Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dead Sexy Dessert

Thank you everyone for your congratulations! (And thank you also for your comments on the song. I'm blushing. It's been far too long since my voice was out in a Public Space.) I realized, after posting the slide-show, that some of the pictures were obscured by the photo titles. To rectify this, I've posted the original picture files on my Flickr account in their own set, located here. (Especially for people like my mom, who would appreciate seeing The Whole Thing.)

Our anniversary day was busy, but ended well. While Greg was at work on Monday, I worked on getting the slide-show together and recording the song for it (recording the vocals with no children around to make noises took some planning!). Somehow, I also managed to throw together a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, feed the children dinner (boxed macaroni and cheese, because I needed a little break), put them to bed, and tidied the kitchen. Then, in the time it took Greg to park the car and walk up the stairs, I changed from Mommy Uniform to Date Night Clothing. I was like Superman. Or Supermom. Whatever.

Dinner was take-out from the local Asian Bistro, and it was nice to be able to decompress at last after a busy day, and, "date". And then, my friends, there was dessert.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and Strawberries
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic-Black-Pepper Glazed Strawberries

Dudes: this dessert is dead sexy, and stupid-easy. If you can wrap your brain around making whipped cream, you're home free on this baby.

Here's what's involved: heat cream and sugar. Add vanilla. Add softened gelatin. Pour into wineglasses (or ramekins if you plan to unmold them). Chill at least 2 hours. That's it. (I used David Lebovitz' recipe, found here.)

For the strawberries, I simply cut them, drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar, ground a few twists of black pepper over it, and sprinkled on sugar to taste. After being gently stirred together, it was ready to top and serve. Juicy, sweet, slightly sour from the balsamic, with a tiny hit of heat from the black pepper.

We found the flavor combination perfect, but this dessert begs for variation and playing around with different ideas. I could imagine this with blueberries doused in maple syrup, blackberries with a bit of brown sugar, peaches with caramelized honey (cook honey over medium heat until it caramelizes, cool slightly, toss with fruit), etc.

But that's enough about romance and food. How about tiny children doing a craft project gone awry?

It all started with a great idea to keep the boys happy during their quiet time. Q-tips, washable Elmer's glue, bits of yarn (goodness knows I've got plenty of that!), and paper = happy, contented times.

Sparky and Max start a Very Messy crafting project

I begin to see how this could end in disaster...

Daisy glue

No words are needed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

8th Anniversary

(Edited to fix video -- I reloaded it into my YouTube account instead, so it should work now Thanks Jill for the heads up!)

Eight years ago yesterday, I married my best friend. Today, I love him more than ever. Thank you, Greg, for always keeping up the chase, continuing to "date" me, and loving me through and with everything in our lives together.

The day he left from R&R to go back to Iraq, he sent me a text message, directing me to this video: This Is The First Day Of My Life. This song and video became a precious emotional link across the miles, and I've recorded my own cover version (please excuse the clunky piano) to back this slideshow of the last 8 years.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Little Pirates

This past week has been a little bit of a rough one with Greg working late every night, and the children reacting to his absence. He had a long weekend though, so on Friday morning, he "snuck" out with Andrew, Elijah and Lavella. This is what I found on the bathroom mirror.

My husband took the pirates out this morning

This little fellow very sweetly took a nap, and I got at least half of a morning to myself. A luxury I treasured!!

Happy little man

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To my dearest Elijah

Dear Elijah,

Last month, on June 8th, you turned 4-years-old. We were on vacation, and with all of the business that's followed, I haven't gotten the chance to write this until just now.

You, my dear fellow, are the most hilarious, fierce, darling, aggressive, daring, and charming person I know.


Now it's true that your Uncle Joel has much the same disposition, but, as I am his sister (and therefore was only required to babysit him, not parent him), but am your mommy, the challenges and joys of knowing you happen to be of a much greater magnitude. Raising someone of your caliber requires much more grit and determination than anything I thought I had.


It is interesting to me that, of the four of you children, it is you who immediately mirrors my feelings in your actions. If I am peaceful and happy, you are (broadly speaking) a cheerful, contented guy. If, however, I am in the least bit stressed, put upon, busy or otherwise engaged, you immediately point this out. By flipping out over the toy you can't find. Or the person who bumped you. Or the fact that I can't watch for every second the 89 repeats you have planned in your Jump Over This Line On The Tile Floor game. Or whatever.

Max NOT wanting to go on the train

In the four short years that I have known you, I've learned a very important lesson: when you are the most challenging, it is at that precise moment that I need to hold you in my arms. Tenderness and love is often what you need, even at your most aggressive moments. Nothing that I had planned for the day is more important than you.

Max with Puppy Love

When you grow out of this stage, I will dearly miss the fierce hugs you give, and the kisses you smash my face with. I will miss the way you creep under my elbow to cuddle close when I'm reading to you, even when you've said (wailed, even) that you don't want us to read that book. I will miss the way that your face lights up when you come into my room in the morning and find me awake. Your smile brightens my day, and those gorgeous blue eyes have a way of melting my heart again and again.

When I look at you now, I no longer see a baby or a toddler.

Multidirectional Scarf


Funny boys

I see a little boy. I see a little guy who's growing up at a breakneck speed, and even through the struggles of raising you, I'd do anything to slow time just a bit, to enjoy your innocent, brilliant boyhood for just a moment longer.

Max thought it might be a good idea to eat some flour

When you ask me (again and again and again) to watch you jump off the bottom step, I try to remind myself that it's important to pay attention, because someday it will be the last time. Someday you'll be independent and grown, and won't need me to watch anymore. The fact that you'll want me to watch you jump that one last time breaks my heart...because I realize that I can never know when that last moment is. When you hold my hand for the last time in your sweet, childish need for security, I won't realize how precious the moment is, because I won't know it's the last time. That's the tricky thing about growing up. You can count the first times of anything, but it's harder to know the lasts.

I am trying my best to appreciate every moment with you, I choose to cherish this time when I am Your World; I know soon you'll be grown up, that someday all I'll have of your boyhood are these pictures and the memories.

Max sliding

You are so precious to me. I love you, and love that you have a passionate personality. You often make me laugh, and you've certainly made me cry. When you are happy, your joy is infectious. I love your wild, carefree, random humor.

Sparky and Max wanted to show Daddy their block building

Elijah, when it comes down to it, no matter how much of a challenge you can be sometimes, I am proud that I have the privilege of being your mommy. I'm so glad that you're part of our family. I love you like crazy.


Love you forever,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two-week visit wrap-up

On Thursday, Pete, Jill and Keith flew back to the States. We had a very nice visit with them, and were so glad that Keith got to see several European countries in this one trip.

It is possible, however, in her zeal for capturing every precious moment, that Jill may have taken just a few too many pictures.

Not that you'd be able to tell by Greg's expression here.
Um, yeah.

Or here.
"Seriously.  Too many pictures."

Or here.
Dinner out

This was a night that we got a babysitter so that we adults could go out for dinner together. Yes, we are sitting at a different table in this second shot -- I started to freeze outside, so we had to move indoors. Thankfully the restaurant wasn't busy, and the staff very gracious.
Dinner out

Jill has been occasionally playing the roll of my Personal Shopper when she finds good deals at WalMart and such. This adorable little dress was one of those purchases. ("Thank you Nana!!")
Jill bought Daisy this dress

Lavella showing Keith something on her little piano.
Keith and Daisy

Keith and the boys wrestling.
Keith wrestling with Sparky and Max

One night, we noticed that a street fair was taking place outside our house. I think it was called the Italian Festival. (I'm not in these pics because I was out at a farewell for the Battalion commander's wife.)
Street fair

Street fair

Street fair

Jill always finds it of utmost importance to soak in as much sunlight as possible. Here she is eating out in the sun-garden. The children thought it was a super fun idea.
Lunch out in the sun-garden

Making pizza dough together.
Making pizza dough

Everyone was glad to get the opportunity to meet Jonah for the first time, and spend time with him.
Poppy and Billy

Pete and Billy

Thank you Pete, Jill and Keith for coming to visit us! All of the time that you each took to help me care for and entertain the children while you were here was hugely appreciated. Thank you also for letting Greg and I go out on a date together. Overall, we had a lovely visit with the three of you, and we look forward to seeing you again in September!

For more pictures and some different angles on our last two weeks, visit Jill's blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


On Sunday the 12th, Greg took everyone on a day trip to Luxembourg and Trier (Jonah and I stayed home for some quiet and rest -- traveling with baby is not so restful.)

The following pictures are of Luxembourg, where they visited the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, where General Patton is buried.

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

General Patton's grave

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

A map of some WWII battles that were fought in the area we live in here in Germany:
Map of WWII battles


Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

A fountain in a park they played at in Luxembourg:
Fountain in Luxembourg

Butterfly flower garden:
Flowers in a park in Luxembourg

Constantine's foot in Trier:
Constantine's foot

Constantine's foot

Monday, July 13, 2009

Army Semi-Formal

On Saturday, Greg's batallion had a semi-formal dinner event. There were seats available, so Pete, Jill and Keith were able to go with us as well. Greg's band played their farewell performance (everyone is PCS-ing -- moving on to the next post), and I jumped in for a guest appearance on one of their last songs "I Love Rock 'n Roll". It was fun.

People like to tell me that they'd never be "patient enough" to learn to knit. In all seriousness, there is no way that I can be a patient person without it!! During the super-boring formal portion of the night, knitting this sock was my saving grace.

It's all about survival, my friends.

Greg's band "12 Lead":

The hot guitarist:

This couple got engaged during the set (the guy proposed in between songs -- not sure the girl was sober enough to remember it all the next day, but...)

Listening to Greg's band play:

My dear Jillian:

With the lead singer Woywood's wife, and Anna:

"Needs No Caption":

Jill jumped onto the dance floor at the end:

Overall, not a bad night for mandatory fun.