Our blog has been the recent recipient of a flood of attacks… again. So, until Jeff gets a chance to look at it and fix it… It’s been reset to require moderation and registered users. Sorry for the inconvenience. It’s not like we post here a whole lot anymore anyway. 🙂
Dear Friends & Family~
It’s Christmas Eve and it’s been an interesting year in the Burkholder home. We’ve grown in a lot of ways, the most obvious of which is, of course, the fact that ZoÃ« is 13 months old now and Dante is five (although we’re not sure if that’s his age or his grade level)!
Zoë’s adoption was finalized in May and was a huge celebration for all of us! She is not quite walking, but is pulling herself up and cruising around furniture and it won’t be long until we will be chasing after a tiny child on two legs. She’s beautiful, with adorable little brown curls developing (with occasional red highlights that make me smile) and bright blue eyes. She’s highly vocal and expressive and loves to entertain anyone around her. She’s starting to learn many words and I’m sure that the walking will be followed by conversation as well. She adores her daddy and gets VERY upset when he leaves the room without her. She’s also highly adventurous and takes risks like Dante never really did (either when he was her age, or … well, now, for that matter). I’m sure that our first trip to the ER with her will more likely be due to injury than illness, since she has no fear.
Dante is in Pre-K this year since his birthday didn’t fall early enough in the year for kindergarten. He is reading at a 2nd grade level already, though, and loves language. He delights in learning words and phrases in many languages including Spanish, French, Chinese, and American Sign Language. He holds entire conversations with adults regularly that shock them, because he usually knows what he’s talking about. He has also recently discovered jokes and riddles, his favorite being “knock-knock” jokes. They’re usually not funny, but he has the structure down (and it’s funny enough that he’s trying).
Jeff is still working for the phone company as the “stat man”, analyzing productivity and making recommendations to the company to improve performance. He’s also still employed at the church, but his job took a turn toward Technical Director (from Artistic Director) this summer, which puts him firmly in the technical “geek” category! (To be fair, he always was in that category; he just now can be considered a “professional geek”, since he gets paid for it!) He continues his online cartoon, Zoidland, and tried his hand (successfully) at a continuing theme and story line for the year.
Nean stepped down from her position at the church in July, and is now stay-at-home Neaner. She is frequently entertained and often frustrated by both her own two little ones, but also Micah, who is the child of a family friend that she watches. Along with playing with the kids all day, she also spends a lot of time online and writing. In October, she started her own blog (Laughing at the Moon); in November, she participated in National Novel Writing Month and finished a draft of a story to be expanded to novel length… hopefully in the new year; in December she rediscovered her inner poet.
One highlight from the past year was our very first family vacation. We’ve been camping several times and up to Nean’s aunt and uncle’s cabin, both for extended weekends, but this summer we went on our very first week-long-stay-in-a-hotel-go-site-seeing vacation. We had a blast and Dante’s favorite part was Sesame Place!
This year has been a year of change and grace as we learn to love one another through the changing family situations that sometimes shake the foundations of who we think we are. So, we wish you grace this holiday season… particularly with us when you don’t receive an actual card. I decided not to send them this year due to the “failing economy”, busy schedules, and (let’s face it) my own laziness. However, know that we think of our dear friends and family often (or at least every time we write your email address in the “to” box or look up your profile on Facebook) and we wish you the most grace-filled holiday and coming year possible.
Love from all four Burkholders!
P.S. from Jeff: We’d wish you love from Sabine, our cat, too. Except you all know that’s just…well, nevermind.
Forget shopping on Black Friday! You couldn’t drag me to the mall today. The amount of people and chaos can never make up for any fabulous deals the stores may try to entice me with.
For years, the day after Thanksgiving has been Annual Cookie Baking Day for my family. This continued after I got married. Here are four of our favorite recipes that we tend to make year after year. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without them:
Lemon Kiss Cookies
(Nean’s ultimate FAVORITE!; recipe from a friend)
- 1+1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon extract
- 2+3/4 cup flour
- 1+1/2 cup almonds (finely chopped)
- 14 oz bag chocolate kisses
- powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp shortening
- Beat butter, sugar, and lemon extract until light and fluffy.
- Add flour and almonds and beat at low speed until well blended.
- Cover, refrigerate at least an hour for easier handling.
- Shape scant Tbsp chilled dough around each kiss, covering completely. Roll into ball.
- Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until bottom edges are light golden brown.
- Cool 1 minute; remove from sheets; cool completely.
- Lightly sprinkle cooled cookies with powdered sugar.
- In small saucepan over low heat, melt choc. chips & shortening, stirring to smooth. Drizzle over cookies.
(Makes aprox. 6 dozen)
Soft Ginger Cookies
(So much better than hard ginger snaps; from “Taste of Home” Magazine)
- 1+1/2 cup shortening
- 2+1/2 cup sugar (divided)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cup flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Cream shortening and 2 cups of sugar. Add egg, molasses and vanilla; mix well.
- Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
- Chill for about an hour for easier handling.
- Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in remaining sugar.
- Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Cool on wire racks.
(Makes aprox. 8 dozen)
(Mmmmm… a festive twist to an old PA favorite; from “Country Woman Christmas”)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1+1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4-1/2 tsp rum extract
- 2+3/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Cream first five ingredients
- Mix last four ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture
- Chill for about an hour for easier handling.
- Roll into 1 inch balls and into a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp nutmeg
- Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
(Makes aprox. 6-7 dozen)
Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Cookies
(Holiday twist to my dad’s & hubby’s favorite cookies; adapted from an Oregon Extension recipe)
- 1+1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp orange extract
- 6 cups oatmeal (uncooked)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups crasins
- zest of one orange
- Cream wet ingredients
- Gradually add dry ingredients
- Drop by rounded tsp on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
(Makes 9 dozen)
We’ll make others from time to time (like Peanut Butter, Pumpkin, or whatever other nifty new recipe we come across), but these are the tried and true!
Happy Holidays! May your holiday be sweet!
Zoë’s birthday was yesterday and Dante’s birthday will be on Monday. So we had a bunch of family over this evening to celebrate by eating cake (blueberry at Dante’s request) and opening gifts (even though they were all told they didn’t need to bring any). Unfortunately, Zoë has been teething and just got her one year shots today, so she was miserable. Dante has been fighting a cold/allergy thing with an ear infection for the past couple weeks that decided to flare up again this afternoon too, so he was a bit hyper-sensitive too. Over all, it was a good evening though. Now we’re happy to have the kids in bed and a few moments to breathe. 🙂
Hubby was so good to me today. When I returned from taking Zoë to her appointment this morning, he’d already baked the cake and vacuumed all the floors for me. Then, this afternoon, he let me take a nap while he ran out to the Apple Store (real chore for him, I’m sure) to replace my laptop cord that one of the kiddos tripped over or pulled on too hard this past week.
Moments like this make me really proud of the wonderful family that God gave me!
Well, the kids are growing and changing so fast and I’m horrible at keeping this blog updated for some reason. Here’s a quick update on how they are doing, because I frequently have people asking!
Dante is as precocious as ever at nearly five-years-old. He’s highly sensitive and a perfectionist (taking after mommy), as well as highly intelligent (taking after daddy). He’s got a fair mix of our personalities including the obligatory OCD tendencies. And he talks… a lot. So much it’s hard to get a word in with him around. He’s reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade level, and his current favorite television show is “Sid, the Science Kid”. He loves to ask questions and learn anything and everything about the world around him. Obviously his brain NEVER shuts off as he wakes us at about 6:00-ish every day with a whole new batch of “Why does…?” questions. He loves to play on the computer and still loves to do crafts with mommy (even though we don’t have as much time for this as we did before the little one came along). He’s adjusting really well to having a sibling, but is at an age where he is having trouble expressing his feelings, so he becomes frustrated and melts down or starts picking on his sister. We’re working on trying to implement some one on one time when we can… sadly not as often as any of us would like. Please pray for Dante’s health this winter as his allergies and asthma have already made him extra-sensitive to colds and respiratory stuff.
Zoë is growing so fast and it’s hard to believe that she’ll be a year old in a couple weeks. She’s got two adorable little teeth on the bottom with two more on either side not far behind, I’m sure. I don’t know what happened to the top teeth, but they aren’t coming in yet. She’s now pulling herself up to stand fairly regularly, but I haven’t caught her letting go yet or taking any steps. She loves to bounce in her swing, and dances when there is music on. She’s got a couple words in her vocabulary (the typical “mama, dada, baba-bottle, and Ba-boo for peek-a-boo. I think she’s trying to talk to Dante when she says “Didi” She also says “nana” which is either Nana, night-night, or banana in context. She’s starting to actually communicate and understand us. The other day at lunch, she looked from me to the fruit bowl and back and asked, “Nana?” When I told her she had to eat her other food first, she promptly cleaned up her tray and asked again! I was rewarded with a huge grin when I placed the banana on her tray. Please pray for ZoÃ«’s health as well this winter; no one wants a sick baby!
We appear to have begun a new tradition in the Burkholder household: Friday Family Fun Night. This normally entails having dinner in the living room (either picnic style on a blanket or surrounding the coffee table) of fun finger foods (popcorn, chicken nuggets, pizza bites, etc.) and milkshakes or smoothies while watching tv (usually our Muppet Show DVDs). It’s a good time of just enjoying each other’s company and welcoming the weekend!
New blog: Laughing at the Moon
This blog will continue to be our family blog. The new blog (above) will be my personal reflections as mentioned in the previous post.
To follow up from the last post, NO We’re not looking to add any children to the family at the moment. 🙂 And now… to share about something I’ve been recently pondering…
This blog is about our adoption, our family, and the overall journey that parents take in raising their kids and building a home together. While we’re not experts in the field (nor do we profess or pretend to be so), we hope that our blog serves at least one of two (main) purposes for our reader(s):
1. It helps keep our family and friends informed of our antics even when they are far from us. We know we’re not super great at keeping in touch, but we do try!
2. It will share our journey with others who may need someone to either laugh or cry with. Our hope is that someone out in the great blogosphere will be encouraged by our story.
That being said, I’ve recently been considering starting up a new blog. It would be a similarly purposed blog, but chronicling some of my personal experiences and struggles as a creatively minded female in our current society — one who struggles with depression, disillusionment, and the disparity between being a mom and being… well, anything else a woman is expected to be.
I know there are some of you out there thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me; you barely update this one and you’re talking about starting another one?!?” I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like the two should remain separate. Maybe along the lines of how you wanna keep a “G” movie (like this “G” blog) separate from a “PG-13”.
Anyway, I write all this to see if there is anyone who cares to read stuff like that. 🙂 And to see if anyone has suggestions as I continue to ponder this. Split the blogs or keep them together? Or should I just stick to updating family news here and leave the other stuff to my private journal?
So… Why did I stop blogging about our vacation? Because, well, sharing ONE computer amongst two computer geeks leaves little time for blogging, particularly in conjunction with an activity-filled vacation.
That, and the Little Man came down with a horrid cold with fever sometime late afternoon or early evening of Wednesday. I guess that explains his behavior earlier in the week. Poor little miserable guy!
So here’s the run-down of the rest of the week’s vacation:
Thursday: We were back to Philly to spend time visiting with my cousin’s family. Darv was actually working late, but we had a great time with his wife, Morna, and his three kids. Dante informed me that his favorite part of the vacation was having dinner with his second-cousins… Maybe because of the meatloaf and the ice cream! It was good we didn’t have heavy activity scheduled for the day since Dante was at the peak of his cold at this point.
Friday: Dante was still not feeling well, but we had planned to head to Sesame Place. He was disappointed that he didn’t get to see Abby Kadabby on Tuesday and we wanted to see the parade. So… we took our time getting ready, had a nice breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and headed in to Sesame Place right before noon. Good timing… We had just enough time to see Abby’s show, hit the gift shop for souvenirs, and see the parade before a VERY miserable Little Man hit melt-down. So it was back to the hotel to rest some more. He was disappointed that he didn’t get to play in the water again, but we didn’t think that would be the smartest move.
Saturday: We headed up to Easton to the Crayola Factory and the Historical Canal Museum (bonus — we didn’t even know that the second was upstairs from the first). Crayola was cool and we did several projects there. Dante especially liked the model magic and seeing how crayons & markers were made. We also got to do wax dripping with melted crayons, which was very cool. Fun fact we learned: Crayola started putting “safety holes” in the caps of their markers so that if accidentally swallowed, a child would still be able to breathe until it was removed. At the Canal Museum upstairs, Dante loved playing with the model canal and taking his boat through the locks. He went through that three times! He also learned about simple machines and had fun experimenting with pulleys, levers, and gears. After a late lunch and some more souvenirs, we were all exhausted and ready to head home.
Of course, after being gone for a week, it was nice to return home and see our family and friends! Dante particularly missed his Nana & Paw-Paw whom he usually sees everyday (since they live next door). I’ve posted photos on my Facebook account so if you’re not on there, you should be! Check ’em out!
Vacation is getting more relaxing… We had to take our VERY nice Italian dinner from Monday night back to the hotel room to eat as the kids were too antsy and tired to behave in the restaurant. However, we had a nice dinner and Dante found his name on the wall at the restaurant (We’d been looking for the Bob Evans for dinner and the GPS took us to this place which bought this location out about 4 months ago… a little pricier than we intended to spend, but also a bit classier!)
Tuesday was filled with Sesame Place related activities and after initial trepidation on Dante’s part of all the rides, people, etc., I can honestly say we had a wonderful day. He enjoyed riding on Big Bird’s Balloon Race with Mommy and on Big Bird’s Rambling River with Daddy. He spent most of his time, however, in the various Water attractions like Ernie’s Waterworks and the Count’s Whatever it’s called… We also went to two shows: Big Bird’s Beach Party (which even included TELLY MONSTER being afraid of the ocean… shoulda seen that BEFORE going to the beach!) and Elmo’s World Live (Dorothy was thinking about Fishes). The highlight of the day was meeting the characters at dinner! We got to see, hug, talk to, and take photos with/of Big Bird, Elmo, Bert & Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Zoe. Unfortunately our Zoe was getting tired as the evening wore on, and by the time that muppet Zoe came to see her, she’d had enough!
Today, we went into downtown Philly to the Please Touch Museum (right near the Franklin Institute). It’s much like the Hands On House in Lancaster, a giant playroom with tons of stuff to do. Dante enjoyed the mirrors in the looking glass exhibit and allowed Mommy to get a picture of him and her at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Dante also enjoyed pretending to shop in the grocery store, building houses in the construction sites, and playing with the boats in the water. Zoe spent most of her time in the “Baby Barnyard” and loved hugging (and of course eating) the piggies, as well as playing with the wheels and the wooden caterpillar that zigzagged down the chute.
The hotel stay has been a novelty. Our tv works mostly (it fuzzes out randomly which is annoying and has more limited channels than we have at home), but the maid that came in yesterday while we were still here was speaking Spanish to Dante which he loved! We’re also really enjoying the pool (indoor heated, with hot tub at one end). Yesterday we all went down for an early morning swim.
We’re off to dinner now and Jeff is waiting for help to get the kids ready!