Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's for Supper?

Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits!

Yes, that's right, at our house (like mine growing up), breakfast is an excellent option for supper. I know some men are "meat-and-potatoes" men and like that for supper every night, but John has never been opposed to some tasty breakfast food at 5:30pm. My mom often served cornbread with sausages and eggs, or pancakes, or French toast, or a breakfast casserole for supper, so I've continued the tradition. I got this recipe for Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits from my friend Rachel, and it is a true Winner! They are tender, moist, and lovely--try them yourself and see! Tonight they'll be served with some cheesy scrambled eggs, ham, and some leftover baked potatoes that I'll dice and fry up.

You will need:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup wheat bran (or just use two cups of flour)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, margarine, or shortening (I've only ever made them with butter)
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit bits (be creative--I've used locally available dried pineapple, minced small, with great success!)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp orange juice or milk

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Cut in the butter. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, and add milk and fruit bits. Stir just until moistened. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead 10-12 strokes or until nearly smooth. Lightly roll dough out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together powdered sugar and enough OJ or milk to make the icing. Drizzle over biscuits, or leave plain and dip, as you like. Serve warm.

It's the Fourth Day!

***Disclaimer--potty training update to follow! Read at your own risk!!!***

Remember how I said I would give Chloe four days to see how she did with this potty-training business? Well, Thursday afternoon has arrived and the week did not exactly go as planned. Chloe was very excited about the training on Monday (especially the treats!), and did quite well in learning how to pull her pants up and down, sitting on the potty willingly, and in general obeying my instructions. She had fun reading books with me and getting a treat (a goldfish cracker) every 5-10 minutes if her panties were dry! Monday afternoon she slept late and woke up cranky from her nap. I sort of dismissed it as "potty-training stress" and so we took a break after supper so she could relax and play for a bit before bedtime.

Tuesday came, and Chloe seemed less interested, and more clingy to me. She actually had her first success on the potty in the morning, but seemed really scared by the process of releasing on the potty. When it happened (somewhat inadvertently) she got fairly upset. In the course of the morning she wanted to sit on my lap a lot and be held, and I discovered that she felt a bit on the warm side. I tested her fever, and sure enough, it was up just over 100 degrees. We gave her some tylenol, which she loves, and she seemed to perk up. Tuesday night after supper she had more success on the potty, though again was fairly upset about it. We tried our best to cheer for her, give her treats, etc, but she just cried! The only thing that really made her happy was getting to empty the potty chair and flush the toilet.

Wednesday started out great--she got up in the morning and immediately released on the potty! Yay Chloe! She then had a couple of accidents mid-morning, where I saw some progress because the second time she had an accident she tried immediately to get to the potty and pull her pants down, even though it was too late. Her fever and lethargy continued, though; she was content to sit in my lap and listen to music, and even fell asleep for half an hour during the morning! She had more success on the potty just before naptime, but that was to be the last success of the day. After her nap she kept her panties dry, but wouldn't use the potty and in fact seemed to really not be feeling well. We had bathtime last night and it is entirely possible that the bathwater wasn't so clean towards the end of the time!

This morning she woke up at 4:30, crying and HOT to the touch. I gave her yet more tylenol and held her as she fell asleep again. She was truly not herself, and by now I was getting a bit worried. Normally a fever (especially without any other symptoms) runs itself out in a day or two, but now we're on Day 3 of fever with basically no abatement. She has felt better for brief periods when the medicine takes effect, but then the fever flares again and she gets listless and clingy. I've been in touch with an American doctor friend whom I hope can advise me; I looked in all my books and am not exactly sure what to make of her symptoms. Needless to say, we stopped the potty-training practice today and will wait until she feels better again to attempt it. Poor Chloe! It's been a stressful week for her! She fell asleep in her high chair at lunch--what a pitiful sight!

Though this week held a few surprises, I think a good foundation was laid. Hopefully when Chloe feels better, she'll have some renewed enthusiasm for "being a big girl." Clara Anne has been so sweet about it all, offering to demonstrate whenever needed! John took Clara Anne and a myriad of toys and books into his office space (our living room) with him each morning this week so that I could focus on Chloe, and Clara Anne did an excellent job of playing by herself. She is proud that she is done with that training and can be a good example to Chloe.

Hang in there, Chloe! You're on your way!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chloe's Next Adventure

Now that we're home from our trip, and this entire country has just celebrated the lunar New Year, there's been time for me to think a bit about what the new year will bring. As a family, this is a time of lots of big questions being up in the air. Many of you know that John has been working to investigate the possibilities of starting an English training center here in our city. He's done quite a bit of thinking and planning, and hopefully during the month of March we should have some more answers about whether that venture looks feasible or not. But in the meantime, we have been waiting to move to a new apartment until some of these business questions are answered. We really can't move until we know more about what his future job will be, and especially where it will be. As well, we still have a number of weeks before the new baby will arrive. (I'm about 31 weeks now.) Somehow in my mind, I thought that after we got back from our trip I would be really busy packing up, looking at decorating a new apartment, etc etc, but instead I have to be patient for several more weeks before anything will happen.

So this past week I realized that I have a very nice window of time here to help Chloe on a new adventure: potty training. She has been showing interest for a long time now (remember her first spoken sentence had to do with bodily functions!) and has even attempted to use the big person's potty by herself in recent weeks! She often tells me when she has to go or has just gone, and she truly seems to get the idea of what other big people do in the bathroom. She also seems to already be a "holder" like Clara Anne was--sometimes I'll check her diaper mid-day and it is either totally dry or barely wet. All this combined to make me think, wow, maybe she's ready! It would be great to have her out of diapers before another little one comes along! And we won't be leaving home for another 7-8 weeks, so she would have time to get established in her new habit before other major transitions happen in our family.

Saturday morning found us searching through our boxes of girl's clothes, looking for the training pants. [Long time readers of my blog will remember how these pants were attempted to be mailed to me from the States, but then the package was marked as a terrorist threat and returned to the States, and finally mailed again sucessfully! Who knew that pink and white, thick cotton undies were so dangerous!] We did find them (of course they were in the very last box) and also a stash of unused Pull-Ups, so I think we are ready to go! I read through some materials to refresh my memory on the game plan of training, and made sure my cupboards were stocked with plenty of tasty snacks and drinks. We've been really talking up the transition to Chloe, how exciting it is that she is a big girl now, letting her hold the panties, letting her sit on the potty seat, etc. We shall see what Monday brings! My goal is to give her four days of training, and if she just isn't getting it at all, we'll put it on hold for awhile. But if she is making some progress and catching on I think this will be a great time to help her accomplish this significant new life skill. Clara Anne is excited to help demonstrate, as well!

I don't feel the same fear and trepidation that I did before training Clara Anne, partially because there's not as much of a time pressure. With Clara Anne, we were going to be traveling about 2 months later to southeast Asia, and then back to the States, and so if I didn't train her then she would have been almost 3 rather than 23 months when I trained her. So with Chloe, there's less pressure--if she doesn't get it, we'll still wait awhile, but only 6-8 months as opposed to a whole year. We'll just see how it goes! I'm sure it will be interesting!

The next few days will be busy, but hopefully my next update will have some news on Chloe's progress. She's a big girl now!

Friday, February 22, 2008

And the final round . . .

In the last post, there were some pictures of us on a beach with lots of other tourists. Well, we also had the opportunity to take a day trip out to some more remote, outlying islands. We wanted to get away from the crowds and do some snorkeling as well as enjoy some more natural, unspoiled beauty. After a turbulent speedboat ride (I never knew how huge and choppy those ocean waves were! Chloe cried and Clara Anne threw up!), we persevered and landed on this deserted island. John and our friend Karl went out snorkeling right away, though Clara Anne wanted to join them! "Look Mommy, I can put it on by myself! Well, sort of . . . "
There were tons of seashells, coral, sand crabs, and other interesting things on the shore. Chloe had a great time picking things up and examining them! The sun was intense--I left her sundress on over her swimsuit for most of the day.
The boat had to put down anchor a little ways out and then we waded in to the shore. It was really enjoyable and peaceful to be in a totally undeveloped place! We truly relaxed.

Simply gorgeous. Being out in the midst of the vast ocean reminded me of so many Scriptures and truths about the immensity of our God, His power and greatness. What a mighty God we serve!

The snorkeling in this area was very good. I had a hard time getting started, fearing water in my face or nose and feeling a bit tentative with the equipment. But once I learned to relax and trust, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the underwater life! Unlike at a zoo, fish don't seem to notice that you're there and so we were able to observe many kinds of tropical fish and some beautiful coral without feeling like we were disturbing them. Our friends Karl and Chris played with the girls so that John and I could snorkel hand-in-hand. What an experience! (I almost forgot I was pregnant in the buoyancy of the salt water!)
Here's the whole family before we headed for home again. (That's the closest you'll get to seeing me in my bathing suit!)

Just a few more pool pictures--Chloe finally got brave enough by the end of our time to get into the water on her own. Look at that mischievous smile!

Clara Anne's motto: "You can never have too many floaties!"

And a couple of pictures from our way home. We stopped in Hong Kong for a few days and enjoyed a trip to Fat Angelo's Italian Restaurant. Wow, they take their name seriously! Look at my belly after just one meal! :)

And, one final trip to Toys R'Us. They had a huge Lightning McQueen on display and so both of the girls were excited to get their pictures taken with it! We had more fun just looking and playing around the store than buying things--we only ended up with a small car for each of the girls. Good thing too, since our luggage was already bursting at the seams!

I hope you enjoyed the photo journey through some of our vacation times! Needless to say, after being gone for almost a month, we are very happy to be back at home and settling into normal life and routines again. My girls have taken long naps every day this week, I'm fighting off a cold, and in general we are all recovering from a month on the road. It's always fun to travel, but home is just that much sweeter when the traveling is done. We're thankful for safety over many miles and glad to be home, sweet home!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vacation photos, Take 2!

We had fun taking a day trip from where we were staying out to a more remote, tropical island. Actually, we thought it was more remote . . . until we saw the other hordes of tourists getting on the same ferry as us! Remote, but developed, would be a way to describe this lovely island location. Here our friend Chris is holding Clara Anne on the ferry boat ride over. Chris was such a good auntie to Clara Anne and Chloe the whole week we spent together. They had fun playing a little hide-n-seek game!

We ended up sharing the beach with a lot of Asian tourists who were fascinated with Clara Anne and Chloe. The girls didn't mind, though--they just got right to work digging and playing.

This time John built the girls their own small pool--the sand was too fine and wet to make a castle. The girls thought it was Great!

Look, Mommy, underneath that white sand is a layer of gray muck! Fun times!

Chloe loved having her "own" place to play.

Mid-afternoon, a storm started to roll in. The sky turned dark and threatened rain--it was beautiful.

Only a few swimmers left out in the swimming area! Plus the tide was going out, so the water had receded dramatically already.

None of this fazed the girls! Once you're at the beach and wet already, a few raindrops don't matter at all! The weather quickly blew through and we all "washed off" the sand in the ocean before packing up and heading home. Just call us beach bums!

Believe it or not, I have at least one more round of pictures to post . . . so many times on vacation I get caught up having such a good time and forget to take pictures. But this time I was determined to snap a lot, so I still have some to more to share with you. Until next time . . .

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Feast of Vacation Photos!

Sorry for the long overdue update! Our vacation time was wonderful, and now we are in the midst of a week and a half of meetings. I have just a moment and thought I would put some photos up for your enjoyment!

First, here we are in the airport in Hong Kong, enroute to places further south. Can you believe there are now several Krispy Kreme donut shops around HK? And three in the airport itself? We didn't waste any time having a snack. Yum! (The girls were too busy eating to smile for the camera!

We ate our first Hong Kong supper at a favorite place, Nomad's. John and I ate many meals here during the month we spent waiting for Clara Anne to be born, and then we celebrated our anniversary here, taking along tiny Clara Anne, just three days after she was born! It's a special place for our family! The dinner was delicious, as usual.

Here are some pictures from our first of several trips to the beach. Clara Anne loved the ocean waves, jumped right in, and enjoyed letting them make her bob up and down.
Chloe was more content to play in the sand (including eating a significant amount). I had packed a picnic lunch and though her hands were sandier and sandier, she didn't seem to care that her hands were dirty. She kept dropping raisins in the sand, picking them up (along with lots of sand), and then eating them!

John and the girls had fun building a sand castle. Fun times!

This is the pool attached to the place we stayed. I think there were some days we barely got out of our swimsuits! Clara Anne especially really enjoyed the water this year, and with her floaties on, was pretty much independent.

Pool time fun!

More vacation photos to come! Stay tuned. . .