Friday, March 30, 2012


Ava and I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon making hand soap.  We used a tutorial from my friend Robyn's blog.  In this wonderful house we have five bathrooms plus two sinks in the kitchen.  We go through hand soap like you cannot imagine.  I adore Mrs. Myers Geranium soap but it's too expensive to buy that many bottles of hand soap.  Even with buying the glycerin, bar soap, and container to hold the soap I saved so much money by making my own soap.

We started out with a bar of geranium soap and a few simple ingredients.

Ava grated the entire bar with an old cheese grater.

We cooked the grated soap in a gallon of water and a few teaspoons of glycerin.  
Confession:  I had Bush's Glycerine in my head during this entire process.

As the soap melted a sudsy liquid simmered in the pot.  We left it to set up over night.  The next morning I blended the solution until it reached typical hand soap texture.

I found this container for super cheap at Walmart. 

 It's perfect to hold our gallon of soap, and the tap is ideal for refilling our empty hand soap bottles.

What a fun rainy day activity, and tons of money saved!  Thanks Robyn.

Ava is quite the nurturer.  She likes to take care of others, whether it's Josh and me, little friends at church, her dolls, or even stuffed animals.  Growing up I had a best friend who was such a mom.  From the time we were five she just took care of everyone around her.  It's a trait I always admired and tried to exhibit in my own life - though it never came quite as effortlessly to me.  Anyway, sometimes there are moments when I see glimpses of my sweet Leah friend in Ava and this was one of those times.  I walked into our room the other day to find this:  Bambi, on a pillow and comfortably tucked into a soft blanket up to his little deer chin.

On Wednesday, March 14, Ava went on her very first field trip.  Her school traveled to a local bar, O'Connell's, for green eggs and ham.  I thought it was hilarious that her first field trip was to a bar.  I offered to help drive the kiddos (designated driver, if you will - haha).  When I arrived at her school I was greeted by a herd of carseats on the front lawn.

A little background on the field trip location, Pumpkin Shell School's old building was right behind O'Connell's.  The gracious owner has hosted a Green Eggs & Ham celebration for the children at Pumpkin Shell for decades.

Inside the school a sea of green-clad, excited children sang songs while we installed car seats.

Look at that sweet little pink bow head.

My happy backseat

Waiting to get past the bouncer (actually a sweet hostess handing out green necklaces)

In front of the bar

Waiting for our food to arrive

No sports on the TVs this morning, it was all Disney and Nickelodeon. 

We had the whole place to ourselves.

Ava signing 'I love you' under the decked-out moose

Silly girls

The whole table

The food arrived, and some of us weren't too sure

Those are some green eggs

I'm happy to report that the girls cleaned their plates.  What a fun first field trip.  I'm so thankful that my job is flexible enough that I can experience these times with my baby girl.

On Saturday, the 17th I flew to Houston for Jaryn's bachelorette party.  Isn't she beautiful?

Heading into Pete's Piano Bar

We all schemed for Jaryn to spend some time on stage doing a not-quite appropriate version of the Hokey Pokey.

Later that night

The next morning

After some coffee and breakfast we drove from Houston to Hillsborro for Beene Beene's 90th birthday party.

Beene Beene is Josh's grandmother, and we are so thankful to have her in our lives.  She's had some health issues lately, but is so strong.

Ava and Beene Beene are pen pals, crafting partners, and have an entire menagerie of fictitious animals who are frequently cast in their letters and conversations.

The future Mr. & Mrs. San Miguel with Beene Beene

Ava is so excited about being flower girl in their wedding next month.

  What a wonderful afternoon to celebrate Beene Beene's life!

After the party, Ava went home with Baba and Pops to spend the first part of her Spring Break.  Another fantastic great grandmother, MLML, loved on Ava during the days when Baba and Pops were at work.  She had such a good time in Clifton.  Later in the week she headed to Frost to spend some time with Mimi.  She loved her time there as well.  Thanks to our precious family who stepped in to give Ava a wonderful week of Spring Break.  Thanks to all of my blog friends for reading and keeping up with us.  I appreciate you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Meatless Butcher

A couple of weeks ago a package arrived for Miss Ava on the front porch.

Such adorable wrapping

She ripped into it

and found a luxurious robe from Uncle Brandon, Aunt Sarah, and Cousin Nolan.  She has loved wearing it after her bath and in the mornings while she eats breakfast.

One morning a couple of weeks ago I realized we'd passed a huge milestone with very little notice.  Sometime over the past three years, since starting law school, HLS learned to tie his tie without the aid of a YouTube video.  On this particular morning he was suiting up for an interview.  
For those of you who make it through this entire post, there will be an update at the bottom.

 At school Ava and her friends spent a few days studying how doctors and dentists help us.

One morning the teachers met the kiddos at our cars and wheeled them into school.

 This year for Lent I gave up chocolate.  I had been craving Reese's Pieces, which contain no chocolate.  Josh and Ava delivered these goodies one afternoon.

Last Saturday I left Norman super early to attend the Native American Pre Law Day in Tulsa.  Josh and Ava had a wonderful day together.  When I returned Josh said that Ava had a surprise for me.  "What could the surprise be?" I wondered, as a I walked into the house.  

Had she straightened the toys upstairs?

Was her first-ever wiggly tooth finally ready to pop out?

Did she and Josh whip up a delicious dinner?

Um, no.

She cut her own hair.  A lot.  On both sides.  To about an inch long.

She'd done it once before, as a very little girl.  I thought for sure she'd learned her lesson.  Josh says he was reading a book in the same room where she was cutting out some construction paper shapes.  Suddenly he heard her playing a song on the piano and turned around to congratulate her on her musical abilities.  He saw our scalped princess plunking away on the piano keys.  All we can figure from what she tells us is that her hair kept getting into her face while she was crafting and she was tired of it.  After an emergency trip to the salon on Saturday evening, this is the best we could make of the butchering.

Huge bows and glittery headbands are saving our lives right now.

In other news, our accidental pixie has mastered the art of cracking an egg.

Random, I know, but she drew this picture of me the other night.  Flattering, huh?  Josh and I were dying laughing.  I look like the bus driver from South Park.

She's really rocking her new hairdo.  It's a spunkier look than I ever would have chosen for her, but it works.  My main gripe is that every morning I have to wet and blow-dry in order to tame it.

On Wednesday night we finally broke down and made homemade pasta for the first time since before we left for Switzerland.  This time Ava was more involved than ever before.  She proved to have great aptitude for pasta making.

Here she is building her semolina well.

Next we stirred in the egg, olive oil, and herb mixture.

We kneaded it into a ball, and set it under a bowl to rest for 15 minutes.

Unlike our pasta, we had no time to rest - as it was time to make our sauce.  Ava is using my new Valentine's gift from Josh - a Le Creuset Saucier.  Other girls can have their jewelry that tarnishes, flowers that die, and lingerie that ends up on the floor in four seconds.  Le Creuset (with its lifetime warranty) lasts forever!

How stinkin' cute is she?
Seriously, I could just eat her with a spoon.

Too bad your screen isn't scratch-n'-sniff.

Time to roll out the rested pasta dough.

We start on the thickest setting (a 1), 

tri-fold the flattened dough, 

and feed it back through.

The process is repeated until the pasta reaches your desired thickness.

For our spaghetti, we worked from a 1 to a 7.
Lasagna would require a 3 or 4 (thicker), while the thinnest angel hair would be best worked to an 8.

Flattened dough is set between towels to prevent it from drying out while we press the rest of it.

Sometimes we get a little ambitious with the size of our first pasta disk, and have to cut the dough partway through the pressing process.

Ava was bored with the pasta making by the time it was ready to cut into spaghetti.  I swapped the press attachment for a cutting attachment.

We all three voted to add some black olives to the simmering sauce.

Fresh, raw spaghetti pasta.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water add a handful of pasta.  The Italians say to cook your pasta in water that has the salinity of the sea, if your pasta water doesn't taste like the ocean you're making it too bland.  Even boxed pasta can be improved upon by properly salting your water.

Within 7-15 seconds the pasta will float to the top and it's done.

Scoop cooked pasta into a bowl that has been rubbed with olive oil.

Mmm...ready to eat.

Ava ate three servings of our creation.

Spring is peeking around every corner.

After all that yummy pasta, the Bave was starting to outgrow her tennis shoes.  She tried on several pair, but the ones that light up definitely "feel the most comfortable and make me run the fastest" says Ava.

Our favorite Thai restaurant near campus has the most delicious bubble tea.  No one else around here likes it at all, but I love it.  It's basically a milk-based flavored tea with tapioca spheres at the bottom.  You drink it with a large straw and chew the tapioca as they come through the straw.  Delicious, if you like to chew your tea, that is.

On Friday night we went to see The Lorax with the Wilsons.  It was cute, though I would have preferred more singing and less preaching.  The opening number was my favorite part.

On Saturday night we tried a new restaurant in Oklahoma City with the Partridges.  The drinks were good and the food was great.  We highly recommend Picasso Cafe.

Today we came home after church and cooked, something we almost never do for Sunday lunch.  Ava was a big help with the vegetables and Josh grilled brats, yum.

Later we followed the directions from a friend's blog and made our own liquid hand soap.  I love the Mrs. Meyer's Geranium soap, but its so expensive.  This house has five bathrooms, plus two sinks in the kitchen, so we go through liquid hand soap like nobody's business.  It was such a fun experience, and the whole house smells wonderful.  It will be ready to use tomorrow and we can't wait!

Okay, here's the update I promised earlier in the blog.  I like to reward the folks who actually read all of my ramblings.  Josh got a job!  Like, an actual getting paid for doing lawyer stuff job.  Amazing!  He'll be working for the Attorney General of Oklahoma as a constitutional intern for now.  The job starts this week, and once he passes the bar he'll become (hopefully, assuming he doesn't majorly muck anything up) an Assistant Attorney General.  We are elated.  Josh has dreamed of working in the realm of constitutional law, but short of moving to Washington DC it's really tough to do.  How amazing that this funky little internship popped up at just the right time.  After Josh's past two summers at the US Attorney's office, we knew that he loved the speed of working as an attorney for the government.  We're not going to be buying a private jet and bathing in Evian anytime soon, but we'll get to see him in the evenings and on weekends - something that doesn't always happen when you're a lawyer.  It's so difficult to secure a government position straight out of law school.  Lots of miraculous variables played into this dreamy job experience for us.  I am so proud of him!  Thanks for everyone who has been praying for us.  We are humbled and thankful for this extraordinary opportunity.