast. Oy!


Sunday, December 14, 2008
My Name is Magi,
and I am an addict.

Like any addict, it started out innocently enough. A little Charlie Brown, the occasional Rudolph and Frosty. Then I was introduced to the Heat Miser. From there I found A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and who could forget Miracle on 34th Street (both versions).

But now...I find myself turning to any Christmas movie. Did you know that Kelsey Grammar was Ebenenzer Scrooge and the new Santa Claus. Speaking of Ebenezer, he's also been played by Susan Lucci, Vanessa Williams, and Tori Spelling. Yes, I saw them all. As for new Santas, they're a dime a dozen. If Santa doesn't have offspring, then a replacement must be found for him. Just ask Tim Allen, the aforementioned Kelsey Grammar, Steve Guttenberg, and Jenny McCarthy.

Just this weekend during Sera's naptimes, I watched a girl visit a Snowglobe and Mary Steenburgen relearn the spirit of Christmas.

Does this have an end?

No! There are more, tons more, and they keep making new ones, and they're all super cheesy.

And I haven't even touched on the home for the holiday movies.

It's a sickness. I need help.


Saturday, December 13, 2008
Left You Hanging
Sorry about that. I don't have a good excuse. Sera has been sick this week, but it's just a cold. She's been rather demanding, whiny, and extremely picky. I'm hoping that's the cold and not a new phase.

I tossed a new banner at the top of my blog. It's just temporary. I think Amazon giftcards are the best gifts ever...especially for teen and pre-teens. As my nephews age, their likes are becoming more specific and more expensive. I send them giftcards. They can then choose exactly what they want or combine it with other monetary gifts to get that extra special something.

I tried two new recipes at Thanksgiving and wanted to share the recipes, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. Both came from blogs I follow. I'll post links and reviews soon.

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend getting ready for the holidays!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Gray Areas
Some days I wish life, at least parenthood, came with a direction manual. I know there are plenty of books out there, but all they tell you is that there is no one answer. Sometimes I just want a black and white answer, no gray.

This morning I woke, showered, did hair and makeup, and dressed for work. In other words, a perfectly normal morning. At 6, I went to get Sera. I like to let her sleep as long as possible. She sat up when I entered her room and told me she was coughing, but she seemed fine otherwise. She's had a bit of sniffles for a few days. Honestly though, she's had the sniffles more often than not ever since school started. When I picked her up she felt a little warm to me, but not really feverish. Just warm.

I took her to my room to dress. Things were still okay. She went potty and put on her clothes. And then she fell apart. She climbed into my lap and just clung to me whimpering. She still felt warm, so I took her temp. 98.9. I can't even call that a fever, but something just wasn't right. She was not acting herself.

And this is what I mean about the gray. Keep her home? Send her to school?

Jim and I made the call to keep her home, and I called for a sub.

She's had a quiet morning. She wanted grits for breakfast and ate the entire bowl. She wanted orange sherbet for her snack, and I let her have some. She wanted soup for lunch and ate about three bites. Her appetite is fine.

She pretty much snuggled with me all morning and then curled up on daddy's recliner to watch Cinderella. After the movie, she lay down next to me on the couch, and I let her watch more TV. I know...bad mommy. I warned her that naptime would be coming up when the show ended. Five minutes later I looked down because she'd quit kneading my side with her toes and found her fast asleep.

This was my black and white answer. Sera has never, let me repeat, NEVER fallen asleep downstairs.

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Monday, December 08, 2008
New Giveaway Blog

Mom Blogs

5 Minutes for Mom has a new blog. It's 5 Minutes for Giveaways. Who doesn't like to win a prize? Go check them out. Be sure to let me know if you win anything.


Saturday, December 06, 2008
Happy Birthday, Daddy!
Yesterday was Jim's birthday. After work, we headed out to dinner. After dinner, we went to Borders to hang out. A band was setting up to play later. We tried to stay for the show, but it was getting too late. Sera asked me what they were doing. I explained they were setting up their musical instruments because they were going to play music later. She then counted to five very loudly and began to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She definitely had everyone's attention. Some of the band members came over to talk to her, and the girls behind the cafe counter made a point to tell me how they enjoyed her show. I think Sera was auditioning to join the band.

Today, Jim headed out for a late lunch with some friends who wanted to take him out for his birthday. While he was gone, Sera and I made his birthday cupcakes. She was quite the sous chef.

She personally taste tested each cupcake by sticking her finger in the batter.

As you can see, they passed inspection.
Now how does this go? The frosting goes on the cupcake or in my mouth?

OH, the cupcake.

I've got it now.

You can never have too many sprinkles.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008
Unless you've been living under a rock the last few months, the word melamine is not new to you. When news of the affected formulas in China came out, I was extremely relieved to see that Sera's was not on the list. At 2 1/2, I also thought she was old enough to have left before the incidents occurred.

And then I learned I was wrong. Children adopted as far back as 2005 have been tested and found to have the kidney stones connected to melamine poisoning. Apparently this has been going on for years. I also started thinking about the fact that I knew what formula we were told Sera was on when we got her, but we did not have way of knowing what she had consumed throughout her time there.

The more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became. This intensified when I learned that children in the Chinese adoption community were being tested even though they exhibited NONE of the warning signs, and the tests were showing problems. Now I've learned that some of these children had normal urinalysis and blood panels, but a renal ultrasound showed the stones.

I talked to Sera's doctor last week, and yesterday we took her for the lab work. This was not something we were looking forward to doing. We'd been home only a few weeks when we had Sera's original lab work done. It was a horrible experience. It took multiple attempts by multiple labworkers to get enough for the tests. It also took four adults to hold her still.

The urine sample was easy and painless to get. Though if someone can tell me how to get a sample from a toddler, mid-stream mind you, without getting urine all over your hand, please let me know. I, obviously, do not have that knowledge or skill. The blood was drawn by one person in one try. Sera wasn't happy and did cry, but the neon pink bandage quickly dried up her tears.

Now we wait for the results and decide whether or not an ultrasound should also take place.

I hope the insurance company doesn't fight this one. The last lab bill was over $1000, and it took months and months before we quit receiving the bill. We just kept telling them to submit it to our insurance again. I don't mind paying my share, but we pay a fortune in insurance for them to cover their share, too.


Monday, December 01, 2008
Heard From The Backseat - Special Grandparent's Edition
"Mommy, Grandma Nora and Granddaddy outside?"

"No, sweetie. Grandma Nora and Granddaddy went home."

"Oh. I have fun with my Granddaddy."

"Granddaddy had fun with you, too."

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