Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charlie with Santa

This picture cracks me up. Call me a mean mommy but the expression on Charlie's face is priceless. Santa's two helpers were supposed to be helping Charlie to not cry for the photo, but instead are trying their teenage best to look a bit seductive. Why Santa is sitting in front of an open bank vault and next to a saddle, we'll never know.

The best part about this photo - we didn't have to wait in any line. I guess you can kind of tell why this Santa isn't in high demand!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Is anyone else sick of eating? After several weeks of holiday celebrations and the rich food that goes along with them, I can't stomach it anymore. Pun intended. Since we got back from Texas/Arkansas, I can only handle bland food - oatmeal, bananas, toast, etc. I also don't feel like drinking wine. That almost NEVER happens.

I may also be a tad sick. I've been so exhausted since we got home two days ago. Can't seem to sleep enough. Charlie's almost back to normal on his schedule, so I'm hopeful we'll all be back on track tomorrow.

No big plans for New Year's Eve, mainly because it's so dang hard to find a babysitter. We're going to cook some dinner, open some wine (I'm trusting I'll be back to normal by Friday) and probably watch something on TV. Boring.

I remember a few years back this kind of NYE would have been unthinkable. Not spending a night packed into a crowded space paying tons of money for bad service and mediocre food?? Actually some of them were fun. A couple were REALLY fun. But you never actually end up where you plan to be at midnight, don't you think? We'll probably be in bed asleep this year, though the inevitable neighborhood fireworks make Zoe so jumpy and she barks a lot.

Saturday we're celebrating Christmas with my in-laws in Williamsburg, as well as MIL Sue's birthday, which is today! Happy Birthday Sue! They actually came to Richmond and went to dinner at Can Can Brasserie tonight, but our babysitter dilemma extends throughout the holidays, so we couldn't join in. I'm not sure what my stomach would have said to French food anyways. Can I get the LIGHT cassoulet?? No?

Sunday we leave for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans!! Woohoo! We will have 3 nights to make up for our lame New Year's Eve and be able to sleep in to our hearts' content the next morning. It's going to be a blast. Assuming I can figure out what to pack.

I looked up the forecast tonight and it's going to be in the mid-50's while we're there. Brad replied that that's a tough temperature to pack for. Wha??? I guess it's somewhere in the no man's land of needing a coat and not needing one.

Anyways, that's what's up around here. Lots of blog posts to catch up on, including my sister's shower and our Arkansas Christmas, once I get copies of some of the pictures. Not to worry, though, we're about to order a new camera, too - yay!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Crain Family Christmas

Since we were spending Christmas in Little Rock with Brad's family this year, we celebrated a few days early with my family.

The Crain Family Christmas carries many traditions with it, and even has its own soundtrack. We had to modify things a bit, since the rest of my family would also be celebrating on the actual Christmas morning, but we all remarked how it actually did feel like Christmas was over after that. We found ourselves getting annoyed at the mall the next day when there were no after-Christmas sales to be found, forgetting that the rest of the world hadn't celebrated yet.

Christmas morning at the Crain house includes a very specific breakfast: mimosas, egg casserole and monkey bread. Brad and I ended up having this breakfast twice, cooking it again when we got to Little Rock. The rest of my family showed some self restraint and just had it once.

We held off on the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas and jewelry gift until the actual day. Same with the stockings - my mom sent mine with me. But we exchanged some gifts and had a nice Christmas dinner later in the day.

As was the case last year, every gift was Charlie's gift. He loves ripping paper. And climbing in boxes. He does not typically care what is in the box... until he realized one of his gifts was a tent! He squealed and climbed inside and had a blast playing with it the rest of the day. So did my sister's dog, Elvis.
Charlie scurried back when he realized more of 'his' gifts were being opened without him. I'm sure we would have all been exhausted if we'd had to unwrap our own presents without him.
A few hours later we took Charlie to downtown McKinney to see Santa Claus and get a picture. In retrospect, that was kind of a funny thing to do right after we opened gifts. Anyways, Charlie figured out what was going on a lot quicker this year and the tears and panic started immediately. I need to scan the pic so I can post it. It's hiiiilarious.

It ended up being a nice, warm 72 degrees that day. We sat out back in the sunshine that afternoon and I tried to remind myself it was, in fact, December. The next day was so warm I had nothing to wear - just sweaters! Since I left Richmond in a snow storm and came back to several inches of snow, my flip flops didn't make the luggage cut.

Charlie had a great time running around the back yard with the dogs, though. There was also a dog next door who had a lot to say.
The next day we went to Northpark to see the trains exhibit. Charlie has been getting more into trains and loved it. He likes to point out cars, trucks, trees and windows. And there were many in the exhibits.

After lunch at the zoo of a food court we hit up Nordstrom. Charlie was not going to sit in his stroller, no sir, and I now realize how easy it is to lose children in department stores. They slip through one rack of clothing and boom, they're gone. Between my dad and me, we could barely keep track of Charlie! He was on fire and thought it was all a very fun game.

My dad asked my mom later how I ever get any shopping done. Umm, the internet. That is probably the only reason I don't already have a story of losing my child in a mall or department store.

It was a really fun trip, full of good food and good times with my family. Charlie took quite a few dips in my mom's big bath tub. We even got to go back unexpectedly and spend one more night when mechanical difficulties in Little Rock meant we would have missed our connection to Richmond in Chicago. We rerouted and got to see my family again. Don't even get me started on the joys of flying in and out of Arkansas. What a nightmare.

I just looked through this post and realized (as usual) there are only Charlie pictures. I guess I know my family well enough that they'd rather not be on the blog in their PJ's and sans shower. I assure you, though, despite the pictures, Charlie did not celebrate Christmas alone! Or with only 2 dogs.

Oh, and just so your jeans can feel as tight as mine have been feeling, I wrote out our Monkey Bread recipe below. There are many different versions of Monkey bread (also called Gorilla bread) if you poke around online, but this is the one we've been using for years.

Crain Family Monkey Bread

Rhodes Rolls, 18 count, frozen (in the freezer section with the bread)
1 box butterscotch pudding mix (cook & serve - NOT instant)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we use pecans)
1/2 cup melted butter
Nonstick cooking spray (to grease the pan)

The night before you want to serve, grease a bundt pan with the cooking spray and layer the frozen rolls on the bottom. Sprinkle all the ingredients except the melted butter on top of the rolls. Drizzle butter over it. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool spot (inside the oven or microwave works) overnight for the rolls to rise.

In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before inverting the pan.

If you really want to go all Crain style with it, serve with mimosas and some kind of ridiculously fattening/spicy egg casserole.


We're Back

Just got back in last night from a whirlwind 12 day trip for Christmas, which included:
  • Leaving in a snow storm
  • Flying to Dallas
  • Throwing my sister Megan a bridal shower
  • Celebrating Christmas with my family
  • Visiting Santa Claus and seeing the Trains at Northpark
  • Flying to Little Rock
  • Celebrating Christmas with Brad's family
  • Trying to fly home, but mechanical delays (can't even blame it on the snow) almost got us stranded in Chicago
  • Flying to Dallas instead for one more night with my family
  • Finally getting home last night at 11
Charlie is exhausted and his schedule is all sorts of haywire. He's actually still asleep right now. Trying to get us organized today and I have a bunch of posts to catch up on! Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and snow storm delays aren't weighing you down!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Surprise Snow Day

This morning when Brad got up at dark o'clock to catch his flight, I got up too and looked out the window. I'm not sure why. But does anything we do that early in the morning make sense?

Everything looked a bit... white and frozen. I thought we were having a bad freeze and rushed downstairs to tell Brad to be very careful, because he would of course not do this on his own without me telling him seven times right as he's trying to get out the door.

I nearly gave him a heart attack since he thought I was still asleep. But then I noticed it was snowing. Hard. An unforecasted snow. The news channels must have been so disappointed. A missed opportunity for hours of 'Winter Weather Event' forecasting in the hours leading up to a whopping 2 inches of snow.

I went back to bed and we woke up later to this:
Charlie was too young last winter to make much of all the snow we got. He wasn't really walking very well until May. This was his first time to stomp around in it and stick his fingers in it. He seemed to really like it until he realized his fingers were very cold and he held them up for me to fix it.
Charlie got his toy rake from the garage and started trying to rake up the snow. He's devoted to a nice, neat yard, just like his father.

Later in the morning the roads just looked a bit wet and it wasn't snowing all that hard, so we went ahead and went to music class. Charlie wore his new snowman sweater. I got him a bunch of new sweaters and the coat he's wearing at the 'trendy' children's consignment shop, Clover,this past weekend. I felt a lot better about buying a seasonal sweater he can only wear a few weeks when it was eight bucks.

After music class we went to Chick fil A for lunch so our house cleaning service could finish up. They were so nice there! We went to the new location on Parham road. They got me a high chair, brought us our food to the table, gave us free refills and different employees came by to say hi to Charlie. Now I know how Angelina Jolie feels when she goes out for fast food.

And after that we got some more playing in the snow in before nap time. A long nap. Snow + chicken lunch = exhausting.
We had a pretty quiet weekend. Brad has an upper respiratory infection or maybe even bronchitis, so he spent a lot of the weekend trying to recover.

I spent the weekend cooking and torturing Brad with Christmas movies. We watched Christmas Vacation (hysterical), White Christmas (my favorite) and Fred Claus, which was terrible. I wanted to watch the Santa Clause instead, but Brad gave me a look that said don't press your luck. I think Tim Allen is hilarious in it.

Speaking of cooking, the next time you are craving potato skins, make these pierogis instead, they are HEAVENLY. This baked ziti recipe was also quite good, couldn't tell it was relatively healthy.

Also this weekend I got my hair cut and tried that Keratin hair treatment I blogged about a while back. I got it on a special at my salon so paid less then a third of what it usually cost. I'm glad about that because I don't think I like it. The treatment softens and straightens your hair so that even if you air dry it, it looks like you flat ironed your whole head. I have really fine hair and now it's kind of plastered to my head and very flat.

I'm disappointed because my friends here who get it done have a constant "just left the salon" look. But I don't think I have the right hair for it. I'm using some shampoo with sodium chloride in it, trying to get it to loosen up some. Fortunately my hair dries in no time and doesn't require product or styling. So if I'm washing every day, at least there's that. It really doesn't need it. I could go days without washing if I wasn't trying to get rid of it. Feels very clean and shiny. Just looks blah.

Anyways. Enough vanity. Some pics below of daredevil Charlie on his tricycle. He loves it and once he figures out how to move the pedals I don't think we'll ever get him off of it.

It was actually really cold out for the picture above. That's why Brad has shorts on. Workout shorts are all-weather apparel for Brad!

All of these pictures were of course with my phone. Sigh. Brad and I are not having a meeting of the minds of the camera situation. I want some immediate gratification with a point and shoot while we take the time to figure out an investment camera. He wants an SLR and sees no point in another point and shoot since I was so frustrated with the blurry pictures our last one took. OK, that's probably a good point. I feel like I need another college degree to figure an SLR out - it kind of intimidates me. But I should probably put on my big girl panties and at least try.

This week we're just getting ready for our big Christmas trip to Dallas and Little Rock! Takes quite a bit of strategery to get Charlie and I out of town. My sister Meredith and I are throwing my sister Megan a bridal shower next Saturday too, so I'm getting ready for that. More snow headed our way Thursday - hope our flight isn't delayed! Kind of sad to miss it. Snow is still a novelty to me.

Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pictureless Post

I still haven't found my camera, which is why there are no cute holiday Charlie photos to go with this post. I am also apparently the only blog writer on the planet who managed to miss Shutterfly's offer of 50 free cards if you post your card on your blog, so I'm not posting that either. You'll just have to watch your mailbox in heated anticipation. Since I haven't had a camera in over a month, you can probably guess you've already seen the photos!

Also, I sliced my finger open tonight, opening a FedEx box which didn't technically belong to me, so every word of this post kind of hurts. Or at least any word containing a D, C or E. But I am so devoted to you, blog readers (both of you) that I'll write this anyways.

The Fed Ex box that isn't technically mine: a package for the previous owners of our house from some hospital system. I've called and let the hospital know, but they keep showing up. I have to open it to get the number of who to call this year. Paring knife, meet middle finger.

I've been so busy lately, trying to get all of our Christmas shopping done since Brad has had to work a lot of overtime lately. I've done most of it online and I'm so optimistic that everything that arrives will completely meet my expectations and be the perfect gift. Delusions such as this are probably the only aspect of the holidays that aren't fattening.

I've also been working quite a bit lately. My hopefully soon to be former department loves to stack deadlines for year end, when nobody feels like working and a lot of people go ahead and take off for the rest of the year.

Yes, I'm still working part time from home during Charlie's naps and at night. It was supposed to be just a couple of months and now it's until year end and possibly longer. The money's been nice but it does cut in on the time I need to perfect the domestic arts. Actually it's just harder to get down time in, with taking care of Charlie and Brad out of town every week, but I do manage.

We just made plans to go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in early January! We're going with some friends and making a long weekend of it. Brad and I haven't had much time alone together in several months, so I'm really looking forward to it. Stay up late and sleep in for a few days - yippee! Charlie's going to go stay in Williamsburg and will probably talk non-stop while we're gone! And eat. And hassle their dog.

Charlie's become a little parrot lately. He repeats everything he hears and it's amazing to watch him pick up words so quickly. He also has this little demon voice he uses when something isn't going his way. He dropped his teddy grahams today and Ringo started eating them and Charlie said this growly NOOOOOOOOOO! Yeah, Ringo gave that about a half second of attention before he continued eating.

My parents sent Charlie a tricycle for Christmas and since he doesn't get the whole Christmas morning thing yet, we went ahead and gave it to him. He can't really move the pedals, but loves to sit on it or be pushed on it.

When we first gave it to him, he got so ticked at Brad whenever he would stop pushing him. They finally went out to the street to ride on it and Charlie took a spill and got a bump on his noggin. He finished crying and came back inside, played around on it and got a bump on the other side.

Doesn't matter, though - he LOVES this tricycle. It's his new perch to watch his favorite TV show, Zoboomafoo, on. He's gotten quite a bit of Zoboomafoo lately since I'm unsure what to do with him with it being so cold all the time. And motivation to leave the house all bundled up and mess with the car seat and wait for the car to warm up, etc., etc. - very low.

So yeah, that's what's going on around here. If you have this month's Cooking Light, I'm going to try the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas, the Fontina Polenta with Wild Mushrooms and the Bacon Pirogi thingy bopper. All mostly vegetarian-like. Brad will be thrilled. I better roast a chicken or something so he doesn't get the shakes.

Hoping to get a new camera soon. Brad wants a fancy pants one that will probably take a lifetime for me to figure out. I may get a cheapie that can take a beating on a walk or at the park with Charlie. But I need something quick! If you see Santa, let him know.

Oh and is it just my computer or is Cutest Blog on the Block not working for anyone? Very annoyed my cute santa blog background has gone missing.