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Saturday, December 25, 2010

What a great day....

Well Santa came and Santa went. Everything went smoothly and Miranda and Quinn seemed to have a blast this morning. I was expecting Miranda to come through and shove me out of bed a little earlier than 7am though.
 Maura and I were still in bed when Maura was awoken by Miranda's voice coming through Quinn's baby monitor. She was trying to explain that her insulin pump was alarming due to a low battery. I got up and met her as she was sort of hanging around in the dining room. "Why didn't you just come through?" I asked, to which she replied, "I was scared Santa hadn't been yet". My smart girl chose to contact us using Quinn's sound monitor instead of just coming into our room. Wonders will never cease.
 Upon realising Santa had paid us a visit the quiet morning was shattered by squeals of excitement. She went through her checks, reindeer food sprinkled on the driveway, gone. Santa's cookies and Rudolph's carrots, gone. Messy footsteps leading from the doorway, It must have been him.
 It was time to get my coffee brewing.

Her choice gift this year was an American Girl doll and has hardly let her out of her sight all day long. Quinn scored with a nice new drum, which Miranda also likes to play with strangely enough...

Merry Christmas

Matching pajama's

As if we didn't have enough excitement, Miranda lost her first tooth. It has been threatening to drop out for days but we'll never forget this date!

Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Dd and Uncle Chris


Miranda would put her new doll down in very random places. I decided to try and capture the travels of her new best friend

Friday, December 24, 2010

It just gets better with age...

 I can definitely see a difference in Miranda's outlook on Christmas this year as opposed to last year, and I faintly remember thinking the same thoughts last year. She has been a complete ball of excitement all day long asking questions about Santa and where can he be. Keep in mind this started at breakfast time on Christmas eve.
Every year we gather up her Aunts, Uncles, Grandma and Grandpa and go out for dinner on Christmas eve. The past few years have taken us to 555 Steakhouse in Long Beach where the food is out of this world. Afterwards it's home to lay out the treats for the man in red and his trusty animals. Tonight Miranda wanted to sprinkle reindeer food out on the driveway which she made at school from oats and glitter and we watched the sky for any untoward sightings that may have been something other than the passing traffic heading into Long Beach airport. When she was a couple of years younger I had a conversation with my brother who had expressed concern about having to carry on with this tale of Santa Claus with his daughter. I can see where he was coming from, but now I'm not too worried about it, Miranda is just knee deep in Christmas cheer and I can see the sparkle in her face, almost shining as bright as the Christmas tree.
This year we are blessed to have Quinn with us for his first Christmas and he on the other hand has a look of bewilderment on his little face, but I know it wont be long until he will be asking the same questions as his sister.
Christmas is a great time of the year and I have lots of special memories from when I was growing up but becoming a parent has opened a whole new set of memory doors now. Watching my children's faces light up and seeing them gasp and squeal on Christmas morning is truly a gift which cannot be bought anywhere.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feeding the neighbours

The time had come for us to wish our neighbours a merry Christmas and thank them for always being there when we have called upon them over the past year. We're quite lucky to have such a kind and kid friendly street and the way we show our gratitude is with baked goods of course. This year I made a batch of oatmeal cranberry cookies and then they were passed over to Maura who had bought some cool little boxes from Cost Plus. She filled them with the swag and made them all pretty with some ribbon. Finished off with a tag made from one of the awesome pictures from our photo shoot with our friend Miranda, and they were ready for delivery. The elves in charge of distribution were little Miranda and her friend Devon who braved the rain and made sure the boxes made it to the front doors safely. A great team effort by all.

The recipe I used was from The Joy of Baking.

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (210 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (105 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups (260 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins or 1 cup white or dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the nuts, oats, and dried cranberries or chocolate chips.
For large cookies, use 1/4 cup of batter and space the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the baking sheet. Then wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers so they are about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick. Bake the cookies for about 12 - 15 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a little wet in the centers. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We can dance if we want to....

On Sunday we spent all day over in Santa Fe for Miranda's Irish dance Christmas Feis (Fesh, a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival) This was her first time actually performing on a stage and although I do see Hannah Montana and ICarly dance routines in our house regularly, I was interested to see how this was going to go down in front of a real audience. My fears proved to be unjustified and after her first jig she was unstoppable, even practising some steps whilst waiting for her next call. This meant a lot to me because when you look around the hall at the other dancers not on stage, they are all still moving their feet and jumping around, seriously they cant stand still, and I think this gave her a certain amount of confidence to go ahead and try to be like them.
Miranda has been attending The Celtic Gold Academy in Garden Grove for some time now and the teacher and owner, Miss Doireann runs a tight ship. All parents must stay in a front waiting room for the hour of class so I don't really get to see how much Miranda is learning or how well she may be doing. I do see her perform at home and I know she is definitely learning something but when Sunday came and I seen her on a stage I knew the monthly fee was going to good use. To see her up their gave me a huge sense of pride. She danced magnificently and had no problem being in front of an audience. I would love to see her in more competitions and I think this feis gave her a taste for it.
She ended up coming home with three medals and although this was not an official nationwide or even worldwide competition those medals haven't left her side since Sunday. I can tell she's proud and she deserves to be in my opinion.

 A little bit of a Zoolander look.

 Pointing that toe.

 Working with the boss, Miss Doireann.

Mr Quinn who endured a whole day watching sister perform.

Miranda and two of her class friends watching the older kids on stage.

 Mr Claus again.

Miranda doing the six hand, a dance where dancers are chosen at random so older kids can end up dancing with the little ones.

The costumes looked amazing and can run from $850 used to $2000 new

So proud of her!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The weekend of...

Entertainment. On Saturday we attended our traditional visit to The Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach. This tucked away nature never land is situated by Cal State Long Beach and hosts a Christmas event every year. There are crafts for the kids and grown ups, breakfast, tours of the historic Rancho house which dates back to 1790 and of course Santa Claus is there to help with some memorable pictures and wish lists. The Rancho hosts events all year round and this time we ended up signing up to become members. Most of the events are kid friendly and they really do a good job of keeping the little ones happy. I remember attending a story time last year where different stories would be told in secret locations over the sprawling gardens with each story linking up with the next one. This year we linked up ourselves with The Wilson's, Brian, Erin, Claire and Audrey Mae and the girls had a lot of fun watching the singers, making some Christmas crafts and of course meeting the formidable red suited hero they call Mr Claus.

 Looking crafty?

 Quinn enjoying his breakfast...

 The girl's inspecting the giant tree

 Claire and Miranda with Santa

 Who needs racquet's?

 The Wilson's