Monday, November 24, 2008

Bird Confessions

Someone asked if I cooked the turkey with the breast side down. To tell the truth, I'm not sure. How you see it on the table is how I cooked it, I think. And I'm not sure if that's the breast side that's up or not. I try not to look at raw whole birds too much.

My aversion to raw whole birds comes from two incidents in my childhood. The first, an ongoing occurrence, was hearing my mother cutting through whole chickens when preparing dinner. Just hearing the sound in my mind still gives me the willies.

The second incident was killing and plucking chickens at my grandparents' farm. My cousins and grandpa did the actual chopping off of the heads, but my sister and I had to wait for my grandma to dunk the headless chicken in boiling water and then we would have to pluck all the feathers off. The plucking wasn't too bad, but the smell of hot, dead, wet chicken is enough to make just about anyone crazy.

So, with the exception of Thanksgiving, I only use boneless, skinless breast portions. And when I cook the turkey, I cook it until the meat slides off the bones, so I don't have to do any cutting. There you have it. I'm a poultry weenie.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Somehow we had our family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I say, "somehow," because I'm not quite sure how it all came together. Saturday night I felt awful, but thankfully I already had several dishes made. Sunday morning I didn't feel much better, but most of the big work was done, so it came together. And then I hit the couch for the afternoon.

Jack is making this face because he's worried about having to eat turkey. He's not too adventurous as the dinner table.

Now it's on to Christmas!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Planning

We've started our countdown (actually a countup, I guess) to Thanksgiving with a turkey. Turkey gets a new feather each day. I first saw this on Candace's blog, and then somewhere else, and I think the idea was to take a feather off, but then you get to Thanksgiving and you have a bald turkey instead of a nice feathery decoration, so I'm doing it this way.

Each year we do a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house for the three of us. We do this on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and then eat the leftovers all week until we go home for official Thanksgiving with the rest of our family. This will be the fourth year we've done this, and I've just about gotten it down to a science.

I start by finding the smallest turkey I can. Jay thinks there is some kind of correlation between the smallness and the juiciness. This year's turkey is 12.07 pounds. And we're not eating that piece of cheese that has apparently jumped to the bottom of the fridge back there. Did I mention that when I clean out all of the leftovers the fridge gets a good cleaning?

After the first year I made a master list: all the dishes, where to find them, and their ingredients. With a few exceptions, I make the same things each year. This list has helped save a lot of time with shopping lists. I also got smart and copied the recipes I use over and over and put them in a binder so I don't have to go hunting down all the different cookbooks anymore.

Now all I have to do each year is calculate my cooking times. I usually make the sweet potatoes, dessert, and cranberries on Saturday and everything else Sunday morning.

Last year's final result!

This year's menu includes:
  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Rolls (I usually use the frozen Rhodes Rolls)
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Sweet Potato Souffle (my aunt's recipe)
  • Stuffing (I use Stove Top because I hate picking out celery from real stuffing)
  • Cranberry Pineapple Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie (my grandma's recipe)
The cooking starts in less than 24 hours!

Baby Answers

Now I'm getting text messages for details and I have no clue how to send text messages, so I thought I'd post some details here!
  • I'm due June 7. That should make planning Jack's party fun, because his birthday is June 10.
  • Jack seems mildly interested, but he was more excited about getting a new Madagascar toy in his Happy Meal after we went to the doctor. At least he was not negative about it, so that's good.
  • I'm not finding out if it is a boy or a girl. Last time, Jay knew, but I didn't. He says he doesn't know if he'll find out this time. We don't really have a preference either way, so it's all good.
  • I'll have the baby at the hospital down the street. Heavily drugged.
  • We haven't agreed on any names yet. If it's a girl, her middle name will almost definitely be June. The name I liked for a boy was August, and I don't think Jay is going to go for that since it won't be born in August.
  • We have known for just over a month, though I suspected it for a while before that.
  • Jay has signed up for three extra months with the Air Force, so we won't be moving with a one month old. That's good.
  • Jay is not delivering this baby. He's a little out of practice since they don't do OB in the clinic here. He is apparently still good at heart rates, though.
Those are all the questions I can think of....If I missed something, let me know!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yes, Sir

That's my baby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So you never win anything, huh?

Well, today is your lucky day, Heather! Jack picked your name to win the copy of Christmas Trolls. I'll get it in the mail to you this week--guess I should have held off a day on mailing your card, huh? ; )

Becky OK's post reminded me of several Oklahoma authors I got to meet: Harold Keith (the only Oklahoma author to win the Newbery Medal), Anna Myers, and Bill Wallace. I don't have any pictures of me with Anna Myers, but I did find this one of an assembly she did at our school.

I know I have pictures with Harold Keith and Bill Wallace somewhere, but finding them is another story. Maybe someday they will appear and I will post them!


The last couple of weeks we have been learning about leaves. Due to the insane wind and some other things that kept popping up we didn't get as much done as I was hoping, but we still had a good time. A couple of the things we did:

We made a tree that changes from green... pretty fall colors!

We also did a little cooking with an idea I found in Family Fun.

Ours don't look quite as pretty as they did in the magazine, but they were still delicious! We filled ours with chocolate chips and cream cheese. Yum!

Some of the books we read:

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!

Fall Leaves Fall

In November

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Leaf Man

When we're driving around I'm always pointing out pretty trees to Jack, and my love for the fall colors must have rubbed off. As we were out the other day, we had the following conversation:

Jack: Is it fall?

Me: Yes.

Jack: I love all the fall colors. I like red leaves and yellow leaves and orange leaves.

Me: Me, too!

Jack: (In a surprisingly hateful voice) I hate green leaves!

Flying High

Saturday morning Jack had a zoo class on birds. They brought in a chicken for the kids to see. They weren't too sure about it!

Working on his bird craft

Flying the finished product

Playing a round of Bird Bingo

After class we went to the lake to feed the ducks. It was cold!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FIAR Ornament Exchange

This year was our first year to participate in the FIAR ornament exchange. We signed up and got our list of other families around the country (and in Canada) that we would send to and receive from. And then I did nothing.

I had an idea in my mind for a while to do Corduroy, which was the first Before Five in a Row book we did last year. I toyed with a couple of ways to make him, but in the end, I came to my senses and picked the easiest one. We found some wooden cut outs (for just a quarter each!) at Michael's and we were good to go!

Ready to paint!

I cut and lined up while Jack painted and glued, and when we were done we had a Corduroy army.

When we have received all of our ornaments I will be sure to post. I'm still trying to figure out where we'll put them since our tiny tree is already overloaded!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bloggy Birthday Giveaway!

A year ago today I started this blog in an attempt to get in the blogging habit before Jay deployed to Kuwait. Now he's been back almost six months and I'm still plugging away!

I have always enjoyed meeting authors and illustrators. It's just the kind of nerd I am. It started in college, when I was able to visit Mike Wimmer's studio and I still get a thrill out of it.

Meeting Avi (2005)

Me with Kate DiCamillo (2007)
I got to drive Chris Soentpiet around Omaha once and I also met Jane Yolen, but I don't have any pictures, so you'll just have to take my word on it.

And what's a birthday without a gift? I have a brand spankin' new signed (by Jan Brett, not me, haha) copy of Christmas Trolls, Jack's current favorite Jan Brett book, to give away to one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on this post telling us about someone famous you have met, or if you haven't met anyone famous, tell us who you'd like to meet. (It doesn't have to be famous like the president famous, it can be anyone!) Please leave your comment by 7:00 pm (Central Time) on Tuesday, November 18. Good luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jan Brett

This morning Jack and I took a little road trip to Lawton to see Jan Brett, a famous children's author and illustrator. You know she's big time because she actually has this rockin' Gingerbread Friends bus, and not some teachers driving her around (as I've done in the past).

Jack with Hedgie the Hedgehog

She gave a talk before the book signing. She said that her illustrations for her books usually take her about an hour per inch. They are extremely ornate and very beautiful.

She did a little demo of how she draws her characters. Her main recommendation for art supplies for kids was prismacolor markers. She also talked about how she uses shading and coloring to create depth, etc. It went over Jack's head, but I thought it was cool. Too bad I can't draw at all.

She signed every book we had--including two of Jack's latest favorites, The Trouble with Trolls and Christmas Trolls. She was very nice and we also got a poster of The Three Snow Bears and some free buttons and other goodies. After tonight she is headed to Omaha, so Jack told her she should visit the zoo.

Jack seemed to enjoy his first trip to meet an author, and I definitely thought it was worth the drive. Her new book, Gingerbread Friends, is really nice, so check it out!

The Elusive Pluto

Since his birthday in June, Jack has really gotten into Planet Heroes. I mean, really into them. He saves his allowance up just for them. He has pictures of them all over his bedroom walls. He has magnets of them. He is a (little) man on a mission to have them all.

Early this fall he had almost all of them. Every time we went to the store we would look through them and he would think about which one he would save for next. And I started noticing that even though I had seen him earlier in the summer, we were never seeing Pluto (actually, his name is Shiver, but I'll stick with his planet name for any novices out there) anymore.

I thought maybe I'd better check online and order Pluto since he might be hard to find. That's when I found out he had been discontinued. And he was on Ebay for $60. Plus $16 shipping. Yeah.

Jay eventually found a new one on Amazon for $50 total and he has been stored away in the closet for Christmas. All the while we have been building it up, telling Jack about how they don't make Pluto at all anymore and he's really rare and if we ever see him we'll definitely buy him--he won't even have to pay for it himself.

So what do we find at WalMart Friday afternoon? The new Metallic Squad Pluto. Yeah. A whole new line of Planet Heroes, just in case nine (plus the other assorted heroes and villains) weren't enough for you. Now Jack is thrilled to have him and we are left with the original Pluto in the closet. I am going to confess that we have engaged in a bit of trash-talking about metallic Pluto, just to build up original Pluto. Yes, we'll do that around here. And I'm taking comfort in the fact that the new Pluto is already on Ebay for way more than the $8.97 we paid for him, so maybe we lucked out.

Jack's portrait of Pluto:

Doesn't that orange just look too OSU? I mean, really. Really. And he looks like an infant when you put him in the shuttle. Too bad metallic Pluto doesn't come with a ship just his size--like original Pluto does...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night

We actually started our election yesterday, with an early vote on what we would have for dessert tonight. Each of us had a ballot and could choose between ice cream with toppings (my vote) and brownies (the winner). Poo.
This morning Jack said, "You know how you were sad that brownies won? Well, tonight I will vote how you're going to vote so you're not sad anymore."

Tonight when Jay got home from work, we voted on dinner: Taco Bueno vs. Domino's. Jack was telling me that he was wanting Taco Bueno, but I told him I wanted pizza. When he found out Jay wanted pizza, too, he changed his vote because he didn't want to lose. When we were eating dinner he said that it was the best pizza in the world, so I guess it was all good.

On the real election front, I took Jack with me this morning and it took us about 40 minutes, start to finish. He was very well behaved and picked the biggest sticker they had when they told him he could have one.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


For a while I had been thinking that at the end of October we would learn about spiders. Then I had my lovely close encounter of the nasty kind with the spider (family) on the front porch and I suddenly was not so eager to learn any more. It turned out to be a pretty busy couple of weeks, so I kept the spider theme, but we downsized a lot. And we kept it to cute ones, like these cookies we made.

Halloween 2008

Every year Jay takes Jack around the neighborhood while I stay home and hand out candy. At first he didn't seem too eager to go, but as soon as the first trick-or-treaters showed up at our door he was ready to get his costume on!

Jay said that Jack seemed impressed that everyone knew what a ninja turtle was.

Spooky decorations

After an hour, the boys dragged in the door with a pumpkin completely full of candy. Jay kept trying to convince Jack to just finish up a few more houses, but Jack wouldn't do it. He was exhausted.

And what fun is Halloween if you can't put a shell on your cat?