Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas at Home, Part II

I wanted to do something a little different this Christmas. I am envious of those who can spend days baking every kind of cookie and confection to present with a plate and a carol. I just don't have that kind of energy. I felt my culinary contribution this Christmas need to be based on Christ's ministry on earth. Focusing on Him resonated with me more than any other. So, I pulled out my most prized recipe book from Alaska and got busy.

I love this charming book. It has recipes from my high school librarian, my violin teacher, my favorite Alaskan artist and many Alaskans who I've read about and admired. So loved is this little sugary wonder, it opens automatically to my favorite recipe: Fiddlehead Ginger Crinkles. I don't let them get crinkly, so I would actually call them "chews."

And they cut great with a cookie as the ginger chews would be my "fish." (I would think a nice round porgy or snapper-like fish would have worked, but the only fish cookie cutter I have is a king salmon. It worked though.)
For the loaves, I made some mini-pumpkin variety from my beautiful Bon Appetit cookbook. Since we were delivering this to fellow Latter-day Saints, I also included a brief perspective written by one the leaders of our Church, President James E. Faust. Its from his book, Finding Light in a Dark World. I enjoyed reading his words because his outlook provides a sweetness that will not go away. One bite of this morsel of knowledge and we are reminded of why this season of remembering Christ's advent and arrival into the world is so important.

He wrote: "In our time, we seem to have forgotten the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes in favor of the miracles wrought by the mind and hand of men. I refer to the marvels of modern transportation and the increasing sophistication of all scientific knowledge, including the new electronic highway. We have forgotten that this amazing knowledge comes to mankind only as God chooses to reveal it, and it should be used for purposes nobler and wiser than mere entertainment. This knowledge permits the words of the prophets of God to be bounced off satellites hovering over the earth so it is possible for much of mankind to hear their messages.

"With this great knowledge has come also some skepticism about the simple and profound eternal truths taught in the miracle of the loaves and of the fishes—namely, that God rules in the heavens and the earth through his infinite intelligence and goodness.

"We are also to understand and remember that we too, like the lad in the New Testament account, are the spirit children of our Heavenly Father and that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior, and the Redeemer of the world. We believe that in the centuries following the establishment of his kingdom upon the earth, the doctrines and the ordinances were changed, resulting in a falling away and the loss of the keys of priesthood authority from the earth.

"A miracle even greater than that of the loaves and the fishes was the vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who saw the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York. Subsequently the keys, the priesthood, and the saving ordinances were restored in their fulness, and Christ's church was reestablished in our time. Thus God has again fed us and filled our baskets to overflowing."

Elf Yourself Link

We had so much fun this Christmas, we decided to dance!
(Thanks, Liz, for making us look so darn cute.)

The Cup Trick

This is my first attempt at editing and posting with our Canon Elph. Pretty easy...I tried a bit of editing too. Its very elementary, but fun. The girls were eating lunch at Grandma and Pop's house on Long Island. Sadly, they weren't there, but I'm sure they were enjoying the squirms and wiggles of Isabelle in Alaska. Here's what they missed:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas at Home, Part I

We are relishing in the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. And we're enjoying staying home for it all. The snowstorms and windchill here in the Northeast have made staying indoors so attractive and inviting. We've only gone outside to play once. Its just too cold, especially for two little people who don't walk. Still, we're enjoying making memories and remembering (and rejoicing) that we got all of Esra's appointments finished before winter officially rolled in.

So, my favorite part of Christmas is pulling out the Nativity scenes. Especially the one I bought in Jerusalem. I bought this set specifically for my future home and family. Esra finds satisfaction in inspecting the pieces and putting them in place. So, while the girls were keeping busy, I did a few artistic shots of this olive wood set modeled amidst the bows of the tree and lights.

I should have known that they were getting into trouble...It was too quiet!

Also, Christmas came a little early here, as the IKEA elves couldn't resist assembling things right after arriving from Sweden (via New Haven). The girls got a little table with two chairs to go in their playroom. And I got a gorgeous, indispensable, been-eyeing-one-for-twelve-months kitchen island. Oh, its a thing of beauty. And more storage!

Almost Finished

The new blog design is almost done. Just a few tweeks here and there plus making the sidebar headers. Chris did a superb job with the colors and style...See it here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boston and Blessings

The trip to Boston went well. Yep, Esra made it to the MRI! Oh, frabjous day! Calloo! Callay! They did diagnose her with Chiari (KEY-ar-ee) Malformation, Type II. We could only assume she had this condition, since many children with Spina Bifida do. But we needed the imagery to confirm it. The Neurosurgery Attending didn't feel that she needs surgical intervention now, but he said he wanted a second opinion from his colleague who oversees the Spina Bifida clinic. We'll be going back for clinic (and ENT, Pulmonology and, possibly G.I.) in February. Anyone want to come?

So, we decided to do things a bit differently this trip: we took the train and I played tourist, briefly. The girls were fantastic travel companions.

We traveled very light, only taking a suit case and the Phil and Ted stroller. We didn't even bring Esra's wheelchair.

It all worked...While Esra slept off the anesthesia in the ICU, Estelle and I explored the Freedom Trail and enjoyed the city and all the seasonal sights and sounds. We didn't savor too long though. The wind bit our noses and nipped at our heals all the way back to Children's.

Now, we are settling into a nice winter's rest, after ramping up for six weeks doing our most vigilant to keep Esra away from germs and foreign bodies. Staying sequestered at home was the best way to stay well, even though she still went to pre-school and we attended the Sacrament (Communion) portion of the Sunday Services. We even made a button for Esra to wear at church. It said "Please don't touch me. I'm feeling sensitive today." It wasn't very successful, as the only people who wanted to touch her and love her are the ones who can't read anything without reading glasses.

Our list of tender mercies is growing...First, there were the gymmats and corner seat. Then it was the tuition for preschool, Next, it was the wagon. Now, a group of three families is giving Esra a sand/water table for Christmas. And our application to a local non-profit to fund a hand-powered tricycle was approved yesterday. (There is even talk of acquiring a used power-chair from a little girl who has outgrown it. More to come on that soon...) Most of these items have come to us through a very intuitive and giving woman. She sees our need and helps us fill it. The other items have also come to us through equally hard-working, dedicated professionals and community memebers who care about Esra's well-being and success. We are blessed.