Archive for November, 2009

Olivia’s party

We had a farm-themed “barnyard brunch” at my grandparents’ house in Nebraska for Olivia’s birthday on Saturday morning. Bryan’s parents and sister Jessica attended, as did my mom, step-dad and of course, Gramma and Grampa Great.

Ava helped Olivia open her presents. (And by “helped,” I mean “opened every single one for her while Olivia carefully examined and sometimes tried on the gift she just received.”)

Guess who sent this card…

That’s right! It’s “frum Ava.”

Bryan made us bloody marys, and we had quiche, fresh fruit and sausage for breakfast.

There was cake, too…more photos of that coming tomorrow.

Happy birthday, Baby O!

Thanks to everyone who joined us, and to those who sent kind messages from afar. We appreciate it!



Make a wish!

Doug sent these photos from the party on Saturday. More tomorrow!

Olivia Lou is two!

Happy birthday, Olivia.  Seems like just yesterday

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are fortunate to be spending the holiday weekend with our family, and we will celebrate Olivia’s second birthday on Saturday. In advance of the party, here’s a quick fix:

I hope you, too, have a holiday filled with the things that make you the happiest. In Liv’s case, that would be the pacifier I yanked from her mouth right before taking this photo.

Thanksgiving cupcakes

Ava and I made turkey cupcakes for her Thanksgiving party at preschool today.

We had planned to use this recipe from Martha Stewart, but I thought it probably it crossed the line on the teacher’s “no candy or other choking hazards” rule. So, instead we made sugar cookies, rolling the dough out so it was thin and light. Fortunately, I had come across an exclamation point cookie cutter while looking for the number two cutter in advance of Liv’s birthday.  A ribbon of chocolate bark held the three tail feathers together.

While I worked on that, Ava rolled marshmallows in toasted coconut. (She had a little more help that she would have liked.)

Each head got two chocolate jimmies for eyes, a candy corn beak and a heart-shaped waddle.

We made chocolate cupcakes, and Ava topped them with chocolate frosting and more toasted coconut.

Then, we adhered pretzel sticks to the back of the tails with chocolate bark, and inserted them into the cupcakes. We used pretzel sticks to secure the heads as well.

When I told Bryan that I needed to run to the store to buy supplies for little chocolate pilgrim hats, he took away my apron and spatula. Next year…

One highlight of the process—Olivia added “gobble, gobble” to her collection of animal noises, although we hear “I need cake,” far more frequently!


Odds and ends

A&O Fix

Schoolhouse rock

My sister Katie, the dean of administration at a Boston-based charter school, sent the following note yesterday morning. I’m posting it because it’s a cool glimpse into the the efforts often required for positive media coverage, and also because I think she’s awesome.

We had a pretty exciting day at Excel yesterday. The Governor’s office called around 4:30pm Tuesday night and said, “The Governor will be at your school tomorrow morning. He’ll be making an address in your auditorium. Oh, and we have two of his event staffers sitting in your parking lot ready to come in and let you know what we need you to do before 7:30am tomorrow.”

Um, okay. We had to quickly break the news that we had no auditorium. (I was told I couldn’t blame that fact on the Governor’s charter school funding formula in his or his staffers’ presence.) They came into the building, did a walk-through, created the minute-by-minute schedule that the Governor would follow during his “random” tour of the school, and told us that we would need to change our schedule around to accommodate his visit.

We don’t normally change things to accommodate visitors or do anything that might be disruptive to our academic program, but given the likelihood that this visit would get several politicians and members of the media through our doors…and since we have been trying to get to them to the school since the beginning, we figured it made good sense to meet their needs.

We ended up having 4-5 government officials visit, including the Governor, the Secretary of Education, and our State Senator. There were at least 12-15 members of the media in the building throughout the day.

The Governor’s office requested our cutest, littlest kids to attend the assembly, so we gave them our 5th graders…kids who love school and get excited about pretty much anything. During the assembly, one of our kids raised her hand and said, “I just want you to know that we’re not faking it for you. We’re always this smart and well-behaved.” Pretty classic.

As the Governor was leaving, he turned to our Executive Director and said,”I love this school.” We’re wishing one of the 15 cameras in the building would have caught that.

Katie saw a great return on investment. Excel received coverage in this video, the Governor’s Flicker photo account, an article in the Boston Herald and one in the Boston Globe. Way to go, Kate!

Overheard: Handy husband edition

Bryan, upon fixing the broken dishwasher: Yeah! Why don’t you blog that shit?!

Baking powder biscuits

I made these baking powder biscuits from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook this weekend. They were simple, easy and pretty darn good, though I think they would have benefited from another minute or two in the oven.

The only problem is that I used all of my baking powder. Any guesses as to how many recipes I will start and not be able to finish before I remember to add it to my grocery list? Probably quite a few.