April 28, 2010

6 or 16?

Wilson earned his "Rockstar Radio" at school this past week for taking Accelerated Reader quizzes. He had been talking about this prize in particular for a couple of weeks. Andy gave him an old pair of headphones that work better with the radio and he put it on this morning after he got ready. He was sitting there listening to his radio on the steps. Andy asked "when did we get a teenager?!". It was so cute! He has been putting it on after school and walking around with it too. It cracks me up...he thinks he is so cool! My baby is growing up!

Avid Reader

Tyler has developed his love for reading at a young age. That makes me very happy!

Konked out for his nap while reading one of his favorite books! This is what I look like every night when I try to read before bed. I read a page or two and fall asleep too!

Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

Yield: About 42 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
12 ounces (about 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every minute until melted. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork, sprinkle the coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in the sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; the mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl wit a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop, spacing the mounds of dough about 1½ inches apart.
5. Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, slide the parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover one cooled baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper. Scoop the remaining dough onto the parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove cooled cookies from the parchment with a wide metal spatula.

Recipe taken from Brown Eyed Baker

April 27, 2010

Egg Hunt

Action shot of Luke!

Tyler finally figured the whole egg hunt thing out!

Wilson, the pro!

Lots of candy...

Easter Sunday Pics...a few weeks late!

Struggled to get a good shot with all three looking at the camera, Luke's pose is hilarious!

With his church buddy, in matching shirts!

He looks like a little model!

The best group shot we could get. Literally!

April 20, 2010

Grilled Chicken Greek Salad

1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 t sugar
4 t dried oregano
8 t olive oil
2 t salt
2 t pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces

romaine or green leaf lettuce
sliced cucumber
diced plum tomatoes
sliced red onion
feta cheese

Combine ingredients for dressing. Marinate chicken with some of the dressing for 15-20 minutes. Save enough for your salad. Grill or broil chicken then slice into pieces. Combine salad ingredients and top with chicken, feta cheese, and dressing.
This has been one of my favorites for a long time. I think it is from an old issue of Cooking Light. It is a low fat recipe and perfect for spring!

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Um...yeah...this is a good chocolate sheet cake recipe. Not good for you but tasty! I used a large cookie sheet to bake the cake so it is a thin cake. I like the icing and I'm NOT an icing eater. I left the pecans out because I didn't have any but I think it would be good either way. Wilson told me I was the best cake baker ever! My teammates loved it too! Best news- sooo easy to make! It was mixed, baked, and ready to eat in 45 minutes.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks

April 18, 2010

A Productive Saturday

Yesterday I tackled a major project. I went through my closet and my clothing tub for all of my summer/winter clothes. I try to get rid of stuff every year but this was a major weeding out of clothing. I tried everything on that I hadn't worn in a long time. If I didn't like it, if the shirt was too short, or if it didn't fit I put it in the giveaway pile. The giveaway pile turned out to be 4 bags full for Goodwill. I wrote all of the items down for tax purposes. Ended up being about 80 items! (The stuff you give to Goodwill really helps with itemized deductions on tax returns). Then I had 1 bag of stuff I tried to sell at Clothes Mentor without any luck. Made $2. Not worth my time! So now I have another bag for Goodwill. I also took several things to the dry cleaners. I had a couple dresses/skirts that needed to be cleaned and 3 pairs of pants that needed fixing. I'm no seamstress so I couldn't fix the hems that had fallen. I did sew a button on a pair of pants yesterday that had fallen off over a year ago. I felt so successful with all of this done! I was hoping to make a little money at CM to buy some new stuff but oh well. I'll just have to make do with what I have. I also switched out my winter shoes for my summer shoes and got rid of 2 pairs that I've held on to though I haven't really worn them.

I've gotten the boys clothes switched over but still need to put away all of the winter stuff. Right now it is just sitting on their floor in laundry baskets. It's hard to change clothes out for 4 people (me and 3 boys). BIG chore!

Yesterday I went to a baby shower and then out to dinner with two of my teammates. It was all in all a great day!

April 17, 2010

Boring stuff...menu planning etc!

Just wanted to give fair warning - some of you may not be interested in this post at all! People ask how I cook dinner with a busy life so here is how.

Sunday night I plan the menu for the week. I have a document on the computer with a table that has 1 row and 7 columns, 1 for each day of the week. I write in the dinner plan for each night of the week. I always plan two meals that will last us for 2 dinners. So whatever I make on Monday we also eat on Wednesday night. Same with two other nights in the week. I do try to space them out when I can so that we don't have to eat the same dinner 2 nights in a row. Before I had kids I hated leftovers. Now I am thankful for leftover nights. Often I will make a new veggie or side to go with the leftovers so that there is a little bit of a change.

As I plan the menu for the week I have my grocery list going at the same time. I have a grocery list saved on my computer. It is organized by aisle for the grocery Andy shops at in the order that he goes through the store. He organized that part of the list! The stuff we buy regularly is already on the list when I print it every week. If we don't need them on a set week I just cross them off. As I plan the menu I add the stuff we need to the list.

Generally we stick to the menu planning but some nights if what I have listed on the menu doesn't sound good I will swap it for something on the menu for another night. So the menu is flexible though if we have a t-ball game or Wednesday night church I try to have those night's be leftover night. As far as shopping at the grocery Andy is better than me about only buying what is on the list. So you won't come to my house and find a well stocked pantry. Towards the end of the week our fridge is getting empty. I don't stock anything really other that frozen chicken breasts and baking goods. I am rarely every to open a cookbook and make something not on my menu with the ingredients I have on hand.

I'm a planner but not always the most organized person. This seems to help me know what I'm making ahead of time. I'm not the type of person that can go through the day not knowing what I'm making for dinner that night. I do best having a plan since life is so busy! Maybe some of these tips will help! Here is a sample menu from last week:

Monday- Andy and I ate out w/ Ty b/c the other two boys were at a birthday party. Kind of like a date night!
Tuesday- Spaghetti, veggie tray (the last two weeks I've made a big veggie tray with a variety of veggies. It has been so convenient to pull out at dinner or while I am making dinner for everyone to have a healthy snack and get more veggies in.)
Wednesday- leftovers
Thursday- Buttermilk pancakes, sausage, strawberries
Friday- hamburgers and fries, veggie tray
Saturday- was supposed to be homemade pizza but Andy is the pizza maker and he was busy with other projects around the house. Ended up being Pizza hut.
Sunday- greek salad w/ grilled chicken

Veggie tray week 1- broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sugar snap peas
week 2- broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red pepper, cucumber

April 11, 2010

First T-ball Game

Wilson played pitcher during the entire game and helped get almost all of the outs! He stopped the balls and threw them to the first baseman who was good at catching them and stepping on the base! They made a great team. Wilson was down and ready and focused the whole time. So proud of him!

Luke was up to bat. He swung several times and finally hit the ball! He was so happy and proud of himself. The expression on his face is truly priceless. Pure joy!

Wilson up to bat. He hit well!

Finding out he got the game ball! First game ball of the season! Wow, Wilson!

He got to do the 3-2-1 REDS! Wilson used to not participate in this part. He hated it and thought it was too loud. He led it this time. He's just all grown up!

Opening Ceremonies

Luke was so happy to have his very own uniform!

Friday night was Opening Ceremonies for T-ball. I think they're ready! I loved the personality showing through in these pictures!

April 10, 2010

Andy's current project

Andy feels best when he has multiple projects going on at one time. Just kidding! He has known the french doors going out to our deck weren't installed correctly for a while. So when I came home from work on Tuesday, this is what I found!

It was a big surprise but definitely needed to be done. They had filled a gap between the door frame and the floor with DIRT. I mean what on earth! No wonder we had ants coming in from this spot last year...Andy says the previous homeowner knew enough about remodeling projects to be dangerous! Everything that was updated was done 1/2way. So it looks decent but isn't going to last without Andy fixing the previous owner's mistakes. Very thankful for a handy husband who is motivated to fix everything as time and money allow. The doors are back in so now he just needs to put up the trim and finish the outside screen doors that are on the deck side. Thanks for all of your hard work Andrew!

My new haircut

but I look terrible. My hair hadn't been washed b/c they wash it when you get it cut. I had a really hard day yesterday therefore the puffy eyes. Cried a lot yesterday. But today is a new day and it is 10X better than yesterday!!


This morning I went to get my haircut. I woke up from a dream where I thought he cut bangs even though I didn't want them and remember being so upset in my dream! Silly me! Anyway after the initial "let's cut a few inches off before we wash it" moment things were all good! I was a little nervous standing there letting him cut off my dry hair. It felt weird and then he had a big chunk of hair in his hand! But I love it and am so glad for a change!

April 6, 2010

My Wilson

I'm so proud of Wilson. He has grown so much in this past school year. He is doing so much better with his worry and anxiety. I really think our appointments with his play therapist are really helping. In general he walks to class without any trouble. Occasionally there are hard days but the good days really outweigh the hard days. I was especially proud of him yesterday, after a week off from school he left as soon as the bell rang to go to his class. Seriously made me almost cry! I was so happy for him!

We've learned some strategies from Mrs. J that have helped. We have a breathing exercise I used to use with him in the hallway on the hard mornings. Now we have a secret hand squeeze when he needs some courage from mommy. He used this strategy when we were hiking on the Rock Bridge Arch trail. He was afraid to walk in the creek (because of the possibility of an insect or guppy) but really wanted to. He looked at me with his outstretched arm and said "courage". I squeezed his hand and he did it.

Each time we go to Mrs. J I fill her in on the positive things he has had the courage to do. Everytime it seems there is at least 1 or 2 things! He is really stretching himself and I am so proud of him. Then I mention the things that have been hard - they range from flushing the toilet to walking to class, to going to church class etc. Then they work and talk about those during his session. She is so good with him and I am so pleased with his progress.

I love you so much Wilson and I am so, so, so proud of you!

April 4, 2010

Cathy's Cauliflower Salad

This is an Easter salad tradition with my side of the family! This year was my first year to make the salad. Cara usually brings this salad. It is a family favorite!

1 head chopped iceberg lettuce
1 head chopped cauliflower
Dehydrated onions
2 cups frozen peas
6-7 slices cooked bacon (I use turkey bacon)
1 pkg italian salad dressing mix
light miracle whip (or mayo, etc) - Use a very thin layer
parmesan cheese (heavy layer)

In a large bowl, layer ingredients in order listed. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Toss when ready to serve.

New Pancake Recipe

From Food Network Magazine-

Basic Pancakes
Whisk together:
1 1/2 cups flour, 3 T sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together:
1 1/4 cups milk, 1/2 stick melted butter, 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Then whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Ladle 1/4 cupfuls onto hot skillet and cook until bubbly. Flip and cook until golden on the bottom.

These were great! Some other variations we want to try:

Buttermilk: Add to dry ingredients above 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Instead of milk use 1 1/4 cups buttermilk.

Pumpkin: Make buttermilk pancakes with 1 cup buttermilk. Add 1/2 cup pumpkin puree and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips to the batter.

April 3, 2010

More Camp Pics

Rockbridge Arch trail
Love this one- they were so happy the entire hike! No complaining!

My mountain man

Love Luke's pose- this was toward the end of the hike. He has binoculars aroun his neck!

Heading home- we camped at site 32 this time. Another tradition, always take a pic by the campsite post!

April 2, 2010

Back from the woods!

Ready for a big hike!


Roasting marshmallows

Eating his smore (just a graham cracker) - he was unaware!!

Sharing a snack at the campsite

We went camping Wednesday afternoon - Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect! It was so nice to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather. We went to our favorite campsite, Koomer Ridge campground at Red River Gorge. The boys had a blast. It was very difficult having Tyler all over the place but overall everything worked out. Camping can just be so much work! The boys loved digging with shovels, collecting fire wood, hiking, playing catch, and hanging out by the fire. On Wednesday we set up our campsite and went on a short hike nearby. We came back and made dinner - we had to keep the food easy! Tyler is still so hands on and there is so much to do when camping anyway so we kept it simple. Roasted hot dogs on the fire and then I made green beans and mac & cheese. I had to do 1 delicious camp food so I did potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced) and onion sliceds in foil packets cooked over the fire. They were delicious - even though I had to borrow butter from some neighbors! Then smores and finally had all the boys asleep by 10pm. Wilson and Luke were so excited to cook on the fire!

Tyler woke us up pretty early on Thursday. After breakfast we took a drive down Tunnel Ridge Road hoping Tyler would take a nap. He eventually did fall asleep. My mom and her friend Terry joined up with us at lunch time. Then we went hiking together. We went on a new trail for our family but my mom has done it before. We went on the Rockbridge trail - it is my favorite hike! We were gone for about 3 1/2 hours. It was the best afternoon. The boys were such good hikers and Tyler did very well in his backpack. He loved looking around. For dinner we ate at Miguel's. They have good pizza and that it is a family tradition to go there when we are at the gorge! If you haven't been to Miguel's you should go! Interesting local pizza place. We had the boys to bed by 8:30 last night after smores - they were exhausted. Andy and I enjoyed a great campfire and star gazing- the stars were unbelievable.

Today was the hardest day. Tyler woke us up around 5am. He played for a little while and then cried. It seemed like forever. I'm sure the other campers were hating us. He finally fell back asleep for two more hours. So we were tired and we had a lot of packing up to do. Tyler was making that very difficult. We finally got things done (took about 2 hours) and headed home. It was a great time! I'm thankful to know that next time we go camping Tyler will be older! Never have to camp with an 18 month old again!!!