Friday, December 20, 2013

Vivian and the Rudolph show.

Vivian loves Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  Not just at Christmas, but all year 'round.  She has several Rudolph t-shirts and books, and she frequently watches the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movie on her iPod.

Lo and behold, this year Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer: the Musical came to Dallas.  Vivian's teacher, Mrs. Kemp, and her speech therapist, Melinda, took Vivian and her friend Will to see the show.  They reported that Vivian loved it.  From the looks of these pictures, I'd say she did!

After the show Vivian was able to interact with some of the cast members

Friday, September 27, 2013

A couple of funny Vivian stories.

Vivian at a recent pep rally (which she calls a "pepperoli")

Last week Vivian's teacher let me know that Vivian had refused to do her work one day but had instead fallen to the floor and pitched a fit. When Vivian got home from school, I said to her sternly, "Vivian, Mommy is VERY sad when you don't do your work." She looked at me and replied, "Vivian is happy."


Yesterday Vivian's school had a fire drill. Vivian's teacher knew the alarm would sound soon, and she realized with some concern that Vivian was deeply involved in working one of her favorite puzzles. Her teacher worried that Vivian would not want to leave the puzzle to go outside for the drill and might put up a fuss. When the fire alarm went off, however, Vivian jumped up from her chair, began waving her arms and moving quickly to door while yelling, "We have to get out of the building!"

Such a funny girl.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sweet Sixteen!


Today my sweet Dots is turning sixteen. So far her birthday has been much sweeter than Vivian's sixteenth, thank goodness!

Dots had to be at school at 6:20 for Cross Country practice so she only opened one present this morning

She requested Chick-Fil-A for her lunch table so I bought that and carried it up to them around noon. Tonight Robert and I are taking Dots and four friends to her favorite restaurant

I posted this picture on Instagram today. Dots was a funny, funny little girl. She adored this bathing suit and wore it under her clothes wherever we went for quite some time. On this particular day we were nowhere near a pool; this was just her outfit of choice!

Happy Sweet Sixteen to my sweet, beautiful girl!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to school 2013.

Vintage school days

My girls started school this week. College classes commenced for Will the week before; alas, I have no pictures of that to share.

Dots is a sophomore in high school. Vivian is classified as a junior, but she can stay in school until her 22nd birthday so she also has three years remaining. 2016 will be a year of big changes at our house.

Things seem to be off to a good start for the girls. Dots made the cross country team and has practice at 6:30 each morning, so she is out the door early (I can't say bright and early because it is pitch black when she leaves). Vivian has been very happy to get on the bus each day, and although there have been a few meltdowns when work or PE were involved, her teachers report that Vivian has generally been happy and cooperative.

Here's to a good year!

Waiting for the bus. Vivian kept saying, "Where is my bus? It is time to go to school!"

The bus is here! Vivian has been blessed to have had the same wonderful bus driver for 14 years!

Happily aboard the bus

Dots heads out for the first day of her sophomore year. No early morning cross country practice today!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vivian and the magic paper machine.


Vivian loves to color. She can spend hours entertaining herself coloring pictures. Often Vivian requests Robert or me to draw an outline for her (a happy dog, a sleepy sun, three frogs, two flowers, etc.), but she will also draw three things herself (a sun, a moon and an apple - same shape, different color).

I knew that Vivian's source of blank paper was my printer because I perpetually have an "out of paper" message on my computer screen. I assumed that Vivian opened the printer's paper drawer, took out what she needed and then closed it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 10.19.18 PM

This morning, however, I entered my office to discover a stack of 30-odd copies of a medical receipt that I had inadvertently left on my printer's copier glass yesterday. I realized that to get paper, Vivian was pushing all of the buttons on the front of my printer until a piece of paper spit out. Since the copier glass is usually empty, most of the time Vivian would be rewarded with a blank piece of paper by hitting the "copy" button. I'm guessing that yesterday she kept hitting the button hoping that the printer would eventually avail her of a blank page but had so such luck.

Today I showed Vivian where I keep a stack of blank copy paper, on a wire shelf just above the printer. I suggested that she get her coloring paper there and leave the printer alone.

This afternoon I heard the printer's motor whirring and found Vivian sitting in front of the printer randomly pushing buttons and retrieving the paper as the printer supplied it. I decided that Vivian must view the printer as her own special paper vending machine and that she prefers the cause and effect of pushing a button to receive a piece of paper over just taking blank sheets off a shelf.

Such a funny, but resourceful, girl!

Coloring a "sleepy sun"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Name that expression.

Vivian's teacher sent me this series of pictures the other day. She was asking Vivian to show different emotions while her teacher photographed them with an iPad. Ms. B reported that Vivian really enjoyed doing this and loved looking at the pictures afterward and naming the emotion. I wish they included sound as well because Vivian has funny little sounds she makes along with the expressions (her sad sound is a little whimper and her angry sound is a grunt of sorts).


Image 1

Image 2
Sad. (You really need the sound effect to distinguish this from angry!)

Image 3
Silly. (Vivian's attempt to stick out her tongue!)

Sweet girl (her teacher sent me this one on another day to show me a flower Vivian had picked for me).

Friday, March 22, 2013



We have just returned from a wonderful week in Hawaii. My mother joined us this year which was a special treat.

Vivian has been so sweet and compliant lately, and she did really well on our trip. She loved feeding the fish in the koi ponds around our resort, and while it was never her idea to get in the water, she had fun kicking her feet and splashing Robert and me. We had one dramatic moment when Vivian fell into the pool fully dressed (and was quickly retrieved as I was standing right next to her). The incident did not faze Vivian one bit, but I had to grab every towel within reach and wrap her up quickly because she started pulling at her shirt and pants saying, "I can't swim in my clothes, I have to swim in my bathing suit." We have had countless talks on "we don't take off our clothes until we are in our room," but the concept clearly has yet to take root.

Here are a few pictures from Hawaii. I'm ready to go back!

Shortly after our arrival. Vivian seemed pretty happy to be there but wanted no part of wearing her lei

View from our room

Dots brought along her hammock

Robert and Vivi in the pool

Two Vivians relaxing by the pool

Vivian, Robert and me in the lazy river - Vivian is giggling because she thinks she is splashing Robert with her kicks

Vivian going down a slide with Robert

Robert reading a book on his iPad

The beach

Katie and Dots at Happy Hour

Our dessert one night at dinner. This was incredible! It's coconut ice cream inside a chocolate shell coated in toasted coconut. It was as delicious as it was beautiful and creative

Vivian feeding the fish

Vivian would always say, "The fish are so happy now." I bet those fish miss Vivian!

Teenage girls by the pool {sigh}. Dots didn't know I was taking her picture - I think she was hiding from the sun

Heading to Lahaina

Annual kids picture by the banyan tree

A happy Vivian

Strolling in Lahaina - this was a pretty quick trip as Vivian's new stroller is too big and clunky to maneuver very easily in the tiny shops. Plus Vivian's tolerance of/interest in shopping is even less than Robert's and his is pretty close to nil

Mama's Fish House - on the north shore of Maui

View from our table at Mama's Fish House. We ate lunch there one day

Robert doing his best to keep Vivian entertained until our food arrived. When Vivian's lunch of baked fish, fresh fruit and rice was set in front of her, she said, "I don't like my food!" and started to push her stroller away from the table. Robert distracted her and prevented a majorly unattractive scene in an otherwise lovely restaurant, and within about 30 seconds Vivian was devouring her lunch. (Notice that Vivian is wearing a different shirt than she had on just an hour or so before in Lahaina. I found a whale t-shirt for her in a shop. I asked Vivian if she liked it, and before I even realized what was happening, she had taken off her other shirt (which I took to mean "yes"). Thank goodness there was no one else in the store!

Sunset from the lanai off our room

As I was enjoying a delicious lobster salad sandwich one afternoon at the Four Seasons, this egret walking on the hedge right by our table availed himself of the off-menu fresh gecko

Vivian (wearing the whale shirt again) relaxing by the pool. She would tell me, "Make my chair a bed!" and often fell asleep

View from my chair as I worked a crossword puzzle

Dots and Robert in a kayak

Looking out over the pool and beach from our hotel's restaurant

Hawaiian sunset on our last night (photo credit to Dots)

Meanwhile, guess who thought Gulf Shores, Alabama with college friends sounded like more fun than Hawaii with the family!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Valentine Luncheon 2013, part IV: recipes.

Crab Salad
from my friend Cynthia
serves 6-8

1 container jumbo lump crab meat
2 scoops mayonnaise
1 scoop Dijon mustard
Chopped green onions
1 jar capers, drained
A couple of scoops of Kraft horseradish (red top in dairy section)
Lemon juice
Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic (a bunch of shakes)
Salt (if you think it needs it)

Combine all ingredients. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

***These are obviously very rough measurements that can be adjusted to your taste! I used five containers of crab and quadrupled everything else to serve 32 people. This was REALLY good and oh, so easy.

Fragrant Carrot Soup with Cilantro Cream
from Peace Meals by the Junior League of Houston
Serves 10

5-7 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2½ teaspoons coarse salt, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
3 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Heat the broth in a saucepan over low. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot; add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté for 5 minutes then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger and cayenne. Cook until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add a little of the warm broth if the mixture dries out. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups of the warm broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender. Allow to cool slightly. Purée soup with immersion blender (or in small batches in a blender). Add orange juice and additional broth to achieve desired consistency. Season again with remaining teaspoon of salt and additional cayenne if desired. In a small bowl stir together the cilantro and cream. Serve soup with a drizzle of the cilantro cream on top.

Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney
from The Gourmet Cookbook

***I serve this hors d'oeuvres every year because it is so delicious, it looks pretty and festive and it can be prepared ahead and chilled and then brought to room temperature and sliced the morning of the luncheon

Pastry dough
1 cup heavy cream
1 whole large egg
2 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
5 oz. chilled white Stilton cheese, rind removed and cheese crumbled

Make tart shell:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 17- by 8-inch rectangle and fit into 13 x 4 x 1 tart pan with removable bottom. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Lightly prick bottom and sides all over with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Line pastry shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes, then carefully remove foil and weights and bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool shell in pan 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Make filling:

Whisk together cream, whole egg, yolks, salt, and pepper until combined.

Put tart shell (still in pan) on a baking sheet and scatter cheese evenly in shell. Slowly pour custard into shell and bake in middle of oven until golden around edge and custard is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack. Cut tart into 32 rectangles and serve at room temperature, topped with chutney.

Cranberry Chutney:

2 large shallots (3 oz), coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed)
⅔ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
½ teaspoon salt
generous pinch dried hot red pepper flakes

Cook shallots in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, just until berries pop, 10 to 12 minutes, then cool.

(This makes more chutney than needed for the Stilton Tart. Leftover chutney keeps well for several weeks in refrigerator and is delicious on turkey sandwiches.)

Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries

1 cup all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
About 3 tablespoons fig preserves

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the flour, butter, blue cheese, and a few grinds of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until the dough just comes together and starts to form a ball.

3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to pull it together. Then roll out to a 1/8-inch-thick circle with a floured rolling pin. Cut rounds out of the dough with a floured 1-inch round cutter and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Reroll the scraps (no more than once) and cut more rounds.

4. Using the back of a rounded 1/2-teaspoon measure or your knuckle, make an indentation in the center of each dough round. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of the fig preserves into each indentation, using your finger to push the preserves as best as possible into the indentation.

5. Bake the savouries until the preserves are bubbling and the pastry is light golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cranberry Cups with Warm Butter Sauce
from Colorado Collage by the Junior League of Denver

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup evaporated milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained

Butter Sauce:
½ cup unsalted butter
1¾ cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12-cup muffin tin.

In large bowl cream 3 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar until well blended. In a small bowl combine water and ½ cup evaporated milk. Sift together flour, salt and soda. Alternatively add milk mixture and flour mixture to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in cranberries (batter will be stiff).

Fill prepared muffin cups ¾ full. Bake 20-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool and remove from muffin tin. (May be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Cool thoroughly, cover and store at room temperature.)

In heavy saucepan combine ½ cup butter, 1¾ cups sugar, 1 cup evaporated milk and vanilla over medium-high heat. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside. (Sauce may be prepared up to 3 weeks in advance. Cover and chill.)

Place pudding cups on individual serving plates and top with warmed Butter Sauce.

I have to put in another plug for my VERY favorite iPhone/iPad app, Paprika. I have been slowly importing or manually entering all of the recipes I use into Paprika. There is a free version of the app, but I bought the paid version so that it will keep my recipes synced between my iPhone, iPad and desktop. I typically enter the recipe on my desktop, use the grocery list on it from my iPhone when I'm at the store, and read the recipe on my iPad as I am cooking. Paprika also has a handy email link that I use to send recipes when someone asks for one. Having all of the recipes from this year's Valentine luncheon in Paprika made it an easy task for me to cut and paste them to share here.


I am not getting paid by Paprika to endorse their app, but I wish I were because I have told so many people about it!