Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Christmas

We had an amazing Christmas. The kids really enjoyed everything this year.  Brooke was all about opening presents, and Harrison was all about playing with them. They still have one more round of opening to do, and Rob and I still have our Secret Santa exchange to do with my siblings. (My younger brother is in India, so we're waiting until they are back in the states.)

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed Mass with my parents and dinner, chicken and dumplings, after. They got to FaceTime with their uncles and open gifts from them, as well as open a few gifts from Grandma and Grandpa, and one from their Great Aunt. 

When the kids woke up Christmas morning, they were able to open one gift and have their stockings. Everything else had to wait until that afternoon. They were so patient. We were impressed! We headed off to the in-laws for gifts and brunch with them, and were home in time for naps.

After naps they open gifts and played all afternoon. My parents came over to watch them open and let them open their gifts from them. They finally opened their last gift 15 minutes before bed time. It was a long day, but so much fun! I'm already looking forward to next year.

Quite possibly my favorite picture of the day. I'm sure she'll hate this when she's older.

Harrison's favorite gift is definitely his mini Dyson. He has it with him all the time, and even wants to bring it to bed.  He cries when Brooke plays with is. Brooke's favorite is the Leap Frog Counting Train. They both like their tee pee, but I think the dogs like it more.

I hope everyone's Christmas was as blessed as ours. I feel so fortunate to be able to make all of these memories with H, B and Rob. Now it's on to 2014. Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Enjoy the Little Things

I was going to upload pictures from Christmas during nap time today, and then this happened. 

(Sorry for the blurry picture. Blackout curtains don't make for great pictures)

Brooke often falls asleep while nursing before nap time, but Harrison almost never does. Even on the rare occasion when they do both fall asleep, I move them to their beds. I usually have things to do while they nap, and I think they sleep better when they have their own space in their beds.  

Today is no different. I have all of the ingredients for broccoli quinoa bites in a bowl ready to be mixed and baked. As I'm writing this, both kids woke up and couldn't fall back asleep laying with me. Now they're in their cribs and most likely won't nap anymore. Nap time ruined. 

But that's ok, because this is probably the last time they'll both fall asleep in my arms. The last time we'll get all sweaty snuggled up in bed together. The last time I get to watch their sweet little bodies twitch and hear their sweet snores right in my ear. 

Next week we start weaning and nap time is the first to go. If every nap time between now and January 1st is ruined because they fall asleep snuggled up with me, I'd be ok with that. It would make for some long afternoons, but knowing I got that snuggle time in would make it ok. When they sleep snuggled up with me, they're still my babies and not two rambunctious toddlers who never hold still.  

I think we'll all do just fine with weaning. Part of me is really excited to be done nursing, but the majority of me wishes we could continue forever. (Well maybe not forever, but for a while longer.) With the end in sight, I'm going to make sure I enjoy every snuggle, hug, and carress they give me. And I won't complain about the punches, kicks, head butts and hair pulls. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

The last week has been crazy busy. Finishing up all of the last minute Christmas details, throwing a Nutella themed game night and all of the fun that goes along with a new puppy, more about that later. Now the presents are under the tree, everyone is in bed and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I am beyond excited to enjoy Christmas with Harrison and Brooke tomorrow.  It's off to bed so I can try and get some sleep. I feel like I'm more excited about Christmas for my kids than I was about Christmas as a kid.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.    

Monday, December 16, 2013

19 Months

I'm going to skip my usual lengthy post about what H and B have been up to for the past month.  It would read something like: They got more teeth and said a few new words. You get the idea.  Here are a few pictures from their 19 month mini photo session.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow, Birthdays and Babies. So Fun!

We had such a fun weekend. It wasn't too busy, but it was packed with fun. On Friday Rob's cousin and his wife had their sweet baby boy. Rob and his cousin are very close, so Baby B feels more like a nephew than a cousin. He and H and B are second cousins. I got the chance to go to the hospital to meet him on Friday, and he is as cute as can be.

Late Friday evening the snow started falling and by Saturday evening we had about 7 inches of snow on the ground. The snow didn't keep us from getting out to celebrate our dear friend, Sophie's, 3rd birthday. She had a Sophia the Third princess party complete with princess games, face painting and a real live Snow White.

 The birthday girl

Harrison wore wings and played with balloons almost the entire time.

Brookie played with Miss Kim when she wasn't eating cheese crackers.


This is what B looks like on a sugar high.

H and B checking out the puppies.

Chihuahua puppies. LOVE! They were so tiny.

On Sunday we hung out around the house and checked out the snow. B cried every time she fell over, and Harry pretty much despised the entire experience. At least Tyson loves playing in the snow.

We did venture out Sunday evening so the kiddos could meet Baby B. Brooke was really into him and kept pointing to him. Harrison did not like him at all thanks to an insane case of jealousy. He was attached to my side the entire time we visited and he cried while I held the baby. I guess that means Harrison isn't interested in a sibling anytime soon.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and for those of you close, I hope you're enjoying the snow. I'm loving it! Now it's time to watch the Steelers hopefully win this football game.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We Love Kitties

Today was our local shelter's Holiday Open House. I plan to make it a yearly outing with the kids. I think it's important for them to know about all the amazing things our local shelter does. Not only finding homes for homeless pets, but community outreach, education, etc. Obviously they don't understand any of this yet, but we're starting the tradition early.  

I posted a few months back about up cycling old t-shirts into rope dog toys. I finally got around to making all my old tank tops into rope toys. It's super easy to do and a great way to use old shirts with rips, tears or stains that you can't donate to Goodwill. 

We packaged the rope toys with some blankets, treats, and a bag of kibble. 

Photo courtesy of FWACC

We didn't take the full tour of the shelter, but we did go check out all of the kittens and doggies looking for homes.  It was great to see that most of them already had families they would be going home to soon.  

The kittens were definitely the highlight for H and B.  I'm pretty sure they would have been willing to stare at the kittens all night if I would have let them. 

On a more serious note, as tear jerking as the ASPCA commercials are on TV, Sarah McLachlan gets me every time, a monetary donation goes much further when given to your local SPCA or humane shelter. It is so important to donate to your local shelter. Whether it's a monetary donation, or a donation of your time. Even something as small as donating towels and blankets you don't use anymore, can make big difference. If you have the means, please consider helping out pets in need.  


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna - Slow Cooker Style

I find most all of my recipes on Pinterest, and this one was no exception. I've made a modification of the original recipe a couple times now, and both times it has turned out phenomenally well. I judge how a dish turns out by how much Brooke will eat. Both times she has gone to town on this lasagna, and both times she's been willing to eat leftovers. I of course really like it to, otherwise I wouldn't have made it a second time.

The first time I made it, I made a vegetarian version. It was really good, but it was so much food. I had to throw away leftovers because we couldn't finish it all within a week. When making it the second time, I knew I needed to cut down the recipe a little since I was just making it for Rob, the kids and I. I also added chicken the second time around since I would be feeding any vegetarians with this go round.

Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
6.3 oz jar basil pesto
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
7 oz artichoke quartered artichoke hearts
10 oz ricotta cheese
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
1 jar Classico alfredo sauce (any variety will do)

The ricotta mixture and chicken mixture

1. Mix diced chicken breast and pesto together in mixing bowl.

2. Pat spinach with paper towel to remove excess moisture.

3. Slice artichoke hearts into small pieces. Mix with spinach, ricotta, parmesan, and egg.

4. Pour 1/4 sauce into the bottom of a greased slow cooker. Break pasta noodles into pieces and cover sauce with noodles. ( I use three noodles per layer)

5. Spread half of ricotta mixture on top of noodles. Spread half of chicken mixture on top of ricotta mixture.

6. Top chicken mixture with another layer of noodles. Pour half of remaining sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella over sauce.

7. Repeat layering starting with the ricotta mixture.

8. Cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

9. If you want your cheese on top browned, remove ceramic pot from the slow cooker basin and place in oven. Broil until the cheese is browned to your liking.

10. Return to slow cooker and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I used a rotisserie chicken, just the breasts, from the store when making this. You could also use grilled, pan sauteed, boiled chicken, etc. The original recipe calls for a mixture of 4 Cheese and Garlic alfredo sauce. I did use both, but I don't feel it adds anything to the dish. If you use two jars you wind up with half a jar of each left over, so I simplified it for the recipe. I used a 14 oz can of artichoke hearts. I used half for the recipe and froze the rest for the next time I make this, because I will be making it again. You will not use an entire box of noodles. I used approximately 6 ounces of noodles, half a box.

H and B going to town on their lasagna.

The end result after two helpings a piece, and demanding to eat some of mine.

We did have some leftovers with the recipe, enough for 2 servings instead of 6. Rob said he liked this batch better than the first time I made it. Probably because there was no meat in it the first time. My hubby loves his meat. If you want to make a vegetarian version, omit the chicken and add the pesto to the ricotta mixture. Follow the rest of the recipe as instructed above.

Happy Cooking!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Weekend

Our weekend started out pretty quiet as usual. On Friday the kids and I ran a few errands, but mostly hung out around the house. They have been hanging out in their box all the time lately. I would love to toss it, but they love it, so we shall hold onto it until Santa brings them something better. 

During nap time I wrapped gifts and watched Love Actually. It's definitely my favorite holiday movie, and I always watch it while wrapping gifts. After the kids were in bed for the night, Rob and I snuggled on the couch and watched Christmas Vacation. I am slowly checking all my must watch holiday movies off my list. 

On Saturday the kids and I spent all day hanging around the house. They ran around in diapers and watched the snow fall.  We read books, played with Legos and did puzzles. 

Saturday night was Rob's company Christmas party. The kids went out to dinner with one of their favorite Aunties, and I got ready before heading out with the hubs.  

Since we were out, we decided to stop past out favorite restaurant for martinis and dessert on the way home. Our créme brûlée was the perfect end to the evening. The martinis weren't too shabby either. 

Before heading to bed, I knew there was a headache in my future. Mixing beer, wine, and vodka never bodes well for me, and last night was no different. 

I woke up feeling hungover only to find Brooke had pulled Jingle, a candle and her keepsake box all into her crib. Why don't kids know they're supposed to take it easy on you after a night out? 3 cups of coffee and 1600mg of ibuprofen later, I was headache free and the kids' dresser was rearranged so that the only thing Brooke can reach from her crib are diapers.  

After watching the Steelers pretty much guarantee they won't be going the the playoffs, we got the kids ready and headed to see the Fantasy of Lights again. When we went last week, the kids stayed in their seats, and Rob didn't get to come with us. This time they got a front row seat. 

Boo helped drive, and Harry got to take in the view from his daddy's lap. If you live in Fort Wayne or the surrounding area, you should take the time to visit. It's only $5 and benefits Anthony Wayne Services. AWS is a great organization that helps disabled children and adults.  

We also drove past one of our favorite private residences. This house has been a constant in my yearly Christmas light viewing pleasure for over 20 years.  Some nights the owner even dresses up as Santa and sits out on his drive. I love taking the kids to see all of the fun things I enjoyed growing up. I love seeing them get excited over holiday fun.  

We are finishing the evening with a little Home Alone action. I can't think of a better way to end the night. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Weekend and Thanksgiving

The last of my family hopped on a plane back to the other side of the country today. Life is finally back to normal after almost an entire week of crazy, family fun.

Thursday morning, after letting out all the pups at the daycare, we headed to the in-laws for brunch. I made breakfast casserole which was accompanied by bagels and fruit. H and B got to meet the in-laws dogs for the first time which they really liked once they got used to them. We read stories, ate food, and got to visit for a few hours before it was time for naps.

After naps we headed to my parents to see all of my family and go to town on some thanksgiving dinner. The kids Thanksgiving dinner consisted of crackers and a few sausage balls. They weren't interesting in eating anything. Not even sweet potatoes which they love. Thanks to their refusal to eat dinner, I didn't get to eat as much as I wanted. Disappointing for me, but probably good for my jeans.

All of the kids' uncles on my side of the family have facial hair, which H and B are not used to. They were very leery of all the bearded men, but warmed to them all once we let them touch their facial hair. Touching and pointing to beards became almost a game for them.

We spent almost every moment with my family soaking up all the time we could get with them. We had some adult fun during naps and bedtime. One night out, a Cards Against Humanity night, and even a movie. The last movie I saw in a theater was Fast and Furious 6 and before that was Magic Mike. We saw Thor, and it was a treat to get to see a movie in the theater. We also had a The Walking Dead viewing on Sunday at our house. I'm very thankful for babies that nap and sleep well so I could enjoy some kid free time with my siblings.

The majority of the weekend was spent watching Harrison and Brooke play with Cousin Charlie. Of course there was a little bit of jealousy over toys, but they all seemed to enjoy each other's company. Charlie is really into Thomas, so H and B learned all about trains this weekend. We got to go look at Christmas lights, visit Santa and his reindeer (both the real and light up version), and play for days.

Two favorite from AWS Fantasy of Lights

I didn't take enough pictures this weekend. No family Thanksgiving picture. No picture of my siblings and I. Not nearly enough pictures of H, B and C. I guess that's what happens when you're busy living life. Can I hire a photographer to just follow us around and take pictures? The good news is that we had so much fun, we don't need a ton of pictures to remember it.

I hope all of you had a great long Thanksgiving weekend. Now it's back to the daily grind and finishing up Christmas shopping. I feel like there's a Love Actually viewing in the near future accompanied by wrapping gifts. Color me excited!