Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Extravaganza

A week ago, we started our 3 day Christmas celebration extravaganza. It was 3 days full of family, food, and plenty of presents! We drove up to Dad and Susan's on Sunday to celebrate with them and my siblings' families. Olivia and Logan got reacquainted quickly with hugs and kisses. Andrew had a good time watching the floating train around the middle of their tree. The grown up boys all received cool helicopters and got a little flying practice in before dinner. As usual, there was no shortage of food on the dinner table and the same went for after dinner treats. We got the kids jammied up and after a little extra playtime with Papa John and Maga Suzi, we were on our way to spend the night at the Bingham's.

Christmas Eve started with Carl taking a little outing with Logan so that Logan would get to nap in the car before the festivities began. As everyone arrived, there was an air of anticipation, knowing that Santa was scheduled to make a visit. It was so fun to see Andrew's face light up as he heard Santa's bells and saw him coming down the stairs. He didn't want to give hugs at first, but was happy to sit on Santa's lap to get a present. Logan had a taste of Santa's beard and Olivia seemed to give Santa the once over before deciding he was ok. Nicky and Ken's other 2 nephews were there as well and while Alex played along (he's 10), Shawn (3) wasn't too sure of that Santa fellow. Probably the most memorable moment of Santa's visit was when he got up to leave and Andrew said to me, "Is that not Uncle Bubba?" I froze for a second, and Andrew said, "his shoes are the same as Uncle Bubba's." I assured Andrew that they had the same kind of shoes and it was not Uncle Bubba. Darn those boot covers for not completely covering the wearers shoes! As Auntie Amy said, I think some costume upgrades are in order before next year!

Present opening was pretty chaotic and I ended up opening several of Andrew's gifts as I think he was overwhelmed and also distracted once he opened a few really fun things. Olivia helped open some of her gifts, but was also distracted by the first couple of gifts. Highlights included a big fire truck and a big police car (the police car's lights kept flashing on the way home, freaking Carl out numerous times while he drove) for Andrew and a shopping cart and baby stroller for Olivia. We were all wiped out by the time we headed for home and thankfully, it was a pretty quiet ride.

We were happy to spend Christmas morning at home. We opened out gifts when Andrew and Olivia were both up and then Mimi arrived for breakfast and another round of presents. She worked really hard to put together the workbench she got for Andrew and shopping cart she got for Olivia. After some fun playtime, Mimi had to head home and we had a little downtime before going to Papa and Mamoo's for our final Christmas celebration. Olivia took to the stairs and I got a little exercise chasing her up, then helping her down. She also had fun chasing Ben the cat. Andrew wanted Papa to put together his new construction site toy right away.

After lots of package opening, tag removing, old toy purging, and organizing, we're finally settled back into our normal routine. I'm left feeling incredibly thankful for the close relationships we have with our family and friends and that our children are so well loved by so many.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

House Tour

We visited our new home again today and I decided it was time to do a video tour since you can go in and out of rooms and all now. Part one shows the main floor and part 2 shows the basement. Still lots to do, but loving the progress!

Monday, November 26, 2012

We have rooms!

The kids and I visited our new home yesterday to see the progress from the last few weeks. With much of the interior framing done on the main floor, it really feels like its coming together now. You can get a good sense of space in all the bedrooms and the 2 bathrooms. Carl is putting lofts in the kids' rooms and in the master above the closets. The floor of the master loft is on so we climbed up to check it out. It will be a lot of fun having these "secret" spaces!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Family Weekend

The first weekend of October was full of family visits and fun. The kids and I headed north Saturday morning to spend a few hours with Mimi. Her birthday was earlier in the week and she didn't know that we had arranged a little surprise birthday gathering with my siblings and their families. We arrived at her house and started playing. When everyone else arrived. I went outside to "get something I forgot in the car" and came back in with Nicky, Ken, Logan, and John in tow. She appreciated the surprise and was happy to have our company to keep her mind off the marathon she was running the next day.

After Mimi's surprise, we continued our journey north to spend the night at Nicky and Ken's. We ate a little dinner and got ready for bed then Dad and Susan arrived. They were staying there after the sale of their old home while waiting to close on their new place. I tried to settle Andrew into his own room, but after I left him to get Olivia to bed, he got up and asked Papa John and Maga Suzi if he could come in their room. So Andrew ended up spending the night with them.

We were all up fairly early in preparation of Logan's baptism on Sunday. Olivia and Andrew splashed around in the tub together (this was exciting for them since we only have a shower at our house and they have to use the baby tub.). I have the honor of being Logan's godmother and was excited to participate in the ceremony. Of course the timing worked out just perfect that Olivia was ready to nurse during the ceremony and Maga Suzi did her best to try to keep her calm so I wouldn't miss out on anything.

Another special aspect of the day was that Logan's birth parents joined us. I wasn't sure what it would be like or feel like meeting them. They were very friendly and it was obvious that they love Logan very much and were happy to be included in such a special occasion. It was nice to see that it felt comfortable having them there, mingling with the rest of the family.

Andrew had a blast running around and playing with everyone as usual. Olivia was excited to play with (scream at/pull hair/touch face of) my cousin's daughter, Tera, who is about six months older but not much bigger than Olivia. They seemed to have a good time.

After all the excitement, we set out for home early in the evening. Olivia was so worn out that she slept pretty much the whole way home and all through the night. Andrew slept part of the way and fell right to sleep once we got home. It was a very busy weekend, but I'm happy we are able to spend so much time with our extended family.

Fall Fun

We've been able to get out and enjoy a few nice days lately. Andrew loves running and jumping around the playground. Olivia is quite the daredevil and tries to climb all of the slides and of course the stairs. This means I have to keep a very close eye since she has no sense of safety or danger! I'll be doing a lot of close chasing at playgrounds with her in the coming year!

Pumpkin Chunkin'

The weather was perfect last Sunday for a little fall party out at the shop/our future home. Carl got the pumpkin cannon he built a few years ago out and we launched some pumpkins far out into the field...I think they measured the pumpkins about 1850 feet. Good, clean, country fun!

Several families from Andrew's preschool class were able to join us, as well as a number of our other friends. The food everyone brought to share was great and we all enjoyed some s'mores too! All of the kids loved getting dirty in the dirt mound near the house. Andrew even took off his shoes to get in a mud puddle. I made Carl take care of cleaning him up :)

We look forward to having more gatherings like this once our house is finished sometime next year...we hope!


A little Sunday fun :)

Olivia's Birthday Party

We celebrated Olivia's first birthday yesterday with family and a few close friends. It was a fun, somewhat low key party which was great because Olivia made it most of the way through before she became overstimulated and ready for a nap. It was a special treat having my BFF, Claire, here for the party, even though its a six hour drive between our houses. Andrew had a great time playing with everyone, especially his grandpas. Carl grilled delicious sandwiches for everyone. Olivia participated in present opening a little, pulling clothes out of boxes and bags, and chewing on tags and wrapping paper and bows. She has a whole new wardrobe for the winter thanks to everyone at the party! Carl and I gave her a butterfly rocker which is a big hit with both Olivia and Andrew. Luckily, it can hold up to 80 pounds!

It's hard to believe that Olivia will be a year tomorrow and that a year ago today I was having contractions, but not sure if anything would happen for another week or so. Little did I know Olivia would make an early debut! Now I can hardly remember what life was like before she was here. We're so proud of Olivia and are excited to continue watching as she grows from baby into a little girl.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First Word

Olivia loves babbling and making all kinds of noises. She says, "ma ma" and "da da", among other things, but it can be hard to tell if she's actually referring to us. Well, a couple of days ago, I think she said her "official" first word. Carl was getting home from work and the dogs were going crazy, as usual. Olivia walked over by the door and extended her arm to point and clearly said, "da da". I'm pretty sure his heart melted when I told him what she had done before he came in. She seemed to say it with meaning toward Carl again last night. I think we have a Daddy's little girl on our hands :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The extra cute and funny day

Today was one of those days where the kids were just oozing cuteness and comedy. Andrew recited numerous "quotes of the day" and Olivia was being silly. I already can't remember everything that I thought was especially noteworthy today and there are a few things I wanted to make sure I don't forget.
1. Andrew standing in front of the open fridge and pulling out cans of pop. "I'm picking out wines at the grocery."
2. Olivia discovered she can make funny fart sounds while I'm feeding her if she presses into me. She thought it was so funny as she did this repeatedly then looked up at me and giggled.
3. Andrew singing "Severus Snape, Severus Snape" over and over after seeing some Harry Potter puppet show parody on "My Tube".
4. Andrew hugging me before bedtime and saying we were having a cuddle and then rocking and singing, "go to sleep, Mommy. Go to sleep, Mommy". What a perfect end to the night :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was looking for a new chicken recipe the other day and found one that inspired me to make this. It turned out really tasty and could easily be adjusted for a bigger or smaller group. I bought thin cut chicken breasts, but still pounded them a little thinner.

6 thin cut chicken breasts
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup goat cheese
3-4 pieces jarred roasted red pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
Italian dressing

1. Pound chicken thinner so it can easily be rolled up. Place chicken in container and cover with Italian dressing. Allow to marinate several hours to overnight.
2. Combine sour cream, goat cheese, red pepper, and garlic in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Combine Panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in small bowl.
4. Spoon a couple tablespoons cheese filling onto each chicken breast. Roll chicken around filling and secure with toothpicks. Place filled chicken in baking dish.
5. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over chicken.
6. Bake chicken uncovered at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, or until thermometer placed into chicken reads 160. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

We really enjoyed this recipe (even 3 year old Andrew) and I'll definitely make it again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Andrew's 3rd Birthday

Andrew's third birthday was on Saturday. The occasion had me reflecting over the last three years since I've become a parent. First of all, I wondered how I ever became such a grown-up (or am I, really?!)! But really, I thought about how fortunate I am to have two healthy, amazing children and that I get to watch them learn and grow every day.  Even on the worst day where I would do anything to be on a sunny island paradise by myself for some mental health time, before I go to sleep I peek in on Andrew and Olivia to whisper "I love you" one more time and the stress of the day is forgotten.

Of course we celebrated with a big party! Many family and friends were able to join us and those who could not make it were missed.  Although, with the weather, it is probably a good thing everyone couldn't come since we couldn't be outside at all (it was a bit cozy in our little house). Luckily that shouldn't be a concern next year! Andrew had asked for a pinata, so I ordered a race car one and filled it with treats and assorted trinkets. The kids did a good job taking turns pulling the ribbons to see who would get the "magic" ribbon that would open the pinata.  Sadly, none of the ribbons pulled it open so Carl quickly punched through the side and ripped it open.  

I constructed a monster truck cake for the party, per Andrew's request. I used marshmallow fondant again and made all the cake and frostings from scratch. The truck was a dark chocolate cake with peanut butter filling/frosting. While delicious, the peanut butter frosting became quite melty since the house was so warm and dripped a bit.  It was OK though because it just looked like mud dripping from the undercarriage :)  The base cake was a white cake covered with chocolate fudge frosting.  I made the truck's wheels and undercarriage from Rice Krispie treats and covered them with chocolate marshmallow fondant. The Rice Krispies held up pretty well supporting the weight of the truck, but one of the wheels sank into the chocolate frosting quite a bit causing the truck to lean. Again, I think the heat played a part. Regardless, the cake was a big hit with Andrew and the party guests alike, and I think, tasted even better than it looked (see picture of cake aftermath).

Andrew received lots of great gifts from everyone. We got him a play kitchen. Some other highlights include: Lightning McQueen bike and helmet, doctor kit, fishing game, giant bubble blowing Mater, Sesame Street DVD, Transformers stuff, a few books, and some art stuff. Quite the haul for a three year old, requiring toy rearranging/organizing.

Overall, it was a great party and I'm very happy that Andrew got to spend the day with so many loving family and friends.   

Big loaf cake (cut into 2 layers) topped by mini loaf cake
Rice Krispie treat tires
Peanut butter heaven
Covering the truck in red fondant
Working hard!
Rice Krispie treat undercarriage and wheels placed on base cake
Carl helped with the transfer
Birds-eye view
Front/side view
Happy birthday boy blew out his candle!
The aftermath
Andrew's friends helped him open his presents