Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chirstmas Feast Menu

Osso Bucco - slow cooked in the dutch oven all Christmas afternoon, tempting our taste buds
served on
Saffron Risotto - beautiful color and just a hint of sweetness makes this a perfect compliment for the veal

Christmas Salad - baby spinach leaves, strawberries, candied pecans and goat cheese with a raspberry champagne vinaigrette

Followed by

Christmas Cinnamon Torte - 38 layers of alternating cinnamon wafer cookies and chocolate whipped cream, decadence at it's best

Merry Christmas 2008

This year was a good year at the Wilcox home. Mom went way over board as usual with the gift buying but that isn't what made it such a great year. I would say that the highlight of this Christmas season was spending time with our family and friends. What a wonderful gift snow was during our Holiday. It gave us so many opportunities to get out and have fun together.
We enjoyed having our friends the Huillets over for Christmas Scones after opening presents and then having our friends the Phillips family over for Christmas dinner. That whole day I felt so grateful that we have such wonderful "family" away from family! Entertaining always makes me wish for a little bigger of a house though. It would have been great to have invited the handful of other families we would have loved to share our Christmas with. I think that will be a New Years resolution for me. To not be so intimidated to meet new people and invite them into my home. With our new church schedule meeting at 9:00 there will be plenty of opportunities to have dinner with friends on Sundays.

My favorite gift that we gave the children was not the cat. That comes in a close second. It was a baby cradle for Sara. We left it unwrapped under the tree. It was the first thing she saw and after that it was the only thing she had eyes for. You can barely see he rocking her baby in it in the corner of the picture in the previous post as the kids are unwrapping the cat. It was so fulfilling in some way to see he role playing being a sweet little Mommy. She loves her baby. And all Christmas morning she rocked her in her new cradle, talking to her, taking her out for hugs and then tucking her back in under her covers.

There was a "cat" theme this Christmas. This is my first quilt! More to come...

Of course I can't deny the cat it's place in awesome Christmas history. It was so fun to have such a massive secret to keep safe for two weeks. And the looks on their face were so worth it. Kate is still walking around asking if the cat is really ours!

Dave always finds something thoughtful to do for me and this year he surprised me with an enlarged picture that I shot of Mt. Rainier. It is so great to have a husband that supports me in my hobbies and helps me to grow my talents.

Fairy gifts are still big for Emily. I saw this and knew it would be perfect. It plays "Close to you" by Karen Carpenter

We did a lot of outfitting our family for our first backpacking adventure. We are gearing up to go maybe in late Spring or early Summer on our first camping trip minus the car. I am very nervous. Tailgate camping has SOOO many perks (comfort, fire and good food). But living in this beautiful state, we have to take advantage of it more. We are eager to camp in the wilderness. Who knows maybe I will think trading comfort, fire and yummy food for peace, quiet and non-drinking camping mates will be a worth while trade!

On of the cool things about this Christmas season was that the kids for the first time actually showed some interest in doing their own share of the giving. Chase came home from his friend's house after seeing him buy presents for his siblings and wanted to do the same. (don't you just love good friends!) He actually used his own money to by great gifts for his sisters. This is my miser we are talking about. It made me so proud of him!

It was just a great Christmas! It just makes you so happy to be happy doesn't it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Operation Christmas Cat

We have accomplished the impossible. Dave and I have been hiding a cat in our master bathroom for two weeks. All in the name of the "ultimate" Christmas surprise! I can't believe that we made it to Christmas. The little stinker didn't cooperate very well. I think he is the loudest cry baby cat ever adopted. He meowed so often and so loudly that we have had Christmas music playing (loudly) on the computer every day for the last two weeks. Poor Chase even came out one night to ask us to turn it off so he could sleep. It didn't cover up all the noise but fortunately for the sake of the surprise, our kids aren't the quiet, pensive types and never were still enough themselves to hear the cat.

That was until Christmas Eve, when Kate comes into the loft to tell me that she hears a cat. It took some pretty fast thinking to come up with a cover. I told her "socks" our neighborhood cat must have gotten stuck in our garage. (you know its warm in there and cold outside...he was seeking refuge!) We went downstairs (away from the real meowing cat) and I opened the garage to let the nonexistent cat out. She totally fell for it too!

There were a handful of times when we had granted the cat visiting rites with us in our bedroom when one of us would open the door and he would make a mad dash for freedom. Several quick lounges were required to pull him back inside before he blew his own cover.

We were laying in bed in bed Christmas morning amazed that we had kept him a secret. Dave snuck downstairs to wrap him up in his own special padded and ventilated box. The plan was that he would fall asleep in his box while waiting for us to open all of our presents while waiting in the garage. He would be the grand finale. Unfortunately he had other plans. Dave had just made it back upstairs to tell the kids they could come down when we heard the most pathetic meows you can imagine. Chase looked at me, his eyes big a saucers, I knew he knew. All I could hope was that he would heed the warning in my eyes and not spoil it for his less perceptive sisters. I ran downstairs after Dave to help. When I got to the garage I saw Dave trying to stuff the cat back into his box. He was fighting like a champ. His paws busting through cardboard and wrapping paper trying to prevent being wrapped up again. We tapped him up like fort Knox. So instead of being the grand finale it became necessary for him to be numero uno. We brought the kids down, brought the package in from the garage, and let the kids bust him out. The kids shredded the paper and he was out in seconds. They were so excited, looking at us in total disbelief. It was so fun to have had such a great surprise for them. I feel like a secret agent!

Later we asked the kids what their favorite present was. The cat won unanimously. And he hasn't been put down since.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twelve Days Of Christmas

Another one of my very favorite Christmas traditions is doing the 12 days of Christmas. We all love to doorbell ditch. I have been in the business since high school. And I love trying to find ways to work it into our family holiday traditions. I can still remember the first time I did the twelve days of Christmas. We were living in an apartment waiting for our house to be built in Tucson AZ. The new seminary teachers family had just moved in a few units down from us. Nicole, my sister two years younger, and I came up with the funnest things. We did a "Santa" themed 12 days. I remember my favorite day was when we left reindeer foot prints all over their walkway.

For the last five years (that I can think of) we have done our own 12 days. Unlike many who do it where you give one present on the 1st day, two presents on the 2nd day etc...we base ours on the traditions of Christmas celebrations around the world and then bring it all back to Christ. We pick a non-member family (except in 2006 when we had just moved back to Dupont in October and didn't know anyone yet except church friends). We start on the 14th so that we finish on Christmas day. And every night we sneak up to the door with a new surprise, ring and run. It is so much fun trying not to get caught. We also always enjoy making the special things that we deliver.

Here is the list of things we do. I have more than twelve so that we have back ups (sometimes I just can't find mistletoe or there just isn't enough time to make a wreathed crown with glowing candles).

Russia - Santa Claus - a stocking with three bags of chocolate coins and the story of Santa
Denmark - Christmas orange - chocolate orange, oranges decorated with cloves and the story
Sweden - Santa Lucia - her story and a wreath crown with candles
China - fireworks - sparklers (if I've remembered to save some from the 4rth of July)
Italy - La Befana - story and candy and coal (we ask them to leave there shoes out
America - Rudolph - story and the book and Pillsbury Rudolph sugar cookies
France - roasted nuts - a nutcracker and assorted nuts or yule log, story
Poland - painted eggs - we hand paint our own egg ornaments
Canada - taffy pull - taffy and story
Germany - gingerbread - gingerbread house kit, story
England -wassail and caroling - ingredients for wassail, story and a Christmas CD
Mexico - poinsettia - story and plant
Brazil - luminaries - hammered cans
Greece / Finland - mistletoe - story and legend and a sprig of mistletoe

I write a poem for each day. And then on the final day, Christmas, we deliver a nativity with the Joy to the world DVD produced by the LDS church and this poem that I love.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Wow this year has been a great snow year. Usually we only get a light dusting here in Dupont. Two years ago we got a few inches, just enough to build a snow man. But this year we have had at least a foot. Holy Cow, that's a lot of white stuff for people that don't know what to do with it. I've always thought it was funny how poor California's totally freak when it rains. All it takes is a drizzle to jam the freeways and have the school cancel recess. But here in Washington people still drive 70 miles an hour and the kids play unless there's lightning. This last week though I bet everyone in Utah and other snow states were laughing their head off at the us poor Washingtonians! We cancel school, can't get packages delivered (GRRRRR!!!) abandon our cars on the freeway and utterly refuse to take our dogs potty until it melts (oh wait that last one was just me).

Snow has turned our little town into a winter wonderland. No wonder there are so many great songs about wishing for a white Christmas. It makes the world look pure and fresh...magically clean.

We have had a great time these last few weeks enjoying our white bounty before it melts. Snowmen, forts, sledding (with other peoples sleds since every store in the entire state is sold out) walking through the forest for our Anniversary, snow laser tag, sucking on icicles, making snow angles, having snow ball fights and drinking lots of hot chocolate!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Yesterday was Sara's 1st birthday! And it snowed. How fun is that. The season's first snow on your birthday?! We celebrated her birthday today since Saturday was so busy with the piano recital and the Nutcracker. First birthdays are always simple affairs at our house. We make a cake. Well two actually. One for baby and one for us. And then open a few presents. The big excitement is always about the possibility of cake annihilation! Will she dive in face first? Take enormous handfuls? Will cake be flung, get the idea. Suspense is a wonderful thing!

I always love the look we get from our babies as we set a great big cake in front of them. It that, "what this cake is for me" kind of look. We could totally see the gears turning in Sara's head as she tried to process the gift we had just bestowed her. She didn't do much, and we were preparing ourselves for great disappointment when Mom (me) in her great brilliance gave Sara a spoon. That's when great cake destruction ensued.

She totally pulverized her cake. It turned to mush. I don't think she ever put more than a few bites in her mouth. It was more fun to smush it everywhere. We laughed and laughed, it was good fun.

Then it was time for her birthday bath and presents. Her favorite was a Cabbage Patch baby doll from Grandma Wilcox. It is just so much fun to have a baby in our home.

Unfortunately the memory stick with all of our birthday videos on it was corrupted. So pictures only for now. Does anyone know where I can go to try to retrieved the stuff on my memory card? You will be my super hero!!!


One of my favorite holiday traditions is to take the girls to see the Nutcracker. This was Emily's fourth time and Kate's first. Kate was SO excited that she got to go this year. She asked me a million questions during the ballet. I tried to whisper the story to her as it progressed. It was no easy task to keep her hushed though. The girls were very excited when the sugar plum music began since Emily had been learning it on the piano. We went with our friends Judy and Kaitlyn this year. It was lots of fun, but made me a little sad that Emily was sharing all her excitement with her friend and not me this year. I always love the intermission as all the little girls in the great hall come spilling out dancing and twirling! Emily and Kate were no exception. The spun and walked on their tip toes all the rest of the evening. Next year I will be more prepared. I will get there earlier to ensure the girls get booster seats and I will definitely have paper and pen at the go in order to write down all the cute things Kate says. Here are some that I wrote in the dark on my checkbook:-)

After the Ballet (and by the way The Pacific Northwest Ballet is amazing) we all drove to the South Center Mall to have dinner with our friends at the Rain forest Cafe. It was Judy's idea and it was perfect. The girls loved all the jungle themed entertainment and our volcano cake for dessert was the perfect end to a fantastic evening.

Nights like this one remind me how much I love to "do" things with my children. Individually is best but separating the genders does wonders too. I just hope they never figure out that I love the ballet more than they do. I don't want them to think that it's not ALL about them.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Piano Recital

Emily had her first piano recital today. I sinned greatly. Not only did I not bring the camcorder to record her playing, I didn't even bring my camera. What kind of mother am I? I begged Heather (piano teacher's wife) to take a picture for us and the recording is totally staged after the math.

Emily made us so proud. She played her pieces perfectly. I wish I had filmed her at the recital because she played a duet with Brother Robertson for the Sugar Plum fairy piece and it sounded amazing. She was pretty nervous but enjoyed herself.

We have finally found a niche for Emily with piano. She has been taking lessons for 2 1/2 months and is doing great. I have never once had her complain about practicing and more importantly she still loves it. After failing with Ballet, Soccer and Gymnastics I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find something she loved.

I can't wait to hear more from her. It makes me so happy we bought a piano.

Friday, December 12, 2008


There aren't many things that could every persuade me to move back to California. I love Washington so much. But during Chase's baseball season better weather for outdoor sports could have almost been enough for me to pack my bags and head back down to the Sunshine State. Cousins however are a constant pull. We have the greatest extended family and if we ever do move it will only be to be closer to them. It is such a blessing to have so many children in the family. And even more of a blessing that they love each other so much!

Katie has sooo much fun playing with Claire this trip. They were just perfect for each other. One thing I have always loved about Dave's sister Liz's kids is that they have the most awesome imaginations. They can make the coolest play scenarios out of nothing. In this case a bowl they found on the drive way became a witches stew. Claire is so sweet to my girls. She is age-wise right in between Emily and Kate and she is immediately a best friend forever when we go to visit.
This visit was especially fun because Liz and Brent have finished their tree house in their awesome backyard. Chase, Andrew and Scott even got to sleep out over night once. I thought for sure that they would come to the door begging to come in once it got cold, but they stayed out all night. Boy Scouts all the way through.

We went to this cool spot just around the corner from the Lane home where there was a little stream and lots of willow vines. It was perfect. The kids played Tarzan for an eternity. They would come and complain about their hands hurting, and then be back at it again after sitting didn't offer half the excitement of swinging through the trees.
We had a great time with Alex while we were at Grandma's house and it was extra cool to meet two new cousins this trip. Garrett and Boyd, Sara's body guards in training.
Next time we go down to California for a visit we were be able to spend time with four more cousins. As Dave's oldest brother has just moved his family to Burbank. That will be something to look forward to. Maybe even make the 18 hour drive more bearable.
We have the greatest cousins in the world and that's all there is to it.

Blessing Baby Boyd

On of the things we were able to do while we were in California for Thanksgiving was to be there for our newest nephew's blessing. Baby Boyd is still so tiny. Shelly and Q drove down from San Jose so that they could bless him in the Downey Third Ward, better know as Wilcox Church Headquarters. Q gave Boyd a beautiful blessing. Boyd wasn't to happy about the idea though. When the men almost dropped he decided it was time to go back to Mom and cried through most of the blessing.

Afterwards we all gathered at home for a good-old-fashioned dinner party. We had the yummiest salads, all the fixings for sandwiches and ice cream after most of the company had left. I am so glad we happened to be in town at the right time. Shelly and Q Boyd is beautiful!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Caroling With Angles

Literally that is how I felt Sunday night. I took my group of Achievement day girls caroling to the area in our little city dedicated to assisted living called Patriots Landing. I am working with them on the "service" requirement for their goals. My group of five girls: Emily Baker, Ashleigh Eubanks, Sophie Crawford, Bienna Shelton and my Emily were out for an hour making the Holidays merry and bright. We visited every home that had lights on inside and sang two songs. After singing we handed out pass-along cards for the "Joy to the World" DVD and some goodies.

I realized that tonight just how much I really do love this group of girls. They sang with such beautiful voices and were so truly, genuinely, sweet to the elderly that we visited. I hardly made it through a single song without getting choked up. Every song (and we sang many) I stood there watching "my" girls bring joy and happiness to total strangers. Not once did they complain about the cold. They were always kind when people wanted to hug them, even kiss one on the forehead, or invite us in to see a Creche. I was so proud of them. I mean really busting with it. At one door the women we had just sung to asked me if they were all mine. I told her they were my group of girls from church, but in my heart I thought that I would be proud to be the mother of any of these girls. And that their mother's must be so happy with the blessing that each of these sweet daughters of our Heavenly father is in their home.

We made people so happy Sunday. Tears, story telling, shaking at the door, many thank you's are what we witnessed for our efforts. (the girls were also very happy about the candy they collected along the way) But I hope my girls went home feeling the same way I did. Warm all the way through.

I asked Kate what she wants Santa to bring her this year. She said, "I forgot but Santa Remembers!" I might be in trouble!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best Friends Forever

Eliza is my best friend because I've know her since I was a baby. She is so nice to me. We are twins. She makes me happy because she tells the funniest jokes and she is just my best friend. I remember that we always got into trouble together. I got to visit her during my Thanksgiving vacation. We made a cake together. It was a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Eliza wanted us to have matching aprons. So we found aprons that matched. When we ate dinner Eliza;'s apron got dirty and she had to change her apron, so i changed mine too so that we would still match. I always get sad when we leave because she is my best friend and I never want to leave her. I didn't even know she liked fairies and when I visited her I found out she did. That proves that we are twins.

Delivering A White Christmas

While the kids and I were staying with Grandma and Grandpa in California we became friends with a dear woman in there ward named Sister Burton. She is a widow and lives just around the corner from Wilcox Headquarters. We visited her every once in while and tried to let her know how cool we thought she was. I was grateful for such a worthy recipient of my efforts to teach the children about service. We have missed being able to show her how much we love her. While visiting at Church both she and I came to tears as we gave each other a big hug. I really love her. If my Grandpa was interested in a companion to make the rest of his days more happy I would totally introduce him to Laureen. Anyway the kids and I tried to think of something we could do for our special "grandma" while we were in town. Emily wanted to make snowflake lollipops and plant them in her yard. Chase simplified it into doing a "snowflake attack" (like a heart attack). So Grandma Wilcox, the kids and I sat at the table and created some of the most beautiful snowflakes ever. We even made gingerbread house. We waited for Grandpa and Dad to come home from work and then in the cover of darkness delivered a "white Christmas" to sister Burton. Of course we couldn't leave our own Grandma's windows bare and she too was the recipient of some uncommon California snow.

When Paying Attention Pays Off

I was busy doing something in Grandma's kitchen. I know it wasn't washing the dishes...but I think I was preparing dinner or something totally mundane. Emily comes running in. If you know Emily you know she is EXUBERANT about everything. There is no good way of knowing whether something is really important or not. Everything is an emergency, everything is the coolest thing she has ever seen, you catch my drift. And so unfortunately for us both probably I ignore most of her alerts. This instance started out being one of those times. She came running in about seeing a hummingbird and how totally awesome it was. The first thought that went through my head was that I have seen enough hummingbirds to not want to stop what I was doing. The second thought was that even if I did go outside to see the source of her excitement it would be gone. Out she went squealing to her sister, who was a willing audience. A minute later she comes running back in. "MOM! Can I PLEASE borrow you camera!!" I type that in caps to try to convey her excitement. I of course tell her absolutely not will she ever be allowed to take pictures with my camera. But then the good angle Mom started to out talk the bad angle Mom. (maybe there really is something worth wouldn't take a huge effort to go outside and see...) So out I went to peek in the bushes to see her miraculous discovery. She said she had been swinging when she heard a buzz. She turned around to see a hummingbird fluttering around above her head. Then it zipped into the bushes. And she found it. Miraculously really. Because it was a good thing I had a guide when I took my peek into the bushes. It was soooo camouflaged and so tiny that I could barely find it. But there it was. How many opportunities in life do you get to see a hummingbird sitting and preening on a branch. (And we have already established how much I love birds) I owe Emily a huge thank you for this picture.

Wilderness Park

One of the things that I really wanted to do while visiting Grandma and Grandpa in California was to visit Wilderness Park. It is a park right down the road from them and I swear it must be a water fowl sanctuary. We have always loved to visit the ducks. They get fed so much it is a wonder their tummies don't explode. We came to this park on our last morning with Dad before he left for Egypt three years ago. And even now, years later, I can still feel the pull of those long ago emotions. But this trip was for a specific purpose. I wanted to take pictures of birds. I have found that they are some of my favorite subjects. So with the overwhelming abundance of birds at this park I figured I had a chance at getting some great shots. And I did. First here are some pictures of the kids. They love to feed the ducks and Sara eventually warmed up to the idea after giving the little bread munchers a few dirty looks.

Here are my two favorite shots from the outing...