It's a Lag Liv family first - two kids sick at the same time. Fevers- Landon's first in years and it's totally freaking him out ("Mom, I feel hot. Like on the inside? But cold on the outside.")- coughs, sore throats, tummy aches, and general listlessness abound in both big kids, with Landon falling first around 7 p.m. last night and Claire waking up with the same. Cora, who according to our patient portal visit history has never had a sick kid visit to the pediatrician in her life, remains fever-free, but was whisked off to school as early as possible to avoid contamination. Though really, maybe she's the one holding the cure and we should bring her with us for study. Landon has a field trip and the spelling bee later this week, so we're really hoping for a quick virus that will go away with powerade and a good night's sleep.
But before the contamination, we had a weekend full of magical sugary goodness! Or rather, before the contamination was revealed, we had a weekend full of magical sugary goodness. Guess we won't be passing those cookies out to friends and neighbors after all, though I'm totally still eating every one.
But first! The reason I didn't post anything last week. I went to San Antonio for my first business trip in forever (like 3 years) and the kids were completely freaked out by my "traveling all alone" and were greatly relieved when I caught an early flight back and was reunited with them within 18 hours. I got to see all four of my grandparents on Monday night, which was absolutely wonderful, and then thanks to the standby on the earlier flight, got to eat dinner with the kids Tuesday evening. Perfect trip. (The work stuff was good too.)
But, the point- I started a new book series on the plane - Gena Showalter's (author of the Lords of the Underworld series I have enjoyed greatly, though you kind of have to slog through book 1) YA series the White Rabbit Chronicles. The first book is Alice in Zombieland and it is SO fun (I mean a lot of people are eaten by zombies and die, but overall, it's fun). So I read all four books between Tuesday and Saturday and got very little sleep (finished book 2 at 3:28 a.m. Thursday morning) and am now very sad they're done. It was nice to take a break from my computer, online shopping (though man eBates is killing it for me right now; we needed new suitcases and eBags has a 20% rebate. 20%!! That's a sound reason to also buy new packing cubes and a makeup case!), and just curl up on the couch with James and read each night. I usually read ~3 books a week, but I feel like photobooking, Christmas shopping, and watching Season 3 of The Fall really got in the way. But now I need books! Karen Marie Moning's final Fever book comes out in January and Kresley Cole has several lined up for the new year- and we're getting 2 new Ilona Andrews novels, which is always welcome, but I need more. Recommendations welcome. Nothing real or serious or that makes me remember that we're going to have a temperamental Russian-puppet-child as our president in the new year. Dystopian future books might have to be out for the same reason.
So there was a lot of reading, still some shopping (I got this blouse for holiday parties and it is so beautiful; also Nordstrom has a 6% ebate), and at the end of the week, a lot of baking. First up, the precious sugar cookies.
I've learned it's best to spread out this project. Day 1 is cookie dough (recipe here; it's my great-grandmother's and it's amazing)- it has to chill for at least 8 hours but overnight is best.
I tripled the recipe this year instead of doubling, apparently I felt that last year I didn't come home from work and stuff my face with cookies a sufficient number of times. It nearly broke my KitchenAid.
Also, I discovered Cora doesn't like cookie dough. I cannot even with that child and her hatred for delicious things.
And I made the first part of the teacher gifts and then ate a ton of it as an appetizer for dinner. Yum! Then James and I went out on a date because fancy pizza is the best cookie-dough-chaser out there. And a stop at Stir Crazy Bakery, because our cookie dough wasn't baked yet.
On Saturday I taught barre (3 minute plank series, oh yes) and then procrastinated on starting the cookie rolling and baking until about 4. I also procrastinated in our crockpot dinner, so our whole weekly menu had to be rearranged. But finally, around 4:30 I decided yes, it's now the perfect time to roll, cut, and bake a million cookies. Probably mostly because it finally seemed acceptable to also open a bottle of champagne.
Cora was an enthusiastic helper. I finally had to send her on break so I could cut out my cookies in a logical manner that didn't require re-rolling the dough after every single cut, but as with all things Christmas this year, she was SO excited and so adorable about the whole thing.
Landon popped over and helped too.
12 trays of cookies later, I squared off with my Nightmares-from-Pinterest Bugle santa hats that I loathe and love every year. They're such a pain in the ass, but they're SO cute, so this year I lessened the torture by forgoing the bottom re-dip in red melting discs and white ball sprinkles. It cut out two steps and I honestly found the mouthful of crunchy sprinkles to be too much when it came to actually eating the mix.
But mostly it cut out two steps. Still, cute right?!
Claire did not help because she was off with a friend watching The Polar Express in pj's at the Science Museum's IMAXX theater. She didn't get to eat cookie dough (Cora again tried and forcefully rejected it), but she did get to eat popcorn and candy and watch a movie on a giant domed screen with one of her best friends. We'll call it even.
On Sunday I took myself to spin class in preparation for eating all the cookies once we'd decorated them. I was surprised with mimosas after class (10:00 a.m. "brunch" class at CycleBar Waterside- you should come!) and drank two to replenish my electrolytes. A sweaty stop at Target later to get something to jazz up the teacher gifts, and then a shower and blow dry of my hair because I knew I wouldn't have time later and Claire and I had a fancy date night planned, and then a little lunch to cushion the sugar, and it was time!! Let the sugaring begin!
The special cookie-decorating table cloth was unfurled from its bin and the special cookie-decorating cups were filled with milk (all from Target two years ago and now deemed SACRED to the cookie decorating cause). The icing was made (2 lbs. of powdered sugar; oy). The colors were mixed (we added brown this year at Landon's suggestion; not normally in our mix, but admittedly appropriate for all the gingerbread men and reindeer that always had to be yellow in the past). The sprinkles released. The champagne poured.
And the decorating could begin.
Cora was Montessori-focused. She judged all our messy work stations and called out to me anytime icing dripped off one of my cookies. She carefully and deliberately covered a star in tiny snowflakes only to pick it up later and realize you need to put icing underneath them first. She loved it and worked so hard on the 6 cookies she had on her mat the whole time.
Claire was cheerful and well-paced. She was the last decorator left standing at the end and had a lot of creative ideas that didn't quite work in the execution. "Oh well," she'd shrug, "maybe next time."
Landon was creative and has some high-level technical skills. His cookies often had a story, but he found his creative juices tapped early and he retired from the table.
James had to fix all 50 strands of lights on our tree after a devastating electrical short, but thanks to a new electrical gun toy and a lot of switching fuses he got them all re-lit (YAY) and joined us for his traditional painstaking decorating of five cookies. Five.
I did my usual six at a time, all identical, knowing that if I want to stuff my face with cookies after work it's up to me to decorate them. I think I did about 70. And this year I've decided you can only eat what you kill/decorate, so they're all mine.
As soon as we finished the decorating and scrubbed everything in the kitchen and living room with soap and water, including the children, it was time for Claire and I to fancy ourselves up and head to The Nutcracker at Bass Performance Hall!
She participated in the Texas Ballet Theater's CityDance program this year, where TBT comes to various, generally underprivileged, local schools and teaches free ballet lessons once a week for six weeks. Claire still maintains that she does not like ballet, but it was free and an amazing opportunity AND on the one afternoon that our nanny had a lab and couldn't pick the kids up until 4, so she had to go anyway. She had friends go as well and she stopped complaining after the first two weeks. Then, as a treat at the end of the program, every kid got two tickets to see TBT's Nutcracker performance in December! I called to reserve the tickets, expressing my thanks for the program and the ballet tickets, and was told to get my tickets at will call on the night of the show. I fully expected to be in a back corner somewhere, but was shocked to find ourselves in the Orchestra- 7th Row Center. It was amazing!
Such a gorgeous theater and a special night downtown. We got dinner together first, walking around Sundance Square to see Santa and the tree, and then eating on the patio of Cheesecake Factory. I don't know that I'd ever had a meal with just Claire- she's such a communal creature, she really does generally want everything to include as many family members as possible, but it was really nice to just spend some one-on-one time with her. She made us sit side-by-side in the booth ("so I can be really close to you mom;" Claire continues to be our child who would prefer us all to be glued together) and we discussed vacations (Jamaica and Utah were her two faves) and future careers (school teacher, yoga teacher, mom, maybe lawyer).
We met her fellow reluctant-ballet-class-taking friend at the theater and they showed off a few moves in front of the tree. It was such a beautiful performance. Barre is about as far from true ballet as swimming, but it was still inspiring for me to see the foot positions I use in class, to see the gorgeous arabesques and long strong arms and legs holding such beautiful STRONG positions. Claire was mostly impressed by the clear cables holding up the flying ballerina and sleigh, but she did enjoy the performance and I hope she got a glimpse of what the purpose of all those "little moves" she did in class build up to. I think it's always amazing to watch talented people giving you the best of their craft.
And now, having been interrupted by an Orangetheory class that nearly killed me ("12 runners running" = a LOT of running, plus 1200m row, plus the longest floor series ever; their "12 Days of Fitness" have not made me feel very festive, though nothing has been worse than the "5 Rowers Rowing" and its 5000 meter row BAH HUMBUG) and a pediatric appointment (it's "justavirus" and not strep!), it's time to get back to administering ibuprofen, sneaking to the kitchen for more Christmas cookies (there are many reasons I need to go back to work tomorrow, but the 6 cookies I've eaten so far today might be the biggest one), and wondering how early I can go get Cora.
Happy mid-December to you all! May your days be merry and bright and your nights be quiet and fever-free (and cookie-filled).
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