Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our (usually) annual news letter

If you didn't get an envelope that looked something like this, we probably didn't have your address, or perhaps we don't like you and were trying to avoid you, but most likely we knew that you at least occasionally read our blog and thought we'd save the money of paper, ink, and stamps to let you see it on here. If you are the people in the last group we've decided to reward you (for saving us money AND reading our so incredibly interesting blog) by posting lots of new pictures that I don't think we've posted yet. If you happen to be someone that DID get this envelope and do read are blog annonymously we'd ask that you'd comment occasionally so that we might know that you don't hate us.

Merry Christmas! -- and Happy New Year!
Our year has been quite eventful. At the beginning of January, Youssef started working as an independent retirement advisor and came to discover in the next 7 months that he really didn’t like working for himself and the uncertainty of a commission paycheck.
The highlight during that time for him was that we learned how to make sushi from our then-tenants who had grown up in Japan. When Youssef was looking for another job in August, we found out that our tenants were going to move (as their school was shifting and, they wanted to be in a different location). This was quite sad for us because they had not only become good friends of ours, but we were in a time of financial transition because of Youssef’s job change.
However, as always, God provided a new tenant right when we needed one! Then Youssef got a job as a reporter for the Newport Miner Newspaper. He rediscovered his place in the world as a writer and realized again that writing is what God has planned for him. He is doing a wonderful job and every now-and-again gets complimented by someone in the community or in the office about how he writes and how he is raising the quality of the paper.
To make Youssef’s happiness complete, Lynné has taken over doing the bills and finances as his commute doesn’t bring him back in town till after bank hours. Our family is thriving in this new arrangement. Every day when Youssef comes home, Lily runs to the window and says “Daddy here!” over and over as she jumps on the couch. They have become quite close this year; she lets Youssef put her down to sleep – which helps Lynné rest at night. Lily also loves to have Youssef’s undivided attention as he plays with her and throws her in the air even before he takes his coat off.

Lily has grown up so much this year. She will be 2-years-old January 4th and is already so independent. When she wakes up in the mornings, she usually plays for a while by herself or will get her milk out of the fridge and put in her own video to watch! Lynné loves this as she can sleep an extra half-hour or so!
Lily will also get things out of the fridge and bring them to Mommy if she’s hungry. This usually works quite well, but on occasion little bags of cookies that were supposed to go in Daddy’s lunch may be found scattered around the house. One or two might be open and could have nibble marks on them. She’s a very good girl though, and we just find things like that funny as she’s showing her independence and doing things for herself.
Her special big girl jobs are to put her shoes in the basket by the door when we come in the house (she’s been doing that for most of the year) and recently she’s been putting her PJs away and throwing her own diapers in the garbage. She also helps Lynné clean up by taking toys to her own room when asked (though she usually comes back with another toy, but at least it’s being played with.) She really enjoyed going to lots of parks this year to play on the slides. She still loves books and sometimes she prefers to “read” them all by herself (she uses a lot of sound effects). She’s talking a lot more (though, not on command) and loves to help Mommy bake and do other projects! She’s also excited about her little sister coming in March! She likes to pat Lynné’s tummy and say “sis sis sis” and other babbling words that we can’t quite make out yet. We can all see how this is just the right time for Renna to come as Lily has grown so much closer to her Daddy and is learning to do things for herself.

Speaking of a new baby, a lot of people have asked what we need for her. If you happen to be one of those people and are wondering right now, Lynne' has been going through everything that we have and taking note of what we need. Really, aside from possibly a few articles of clothing perhaps, there isn't much we need. However, Lynne' has been doing some research about babies sleeping and came across this special baby hammock-bed (recomended on the Dr Sears web site). It is not only medically proven to aid babies to sleep longer and better (from ones with colic, preemies, acid reflux, or just fussy babies that like to be held) it looks really comfy and will fit in our house so much easier than the crib that we have, which Lily always hated. Lynne' had a hard time laying Lily down when she was little because she hated to see her cry or be unsafe or be too far away. Now, with a toddler, she won't have the luxury of holding a newborn all the time. Also, what do parents of a newborn need the most? Sleep. So, if you'd like to help us save up for this wonderful sleep invention and were planning on sending us something for the new baby, please make checks payable to the "Tired Parents Who just Got Their Toddler to Sleep Well and Want to have an Easier Time with Their Second Newborn Fund."

Lynné, as always, had many projects going.
The main ones this year, however, seem to be scrapbooking (which is very appreciated by both Youssef and Lily) and her paper artwork. The artwork has been displayed in “The Good Works Gallery” in downtown Spokane (which is closing this December. Look for them at the Lavendar Festival or in other galleries and shops.) Everyone is quite impressed with the pictures’ unique quality. She’s made a few more since putting 6 in the gallery and the new ones have been scanned so that prints can be sold. The prints aren’t as interesting as the originals of course, but will be much more portable and will (hopefully) sell well.
It’s nice for Lynné to be able to do this from home since she has such a busy toddler and another baby on the way. Lily has special scissors that she gets to use when Mommy is working on projects. Right before clean up and snack time, the carpet is usually covered with little pieces of cut paper mingled with toys and cracker crumbs. She usually helps Mommy clean up though (with her own toy vacuum) and most of the time, Daddy comes home to a clean house (but not always). Youssef’s extra-work projects are done mostly on the ride to and from work.
This Christmas season has been lovely so far. We've made Saturday mornings special with family time and belgiun waffles. Lynné is always trying to make everyday things special too, with candles for dinner (that Lily tries to blow out), or a special story with hot chocolate or tea after dinner, and other little things. Lily loves chocolate (calling it “kalk”) and tea (that she can say perfectly!) As a family, we still enjoy going on walks together (even in the cold weather). Now, with the Christmas lights up around the neighborhood, Lily loves to look and gasp at them as we walk or drive by. Besides gasping at each lit house that she sees, she also points and says “PriEe dare” (pretty there), which is so fun to hear – when we are driving, a gasp or exclamation can be heard every minute or so.
The lights and the cookies of the season are more than enough to put yourself in a Christmasy state.
Do remember that the Christmas season comes about because of the Gift God gave us... and in His charge to his saints to "be holy as I am holy," we may offer gifts to each other.
Therefore, we don't just offer gifts to see the smile on the recipient's face. We offer gifts to help them. The smile is the icing on the cookie.

The turkey amendment...

With the second turkey that I bought, I kept forgetting to marinate it the night before. So, it was thawed pretty good, and I needed to get it cooked, but I was afraid it wouldn't turn out well because it wasn't marinated. This is what I did: I just skinned it (hadn't done that before) and then put the honey mustard sauce all over it, cooked it for half the time, poured more all over it when I turned it, and then cooked it for the rest of the time. It turned out EVEN MORE JUICY! AND was easier to do!
So... my turkey-theory last time might not have been accurate... Now, I'm pretty sure it's all in the glaze (which tasted much better without the nasty skin keeping it from sinking into the meat!)
ok.. now I'm hungry and it's dinner time so.. I'll go make food. :)

28 Week Appointment...

Ok... So I had to post this conversation that I had with my mid-wife last Thursday (for Rebekah, Rachel, and Taneisha) it's been bugging me...

She asks me what my weight was and when I told her she gasped, looked shocked, and said, "REALLY?"

"Yeah...." I say rather confused.

"Are you sure?"

".. uh.. yeah.. isn't that ok?"

"Well, if it's ok with you!"

".. umm.. what was my weight last month?"

She tells me and that I'm 11 lbs heavier. I asked what I was supposed to be gaining, and she said only one pound a week... so I've gained a little over 2 lbs a week. I explained that I've been craving sugary things and chocolate, but I actually stopped craving those things about a week ago (I go in shifts as to what food group I'm craving.)

It was just depressing to hear my own midwife talking that way and making my sensitive self feel even more fat than just being pregnant usually makes a woman feel. Afterwards, when I had to do a tiny bit of shopping, it wasn't fun at all when - with everything that I saw - I kept thinking.... "Oh, that might be good--no.. it's fattening.. I'm fat... I shouldn't get that."

Ok.. so I know I shouldn't have let what she said bother me. And maybe she just didn't remember how far along I was as she tried to set me up for another month apointment and realized that I had to start on the two week apointments because I'm at 28 weeks... but... It's just been bothering me and I keep thinking about it... and that I wanted to tell you girls about it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

good day...

The bad day yesterday kept getting worse (one thing was that I got a letter from the gallery saying that they are closing the end of December and everyone needs to come get their art by then) till about 10:30 when I finally had the projects where they needed to be for the rest of the week to get done, the house was clean, laundry done and folded, christmas letters ready to go (our printer working), Lily was bathed and asleep for the night (she took a three hour nap, I think that's why she was so clingy, I held her for half her nap though), shopping done, library stuff returned, Youssef was home from plasma, ect. ect. (He won 50 dollers in a drawing too!)

I still have a lot to do but I feel like it's doable. My hips and pelvis still feel like they are breaking or brused on and off from being pregnant, but it's not as bad today as some days. Lily was good most of the morning and I made some headway on projects. I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere today (though I have to go out tomorrow). The house isn't too trashed (just localized messes).

I'm feeling pretty optomistic... I just needed to do all that extra stuff last night to make today run smoothly. I tired myself out, but slept better because my dreams weren't stressed out ones.

After Lily falls asleep (I'm holding her now) I'm going to have a mocha and work on (hopfully, finish!) a project. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bad day...

Do you ever have one of those days were everything seems to go wrong... the house gets trashed more quickly... the projects you are trying to finish before christmas seem to grow, get more complicated, and start to feel imposible to complete... and your child who was a little angel yesterday is clingy and more needy than usual today...?
*sigh* I shouldn't complain I know, but I don't have anyone to talk to. Youssef works very long hours. He made a board game that he's been really excited about and keeps talking about. He's been wanting me to play it, and I'd like to, but it's starting to feel like just another thing I need to get done this week (and I of course don't want to feel that way about something that is so special to him). It's crunch time though, and the christmas gifts and projects that I've been making and woking on for the last few months are almost all done. They aren't many actually, just a few, but very time consuming and artistically challenging. I'm tired. I'm really glad that Renna isn't due right after christmas like Lily was. I feel like I'll be able to have time to get ready for her coming once christmas is over.
I'm really looking forward to christmas though! I'm probably going to have to stay up late to finsh some of this stuff so that I can enjoy these last few days till christmas. (And next week I can post a couple pictures of the gifts I made.) :)
I feel like I'm missing half my brain at the moment. I need to do a little shopping today and return stuff to the library and mail a letter and some other random things on my to-do list. I feel like I've got all the grocery type stuff we'll need then we run out of diapers... or the car needs more gas this months than I'd planned. I just feel like I'm lossing my brain most of the time.... at least today anyway.
I probably just need sleep.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Iceman Cometh

One of the last things you expect to hear on a Saturday morning from your wife is "Wake up, it's a perfect snowman-making day."

I heard something similar this morning.

A snowman is made when -- and I didn't know this -- you first start to roll a small ball of snow. It's hard to imagine one of God's purest creatures coming from a collection of small specks of frozen water... but there you have it.

Lily and Lynné worked hard to get the base of the snowman big and steady, too. It wasn't long before their project began to suck up a large portion of the snow on our lawn.

At some point, little Lily's work became bigger than her own self. Lynné, too, pointed out that the effort blazed a trail borne of sweat and love.

How hard could it have been to make a snowman, but there you see it - more snow was going to be required if, and only if, this was to be a properly sized snowman.

You know, snowmen come in different shapes and sizes. To make a classic snowman, you need three big pieces of snow... we wanted to make ours round, and so it was that our Sleiman Snowman was made from our Sleiman snow. But the effort was becoming great. It was at this point that Daddy stopped taking pictures and began to help.

Here's where I modeled the rest of our endeavor.

In all honesty, I think it came out looking pretty much like me. (Yeah, Lynné says, but with more hair.)

So it was that Grassy the Snowman was born.

Unfortunately, due to his discomfort wearing so warm a scarf (isn't that weird that snowmen wear scarves to keep warm) we wound up taking it inside.
(Lynné speculates that it may be to hold their head on.)

In any case, I'm pretty sure he didn't like wearing it since it made him possibly a target of vandalism.
But he's big enough to take care of himself, I think.

Lily wanted to go on a walk because we used the stroller to hold the camera up for that last picture - and she couldn't let the stroller come out of its closet without using it for old time's sake. How rewarding it is after a birth to sip on a chocolate chai from the local café.
"Yeah, I know it was like, totally awesome. We like totally went out together and like did the best to like have a snazzy Christmas. I like, really liked it, but you know - it was cold and stuff. Yeah, totally. I know! I wish that this was a real phone instead of a mouse, too, but it's cool."

Latest addition to the picture market

Ready your ooohs and ahhhhs.

This one is called "Hovering."

Note the muted colors. Only in a few places are there colors of vibrant quality - quite a step different than the typical fare of Lynné's.
I believe it's muted in color to accommodate more common household colors. It's the kind of coloring that would match some homes with rich velvety furniture and cushy cushions.
Okay, wipe your eyes and get ready for the next one... it's a beauty.

Yeah, that's right it's the prettiest one yet. (Youssef's opinion) Heaven's pearly gates seem slightly tarnished compared to this array of color and light.
And, it's still all paper - no real flowers were injured in the production of this image.
Look closely at the center purple lily... very closely... you may see the digitized rendering of 3D-edness.
To represent the pollen things, Lynné made the paper reach out of the flat picture. Again, another departure from normal, but it fits so well with the depth. Because this one was one of her best of the most recent, it went to our Aunt Gen - she deserves some of the fruit of some of our work.
Of course, we sent it after we scanned it several times (and I pieced it together in Ms Word with my digital publishing abilities) so that we can use the image for further prints. (Those aren't yet on sale since, well, we printed them rather large and we don't yet have a board and plastic to present it yet. It is a nice picture, though.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas!

The picture below of Lily with her mouth open was her first reaction when I turned the lights on on the tree. We'd put the tree up and put the lights on it the night before and this is the morning that we were going to decorate the tree (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). Unfortunately her 2 year molars started coming in and were really bothering her so we took turns holding her while the other person put ornaments on the tree. I wish she had of been feeling better and had wanted to help. Her teeth are still hurting her, but she's having an easier time now than she did that first week end.

The snowflakes I thought would be fun to put on here incase someone wanted a neat project to do. They are made with sparkly hot glue! You just make whatever shape (a snowflake in this case) with the hot glue on some wax paper or plastic that is bendable so that you can peal it off when it cools. It's pretty fun and I think they look neat. :)

We all have eclectic taste in our household. Here Lily is wearing her new princess nighty with her Lightning McQueen car slippers and watching "Wizard of Oz" (that she calls "Boz") While playing with her baby doll. I was impressed with this picture because I actually caught her smiling. Usually, she moves too fast and our camera is too slow to catch a good smile.

The first of the fondue for December. We've decided that once a year just isn't enough, so we thought we'd better have fondue every weekend in December! It's fun and festive. :)

Random picture of Lily reading all by herself the other day before bed. It was a little sad that she didn't want me to read to her at first, but also kind of nice that she was being so independent. And later she wanted me to read to her and kept trying to stall because she didn't want to go to sleep till Daddy got home.

This ornament (the strawberry) Lily picked out for her ornament for the year! I don't know why she was so into this one... maybe because we went strawberry picking in July and she only wanted to eat strawberries for a week? Or perhaps just because she thought it was pretty. She wanted this one above all others. Actually, she would have liked 20 of them, but besides that she couldn't hold that many, I couldn't let her have more as just the one was $4.99.

The teddy ornament I got for Renna just for fun... even though she's not born yet. :)

Youssef's and my ornament for the year I decided to make with the paper folding idea since one of the big things of the year was that I got my pictures in a gallery and sold another. The other thing was that we learned how to make sushi and had sushi a LOT this year (Youssef said it was his comfort food). Lily likes to point at it hanging on the tree and say "sue-see".

Ahh... The tree, but they never look as pretty in a picture do they?

This is Lily's first time (really) in the snow. She wasn't quite sure what to do, but she liked to walk in it (rather than the path I shovelled).

The snow is all gone now... right when it was ready to make into snowmen! Well... we'll have to do that later. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Indian Gorging, Sleiman-style

After barely surviving a dry, hot summer, the pilgrims found themselves near the end of their proverbial ropes. Then, to make matters worse, around the third Thursday in November, Indians came and showed the pilgrims how to make enough food to stuff their faces... which, believe me, hurts a little more than a too-hot summer.

Lynné outdid herself once again, cooking the turkey to perfection.

For those who aren't sure, perfection is when the turkey is soft everywhere. As L and I discussed matters, the distinction between white and dark meat is more than just how much moisture the meat keeps.

Of course, juicy meat isn't all that special. (haha, just kidding - yes it is.) More than that, however, is the awesome cookly power of matching the proper herbs and spices to the meat. Watch Lynné's genius...
She prepared the turkey in a honey mustard glaze complimented with a rosemary herb mixture. Most doctorate theses aren't that eloquent.

Here comes the near-fatal hubris of Youssef... his eyes being bigger than his stomach.
What you see here is a turkey drumstick. If you've been to Scarborough Faire and paid $5 for a drumstick, it's okay if you don't recognize this. Lynné found a mutant turkey with thighs sculpted by hours on a commercial exercise machine.

This looked at first like no big deal. Just a drumstick, right?

The strategy thus far was to get as much down as possible.

In a way, if you think about the first feast of Thanksgiving, the entire strategy to overwhelm your enemy with food strikes a chord with Sun Tzu.

Each bite tasted so good...

It made me hungrier with each taste, but at the same time filled me more with it. It may be a flawed strategy, but the plan was to taste and eat as much of the turkey that came across my eyes. However, things got to the point where a new strategy needed to be adopted...
Thus, the sprint crunches. Oh yeah, for about ten to twenty minutes, I sat beside the table and began to do crunches and sit-ups and twist-ups and a (pathetic) pair of push-ups.

It worked, oddly enough. I wasn't as full as I was ten to twenty minutes ago - but whether that was due to my impromptu exercise routine or my brief pause in turkey consumption, we'll never really know.
But, if anything could be attacked with more gusto than I did the turkey this second time, I don't want to hear about it. Forks and knives only get one so far. Then, to properly handle the turkey, you've got to reach in with your fingers.
I love that moment. It reminds me of Star Wars, when Luke is wearing the blind helmet and facing off against the "remote" with a lightsaber... and of the throaty voice of Alec Guinness saying, "Reach out with your feelings."
My hands will smell herbally until the Tuckers get home (next week, right?)

What may be missed in this picture is that there was other food at the dinner table than turkey. There's gravy on some mashed potatoes, I believe. I didn't look that closely.
It was more of a cursory serving. Lynné, as she ate, asked me if I was interested in the other food - stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. "What other food?"

And yes, this Indian gorging ended at some point.
In fact, the remains of the poor fowl weighed about 15 pounds lighter when they were thrown out. Even to the end, I was picking off and eating small chunks - juicy and delectable.

We cleaned the table in a short moment and, just as I was lumbering over to the big sofa to rest, Lynné broached a subject I was completely unprepared for...
"Want some pumpkin pie?"