Thursday, December 29, 2011


We had a wonderful Christmas, and got to spend the day with both of our families. My parents came to town and my brothers were here (my sister Katie was in California with Louis), and Bryan's whole family was here, including Kaleb, Jessie's fiance as of last week.

We let Chloë open her first Christmas present two nights before Christmas.

Christmas Pajamas! She was sort of interested in the process.

Christmas Eve we finished up some last-minute preparations, including a little bit of baking and taking some gifts to the neighbors. We had dinner with my family, and afterwards the rugby ball made an appearance. Chloë was all dressed up from the Christmas Eve service we attended, but her Uncle Samuel was in his comfortable lounge wear.

We loaded up the car and drove out to Bryan's parents' to spend the night. We unloaded dozens of presents, and arranged them under the tree in tetris-like fashion.

Chloë didn't quite understand what all of the excitement was about, but stayed up late with us, just to be sure not to miss out on anything.

Aunt Laura pushed her around on the big stuffed reindeer, which was, of course, so much fun.

Bedtime stories.

Christmas morning came bright and early (and for the first time in years, without snow). We cooked up a feast of a breakfast, and woke up the sleepy one-year-old to join us.

We opened our stockings, and Chloë eventually got into it.

After breakfast we went to church, and then went back to Blakeys.

(Bryan grabbed the camera and captured this ridiculously adorable moment. Not even posed. I can't believe how cute this girl is sometimes.)

Then we started opening presents. One at a time, trying to be fair with whose turn it is. Of course Chloë had lots of presents.

Her first present from Mama and Daddy: A "cell phone." My ears already regret it.

After an hour, it looked like we'd hardly made a dent in the pile under the tree.

Somehow I ended up with lots of pictures of Chloë opening presents, and very few pictures of anyone else.

After a couple of hours, we start to speed things up a little, and Chloë was having melt-downs about not wanting to open any more presents. What a trial.

The newly-engaged Kaleb and Jessie.

There were a few presents that she was interested once the paper was off.

We aimed to be done by 4 pm, so we could transfer to my parents' house. And at 3:58, we were finished with the pile under the tree.

We drove back into town, did some quick dinner preparations (my dear mother had been cooking and baking all afternoon and had quite a feast prepared), and sat down at my parents' house for a lovely Christmas dinner.

(My dad snapped this picture. I'm sad I didn't get a good group shot of the beautiful feast.)

Then it was next door to our house to open the presents under our tree. The boys waited patiently all day for us to join them.

Botkin family Christmas!

The jewelry from her parents was a big hit.

Brothers and their loot.

New teddy bear from her Great Grandma and Grandpa Moses.

Opening the Duplos from Uncle Samuel.

My mother and I share a moment.

We ended up opening stockings and presents from 8 am to 9 pm, with a break for breakfast and church, and again to switch locations and eat dinner. No wonder our poor child had had enough Christmas. I can certainly understand why celebrating for more than one day makes sense.

She even decided her bears had had enough for the day.

The next morning she lounged around in her new jammies from Bryan's parents, wearing her new necklace, and playing with her new toys.

Merry Christmas, 2011!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Photos

It is amazing how difficult it is to get a photo of three people all looking their best. It certainly didn't happen for us this year. We were all dressed up for the Christmas Eve service, and thought we'd try to take a few pictures. Chloë had a little melt-down, so we tried again when we got home. Better, but we still didn't get a perfect shot. Oh well.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Take 1:


Take 2:

Maybe with a flash?

And since I haven't taken any belly pictures in a while, here are a couple, at 34 1/2 weeks. Getting closer! (Looking just about the same size as 35 weeks with the first pregnancy.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From our favorite little trouble-maker, Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family!

(This was a few days ago. Mama was wrapping presents, and Chloë disappeared for two whole minutes. She thought lipstick was the greatest thing ever.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Artisan Bread

A little over a month ago, I borrowed a book from a friend: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. My life will never be the same.

I've made bread a hundred times in the past, and have always had great success. But it always seemed like a big project... exact measurements and temperatures, kneading and multiple rises; it could take all afternoon.

But really, this bread is so easy, I almost feel like I'm somehow cheating. I gave the book back to my friend Hope, but haven't forgotten this super easy recipe:

Find a large bowl. Dump in:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/4 tablespoons salt
6 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I usually use a cup of whole wheat flour)

Stir it up for a minute or so, until the flour it all moist. It doesn't matter if it doesn't look perfect. (The canner has nothing to do with the bread. I was just too lazy to move it.)

Cover it with a non-airtight lid. Leave on the counter or somewhere room temperature, and ignore it for two hours. Then it will look like this:

Then cover it, and put it in the fridge, for at least 3 hours, but up to two weeks. Yes really.

When you want a fresh loaf, use a serrated knife, and cut off a quarter of the dough. (Or you can just quarter it up and bake it all at once. If I want larger loafs, I just cut it into thirds and bake it a little longer.) Sprinkle some cornmeal somewhere, and shape the dough, patting it with a little bit of flour when you're done shaping it. Let it "rest" for about 40 minutes. (The book talked about how it was important for the dough to rest, even though it does most of its rising the first few minutes it's in the oven.)

About halfway through the "resting" turn your oven on to 375. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven and let it heat up. After the 40 minutes are passed, take the pizza stone out of the oven, and gently transfer your dough. Use a serrated knife and cut some slits in the dough.

Put the stone on the middle rack in your oven, and then put about a cup of water in a pan, and put it on a lower rack in the oven. The evaporating water is part of the magical process.
Then wait 35 minutes.
Then take the bread out, and let cool on a rack. It smells really good.

You can drool a little, if you want.

It slices best if it's almost cool. If you slice it while it's hot, it will still feel a little "dough-y" on the inside. I'm not sure how well it keeps, because we always eat it within a day.

Buy the book. It has dozens of recipes that you can use the basic dough for: all sorts of savory things, and even cinnamon rolls.

So easy. Basically no dishes. And so worth it. Do it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Treat

We've been doing a little "Advent Treat" every night after dinner. Last night there was a Reese's Christmas Tree in the little Advent pouch.

We had pizza for dinner before the Advent Treat. This kid loves pizza.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

18 Months

It is hard to believe that Chloë is a year and half old now. She is such a big girl, and I know she is going to be a big help (or at least do her best trying) when the baby arrives.

She rarely walks anymore. But only because she prefers to run as her main mode of ambulation. She and her daddy made up this game where she stands by the couch, he asks "ready?" and she nods. Then he slowly counts to three, and then says "go go go!" and she takes off running into the kitchen, only to return a few seconds later to start the game over. She also likes to stomp and walk on her tip toes if she isn't running. And she likes to jump, or "dump," as she calls it. Since she hasn't figured out how to actually jump off the ground, this works best if she's on a soft surface, like a couch or bed, and she happily bounces.

She can be a very silly girl. Here's a funny face she makes sometimes.

And then the next one is what we see when we ask her to show us her teeth.

And then there's the classic silly-teeth-smile:

If we ask her where something is, and she doesn't know, she'll hold both of her hands up above her shoulders, palms up, fingers curled and shrug her shoulders. If she wants to know where something went, she asks "ah go??" She also picked up on our "be right back" when we leave the room. So she'll run off into the next room yelling "be back!"

She's put together her first basic sentences recently. Last week in the car, she was eating pretzels, and long after they were gone, I was searching around for her pacifier and found a half eaten pretzel. I held it up to see if she wanted it, and with great delight she exclaimed "Oh!! It's a pets-ul!!!!"

In the last couple of weeks, she decided she is skilled enough to handle eating with no help. I was hesitant to let her have the spoon with things like cheerios, but she sweetly asks "do it?" and she's really gotten pretty good at it. Bibs were a great invention.

She likes to be neat while she eats. If a drop of milk spills from her spoon onto her tray, she points at the napkin I likely have close by, and says "mess. Wipe?" Sometimes we'll let her entertain her OCD tendencies and wipe it up right away, but sometimes we want her to wait until she's all done eating, and have to reassure her that everything will be okay if we leave the mess for a few minutes.

Chloë has become quite attached to her Bear, blanket, and binkie. (I have to admit, I was secretly pleased when she started forming at attachment to the little blanket I crocheted for her before she was born.) If she needs a little down time, she'll get Bear and blanket (and binkie if we let her), and cuddle with them for a while. Sometimes she'll get a pillow and lay down on the floor and re-charge for a few minutes. Then she's off finding something to get into. Cupboards are fun to slam, chairs make a delightful noise when pushed across the floor, and Mama's makeup drawer has all sorts of great things in it.

She's still our cuddly kid, and is happiest falling asleep on someone's lap.

Chloë is becoming more shy, especially around adults, particularly men. She used to just eat up attention, and would be anyone's new best friend in a matter of minutes, but lately she is much more hesitant around new people. Especially if we're in a room of new faces, she prefers it if Mama or Daddy is holding her. Any time she wants to be held, she'll say "hoed you?" and reach towards the person she wants to hold her.

She does still enjoy getting out of the house, and likes exploring new places. We were at the bookstore last week, and she wandered a few feet away and grabbed what we thought was a good choice.

A true North Idaho girl, and certainly her father's daughter.

She just likes books, and usually spends a good half hour every day pulling books off the shelf and "reading" them to herself.

And then there's technology. She'll keep herself busy for a long time with an iPod or cell phone. (We may or may not have caved and gotten her a little toy cell phone for Christmas. I know she'll love it, but part of me is so ashamed of myself.)

I didn't know Chloë could beat box until yesterday afternoon. While driving to the store, the radio was quietly playing something contemporary in the background. I didn't notice. Chloë, on the other hand, decided it needed more of a beat: "Ppp, chhh, ppp, chhh, ppp, chhh..." in perfect rhythm. I couldn't stop laughing at what I was hearing. So later when we were home, I thought I'd see if I could capture it on camera.

We went to the indoor playground at the Eastside Marketplace last week. I've been meaning to take her ever since she's been able to walk, but we just needed a little encouragement from our friends Mary and Louella who were visiting.

Louella and Chloë in the canoe.

Chloë absolutely loved the slide. She climbed up the stairs, sat at the top for a second, and then spun around, flopped on her belly, and slid down. She thought it was fantastic.

She did it over and over, each time exclaiming "weeeee!" on her way down.

So much fun!

Sometimes I have to rub my eyes to make sure I'm seeing straight. Yes, that really is my little girl running around, playing with other kids, climbing on things, and having fun.

It's a blurry picture, but we got a shot of Louella and Chloë holding hands in their car seats. They did this every time we went somewhere in the car. It was so cute.

It's amazing to me how affectionate our little girl is. When she's being particularly sweet, she'll cup my face in her hands and softly say "Mama!" That kid melts my heart. Several times in the last few weeks, she'll position herself behind me, grab my shoulders with her little hands, and give me a surprisingly decent little massage for a few seconds. And of course there's all the affectionate pats and kisses.

She really likes the orchid Bryan brought me. It is such a joy to see her finding beauty in God's creation, and she points out when she think something is "pretty."

For the boring stats, she had her 18-month well child visit a few days ago. (When the doctor asked if she had a 7 to 20 word vocabulary, I laughed a little. I can't keep track of all the words she uses. A few days ago, she was gazing at the Christmas tree with all its lights and ornaments, and softly said "ah-sum." She frequently uses words I didn't know she knew.) I'm proud to report that for the first time in over a year, her height and weight stats have gone up. So instead of being in the bottom of the 10th percentile for weight, she's at the top of it! The occasional half-and-half in her cheerios might have something to do with it.