The 2021 Cooking Plan

I love cookbooks and can never have enough of them. Particularly themed cookbooks. But I never use them as much as I should. That changed about five years ago when I went through them all, recipe by recipe, and wrote down every entrée, side, dessert, or drink that I was interested in trying. While knocking out new recipes got a little sidetracked a few years ago, we are finally getting back to it, adding new cookbooks, jotting down new recipes, and trying new things (as you could have guessed, The Disney Princess Cookbook got used the most this year).

“Please do not worry, Tiana; we will get to your Baked Caramel French Toast sometime this year.”
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Run-up to Christmas

As I wrote in one of my last posts, the girls were spending Christmas with their mother in Texas, so we were trying to get most of our Christmas in before they left. They were still going to open some presents when they returned, but with the girls likely already tired of the holidays and with school starting back up again, it was best to really celebrate our holiday beforehand. We had a lot to do and a relatively short time to do it, so we dove right in as soon as they returned from Thanksgiving.

Even the Elf on the Shelf is getting into baking sourdough…
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Playing Some Catch with Dad

I have never regretted having only daughters. My girls are absolutely amazing and I would not change a single thing about them. But with having only daughters though, I have always tried to temper expectations for some things that I always dreamed of doing with my kids, like going to ball games together, going fishing, and above all, playing catch. I just did not think they would like these things and I did not want to put any pressure on them just because that was part of my dream of being a father, whereas, if I had boys, these would likely occur over the course of time. But, as always, these girls just keep surprising me (you are probably sick of me saying that and I really should stop being surprised).

If you don’t twirl, it doesn’t count
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Decorating Our Gingerbread Houses

Since the girls were spending Christmas this year with the mother in Texas, it meant that we had to try to really fill in the first three weeks of December with Christmas activities (not to mention doing the same thing when they return). Even before we got out the tree, ornaments, and decorations, the girls wanted to build gingerbread houses together. So let us see if my girls have what it takes to be successful tiny home architects (with rather unconventional building materials).

And they surprisingly did not eat all those materials
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Merry Christmas from the Calkins Family

While the girls spent Christmas this year in Texas with their mother, we still managed to take our family photos and get our Christmas card out on time. As always, they came out beautifully and everyone loved receiving them.

The picture on the right is proof that they really do love one another

I will be sure to write more this weekend about our run-up to Christmas (when I get some time). I have just been extremely busy since they left getting caught up on coursework, professional reading and writing, and taking care of myself by eating healthier and exercising more frequently.

A pretty productive year given the circumstances

Thanks for checking in on us. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Cheers!

Arts & Crafts on Fort Huachuca

As living in a COVID world becomes more and more like the new normal, we are slowly trying to branch out and try new things around Fort Huachuca and the surrounding area, of course, all while implementing our mitigation strategies. Last week as I was posting the weekly announcements for my unit, I saw an advertisement on the Fort Huachuca Facebook page about an event at the Fort Huachuca Arts & Crafts Center called Pick-It-and-Paint Ceramics. It sounded like a fun, cheap activity for the girls and I, so as we headed back home from our Saturday errands, we decided to stop in to see what all the excitement was about.

At age five, Gabriella is already a better painter than her Dad will ever be
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Milestones Update (or Gabriella Can Ride a Bike too!)

After Elaina learned to ride a bike without training wheels, Gabriella and I were very excited to get her to do it as well. We were a little too busy during the week to put some serious work into it, so we went out on Saturday evening to get Gabriella to ride on her own. I expected us to be there an hour or so, with the hopes that maybe she would get pretty close… we were there about a minute before she was riding on her own.

Wow… that happened rather quickly…
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Milestones or: How Elaina Learned to Stop Worrying and Ride a Bike Without Training Wheels

There are certain moments in the lives of your children that bring you indescribable joy when they are reached, such as walking for the first time, speaking their first word, or learning to tie their shoes, just to name a few. As the title implies, Elaina hit one of those milestones last weekend by learning to ride her bicycle without training wheels. As a parent, it both lets you know that you did something right and that your child is developing on schedule. I am so proud of her. And of course, as much as she denies it, Gabriella wants to be just like her big sister and tried it too (she is almost there).

“On your mark. Get set. Read!”
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Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Magic Wands – Take II

Earlier in the year, we brought out the fabled Disney Princess Cookbook to test out a few of the recipes. One that we tried was the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Magic Wands (Cinderella). While we had fun making them, the recipe involved sprinkles on flour tortillas, so it was not particularly appetizing. I have been thinking about ways to improve on the recipe to make them more appealing for the girls, so that is what we tried to do last weekend.

I mean, what kind of kid wouldn’t like sugar cookies with sprinkles?

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