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First Day of School 2018

August 28, 2018

Our 2018 First Day of School Pictures, or how many photos do we have to take before everyone is smiling at the same time?

IMG_2251We’ve been seeing everyone else’s first day pictures on social media, so we thought we’d take one out on our front porch as well.  But instead of going off to school, we just turned around and went back inside, because it’s homeschool and we can do what we want!

IMG_2256Actually these were taken after A had already gone off to seminary first period and come back home again.  Everyone else had a bit of a slow start.  The littles actually slept in today, which I really can’t complain about as Little S has been awake at 1:30 a.m. and again at 6:00 several nights (or should I say mornings) lately. (I actually woke up with my alarm clock this morning.  It was the weirdest thing.)

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And everybody was happy to be in the picture!  I can’t remember the last time that happened.

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I’ve been working really hard the last couple of weeks putting this year together.  It’s the last year A will be at home.  (Don’t even ask me how I feel about that.) It seems like the most complicated and crazy homeschool year we’ll ever have.  I’ll write up all the details soon.  But for now, here are the pictures.  I try to take pictures in front of the same door every year so we can compare how they’ve grown by the last day of school.

The Senior:

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The Sophomore:

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8th grade:

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3rd grade:

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PreK Princess:

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And the1-year-old busybody extraordinaire (I only get a good shot if he’s contained somehow):

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And one more because Little A requested it, and I just can’t refuse her asking for another photo:

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We got a couple of hours of good work in with a devotional, an artist study (Constable), history (still finishing up the Middle Ages), math outside on the deck (for the littles), math on the computer for C and D (I finally called it quits on teaching algebra), and some reading.  Then we had a quick lunch, went to a party with our book club in Salt Lake, came back home to teach a cello student, and turned around to go to a potluck chili/soup dinner with our homeschool group and finally got home and to bed after 9:00.  It was a long day; hopefully tomorrow we can remember how we do this and set up some new routines.

 

Lake Tahoe vacation part 2

August 1, 2018

On Tuesday we met DH’s Uncle N and his wife who live in Gardnerville for a wonderful pizza lunch, then the big boys and Dad and Nana went to see Solo at the movie theater while the littles and I had nap time and then went to the park.  That night we went to sit in the hot springs at the resort we were staying at.  It was so terribly windy though.  I’m not sure if it’s like that all the time, but we had a lot of howling wind the whole week.  The hot springs were great though.  Getting out of them, not so much.

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We actually should have taken a lot more toys for S, but there’s only so much you can realistically pack in a car.  He was much happier being out and about after he had explored every inch of our two bedrooms, bathrooms, living room and kitchen area.  E, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel so he could use electronics and resisted many offers of heading out swimming or to the park.  I’m rethinking the access to electronics we had on this trip, even though it was a vacation.  We were getting some bad attitudes tied to screen time towards the end of the week.

I didn’t get to drive with DH on the way across Nevada, and I didn’t get to drive with DH on the way back.  A and C wanted to make it home for our stake’s youth conference, so the three of them left on Wednesday afternoon.  We debated whether I should drive them back, but that would have meant taking the 1-year-old as well, which doesn’t facilitate a quick and straight drive home (as quick as it is from Reno to Stansbury Park.) We also briefly considered sending the two of them alone because I was already missing DH, but sending a still fairly new driver across Nevada with only his 15-year-old brother for company didn’t feel comfortable at all.  So we parted ways, but not until after we checked out Mormon Station State Park in Genoa.

Genoa is the oldest settlement in Nevada and was originally a Mormon trading post.  There’s a museum and nice park there in Genoa, and it just happened to be free admission that Wednesday.  E liked this mountain lion skin.

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Yes, you read that right, it’s a camel collar!  Who knew?

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A Pony Express advertisement.  We know a couple of young, skinny, wiry fellows!  I’m not sure they’d have been willing to risk death daily, but they’re not orphans anyway, so…

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A nice example of a Conestoga wagon. 2018 Lake Tahoe - 40 of 59

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Wednesday night Nana treated us to a very fancy dinner and on Thursday morning, we again had breakfast with Uncle N and E.  This was our last full day in Nevada, so we laid out all the options for adventure because we were a little tired of hanging out in our hotel.  E and D opted for the train museum in Carson City, and then for going back to Lake Tahoe.  So we packed our picnic lunch, swimsuits, and towels, and went on our way, stopping again at Dollar Tree for buckets and shovels and other toys for building sand castles with.  We were prepared this time!

The train museum was really nice.  There were lots of restored engines and other cars to look at and climb through.

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A “Lay Your Own Track” activity:

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These two engines are actually very similar to the two engines at Golden Spike National Historic Site.  In fact, in 1969 (if I remember correctly), they were given the paint jobs of the Jupiter and the 119 and sent to Golden Spike for the Centennial, then as replicas of the Jupiter and the 119 were being built, they toured around the country until 1976, the country’s Bicentennial.  Finally after the replicas were completed, they returned home to Nevada and were converted to their original paint schemes.

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A WWI boxcar:

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E and Little A could have played with this set for hours.

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Then it was back to the Lake and Sand Harbor beach again.  Once again, it was a beautiful day, but we had a hard time finding a shady spot at first, and I was afraid we would have horrible sunburns on our pale skin that hadn’t seen sun all winter. For once, I did a really good job with the sunscreen!

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Not a real octopus!  Just someone else’s sand toy the boys dug up.  We ate our picnic lunch and played in the sand and water, and after a few hours, everyone was ready to go home.  It was a perfect afternoon where everybody had not just fun, but enough fun.  It wore them out, too!  In fact, the three littles all ended up in my bed at some point that night. This was the scene when I finally climbed out from amongst them Friday morning.

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We got packed up and it was really amazing how we fit everything back in the van.  We had to do it; the Suburban was already back in Utah, but we were dealing with the stroller we didn’t have coming out, and laundry soap we hadn’t really planned on buying, and a cooler for the food we had overplanned for.  But we made it. After about two hours on the road, being in close quarters for a week caught up to everyone. There was whining, fighting, probably weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.    After we ate lunch, I made the executive decision to split the children up.  D sat in front with Nana, E went in the middle next to S, and I climbed in the far back with Little A.  Everyone was commanded to not touch anybody, not talk to anybody, not even breathe anybody’s air!  We still had 6+ hours to endure being together in the car.

Baby S got a kick out of my being in the back seat where he could see me!

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We made it home in one piece!

It’s good to go, but it’s sure good to come back again.

 

Vacation 2018: Lake Tahoe

July 30, 2018

It’s really amazing (or maybe embarrassing) how many half-finished blog posts I have sitting around.  It’s also really amazing how fast a 14-month-old can toddle around.  Scratch that; he’s running now, rarely holds still, and is into EVERYTHING!  My entire life right now is a series of unfinished projects everywhere.  I hardly get a moment to sit down these days.  I actually kind of miss our little old house downtown where I could put up one gate to the kitchen and keep the toddler confined to just the living room.  It’s so exhausting trying to keep up with him every day.

But we did go on a vacation last month and I am determined to finish this post!

I suppose there are worse ways to start a vacation than leaving your suitcase at home. . .

First off, DH, after asking me approximately 27 times what the dates were for this trip that his mother arranged, still missed the fact that he needed to teach a class the first afternoon we should be on the road.  No problem, we’ll drive separately, which we needed to do anyway because we had too many people even for the Suburban.  We left A and E home to wait for Daddy, and the other four children and Nana and I set out for Genoa, Nevada, early on Friday morning, June 1.  Eight+ hours later, without incident, we arrived and got checked into our condos.

DH got held up by road construction coming home from work and so they didn’t even leave our house until after 6 p.m.  E forgot to bring his backpack full of stuff to do, but at least he had his suitcase which I had personally loaded into the Suburban for him.  In hindsight I should have put my suitcase in as well, because I apparently didn’t communicate the fact that the suitcase DH and I were sharing was still in our bedroom and he would need to put it in the car.  After his class, he was in a hurry to get on the road and they did make good time, pulling in and waking me up to open the door for them at 1:30 a.m. Nevada time.

The next morning I asked C to go down and bring up my suitcase so I could shower and get dressed, and he had to deliver the unhappy news that there was no other suitcase in the Suburban.  And so we spent a good portion of Saturday trying to figure out our clothes situation.  I had needed some new summer clothes, but having to buy only what was available at Walmart was not the way I had intended to go about it.

We had a washer/dryer in our hotel, and I was ready to just buy an outfit or two and wash every night, but I also needed something for church, plus shoes, plus something to swim in, as did DH.  Let’s just say we both exceeded our clothing budget for the month.

We also loaded up on laundry soap and food for the week.  We had a full kitchen and were able to eat breakfast in most days, plus lunches and snacks, or else we’d pack a picnic lunch on the go.  We could get the foods everybody liked (including treats I hardly ever buy at home!) and it was so much cheaper than eating out with nine people every meal. Although at one point, I wondered if I was really on vacation what with all the cooking, dish washing, and laundry I had going on!

We also raided the dollar store for activities since E left all of his toys home and D had finished every Sudoku puzzle he brought before we even got to Wendover.  We bought some maze, sudoku, and dot-to-dot books, coloring books and crayons, a few more baby toys (for the baby with the 3-second attention span) and water guns for the pool.  Those were a definite hit, even for the baby!

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Beginning walker + concrete = skinned knees unfortunately, but I think I cared more than he did.

On Sunday we attended sacrament meeting at the LDS ward in Minden, then went to the cemetery to see the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.  We found my dad’s cousin’s name.

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On Monday, we drove all the way around Lake Tahoe.  It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed some beautiful views, but I hadn’t really done my research on what there was to do at Lake Tahoe.  I assumed the water would be way too cold for anyone to want to get in it (I was half right.) DH assumed we would mostly want to drive around, getting out to look for 5 minutes or so before getting back in the cars.  But I didn’t come all that way to mostly drive!  The littles especially did not want to be that confined and if they see sand, there is no way they don’t want to play in it!  Where’s there’s a sandy beach, there’s also water, so half of us got a lot wetter than we intended and were really wishing we had brought our swimming suits after all.

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2018 Lake Tahoe - 18 of 59There’s a waterfall right here that the boys helped Little A climb down to.  I couldn’t see myself climbing after them with S in my arms, but they were a little too fearless for my taste.  I couldn’t see them very well, but I almost thought one of them was headed right over the edge a few times.  My mommy heart felt a lot better when they all got safely up again and we crossed over the road and followed the river up the mountain a short way after DH finally found a parking place.  There was a crazy amount of cars that day.
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Enjoying the waterfront park in Tahoe City after eating lunch and driving past countless fancy vacation houses on the California side:

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Back on the Nevada side of the lake, we stopped at Sand Harbor beach, and again,  couldn’t resist playing in the sand and water in a nice little shady spot where it wasn’t too crowded.

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Baby S loved the sand!  Maybe a little too much . . . I’m sure he ate more than I would have liked.

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Ice cream after was much more delicious!

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Part 2 coming soon–

Sunset

May 24, 2018

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It felt odd to come out of my orchestra concert last Saturday in time to see the sunset over the State Capitol.  It was a reminder that it’s May and the final concert of my 15th season with the Salt Lake Symphony.  We played the final piece of Mozart’s compositional output, his Requiem Mass.  It’s a piece I’ve long wanted to play, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The string sections were switched around and I got to experience life like a violist with the bassoons in one ear and the trombones in another.  We were joined by the Utah Voices choir, but they were in the loft above us and I couldn’t hear them very well.  I much prefer the sound when I’m sitting on the outer edge of the orchestra, but it was still glorious Mozart!

There are always times when I come back to rehearsal after furiously practicing certain sections and wonder did I practice enough to get it up to tempo, or is our conductor going slower tonight?  Hmmm…

The “Domine Jesu” was noticeably slower when we put it together with the choir, for which we were so grateful!  It was actually playable at that tempo!  It’s always a good feeling when you know you’re capable of playing every note and feel prepared for performance, even though you’ve only had the music for three weeks!   Our last concert was at the very end of April so we had a short turnaround, but it worked out well and was a wonderful experience!

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C took this picture for me from his seat in the balcony while we were warming up.

I love orchestra, but I am actually quite glad the season is over.  Last week was especially tough with two rehearsals and a concert, plus hearing the boys sing in their choir concert, and attending the high school orchestra/band concert to hear A play two pieces with the jazz band on the one remaining free night of the week.  I’m ready for summer and more nights spent at home with nothing on the calendar!

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Baby S and I took a quick selfie before leaving for the babysitter!  I’ve missed being home with him at bedtime.  He always comes with DH to drop me off at rehearsal and gets Daddy time while I play, but we’re happy to take a break from that for a while.

Last night I turned around and drove back into the city to hear two of my students play in the All-Star side-by-side concert with the Utah Symphony.  Then this morning I got up early and drove C down to Utah Valley University to play with the pipe band for all of ten minutes at graduation, then came all the way back home, ate lunch and picked up everybody else, and headed back in to Salt Lake for our final book club meeting.  So I wouldn’t have to come back again this weekend, we took our usual pinwheels up to the family graves in the SLC cemetery.  I’m so ready to not drive anywhere for days if I don’t have to!

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The end of May is fast approaching and we’re trying to wrap up our school year.  Outside commitments are finishing up, and we’re working hard to complete the last of our school work that needs to be turned in for online classes, plus a few things at home.  I’m still contemplating what summer will look like around here.  I know it will include math for just about everybody, but we’re not moving and we won’t have a brand new baby, unlike last year.  I have high hopes for being productive!  Stay tuned!

Happy First Birthday!!!

May 10, 2018

Our sweet little Baby S turned one this week!  I know I say this on almost every birthday for every child, but I can hardly believe how time flies!  It seems like just a few months ago that we were in the NICU with our little 5-pound, five weeks early baby.  And now he is losing his baby looks and turning into a little boy.



Standing at the front door was the only way I could get him to hold still long enough for a decent picture!  Just in the past week he has started to let go of furniture and try walking four or five steps on his own.  He is constantly on the move and keeps us all on the move as well!  He hates to be gated in somewhere when everyone else is coming and going.  He wants to be a part of everything we do.  He’s still hesitant around stairs and really has no interest in learning to climb up or down them.  He loves to be outside as long as he’s sitting on a blanket.  Grass freaks him out although he’s getting more used to it.

He has four teeth and probably several more about to pop through; the drooling has been uncontrollable lately!  He loves just about any food you put in front of him, but chocolate cake may be the new favorite!

On Wednesday we went for the 12-month well-child checkup.  He’s 28 inches tall (2nd percentile) and weighs 18 lb. 7 oz. (10th percentile), but his head is in the 59th percentile!  He’s hit every physical milestone and the doctor is thrilled that she doesn’t have to adjust at all for prematurity any more.  We have a happy, healthy boy.

We had a low-key birthday for him.  We had our regular Tuesday night date together (DH, me, and S) driving me to orchestra rehearsal right after dinner, so we had our celebration on Monday instead.  He still wasn’t quite sure what the unwrapping was all about, but was happy to get a ball, some new clothes, some books, and a puzzle.


The chocolate cake was a huge hit!  He had no problems digging in with his fingers and ended up covered in chocolate from head to toe by the end of it.





Oh, April!

May 1, 2018

I’m not sad to see you go!

At midnight on April 1, we were in the emergency room for me.  Three days and one freak accident later we were in the emergency room with DH.  The next Sunday we put in a call to poison control after Baby S may have eaten some dishwasher detergent when the big brother “watching” him while we finished getting ready for church, wasn’t really.

The detergent now lives up higher.  Who am I kidding, everything lives up higher these days.  This child is into everything right now.  He’s mastered crawling on his hands and knees and he is super fast!  I can’t keep up.  He has a knack for finding pencils and eating paper.

The day after the poison control call, I was watching him closely, but he still lost his balance while climbing around the Fisher Price farm set and fell on the open silo tower and split his gum open right where his right front tooth was about to push through.  So much blood . . .

That relieved the teething on that side, but he’s had a horrible time getting the other front tooth to break through.  I ask this with every child, but I’ll ask again, “Why do babies only seem to teethe at night?!”  We lost quite a bit of sleep on more than a few nights trying to help him be comfortable.  Then the poor kid got sick and threw up everything he’d eaten twice in one day.  Literally everything.  Everywhere.  At our house and then again at Grandma’s.  Then he spent the next few days having it come out the other end.  (Just keeping it real!)

DH came home from work at 11 p.m. that Saturday night to find me practically in tears, Baby S still awake wearing only a diaper because 1) he couldn’t seem to go more than 10 minutes before having another blowout explosive diaper and 2) we were literally out of clothes to wear and were waiting for the laundry to finish.

Backing up a little to ER visits one and two–

DH is fine.  He was just buckling Baby S into his carseat after dropping me off at orchestra when a lady who was trying to back out of the same parking lot (and should have been looking over her left shoulder as well as her right) ran into the door of our Suburban with her back bumper and started to close it while DH was standing there inside it.  Luckily she was going very slowly or he could have been seriously injured.  As it was he got squished into the car door frame and we spent over three hours at University Hospital waiting for him to be examined, after he came into orchestra to get me.

My stand partner wasn’t there that night and I was just sitting there, obliviously sightreading Tchaikovsky when suddenly DH was standing right next to me saying I needed to come now and bring my cello.  I was trying to gather my cello and my bow and my bag and my rosin and my rockstop all in one trip and exit gracefully as my music kept falling on the floor.  Fun times.  But he’s just fine.

And as for me–

I’ve had an epidermoidal cyst on my hip that decided to rupture internally the night before Easter. It’s been there for years, just a little squishy lump.  I had one doctor look at it, pronounce it “weird,” and just tell me to keep an eye on it.  So I did.  At one point it kind of doubled in size, but was still just squishy and didn’t do anything else.  Until it did.  I could definitely tell a difference then.

DH and the older boys had gone to the priesthood session of general conference and I started to feel a little achy, but I was making a cake for Easter.  When I finally sat down on the couch and it rubbed against my hip, I could tell something was very wrong.  Looking in the bathroom mirror I could see my hip was red and inflamed, and I could feel that whatever was inside the cyst had spread out a couple of inches, and it hurt to touch it.

So after DH came home and we had put the littles to bed, we went to the ER, which was surprisingly busy that night.  I must have been the least critical patient because it was after midnight before I was finally seen.  The ER doctor also said whatever it was was “weird” (my thoughts exactly) and I had two options.  He could slice me open then and there and try to get out whatever was obviously causing the pain and inflammation, but it wouldn’t be pretty!  Or he could send me home with an antibiotic and an appointment to see a surgeon on Monday.  I went with option B since it was after midnight, I was exhausted, and I had no real desire to be sliced open on Easter.  Plus Baby S was awake again and now with us at the hospital.  So we went home, technically with only a prescription for an antibiotic, which I then had the fun task of finding an open pharmacy to fill it on Sunday morning before conference started again.

I couldn’t get into to see a surgeon until Wednesday of that week, but she and her PA decided surgery would be the best option so I was scheduled for Tuesday, April 17.  It was a quick and easy outpatient procedure.  I had to be there at 7 a.m.  Baby S helped me out by waking me up at 5 a.m.  I nursed him and went back to sleep until DH informed me it was 6:47 and what was I still doing in bed?!

I threw some clothes on and climbed into the car, grateful for children old enough and competent enough to take care of each other and their younger siblings so I didn’t have to wake everybody up and get them somewhere else.  After A’s seminary class he came home and helped get the three little ones to a friend’s house so D could watch his online science class in peace.  I think I came home fairly soon after that, but I don’t remember much except climbing in the car at the surgical center and climbing into my bed at home where I slept for at least the next four hours.

Luckily I have a high pain tolerance level and really haven’t felt any pain from it at all, just some vague discomfort after the anesthesia wore off completely and itchiness as the stitches have dissolved and the skin heals.  I’ve been really worn down though, (probably not just from that!) and it was a good excuse to take it easy for a while.

Because then C was sick this past week. . .

I hope May is just a nice, calm, boring month!

 

 

Adventures in the kitchen with E

February 26, 2018

Now that E can read fluently, he should be able to read and follow a recipe, right?  Right??

He thinks so.  And every once in a while he surprises me.

I’ve had the older boys take turns making breakfast for ages and E has been asking for his own day to be in charge of breakfast.  So he now has Friday for sure, and no one else is sure what day they have.  (Changing their seminary classes to 8 a.m. this semester has really thrown a wrench in the “who cooks breakfast” routine.)

The first Friday after this change, I was awakened by E at my bedside saying, “I need help with the eggs.”  That was a disconcerting way to start my day.  Those waffles were so good, though! He measured everything perfect, and really only needed help with the eggs.  He’s made pancakes a couple of times now too, although I’ve realized that I need to rewrite my recipes with very very specific instructions on what to do: which ingredients, in what order, in what bowl, etc.

This afternoon he wanted to make cookies, but no one wanted to supervise him, including me (something about a 4 a.m. wakeup call from Baby S finally catching up to me…) He was determined to make snickerdoodles all by himself, and I thought, why not? The first snag was the fact he wanted to double the recipe and we were running low on butter.  He’d already measured out the sugar and mixed it with half the butter, so there was no turning back, so I helped him scrape butter off the butter plate that was out on the counter and eyeballed another ¼ cup, without too many toast crumbs.

I went back to whatever it was I was doing, and a few minutes later I hear, “I think I put in too much vanilla…”

“How much did you put in?”

“½ cup.”

½ cup???  It’s supposed to be ½ teaspoon!

Note to self: Buy more vanilla.  And butter.

It really was funny at the time, but I had to pour off the excess vanilla while trying not to pour out too much of the melted butter because we had no more to work with.  He wanted to keep going, so I told him to add everything else in and I’d come check the texture.  He added everything.  Literally.  Including the cinnamon and sugar that he was supposed to roll the cookies in.  That’s when we realized he was just following the list of ingredients, and not the actual recipe directions.

In his defense, the waffle recipe just says to add all the ingredients together and blend well.  Most recipes have a few more steps though.  Now he knows.

Why did I let E have free rein in my kitchen?  Frankly, I was too tired to care.  After some extra flour was added, we baked his vanilla/cinnamon cookies.  Not quite snickerdoodles, but they tasted great.  Even the baby loved them.

We breed an independent streak in our children.  We were just retelling the story of how A, at age 2, made brownies one morning all by himself . . . in the dog’s water dish.  Luckily he hadn’t gone for the eggs and oil yet, but he’d measured out flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt and mixed it together .  We never could get some of that . . . cement . . . off the wallpaper.

Add this to our story collection–½ cup of vanilla! (I should have taken pictures.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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