Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nothing Special NYE

(a doll Raquel got for Christmas from Grandma Debbie)

Jose and I didn't want to have to hunt for a babysitter for tonight so he picked up a shift and I'm home with the girls who are in bed now. Luckily, SciFi is showing a Twilight Zone Marathon and my little brother brought me a Diet Coke before he went out to party. Easy to please, yes, but I'd be ecstatic if I were wearing a cute old dress with a tiny waist, out on the town with my husband.
Just for fun I took pictures of some old things I own and wanted to show you.
Here is an old album I got at a thrift store. Pasadena has a Salvation Army thrift store that has a very large selection of records. I haven't added to my vinyl collection in several months but I'm thinking I should go the next time they have their end-of-the-month blow out sale.

This is an old piece of linen from the 1920s I bought at an antique store in Topanga Canyon. Raquel and I went with my buddy Jeff. I remember the road was extremely windy (pronounced "wine-d") and I thought, "this place better be worth all this nausea I'm feeling." Well it was. The stuff they had was so neato, I thought I was in a museum. This fabric is probably a table cloth. I haven't figured out how to display it yet.
Here is something I didn't buy. When my maternal grandmother passed away in February of 1998, she had a mobile home (a very nice one) full of her belongings. We had her funeral reception in her home and our parents said each grandchild could choose one item from Grandmama's house to keep as sort of memorabilia. Well, I chose this Fisher Price toy camera. It had been in her house since I could remember and I'd played with it a billion times. Come to find out it had belonged to my Uncle Michael who has autism and retardation. He's lived in a hospital for the mentally ill his entire adult life.This book is part of my Little Golden Book collection. It's my oldest one and it is in almost mint condition except I cracked it open to look at the pictures. I was the first one to read it since it was born in 19-fifty-something.It's about to be 2009 so I better publish this now so I can celebrate with the people on tv!

Memories Aren't Just Dreams

Have you ever seen old films of yourself as a toddler or even as a newborn? Well, for Christmas I received a dvd created by my dad that was made up of 30-year-old footage from his old Super 8 camera. I guess the technology to transfer film to dvd has become more common since my days in film class in college. The good thing is that the films have not lost their beautiful, gritty graininess, a trait of old home movies that video could only hope to replicate.

The first part of the movie is of Christmas time 1977, when my mom was very young and very pregnant with me. My late Grandma Betty (known as Grandmama to her grandkids) was decorating a Christmas tree with my mom and dad. My dad was making goofy faces, something he has always done. They didn't have a tripod so the camera got passed between Mom and Dad so everyone got a chance to be on film. There is also footage of my parents shoveling snow into their little blue pick-up on the side of a road, some place where it had snowed a lot. And then it goes to my dad's parents' house, where the Christmas tree, complete with running train and wind-up monkey crashing cymbals, was decorated to the hilt and the room overflowed with presents wrapped in oldtime-y paper, lustrous ribbons and festive bells.

Watching my newborn self flail my lanky arms about was surreal. I wondered what I was thinking. Being that I was the first born of my dad's three kids, little me is in the rest of the movie, growing up, getting a little sister and then a little brother. The movie stops when I am about 3 years old.

Thanks, Dad, for the most thoughtful gift I've ever received! I am treasuring it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Dinner at Dad's

My dad lives about 45 minutes away from us but it took at least twice that long to get there on Christmas afternoon. Rain was pouring and the 210 freeway wasn't flowing faster than 20 mph. Seems to me traffic was much heavier than usual for Christmas Day.
We were so happy to get to Dad's house. It was FREEZING there and windy, making it rain sideways! Maxine slept for the entire trip and was happy to be the center of attention when we got inside. Both of my dad's brothers were there, making it a rare occasion, especially appreciated by Grandpa Charles who, at certain moments, seemed overcome with pure joy. He gets like that sometimes.
Dad made a beautiful prime rib roast. Everyone brought a little something to share at dinner. The food was so good, better than most in recent memory. Dad opened up a $60 bottle of Cab. Don't remember the name but its the best wine I've ever had.
Uncle Mark ate a giant spoonful of some super hot homemade thai sauce from the next door neighbor's garden of peppers and Uncle Jim suggested he drink whiskey to cool himself down. Yadda yadda yadda, a huge bottle of Jack Daniels appeared at the table and Uncle Jim had himself some. Grandpa, the nondrinker he is, couldn't resist being a part of the fun and decided he'd try some. It was pretty funny. None of us had ever seen him do that before. I got it on video for you to watch here:

For the rest of the evening we sat around talking, eating pie and cake, drinking coffee, watching classic Christmas movies, playing with Raquel and gratefully absorbing the happy feeling evident in every space between us.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas morning

Raquel is still too young to get crazy-excited about Christmas morning so we actually went in and woke her up after 9am. Then we took our time opening presents and checking our stockings. Jose made a pot of coffee and I took plenty of pictures. After we played for a couple hours we got the girls ready to head out to my dad's house (blog forthcoming).

Xmas Eve Eve and Eve

Shy little Maxine has turned a new leaf. Suddenly, she doesn't seem to be afraid of house guests or family members, even at their houses. It has been such a pleasure to see her being her cute happy self with everyone! Pictured above is my best girlfriend, Iris, who is due to give birth to her first child in a few weeks. She had been wanting to hold Maxine without upsetting her and it finally happened!

Christmas Eve was spent at my mother-in-law's house a half a mile away in Altadena. Also there were my sis-in-law Rosy, in-laws Miriam and Ricardo and their son, my only nephew, Little Ricky, who is too precious for words and loves his Aunt Sarah. He was dressed as Santa. He's only 12 days older than Maxine but is so much heavier and is already starting to try to crawl, slaps your palm, dances on your lap and can put his own pacifier in his mouth. He's very advanced!

For Xmas Eve dinner, I was responsible for making dessert. I chose to make Giada De Laurentiis' Panettone Trifle. It was good, very rich, really easy to make (no cooking required!). Now that I've discovered the ease and versatility of trifles, I'm going to make them more often.

We did lots of karaoke, too. Here is my brother James and his sweetheart Allie. They showed up later on in the evening.I got new jammies! We stayed late opening tons of gifts. Raquel got to open Maxine's presents. What a good helper she is. It was a really lovely night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

About to be 5 months old

Maxine is a little bundle of fun these days. She'll be 5 months old on Christmas Day. Her hands are becoming very useful to her. She doesn't have great control or aim but she knows what they're capable of. Sometimes she stares at her toes and looks like she wants to eat them. We have taken her to the local mall twice in the past week and both times she was very excited and happy too see children playing in the indoor playground and enjoyed the atmosphere in general.
I don't know if I am just imagining it but when I am walking through the mall with Raquel and Maxine, the girls attract a lot of attention. People look and talk about how pretty they are and I'm usually thinking something along the lines of: my daughters don't resemble their mother so I wonder if these people think I'm their babysitter or adoptive mother. Then I think, How is it they look so much like Jose but are nonetheless so beautiful? *wink*
Continuuing about Maxine...She tries really hard to grip her bottle when I'm feeding her but she can't really do it. She can hold small objects and squeeze her dolls and put things to her mouth.
I think she's going to walk earlier than Raquel did, which was at 11 months of age. Maxine is lucky she has Raquel to learn from. She sees what Raquel does everyday and you can tell she wants to copy her so badly. Sometimes when I hold her she feels like, if she could, she'd get right up and walk across the room to play with Raquel. She really wants to!
You can tickle Maxine and now, if you do it right, she'll let out a big, boyish chuckle that will melt your heart. She knows when we're trying to make her laugh and she totally humors us. It's a shame she's so shy around other people. They're really missing out.
And now here's my gingerbread man.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oooh, Gingerbread Cutouts

I loooove gingerbread. We made gingerbread cookie cutouts this weekend. Some of them are actual gingerbread men but we made several others including angels, mittens and doves. The spices used fill the kitchen with the ultimate Christmas aroma.

I rolled them out thick, like 1/4 inch, and baked them on parchment paper. It worked out really well. The key to making cookie cutouts is making sure the dough is thoroughly chilled. The recipe I used said to place the cut out raw cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

Cookies should normally be cooled on racks meant for that purpose but I don't own any so today I invented a new way to cool them: pull the entire sheet of cookie-topped-parchment paper off the pan and place on top of the cookie cutters. Yes! I was happy with this idea and thought myself a regular genius.

After they cooled, I decorated some with simple royal icing. We will decorate the rest tomorrow, Raquel and I. She's gonna have a blast! I think I'll put on my old Christmas records while we do it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Guess the Candy! UPDATED!

I played a little guessing game on my friend's blog and I won! So now it's my turn to play it in my blog and since I like the idea of a candy theme, here is a piece of a picture of one of my favorite candies. It is a variation of a well-known candy that has been around since the 1960s. This variation has been around at least since I was a kid and I'm *gulp* 30 years old. Ooh, this is fun!

You can take a guess and try to be specific. I will reveal the complete picture after I have gotten enough people to try to figure it out. Ready.....GO!

*UPDATE* Wow, look at all the guesses tumbling in! Haha, ok, really. The winner is my sister, Prolifegirly! The candy is... Chewy Sweetarts, cuz I like 'em. The real question is: how often do I eat them?
I haven't eaten them in over a decade I'm sure. It's a dental thing. The thought of coating my teeth in sugar keeps me away from all candy for 99.9% of my waking life. Ok, Samantha, you're the winner so it's your turn!

Santa's Lap

The four of us went to the mall today to take the Santa picture. I bought Maxine a dress last month specifically for this picture. I bought one for Raquel, too, but she's worn it a few times without it being washed so I decided to have her wear her birthday dress instead. It looked really pretty. I did not want to pay the ridiculous price for the photo CD so we just bought a couple 5x7s. Here is our collection of Santa pictures starting from when Raquel was 5 months old in 2004.
In 2004, Raquel and I waited in a very long line to see Santa. When I gave her to him she looked upset but the photographer took the picture fast enough that we got a good one before she cried.

In 2005, Raquel was very upset at seeing Santa so Jose sat with her.

In 2006, Raquel cried yet again. She refused to sit on his lap, so I sat with her.

Last year Raquel was happy to see Santa and she looked darling.

Today, both girls did great. Raquel was outgoing and smiley and Maxine just sat there staring off into the distance. That was a better reaction than I expected!

Afterward we had lunch at the mall and shopped for tacky Christmas sweaters to wear to my dad's house on Christmas Day. They are very hard to find!

And just in case you were wondering how much weight I've lost so far on Weight Watchers....21.2lbs. The jeans I'm wearing in this picture are so big I don't even have to unbutton them to take them off.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Girls & Grilled Cheese

Today is Saturday, the day I get to eat what I want without regard to my breadless life the other six days of the week. We had such a sweet (too sweet, even) breakfast that I couldn't really think of anything else I wanted to eat today. So Raquel and I went to Trader Joe's and mulled around for a minute. We settled on sparkling limeade, fresh organic raspberries, pita chips, edamame hummus, a loaf of seeded sour dough and some gruyere cheese. And later on while she played her Strawberry Shortcake video game, I made a nice little dinner for two. We had Fancy Time. Raquel was thrilled I used the raspberries the way I did. It was her idea to buy them in the first place. Our dinner was quaint and fun and it made Raquel fall in love with her mom all over again. Psss....she followed me around the rest of the evening just to be with me.