If I haven't mentioned this before, I'm usually late! About everything!
Including Christmas cookies!
This year I got NO baking done for Christmas, outside of Lepkuchen Day. My mom brought frozen Christmas cookie dough for us to bake when they came to visit, but we never got around to it. It languished in the freezer until this past Saturday, when I finally took the plunge and spent a morning baking it off. It was great! We put on Christmas music and had a "Christmas in Retrospect" day. It was great.
(For anyone who's wondering, yes, our Christmas Tree is still up. But it's coming down this weekend or next - we won't keep it up till St. Patrick's like last year. Normally I spend January mourning over the passing of Christmas and re-celebrating it, but this year I finally felt done when Christmas was over, with no regrets. I think it's because this year was the first year we actually did Christmas properly, instead of remembering it on Christmas Eve - "Oh, shoot! It's Christmas Eve and we forgot to do anything about Christmas again!" Having a 4-year-old is helpful in this respect!)
My experiment this year was trying to formulate homemade vegetable-based dyes. I've recently become aware of the negative aspects of artificial dyes (though I still use them on occasion), not to mention that some of the worst behavior in history has surfaced in our son after eating massive doses of red 40 (for example, in a black-frosted cake last year.... oh my, that was ugly).
However, natural dyes are horribly expensive - $9.00 and up per color - so I made my own with suggestions on the web. They worked beautifully!! Here they are:
RED - Beet juice! I had made beet baby food (beets in crockpot all day, then peel and puree and freeze in cubes), so I thawed one cube in a strainer and collected the juice underneath. It made the most gorgeous frosting!
YELLOW - Turmeric! It started out a bit grainy-looking, but with time got better and better. A really bright, vibrant yellow! There was the tiniest bit of taste with this one, but it was only noticeable if you specifically looked for it - very minor.)
GREEN - Chlorophyll in a bottle from a natural foods store. It made a lovely pistachio/sage. And chlorophyll is a terrifically healthy food additive, so you can add it to baby food (which we're doing) or to your own smoothies (also doing).
One I forgot to make was PURPLE with blueberry juice.
And I wondered about ORANGE with carrot????
Mixing the colors was only marginally successful. We tried to do:
RED & YELLOW = ORANGE, but it came out more of a ROSE PINK (gorgeous).
We did do:
GREEN & YELLOW = YELLOW-GREEN, very pretty
Here's the only caveat - for the liquid colors, add the colors before you thin the frosting with cream or milk, as the liquid dye will do a bit of its own thinning.
It's definitely a viable option! We had a blast
And now, pictures! Note the professional-quality decorating:
Our four-year-old was in charge of the sprinkles. Bad idea. He went through one and a half economy-sized mega-bottles. By the time he got done, the floor crunched under our feet.
Baby slept through the festivities.
Speaking of Christmas, did I mention that we got to see snow in Sedona for New Year's? That's right! Snow! SNOW! I was so excited. Not only do we not get snow in Phoenix (or in California where I grew up), but I haven't been to the snow in at least fifteen years.
So I was like I little kid with the stuff. I even insisted on being photographed with it. "See? This is ME! Me and SNOW! Get it? Snow! Snow! Snow!" (Where's a Bing Crosby and Danny Kay background track when you need it?)
It was our eldest's first time with the snow too, so the two of us had a lot of fun (DH is just like a cat - he can't stand cold or water, so he stayed inside):
More pics from family New Year's:
And speaking of chronological incorrectness, here are some pics from Christmas:
And so, as I said - Merry Christmas!
January has been an interesting months of ups and downs. We have already mourned two deaths in 2011 - a friend's father, and the wife of my childhood assistant pastor. We have also received the news that the struggle with cancer for a dearly loved friend has now reached the terminal stage, so we are dealing with that.
We have also had great joy in this new year, though, as well. We have rejoiced in the newly-formed engagements (and quickly approaching nuptials!) of two of our young friends, who are now slated to be not only close friends for life, but sisters in law! Such an exciting time - what joy!
We also are rejoicing with our friends who recently welcomed their first-born, the sixth of twelve adopted embryos and the first to make it through the pregnancy process. I got to hold the precious little fellow this morning, and he is cute. New babies are wonderful!
Now that most of my friends have had their babies, I vote for a new round of pregnancy announcements!! (Married friends and soon-to-be-married friends, that is a *HINT*! I can't live too long without new babies!)
On a side note, the arrival of baby Matthew completes the circle for our little six-couple band of friends. Six years ago or so, six couples (DH and myself included) met at our church, and all of us were at the beginning of our childbearing careers - all of us were childless except for one baby and one baby-on-the-way. Now, six years later, we have 24 children between us, including eight children lost in miscarriage/ectopic/failed transfers, five embryo-babies in waiting, and ten little ones here on earth. With the birth of baby Matthew, we all have at least one babe in-arms. What a joyful completion of a circle! It has been a crazy six years with so many babies - so full of triumph and tragedy, joy and sadness. I am so thankful for all of our little ones.
In baby news:
Our little guy is doing well. He is now doing a lot of non-directed rolling, which gets him into some interesting predicaments. He remains as utterly adorable as ever!
We had a rather unsettling experience last week in visiting one of baby's doctors.
We are, to be sure, eternally grateful to this doctor for getting us out of doing a (very unpleasant) GI test on baby - she recommended testing by treatment, which we infinitely prefer.
However, she has also chosen to fuss about baby's health - saying that he is too small - and at our last appointment she chose to really take issue with his weight, especially with the fact that he is "still" breastfeeding (at 16 months), and she came out with a lot of anti-breastfeeding statements that really took me off-guard - like "You can't breastfeed him forever, you know" and "At his age, he really should be drinking from a cup" and "You can't breastfeed him till he's five" and etc.
I was really stunned, and not quite sure what to do. Firstly, because this doctor - of all people in the world, due to her specialty - should know the healthfulness of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, as well as the WHO's recommendation that babies be breastfed for a minimum of two years (and the AAP's recommendation that babies be breastfed for a minimum of a year).
Secondly, I am really bad in face-to-face confrontations. I can occasionally (not often, but occasionally) write something worth reading, but I can never, ever say anything worth hearing - especially in a confrontational situation. My verbal wit in such situations pretty much equals that of a drugged manatee.
So, in this situation, my best efforts at witty repartee resulted in a glazed deer-in-the-headlights stare, complete with a response that was something like "Mmmphth."
Needless to say, I dominated the situation.
In reality, I did gather my fractured wits enough to let her know that (1) I would not be weaning, (2) I would not give formula, and (3) his brother had nursed to 33 months and I hoped to get him at least that far. (As a matter of fact, I don't really care about that, but I figured it was a good response.) I did agree to give baby goat's milk - she emphasized that it should be in a cup, but we are mixing it into his food.
I should say it again - we really love this doctor. She has helped us out a lot, and she is a great woman and a good doctor. This difference of opinion doesn't change any of that.
However, this visit emphasized something I've been feeling more and more - that I am done with specialists. We have enough information now to know what we need to know about baby's health, and at this point, further searches for a diagnosis for baby are pointless and needless. He is fine, health-wise - he is just going to be slow. Slow in every sense of the word, and he'll need help with physical therapy and education. However, he's happy, and he's healthy, and seeing so many specialists is now unneeded baggage. I'm ready to start getting rid of all of these visits.
I spoke about this yesterday with our (wonderful and amazing) pediatrician, and he more than agrees - so I have his blessing for starting to shed specialists as soon as I can. So that is my new project! Hopefully within the next couple of months, and hopefully with as few hurt/insulted feelings as possible.
I know that we'll always have more doctors' visits with this little guy - it comes with the territory. But I'm ready to go back to normal life, and that is my new project.
Oh, and interestingly, our pediatrician said that (1) baby's weight is just fine - it's on the low end, but it does follow the curve, which is what matters most, and (2) with motor-skills-delayed children, extra weight is not an advantage because they have so much trouble with movement anyway. Not that you want an underweight baby, or that one would ever restrict food - just that adding on extra pounds just to get him higher on the percentage scale could make learning his motor skills even harder due to the extra body weight. So interesting to see such differences in medical opinion.
Well, there's tons more to write, but bed calls! (That's assuming anyone has actually made it this far!)