Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grandma's Christmas Cookies

5 pounds of flour
2 1/2 pounds of sugar
2 pounds of shortening
1 dozen eggs
6 heaping tablespoons of baking powder
...and a handful of other ingredients.

Mix them all together and what do you get? A family tradition and wonderful memories of Christmas' past. Oh yea, and about 30 dozen Italian Christmas Cookies.

Growing up with an Italian grandmother, no recipe was done on a small scale. Obviously. In fact, I think that my grandmother probably doubled this recipe when she made it. We're talking cookie-making on a grand scale!

Making Christmas cookies as a child is what I remember most about the holidays. Cookies filled every counter of the kitchen, covered the entire kitchen table, and a few extras spilled over onto the dining room table. I'm not sure that I really made any them or even helped to make them--more than likely I just put glaze and sprinkles on a few. I do remember eating them though! I thought they were the yummiest cookies in the world. I still do...especially the ones with the sprinkles.

I haven't made these cookies in probably twenty years. I decided to make them this year because, now that I am a full time mom, I have oodles of extra time with nothing to do-right! Actually, there were a couple of reasons why I sacrificed an entire day to this holiday tradition.

First, I now have my own daughter. I want her to be able to smell the sweet orange scent that fills the house for the entire day as batch after batch bakes in the oven. I would love for her to have fond memories of cookies overtaking the kitchen each Christmas. Like me with my sprinkle cookie, I want her to have a favorite cookie that she wants to share with her children. For any of this to happen, we need to be baking (and eating!) these puppies every year. Darn!

The other reason that I wanted to make these cookies this year was for my Dad and Mom. These cookies were my Dad's before they were mine. His mother made them for him long before she and mother made them for me. They are part of his childhood holiday memories, too. Although my mom didn't have them as a child, she certainly made these cookies plenty of times as an adult. I'm sure that she has fond memories connected to them as well.

So today I loving wrapped 12 dozen cookies, packed them into a big brown box and sent them off to my parents. A total surprise for them. I hope they get as much joy from them as I think that they will.

Isn't it funny? It's not so much the cookie itself that is's the memory. In fact, Tony informed me today that they are just okay. Okay? HELLO! These are the best cookies in the world (especially the ones with the sprinkles)! What was he thinking? Geesh! I guess if you don't grow up with the memory, they just don't taste the same to you.

The only problem now is that I still have 18 dozen cookies (and only 1/3 of those have sprinkles) and the chief cookie-eater thinks that they are just okay. If you know where I live and want a little slice of Italian heaven, bring over a plate. I'll fill it up for you. Just back away from the ones with the sprinkles, and nobody will get hurt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Miracles

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas...

And a Happy New Year!

Miracles do happen. This Christmas was magical for our family. In the past, we could only dream of spending the holidays with our precious daughter. This year we finally get to celebrate it with her. Our hearts are overflowing with joy. She is our miracle!
Molly's best gifts this year.

Mommy and Daddy's best gift this year (and every year to follow)!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tis the Season to be Busy....

Holy Moly! I haven't posted in 19 days? How did that happen? The Christmas season, I guess. I've been busy decorating, shopping, wrapping, packing, shipping, stuffing envelopes and baking like a woman possessed.

Pre-baby, I foolishly thought that I would be able to take all of these things in stride. Hahahahahahaha. Molly is a GREAT baby and has been a real trooper, but wow, has it been hard. In and out of the car seat a million times, juggling packages while pushing a stroller and drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, and keeping an almost-two-year-old entertained while I hunt for the perfect gifts is basically an Olympic sport. Next year I must train a little harder for the holidays!

Molly had a couple of noteworthy events in her life in the past few weeks:
She saw snow for the first time in her life. Of course I bundled her up, grabbed the camera and headed outside to frolic about in the flakes (One of those Hallmark Card Commercial Moments again...when am I going to learn that they are not reality?).

In true Molly fashion, she absolutely refused to go play in it, touch it or be anywhere near it. Not gonna happen. Every time she would see it she would point and say cooooa (Mollyspeak for cold). The best we could do is get a picture of her looking at the snow from the window.

Molly's dislike of cold and snow is fine with me because I now have the 2/3 majority vote needed to move the family to Florida. I've been waiting for this day for a very long time. Poor Tony, he's getting outvoted 2-1. I am calling the moving company!

Another milestone for Molly...the first time she refused to sit on Santa's lap. I really thought I had this one covered. I read books to Molly about Santa , talked to her about what Santa does, had her wave at Santa every time we were at the mall, and told her how lucky she was because she was going to be able to sit in his lap. I thought I had the bases covered.

When the day for our Santa visit finally arrived, Molly was so excited. We donned our gay apparel, took pictures in front of our tree and then headed for the mall. When she saw the Santa display she squealed with delight (I love it when she does that!). We waited in line and watched other kids get their picture taken with Santa. I reinforced for her just how easy it was..."See, all the other kids just love this,"..."Boy, this is going to be great!" When it was her turn, I unbuckled the seat belt in the stroller and she jumped out with glee. I foolishy thought I was Mother-of-the-Year (again). My kid was going to sail through this. Man, I'm good!

The ever elusive Mother-of-the-Year trophy was snatched from my grasp mere seconds later. Molly took one look at Santa's outstretched arms and went ballistic. Not the "I don't want to do this" cry. Nope. We got the full on "Help, I am being abducted by a fat guy in a cheap suit" cry. Let's just say the people in the parking lot could hear her. Ho hum...there's always next year!

And in closing today's, here a cute picture just because I am shameless and love will take every opportunity available to show the world my beautiful baby girl. Good Golly Miss Molly!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Eight Months With Molly

Hard to believe, but we have already had eight months with Molly. I don't know how time has a way of moving so slowly through the hard parts of life and so quickly through the good stuff.

In a blink of an eye, Molly has changed from a baby to a toddler. She has developed such a sweet, funny and compassionate personality. Watching her blossom has been the most amazing journey that I have ever been on. And to think, I get to watch this process for the rest of my life.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to once again document some of Molly's life. Here is a random list of some of the milestones and memories of Molly.

  • Molly has 12 teeth--6 up top and 6 down below. We have had the pleasure (ha!) of seeing (and hearing the whines) each little tooth come in Poor Molly. Teething has not been easy on her. How many teeth do kids get? Wait, don't tell me. Ignorance is bliss.

  • Molly's favorite toys: Her babies and doll carriage. She has logged more miles with that carriage that I have put on my car. She loves all of her babies and hugs and kisses them all of the time. I've got to admit that it is pretty cute. Every morning before she leaves her crib she has to make the rounds, giving all of her babies kisses.

  • Molly is really into the kissing and hugging thing. In addition to her babies, she kisses and hugs all of the cute animals in her books. Yep, picks the book up and kisses and hugs the page. Let's hope she scales back a little on the kissing before she hits her teen years!

  • Molly's favorite foods: Woo-woes (noodles), cauliflower, pretzels, and anything they are sampling at Costco. I can't tell you how many different things she has devoured in Costco, only to turn her nose up at them at home. I think that I will begin feeding her while standing behind a big stainless steel cart, wearing a hair net.

  • Molly's favorite book: No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. She loves to act out the momma calling the doctor and the monkeys bumping their heads.

  • Molly has perfected the whine. Of all the things to be good at, my child picks this one. Luckily she only does it when she is sick. But with 5 sinus infections under her belt, we have got to hear more whining than we would like. Here is what it is like on a sick day at our house: Molly starts out in the morning with a quite whimper, by midday she builds into a groan, and by evening she crescendos into full out, non-stop, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard whine. It is truly lovely. Thank God for antibiotics.

  • Molly's favorite song: The Hoky Poky. She screams with delight whenever she hears it. She'll go running to the closest thing that she can use to balance herself so that she can lift her feet and shake them all about. Watching her do the complete dance never gets old. Completely adorable!

  • Molly's favorite activity: Swimming. Another squeal with delight moment. She starts the squeal as soon as we drive into the YMCA parking lot and continues until she is in the water. This cracks up everyone at the Y. Nothing like being the center of attention while you are wearing a bathing suit. I guess that isn't a big deal to her, but hey, I am the one holding her. I'd rather not have all eyes on me while I am wearing anything made of spandex!

  • New things Molly dislikes: Her car seat, coat and bib. I used to feel so lucky when I would see other people struggling with their kids on these issues. I now am feeling their pain. Is there anything more frustrating that having a kid go stiff as a board when you lift them up into their car seat?

  • Molly's favorite holiday: It's gotta be Christmas. The whole Santa and present thing is over her head, but she loves all of the decorations. If we are having a bad day, I stop at the Home Depot and we walk up and down the Christmas decoration isle. Her eyes get a big a saucers as she points and squeals at each and every item. Does this mean that there is a giant inflatable snow globe in our future? Ack!!

  • Molly loves her shoes. She can put on and take off her own shoes and socks. Just ask her, she'll gladly show you. She also shows off her shoes to anyone (and I mean anyone) she meets. The first thing she does whenever she sees someone new is to bend down and point to her shoes. Don't know what that's all about. Her absolute favorite shoes are her Crocs. She doesn't understand how I can be so mean when I don't let her wear them when it is 20 degrees outside.

There are many, many more things that I could write about Molly. It is the most incredible experience to watch her grow. We must have done something right, because we have been blessed with the most amazing child!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giving Thanks

When you are adopting from China, you have plenty of time to sit around and think, imagine, fantasize, (and obsess) about everything. Each holiday while we were waiting for Molly, I would shed a few, okay--a lot, of tears because she wasn't with us. I would think about her being half way around the word laying in a crib without a celebration, without parents. It broke my heart. This holiday we have Molly and finally, all seems right with the world.

Because we are finally a family, I really wanted to spend the holiday at home; start our own holiday traditions; cook a big turkey dinner for my baby. Not that Molly would eat any of it of course (unless I found some way to make a Ramen noodle turkey). So this year, for the first time in my married life, I cooked a huge Thanksgiving feast. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies so I was in Pre-indictment Martha Stewart heaven.

The day before Thanksgiving we found out that our next door neighbors were also staying home for Thanksgiving. They would be celebrating with their daughter later in the week. At the very last minute we invited them to share our meal with us. They accepted and we couldn't have been more thrilled. Somehow sharing a meal with friends turns food into a celebration. We thoroughly enjoyed their company. They are very special people and we are so glad that they are our neighbors and friends.

As a holiday surprise Molly even ate turkey! She sucked down piece after piece of dark meat like there was no tomorrow. Of course, she hasn't touched it since, but on Thanksgiving she ate my turkey. She made her mommy's day. She also managed to smile, laugh and play all evening, despite her sinus infection. What a trooper.

The day after Thanksgiving, we had Tony's family over. We spent the early evening at the Zoolights exhibit. Molly was still sick, but we bundled Molly up, put the weather shield on the stroller and showed her the sights. She loved it, even though she was so bundled she couldn't move!

I had a big of Minestrone soup waiting on the stove for us when we returned from our cold outing. Mmmm...soup! Molly's cousins ran her ragged, and she loved every minute of it. She was laughing and screaming with joy all night long. The adults pretty much sat around the kitchen, talked, stuffed ourselves with soup, leftovers and pumpkin cheesecake and enjoyed each other's company.

Ahhh, the holidays! Ahhh, the memories! And to be able to share this special day with our daughter made it the best Thanksgiving we've ever had. We are truly thankful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

What are we the most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

God is is great and we are incredibly blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tis the Season for Giving

Tony gave it to Molly. Molly got it and gave it to me. Now I've got it, too. Unfortunately the thing that everyone in our family is giving to each other is a cold.

I got a case of laryngitis with my cold. Tony got a chest full of congestion. Molly got another sinus infection. Well, that won't be diagnosed until we go to the doctor in about an hour, but look at her poor face. Her sinuses are so swollen it doesn't even look like her. Yikes!

We will be hunkering down at the ol' homestead for a few days, trying to recover before Thanksgiving. The pot of chicken soup is already on the stove.

Here's my question...Tony and I look like death warmed over now that we are sick. How can Molly still look so stinking cute? Ahhh, If only I could be young again.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Things That You Don't Want Them to Learn

Why is it that the things you do want your kids to learn you can teach a bazillion times and they never seem to get it, and the things that you don't want them to learn they figure out on their own in about 5 seconds?

Hey look, Daddy's outside.

I think I'll join him. Now, how am I going to get out there?

Let's see... All I've got to do is pull this chair over to the door to stand on....

...flip the deadbolt....

...turn the knob and I am outta here!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Modeling Her New Fall Fashions

Here's Molly looking oh, so cute! in some of her new fall clothes. Although I couldn't abandon pink all together, I did manage to include some other colors this season!

No pink to be found at all...

Just a little pink here...

Now for some serious pink action!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween #1, Fun Fun Fun!

Molly experienced her very first Halloween. Now she's a pro. She's got it down.

The night didn't quite start out that way, though...

After dinner we tried to get Molly into her elephant costume. We practiced this before Halloween so she'd be ready for the big event. Of course when the day arrived, she wanted nothing to do with her costume. Luckily, other trick-or-treaters started coming to the door. Once Molly saw them in costume, she had a change of heart and the elephant costume went on without a tear.

We were out the door and Trick-or-Treating in no time. One problem. She had no clue how to Trick-or Treat. The first house was a learning experience and was met with a little anxiety. She held my hand tight and bravely knocked on her first door. That's all it took.

By the time we got to the second house, Molly realized that when you knock on people's doors they put goodies in your bucket. Having this epiphany, she let go of my hand and was off to the next house. There was no fear or trepidation in this kid. She was all about the candy. She's never even eaten candy before(I know, I know. I am one of those parents) and had no clue that she was collecting a bucket full of it. But that wasn't the point. She was getting something, and that was good enough for her.

After we were through with our festivities at home, Molly was off to her cousins' house for more Halloween fun. I stayed home and passed out candy. I don't know what went on over at the cousins', but she came back good and tired and ready for bed (yes!). She loved her elephant costume so much she wanted to sleep in it. Luckily she was too tired to do battle to get her way so she got a quick bath, put on her jammies and was asleep before I cold put her into her crib.

Halloween #1 was under her belt. She is now a Trick-or-Treat veteran.

Miss Molly models her costume for all of her adoring fans:

Hello! Welcome to my Halloween fashion show!

This is what the head of my costume looks like. Pretty cool, huh?

Does this costume make my bum look fat?

A head shot for my portfolio.

I'll be here all week. Tell all your friends. Thank you and good night!