Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It was meant to be

2009 was an exciting year for us in many ways. It started out rough, medically. On January 14, Grandma Joanne (my mom) had a heart valve replacement and 2 bypasses. She did well with the surgery, but recovery was very difficult. While she was recovering at our house, Aaron contracted RSV and ended up spending a week in Children’s Hospital with oxygen & breathing treatments. The Steelers won the Super Bowl, which Roger and I watched on a really old TV with bad color in Aaron’s hospital room eating Quaker Steak and Lube (that they delivered to us…for a premium!). We watched the Pitt students flood the streets of Oakland in celebration from Aaron’s window. It was quite a sight. Grandma ended up back in the hospital with an infection just after Aaron got home, but has made a full recovery.

In the spring, Ian turned two and had a Blue’s Clues party. Ian and Aaron both had surgeries. Ian had a new set of tubes put into his ears and Aaron had a minor urologic issue repaired. Both boys did great and have recovered well.

Aaron was released by his urologist for both his surgical repair AND his kidney problems in July. We’re so thankful for that!

We tried to go camping over the summer, but it must’ve been too soon. ;-) We ended up leaving in the middle of the night and returning to the campground the next day to pick up our stuff.

In the fall, Aaron celebrated his first birthday. We went to Disney world. We flew down, all four of us, with car seats and strollers in tow and met Grandma and Papa in Orlando. It was record-breaking HOT in Florida, even at the end of October! We had the best time though. Aaron’s pediatrician decided to put him on asthma medication for the winter to keep him from suffering from the same cough as last winter. So far, it is working! I never thought I’d say that having to do a nebulizer treatment every day with a 1 year old would actually be a blessing, but it is.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year and spent Christmas by ourselves. Christmas Eve Service at church was a disaster, but at least we tried. We really love being at home on Christmas morning. As you saw in the videos, Ian was so into it! The joy of a child at Christmastime is fantastic!

So here we are, about to enter a new year. As we prepare for 2010, we will also prepare for one more thing:

Yes. That’s right. We’ll soon enough be a five-some. We are expecting the 5th Vandervort on July 29, 2010. To say it is a surprise is an understatement. Of course, we love surprises, so we think it is great. We’re scared to death to be outnumbered, but we’ll count our blessings and pray for a healthy little one. The one who is without a doubt a gift from God!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Videos

We've had a nice day! We took a whole bunch of short videos of the boys this morning. These are just a few. Let me know if I need to add captions. Make sure you stick around at the end of Aaron's first look at the tree to see his "happy dance!" Also, Isn't Ian getting articulate? We are loving his communication improvements, but we're also learning some new patience as Ian has hit the "WHY?" stage.

Funny stuff.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Snow of 2009-2010 winter

And we played in it.

A lot.

Well, Ian did anyway. Living in Pittsburgh we lack proper winter play attire. It is shameful, considering our roots. Ian is lucky to have Isaac, his 5 year old cousin, who lives in the snow belt and requires warm snow suits as a matter of survival. Isaac passes down his snow suits to Ian and when Ian is done we pass them back to Meadville for Asher. Ian is wearing one of Isaac's suits for the 2nd winter in a row, since he's sortof stalled out at 2T size. (Last winter he wasn't quite 2T, but this winter he's fitting it perfectly.) So we've got a warm fuzzy snow suit for Ian, even if he doesn't have any snow boots.

I just don't want to pay $25 each for 2 pairs of snow boots, when the reality of Pittsburgh is that they'd only be worn a couple of times. Even KMart is charging that much... ridiculous. Anyway, this post isn't about whining about the price of snow boots. Its about playing in the snow. I personally have an awesome pair of snow boots, which I plan to review on this blog very soon. If you're a woman and you live where it snows, or even just gets chilly, you need a pair of boots like mine. You definitely do.

Moving on.

^Aaron is wearing a Steiff snow suit. Daddy bought it for Ian in Germany last winter, but unfortunately it was a little too small and Ian didn't get to wear it much. It is fitting Aaron perfectly this winter, though! Cool!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bishop Family Christmas

We went to our first Christmas gathering of the season. (We actually don't have too many this year, which is interesting... we must lose our flavor the more rambunctious kids we have? just kidding...)

It was hosted by Roger's Mom and her husband Bob in New Brighton. They rented a room at the Penn Bistro, which in our opinion worked out perfectly! We thought the room was really nice, the space was the right amount, the food was good, the amount of time was right, etc. We thought it was great! Ian and Aaron didn't break anything, they only spilled one cup of water on the floor, and they were fairly easily contained. (Until they figured out there was a fish tank down the hall...)

The boys fell asleep on the way home, but both woke up when we got here. So they got to use their new plates and spoons to eat some soup before they went to bed.

Here are some photos from the day:

^that's a LOT of presents.

^ Ian and Aaron being silly

^the whole group: Front Row: Marilyn, Bob, Ian, Aaron & I
2nd Row: John, Liz, Waylon, Jeff, Melissa, John, & Roger

^the gift baskets we made: 2 coffee mugs, 1/2 pound of La Prima Coffee (local roaster & our favorite), homemade biscotti, intellegentsia tea, & torani syrup. Since Roger's mom and Bob are tea drinkers, their basket had tea only and local honey instead of coffee syrup. And a gift card to Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea, since they got a little something extra!

We thought the baskets turned out great, and the best part, for us, was they were mostly homemade. I like homemade gifts a lot. Maybe next year we will go 100% homemade and local with our gifts. What do you think? We had fun making them, we spent a lot of time putting them together, and we felt proud to be giving them!

Do you ever hand make holiday gifts? What have you made for people? Did they appreciate it more because it was homemade?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

He Climbs

Really, someone should be watching them... right?

"How on earth did he do that?" you ask.

Well, he pushed the little chair up against the bookcase and climbed on, of course.

Gotta love the kids who climb. Ay yay yay!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holy Giveaway!

You can win an HP Touchsmart PC if you head over to MckMama's site! All you have to do is comment to enter.

And if you want another entry, tweet.

And if you want another entry, blog.

And, I get three entries because I did all those things. Come on Lucky number SusanV!!!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baking Biscotti

If you know us well, you know that our last name should be changed to the Coffee-vorts. Roger & I both love coffee. Roger has taken to it as a hobby, while I enjoy being one of his guinea pigs. One of our favorite parts of the coffeeverse is biscotti. We used to buy it, but after a few months we realized that we just couldn't afford the $1.75/piece to support our habit. So we turned to making our own. We've tried several recipes and have ultimately (especially after this morning...I'll get to that) settled on one recipe from Joy Of Baking. Coincidentally, it is the very first recipe I tried and it is so far the best one. (Closest to "specialty store" biscotti, in our opinion.)

This recipe is great exactly as it is written. I made it that way the first time I made biscotti way back in 2008. ;-) This recipe seems to be fully customizable. We've used it as a starting point to create double chocolate, espresso chocolate, hazelnut, pecan, pumpkin, etc. We really do need to start writing down the variations. We are so bad about not writing down our own creations when it comes to baking/cooking.

Anyway, on with it, right? Today we (read: Susan) were baking biscotti to give as Christmas gifts. I decided to try a new recipe (why?? WHY??) and it sounded like it was going to be good. The comments on that recipe were all positive. I thought it was going to be a winner. It was easy to mix up. That was about the only think I liked about the recipe. I hate to say it, but compared to our tried-and-true recipe, this one was a bomb. It took twice as long as the directions stated to bake. It didn't rise at all. It didn't harden up the way I'd expect biscotti to... and the Olive Oil in it is overpowering. I tried to "cover" the olive oil taste with a chocolate drizzle, but ... nope. It just doesn't float our boat. The Joy of Baking (J-O-B) biscotti needs nothing added. No drizzle, no dipped end, no sprinkles. It is just that good.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here's the comparison. (I also made the J-O-B biscotti today. **without the almonds, just chocolate chips)

Can you smell the olive oil from all the way over there?

Some might say, "well, you probably made a mistake with the recipe." and to that I respond, "no, dear ones, I did not. I used utmost care to assure that I followed the recipe exactly as written. I never mess around with a recipe the first time I make something, and this was no exception."

Oh and one more thing... we use mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of regular size. No particular reason except that one day we didn't have anything but mini so we used them, and liked it better.

^Olive Oil recipe after baking

^trying to doctor it

^J-O-B before baking

^after 1st baking, before slicing

^after 2nd baking


^side by side comparison