Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FYI Geocaching

Geocaching is basically treasure hunting with a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite). There is a website that can give you local caches. Jupiter bought a GPS mainly for use in the car, but Geocaching allows us to use it to get outside and wander off trail. We went in search of a cache (i.e. treasure, booty, stash) in a local park. We had the GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) and then you hunt; you also usually have a clue to where the cache is hidden. When you find it, you log that you were there and you can take something from the container and leave something behind. This is a pretty family friendly activity and definitely teaches about directions. It was fun and I am sure we will do it more once it is warmer outside and definitely when we travel.

Christmas Highlights

We had a really special Christmas holiday in our home. Jove and I have been crafting, reading and singing for weeks and I have really enjoyed watching him get so excited.

Our Christmas:
  • Our friends come over for a little NYC "brown couch," since we can't be with the rest of the Michigan family. See the picture above where Jove is playing with the baby present and the babies, of course, are playing with the ribbon.
  • Jup's side of the family: sisters, cousins and kids all come over on Christmas day for playing and eating.
  • We visit Santaland at Macy's and their amazing windows and Jove sits on Santa's lap, he really was more excited than he appears here. The good pictures cost way too much so we only have our mediocre pics. He asks Santa for a crane (probably because we drive by all of the construction on the way downtown) and Christmas morning he got a crane.
  • Miranda being such a big girl: sitting and playing by herself, rolling around, calling papa "da da," enjoying the wooden eggs that Santa left in her stocking
  • Jove and I finishing our gingerbread house and me finishing all of the origami I made for the kids in the family.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I just recently found out that my leave from my job will be ending next winter and I will have to go back in February of 2009. I have been at home since last January and I have a little over a year to go. I feel really lucky that I have been able to be at home so long, many moms aren't so lucky. Its all or nothing for many working moms; stay at home and lose your career or stay at work and lose your mind. I am the happiest now I have been since I have had children because I get to focus completely on mothering and I also have time to reflect on my life. When I working full time as a teacher when Jove was young, I was in survival mode: eat, feed everyone else, grade, plan, maybe clean, spend time with kids, spend very little time on myself or with my husband. It was really not a lot of fun day to day, even though I enjoyed my work, being a mom, cooking, etc. I was just too busy, too much to do and I never felt very effective either at work or at home. Part of me realizes that I have to go back to work and I will have to find a way to be happy with two full time jobs and another part of me has started to ask the question, "What if I didn't have to go back to work?"

Humor me... What would I do if I didn't have to go back to work? Home school my kids; maybe have another child; grow a much bigger garden and can and preserve food for us; maybe get some laying hens; have good, loving energy leftover for my kids and my husband by the time 5pm roles around; read; exercise more; spend more time with friends; and maybe start to write.

So, moms out there, what would you do if you didn't have to work and if you aren't working do you want to work full-time? Are you conflicted?

Gingerbread: Part I

Last year I learned too late that there are two types of gingerbread recipes: the one you want to eat and the one you build a house with. I started to search for a yummy recipe for gingerbread people online and I found that most people were not happy about the gingerbread recipes they were finding. Then I found a recipe on a blog where the woman made the recipe by trial and error and they are delicious.

Here is the woman's recipe directly from her website:
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

I made one batch of dough and divided it in half to roll out cookies on two separate occasions. First, I made cookies for Jove that he put sprinkles and colored sugar on to decorate before we baked them. A few days later, I baked the rest for a play date with our mom's group. I made icing out of confectioner's sugar, milk and food coloring and the kids each got to ice a few cookies. I put a small amount of icing into plastic sandwich bags and then tore a tiny hole in the corner, so the kids could squeeze out the icing as if it was in a pastry bag. You could also give them a small dish and a toothpick or small spoon for them to apply it with, but this could get a lot messier than the bags.