It's Christmas Time in the City

Thanksgiving is over...now it's time for Christmas!! Trey spent, I don't know how long trying to get Tank to keep these antlers on his head long enough to snap a shot while the kids and I trimmed the tree.
Each year Grandma Klier gives the kids some ornaments and each year the kids are excited to open the boxes and hang their own personal decorations.
We also have a nice amount of old ornaments from Trey's childhood. Hazel was thrilled to find this red reindeer that had her daddy's name on it along with the year- 1980...and she read it!
We listened to the new Rosie Christmas record while we Christmafied the house. Hazel sang along with the songs she knew while August kept pushing the button on the At-At ornament.


Holiday Baking

I've officially begun the Holiday Baking Season! My thoughts shifted directly towards the fudge Tania would make every Christmas. The Many Family looked forward to the fudge every year. The last year The Walsh Family lived in Washington we were given a copy of said fudge recipe and I have had it tucked away in my cupboard. I thought that maybe, if I never looked at it, never made it for myself the idea of them moving back to Boston would not register in my heart and mind. This year, I took the recipe out of the cupboard and started mixing the chocolate. It's time I accept the loss.
As the chips slowly melted in the pot I thought of Tania and the boys. Thought of how their lives have changed yet again with the new baby. And not just any old baby, no, they have themselves a baby girl! Oona. So lovely.
The fudge is alright, not as good as when Tania makes it, it'll never be that good!

The kids are out of school this week. Perfect timing if you ask me. We have minimal plans for the week and I think we're all loving that fact.
Tomorrow I have some wonderful lady friends coming over to do some more baking. I couldn't help but start a little something this evening...made August's favorite- pumpkin scones. They turned out pretty good this time. He can hardly wait till the morning!
I've got a recipe for cranberry pistachio biscotti that I'm going to attempt tomorrow, I'll let you know how they turn out.
Happy Holiday Baking Season!


Hazel's 7th Birthday Party

Hazel had her birthday party tonight. She invited a hot list of gals and our friend Francis to go to a gymnastics center for an hour of sweaty playtime followed by an hour of pizza, cookies, water and a wrapping paper fight.

Tomorrow is her actual day of birth and we're going out to eat at Buca with Aunt Kat and Uncle Justin along with our friends the Isreal family.


Sunshine, Reflection

Friends and Family, I am sitting in sunlight! The sky broke sometime this morning and the sun is streaming into my living room. Tank is following the rays around the room curling himself into a ball and sleeping peacefully at each spot. It feels good!

So I've been working on a posting in my head for a while now. It all started like this:

I made dinner the other night- a stew if you can believe it- and it tasted so good. We were all sitting at the table slurping the warm goodness, enjoying each others company, trying to make August focus on good things that had happened to him that day. When dinner was over Trey announced that the kids would be cleaning the dishes and the table this evening. Nice! I retired to the living room and within a few minutes, Trey joined me. We lounged on our comfy couches and I proclaimed that this was how it was supposed to be. The kids were supposed to help make the kitchen clean. It's how my folks raised us and August and Hazel are now officially old enough to do most of the things needed to clean the kitchen.
It reminded me of an essay I wrote a long time ago. I know I've posted some of my old writings here before, but I can't remember (and am too lazy to look through last years postings) if I've had this one up before. So here it is, I call this one JOBS:

***Taken around this time but missing a few key players...Rick is not in this picture***
We all had our own jobs. Being one of 10 often made that part of home life a bit easier. The list of jobs rotated among the children. Either Mom or Dad cooked, but we secretly hoped it would be Dad; he made the best enchilada’s. Mom, however, cooked most of the time. Her specialty was pizza, and she made the crust from scratch. We hated it, but no one had the heart to tell her. Years later she would agree with us; Dad is now in charge in the kitchen.
My job that night was to sweep the kitchen floor. This task was not the best one on the list, but it sure beat washing ten sets of dishes. I scanned the floor as I approached the table. It was already a mess with some dried tomato sauce crusted in the corner looking suspiciously like blood. Must have been Richard’s job to sweep the night before.
Richard was the first child my parents adopted. He came to live with us when I was a year old. Richard was with us for 10 years before the adoption became official. He was originally from a Hispanic family and he is mentally handicapped. The court system wanted to make sure that a Spanish speaking family wasn’t available before they would allow us to officially adopt him. Richard was non-verbal.
Dad called Kathy for the fourth time to join the rest of the family for dinner. My Dad always prayed before every meal and the whole family had to be present before we began. We waited as Kathy slowly walked down the stairs. Finally, everyone was seated, crowded around the table: Scott, Richard, Kathy, Dawn, Matthew, Jamie, Virginia, Cindy, Rick, Mom, Dad and myself. Dad said the prayer. He was usually pretty good about keeping it short, thanking God for the day, for the family and for the food. Every once in a while he prayed for something specifically, if one of us had a test he would pray that we would remember what we studied. Dad was sure to give us the ‘talk’ when it came to praying about an upcoming test. He reminded us that God can refresh our memory, but not pop things into our heads out of the blue. Therefore, we were always expected to study. Believing in God never got us off the hook.
In our house dinnertime was a social event. Everyone was expected to attend. We all had our jobs to do: one of us set the table, one of us cleared it, someone swept the floor, someone washed the dishes, someone else dried them, and someone else put them away. These jobs were rotated throughout the children, we even had some nights off. The lucky kids with nothing to do would gloat that they had to do a chore last night but were going to read a book while we finished up the kitchen that night. We were a well-oiled machine. Some of us needed a bit more oil here and there, as the kitchen floor proved on that night. In the long run, things were pretty smooth in our house.
Everyone was talking at once. Scott was getting ready to move to Tennessee for college. Rick was excited about his new job switching from Domino’s Pizza to Dolly's Pizza . Kathy was her melodramatic self and was huffing and puffing at everyone. Richard babbled all through dinner, but for the most part we understood. Sometimes his language was a bit rough. Matthew and Jamie were young then, they just looked around and smiled at all the activity. Dawn was a watcher, it took her a while to get started, but once she opened her mouth she was on a roll. Mom and Dad were asking questions around the table. Everyone was trying to get their two cents in. I talked about how much I hated middle school. I could not wait to be done.
Scott was going to be gone in just about a month. I wasn’t looking forward to his departure. I always felt close to him. Looking back I realize that I was just his younger sister. He picked on me about the amount of make-up I wore, the clothes I chose, and the friends I had. He was a good big brother. I didn’t want him to leave me. Kathy caught my attention when I noticed that she was wearing one of my sweaters. I couldn’t stand when she took my things without asking. I asked her where she got it, she responded by informing me that she had gotten it from my closet. Dad must have known we were about to argue because he threw a piece of corn at me.
It bounced off my head and landed in my milk.
Mom gave Dad a knowing glare. Dad simply shrugged his shoulders. He succeeded in defusing the argument; he also succeeded in starting our weekly food-fight. I picked up a chunk of meat loaf and lobbed it toward Dad, only to miss him and hit Rick square in the forehead, a shot I could not have made if I tried. Rick stared, dumbstruck and made the official announcement. The fight was on.
Food was flying. The walls were like a Pollock canvas; splattered colors everywhere. Dad was always very active in our food-fights but it was very hard to pin him down. He was sneaky about his launches. He would look at one person and hit someone else, his college baseball days prepped him well. Mom would always threaten us. We were never to involve her, which just made it more fun to accidentally get her. The best part of our food-fights was watching Richard. He would sense the impending fight like a prairie dog sensing impending danger. His head would lower towards his plate, one arm encircling it to protect it from oncoming shrapnel. He would not throw his food, which he saw as a waste. Richard was at the table to eat, not waste. Dad would inevitably attempt to grab some of Richard’s food only to have his hand swatted away.
Once all the food was either eaten or thrown, it was time to clean up. The person who had to clear the table had quite a task ahead of them, that night it was Kathy. She complained the whole time. Scott washed the dishes, Richard dried them and Rick put them away. I had to make the floor appear as though there was never a food-fight that night, which was easier said than done. Some night’s we could get away without mopping. This was not one of those nights. I began by sweeping around the chairs, trying to get under the table without moving things. Dad unfortunately came into the kitchen while I was doing this. His tip for the night was to move the chairs out of the kitchen so I could sweep under the table effectively. Dad was always good for these tips. He was also known for calling whomever washed the dishes back to the sink. He would inevitably explain that washing the dishes included cleaning out the sink when you’re done. You’d think after hearing it every night, we’d remember. Maybe we just wanted Dad to give us some one-on-one attention.
Once the kitchen was clean, our parents would inspect it like drill sergeants. We would then disperse throughout the house. Most of us ended up downstairs to watch TV. My parents watched TV with us; it was a family event for the most part. We watched programs like Northern Exposure and Moonlighting. We were not allowed to watch channels like HBO or MTV. We saved that for times when our folks weren’t around, when we were sure we could get away with it. This meant that only certain siblings could be around. Dawn was not one of these siblings. She was a timid girl who would tattle on you without intending to. It was hard to be mad at her so we just didn’t do anything ‘wrong’ in front of her.
Mom and Dad would eventually disappear after a show or two and we would smell the sweet aroma of cookies or pudding. They did this for us often. It was our special thing -- warm dessert after a job well done. They would call us up, one by one. The serving system was a bit different, as Dad would give us a bowl and tell us to go down and give it to one of our siblings. Everyone served and was served to. Everyone was involved in our family, regardless of the activity. Whether it was a food-fight, cleaning, or eating, everyone was involved. My parents worked hard at seeing to this.
Being part of a big family had its drawbacks, but our job ultimately was to fit in and to get things done. I think my parents had a hard task; they had to prepare us for the future. They gave us jobs, responsibilities and a sense of purpose, in order to accomplish this monstrous undertaking.


Welcome Fall

I fear that the rain is here to stay.
I will have to say that we've been pretty lucky with the sun breaks. I have lots of squinty pictures of the kids enjoying the bright sun.
Found these lovely leaves outside of a friends house, aren't they lovely?
The beginning of Fall has been spectacular! I'm going to try to look back at these pictures on the days when I just can't face another gray day. I really don't mind the rain, it's just the gray streets, white sky and empty trees that gets to me. It's only just begun!


Had a super busy day today and I haven't really been attached to my camera as of late so this months installment of 10 on 10 is via my camera phone:
At the Dog Park

At the gym
Making copies at the school
Driving from point A to point B

Grabbing a quick bite at UVillage
Break time with Tank

Picking up the kidsOn our way to Aunt Emma's house

Uncle Justin's Red Velvet Birthday Cake
Fuzzy slippers at the end of the day


Sunny Saturday in Seattle

Poor Hazel just doesn't know what to do with all this sun!


Went to Pasadena

And all we came back with are these camera phone pictures!! Can not believe I forgot my real camera at home...Dang.
We loaded up on Virgin America and flew to see my big brother turn 40:Hazel loved the purple lights.

We surprised Scott at breakfast on Halloween (his birthday). Then around 4 we all got dressed up for a very memorable Trick or Treat journey:

I was trying to be a gal from Mad Men but sadly fell short of my goal.

Hazel was Dorothy and Trey was a cow...that dark figure is Death. I called for Hazel to look like Dorothy for this picture, this is the face she gave. She said that Dorothy always looks surprised.

There is this great tree we always look at when we make a trip to Pasadena. The kids have taken pictures around it almost every time. It's right outside the library which is a block away from the house where Halloween was filmed...which is why it was a memorable event. The houses went all out for this holiday. Hazel was sure she was going to have bad dreams...but she didn't.
It was a great trip.