Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Princess is settling in very nicely.  Unfortunately, she has an upper respiratory infection she brought home from the shelter.  She's stuffy and sneezing and not eating very well.  Otherwise, she's very affectionate with everyone including visitors. I can tell she's not feeling her best, but the illness and subsequent lethargy has probably been a bonus when it comes to her budding relationship with Scout the dachshund.  Scout no longer tries to dominate Princess, but he does like to sniff her and invade her space.  At first she would puff up and hiss and swat, but that took a lot of energy.  She seems to have accepted the unfortunate fact that she now has an annoying little brother and she allows him a small amount of sniffing.  Scout is being relatively respectful of his new big sis and I'm sure he understands that Princess will put him in his place if he steps too far out of line. 

We had our family Christmas celebration yesterday morning and declared the day a pajama day.  Only Kaylin literally spent the entire day in pajamas, but we all relaxed and played with new toys all day long.  Scout was hilarious.  He was far more excited and had at least as good of a time with his new toys as the kids.  His favorite new toy was a realistic-looking possum with latex head, feet and tail and furry plush body.  He played with that thing for hours.  Logan played most with his new basketball.  He was out in the cold shooting hoops a good part of the day.  He also got the new Mario game for his 3DS and a race track with tiny cars.  Princess was very interested in the cars zooming around the track.  Kaylin spent her day playing with new fairy dolls, toy cats and a gigantic bean bag that all of the pets also enjoyed.  We all played the silly family game of the year- Doggie Doo.  It involves feeding a large plastic dachshund slime treats and then taking turns pumping its leash until it poops out the slime.  Whoever collects three poops first wins.  The game is gross and stupid, but it's also hilarious and really fun.  We were all having a good time and laughing together.  I suppose that's the entire point of playing a game as a family!

It was a really good day.  That is, until I got the genius idea to bake cookies from scratch.  This is, of course, something I've probably never done in my life.  I got a huge set of animal cookie cutters earlier this year and wanted to make cut-out sugar cookies.  I found a highly rated recipe online and dug through my cupboards for ingredients.  I had everything I needed except almond extract and baking soda.  I was completely shocked that I had baking powder and not baking soda.  I had to leave the house and run to the store for 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  Ugh.  (I was totally planning to replace the almond extract with vanilla, so I wasn't concerned about that.)  Well, we needed to buy batteries anyway, so I figured I'd zip over to Big Lots and get my batteries and baking soda.  Fail.  Big Lots had both regular AND blue agave nectar, but no baking soda.  I waited in an INCREDIBLY long line to pay for my batteries and headed over to Kroger.  I immediately found almond extract, but couldn't find baking soda.  I scanned the shelves again, and on the tippy-top shelf, so far back that I almost couldn't see, were three remaining boxes of baking soda.  There was no way I was getting to that baking soda without a ladder.  I waited for a tall person and even though the nice woman was probably at least 5' 10", she still struggled to reach the baking soda.  I thanked her profusely and paid for my "treasure".  Seriously, who ever would have thought a 75 cent box of baking soda would be so much trouble?  I suppose my unexpected hour of shopping gave my butter extra time to soften...

Okay.  I was home with all my ingredients.  If I made the cookie dough RIGHT NOW, I'd still have enough time for the dough to chill two hours and bake the cookies before bed.  Unexpected visitor, Gene made dinner, an hour and a half later...  Well, the butter's pretty soft.  Okay, I got a flour sifter as a wedding present almost 20 years ago.  I know I used it once in this house (so at some point in the past 13 years) but where is it?  It apparently no longer exists.  Online consult for what to use instead.  A strainer?  Cool.  Huh, it's now 8pm and we all know that's pretty close to my bed time.  These cookies are NOT getting baked tonight!  My dough is currently chilling in the fridge.  I have absolutely no clue if it looks like it's supposed to and if my cookies will even turn out.  I guess I'll give it a shot, but honestly?  I'm over it.  I don't wanna make cookies anymore.  (Whine, whine)  And I still have to make the frosting.  Guess what, Mom?  I'm bringing cookies tonight and you will eat them and like them!  Just kidding, you don't have to like them.  I take this as more proof that I am not meant to bake.  Amen.

Completely off topic, but if I don't cram it in it will never be included.  Meghan and I did the Audubon Christmas Bird Count a week ago Saturday.  It was rainy and windy most of the day and not at all a good day for birding.  However, we did see 34 species, which isn't bad for our designated area of Peoria.  We started our day at 5:30am, hoping to spend an hour owling- meaning trying to call in owls with a CD recording of owl calls.  The rain poured down from our start time until it started getting light.  We did get to try for a few minutes when it was just misting, but no owls came.  We had given up and were driving to Panera for breakfast when a great horned owl swooped over our car and into the woods.  Yay!  Otherwise, we spent the entire day driving around our designated area, identifying and recording every bird we saw.  The day warmed to the lower 50s, so despite the incessant rain it wasn't too uncomfortable.  Highlights included several bald eagles, 64 wild turkeys, 146 ruddy ducks and a flock of ~15 cardinals.  I've never seen that many cardinals all together before.  The absolute low light was a hike through Forest Park Nature Center where once we were past the feeder areas, we literally did not see one bird.  Wait, we saw two ring-billed gulls flying high over the woods, but not one woodpecker or nuthatch or chickadee.  I guess they were all at the feeders!  Our unexpected bird of the day was a gray catbird in the bushes in front of the visitor center building.  They're very common in the warm months, but have usually migrated by now.  We ended our long day around 4pm.  Overall, it was a better day than expected.  We spent the rainy times slowly crusising around cemeteries, neighborhoods and golf courses and the dryer times in parks and scoping birds along the river.  I remember thinking it was too bad the count wasn't scheduled for another week, but I was sure glad this past Saturday when I woke up to a sunny, clear morning and saw that the temperature was 13F!  Rain and 50F win!

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