Fun away from home

Last night Yoli and I had a little “date night.” My parents guarded the Renaud Empire hordes while Yoli and I headed up to church for their Stars of Grace volunteer appreciation event.

The last time we were able to go to one of these appreciation dinners was about five years ago. The births of our kids had kept us from going since then.

It was an entertaining night. There was a video in which one pastor has a nightmare that there are no volunteers and he has to do everything himself, from directing traffic to teaching children’s ministry to leading praise and worship. The kids’ part included brief cameos by Jadzia and Ludi who participated in a free-for-all filming session a couple of Wednesdays ago.

The main event was a session by comedian Ken Davis. He had a pretty good set that kept everyone laughing. For Yoli and I, the biggest surprise came after he had asked for single men in the audience to raise their hands. He picked out one named “John” and interacted with him over the course of the set. After it was all over, he gave John a stack of DVDs and stuff. Imagine our surprise to see that “John” was actually my good friend John Wike! We spent the rest of the night hanging out.

There was also a photo booth for taking pictures. The folks told us that we would hear three clicks and that each click meant a photo had been taken. Yoli and I got in there and pushed the big green button and waited for something to happen… and nothing ever seemed to! Then the folks were telling us “good job, you’re done!” Out popped the photos and we looked like deer caught in headlights.

So we took them again at the end of the night with much more traditional photo-booth-esque results.

All in all, it was a lot of fun.

When cakes don’t come out right

Yoli wants everyone to know that her cakes don’t always come out right. Usually it’s because she forgets to add a key ingredient. Such was the case last night as she was baking a special cake for Valentine’s Day.

Yoli forgot to add sugar, but didn’t realize it until after she pulled the cake out of the oven and saw it had not risen very much. So she had to bake another one, this time with all the ingredients.

You can see a comparison of the good cake (left) and the messed-up one (right) in the photo above.

Fortunately, we have girls whose palates are not particularly discerning, especially when it comes to pastries.

Yoli offered them some of her “bread” and they have been happily chowing down on it ever since.

Yoli’s culinary creations

Ale cheddar boule

Here’s a little photo gallery of various — mostly baked — foodstuffs Yoli has made over the years. (Truth be told, this really only scratches the surface Yoli’s culinary adventures. Usually we forget to take photos!)

You wanted him, you got him

Just to re-assure everyone that Joseph is alive and well. The dearth of photos here is purely a result of our being very busy and sleep-deprived.

Joseph is a very pleasant baby overall, though he is beginning to enter his more fussy stage. Also this week he seems to have had some sort of virus which ultimately led to two trips to the doctor’s office. (One of those visits lasted all morning as I took him around DePaul getting blood tests, x-rays, etc)

He is just fine, no cause for alarm. But whenever babies have fevers (even slight ones), doctors get very concerned and want to make sure it’s not something serious.

Anyway, here are some photos from different things that have been going on our life in April and May.

Continue reading “You wanted him, you got him”

Birth stories and more photos

Here’s a little more background on the birth of our first boy, Joseph Martin Renaud.

Monday night I was working a sports design shift at the Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals home opener and breaking news about Stan Kroenke’s intention to buy the Rams kept me busy all night.

I got home around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. I found Yoli in the kitchen making crepes to eat at breakfast. She had intended them to be for the whole family. But at 12:38, she had her first real contraction followed by a couple more over the next hour. “The baby is going to be born sometime today,” she told me.

Continue reading “Birth stories and more photos”

Look out for that green minivan!

There are no teenagers in our house. Still, I just got back from the Ferguson License Office with a newly-permitted driver.


Today she finally took her written test and passed with a 96. (Somehow I imagine we are the only family of 5 (and a half) to go all together to the Highway Patrol offices so mom can take her test)

Now that she has her learner’s permit, we’ll be hitting the parking lots and getting Yoli comfortable in the minivan. You might want to stay away from Jamestown Mall for a while; I hear it’s a good place to practice.

The tired and the wakeful

We’ve been tired lately, Yoli especially. Mostly it’s Josie who wakes up early and such.

But Ludi has also been waking up in the night. Sometimes it’s just that she doesn’t want to go to sleep, so we have issues with her getting out of her bed.

A couple nights ago, I came home and found Ludi sleeping on the couch. She had snuck out of her room while Yoli was washing dishes, and fell asleep there. Last night, Yoli heard her crying in the night. She was on the potty!

We are very thankful for that latter development!

In any event, these girls wear us out.

Looking for Springerle molds

So the Post-Dispatch recently published a story about Springerle cookies.

I pointed it out to Yoli because I knew she would be interested. How right I was!

The first thing that caught my attention was the recipe’s use of “hartshorn,” which is actually baking ammonia. This is an ingredient that is not cheap or available in every store.

We happen to have some that we bought in Bolivia, because Yoli has some recipes that call for it. Let me tell you, when you bake with ammonia, it will stink up the house. But once the smell dissipates, the cookies or whatever taste great.

Yoli was excited to try the Springerle recipe, but the problem is molds. There is a local artist who hand-carves them. His carvings are amazing, but at $20-30 bucks a pop, it’s a more expensive way to get started than we would like. We are hoping to find used ones at a thrift store or maybe some resin copies … something more affordable.

We did actually come across two Springerle “boards” at 309 Antiques here in Ferguson, but they are $50 each. Apparently, many folks collect these hand-carved molds. Yoli just wants to bake with them.

Anyhow, anyone out there have any local Springerle resources?