Monthly Archives: December 2011


This is Cleveland.  He’s a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy we’ve been raising for the last month and he’s been keeping us quite busy!  I’d forgotten how much work and supervision ‘babies’ require.  Yawn.  I have to admit when he first came to us I was thinking ‘this is going to be easy’.  He curled up in the back of the van on the ride home and took a nap.  He didn’t pull on the leash and was generally a mellow guy.  Then he got comfortable with us, lol.  Or else Talgo is being a bad  influence on him.  He’s still much better behaved than the average teenage guy, but it’s hard to take the retriever instinct out of a Retriever.  See that giant duck by his feet?  Tonight he decided it would be awesome to be a bird dog, and this was the biggest bird he could find.  He also has a special love for Christmas tree ornaments.
Overall it’s been a good experience though, and I’ll be sad when he goes away to ‘college’ in the next month or so.  One of my favorite things is taking him out to the places dogs don’t normally get to go and watching how many people he gets to smile.  I have to plan on a little extra time though, since fairly often people ask about him and/or want to pet him.  Sometimes it’s hard to escape, lol.  Parents are the best at telling their kids ‘he’s working’ and letting us go on our way, it’s that usually lone adult who’s petting before asking or has a story to tell.  I usually don’t mind though.  And chances are once he’s back at school we’ll look into getting another one.  Maybe even a little one.
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Cookies, cookies, cookies

Earlier this week we had our massive cookie baking day at my mom’s.  For the first time ever I don’t think we intentionally tried anything new.  How weird.  Chocolate-cherry cookies, Christmas tree and poinsettia Spritz, marshmallow log, shortbread, ans swirls all in one afternoon!  Brooklyn and Nana did the snowballs and thumbprints while we were in Vegas, and Nana did lemon candy, fudge, and sugar cookies all on her own.

Did you notice I said “intentionally” earlier?  Oops.  The swirl dough was actually the candy cane recipe from the previous page, but it only very minor differences so we went ahead and made them anyway.  I actually liked the results, a little sweeter and thicker and chewier.  But consensus of everyone else was go back the the right recipe next year.   It was a good year for chocolate-cherries as well.  Sometimes they get kind of melty and fall apart when you try to pick them up.  Perfect this year though!  Which makes up for the fudge- which is more than a little melty.  It’ll make great ice cream topping since it can only be eaten with a spoon.  Somehow the fudge must have gotten confused as to what year it was because it’s usually fail fudge when Kirsten and I attempt to make it.  The snowballs were much better with crushed candy cane to replace the nuts (which my kids are allergic to).  Never, ever try to replace nuts in a recipe with GrapeNuts.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.  Sugar cookies, spritz, lemon candy, shortbread and thumbprints usually seem to cooperate pretty well and this year was no exception.  That leaves the big news for this year- Marshmallow Log!  MY Nana used to make it, and we had a recipe without any instructions.  My mom has made several rather unsuccessful attempts with no clue as to what was wrong (Snickerdoodles anyone?  LOL).  With the help of the internet she found a similar recipe with instructions.  Apparently the egg goes in after the butter and chocolate chips have been melted and cooled.  Who knew?  So happy it worked since it’s one of my favorites 🙂  Still requires a little tweaking, but at least it holds together and looks right.

You’d think that would be enough cookies to last us for a couple months right?  Nope.  Our project for today was Gingerbread men.  And I’m happy to report that they were successful.  Thanks Linda for the tip about putting them in the freezer before baking.  Lars helped me make the dough and cut out most of the men himself, and Brooklyn cut out a few gingerbread women and did most of the decorating.

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My First Internet Date

Third, and probably final, in the My First… series.

LOL, not that kind of date- and Aaron went with me.  I have my real-life friends and my on-line friends, but until this weekend they were totally separate circles.  When I first told Aaron I was going to meet up with another homeschooling mom in Vegas he was skeptical for about 2 seconds, until he realized that he was essentially taking me down there to meet a bunch of his friends who started out pretty much the same way.   Surprised maybe because I am usually pretty shy.  We finally ended up meeting for lunch on the last day of our trip at a nice little Irish pub in the New York-New York.  And I’m so glad I did!  Tiffany- you are awesome and I had a great time chatting.  🙂  Sorry if your kids didn’t get any school work done because I kept you out all afternoon.

p.s.  The sharks were cool.  Lars would have loved them!

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My First Photowalk

This is the second of a short series of My First… posts inspired by our trip to Las Vegas for WordCamp.

I’ve been on a couple of railfan trips and photo outings with Aaron, however this is the first one I’d describe as an actual photowalk.  Maybe it’s because it was more about walking around and finding pictures rather than going somewhere and waiting for the pictures (um, trains) to come to us?  Maybe it’s because he was actually teaching me how to change settings on the camera to get what I wanted?  Maybe it’s because there were no kids with us?  I’m kinda leaning towards that last one.

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My First WordCamp

Aaron and I just got back from WordCamp Las Vegas.  Which means I will recommence writing for approximately 2 months if history is any indicator. 🙂  WordCamp was an incredible learning experience.  Not necessarily so much in learning how to use Word Press since most of it was waaaay over my head (though I did pick up a few things from the beginner session), but for the insight into the blogging community.   As soon as we walked up to the registration area Aaron started getting hugs.  From both guys and girls.  Huh?  I though these were a bunch of geeks (read: anti-social) who spent more time on their smart phones than interacting with actual people.  Then *I* started getting hugs.  Um, okay.  I’m not one to argue getting a hug.  As it turns out everyone was actually very friendly and there seems to be a crowd of them who see each other regularly as they travel to the different camps and are almost like an extended family.  They welcomed me with open arms, literally.

I spent part of my day shadowing Aaron in sessions he was interested in.  Like a good student I tried to pay attention at first.  Then I got distracted by people watching.  It seemed odd to me that the speakers didn’t seem to mind, or even try to recall back the attention of the good 90% of the audience that had a screen open in front of them.  As it turns out they were quoting and re-tweeting amusing parts of the presentations.  That explains why my nametag said @talgotail on it.  At least no one was phased when I was catching up on Words With Friends.  And when neither of the sessions peaked one of our interests we just hung out in the hallways and socialized.  It was kind of reminiscent of high school, complete with a fast food lunch (I’d never been to In-N-Out before) and talking about science class (though it was us choosing curriculum for our homeschooled kids this time).  Not bad for a geek conference.  I’d probably even go to another one.

One more thing about WordCamps.  After-parties are apparently a regular thing.  This one was sponsored and everyone got 4, yes four, free drink tickets.  No, I didn’t use all mine.  However I did find some beers I liked, and if you know me that’s a rather rare occurrence.  This one was at the Freakin’ Frog– hats off to them for an enormous selection of beer and also for the call I got today that they found and are mailing back to me my lost iPod.

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