Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He's four.

We are so glad Carson is the "biggest brother" in our family. He has been doing a great job for the past four years. Carson requested a volcano-themed party after checking out the entire shelf of volcano books at the library. We had lots of fun planning it together!

After making a few of these birthday banners for Christmas gifts a whole year ago, I finally made one for myself! Carson's party food included a chocolate volcano cake, ice cream dipped in red sprinkles, and red cake pops. (Thank heavens a volcano was much easier to make than the disaster of a digger cake last year!)

The guests each painted their own mini-volcanoes, which were to be taken home and allowed to erupt.
We learned a little bit about magma, lava, ash clouds, etc.
Pin the ash cloud on the volcano. Kind of lame, but Carson thought we had to have a "pin the..." game.
Rick led an obstacle course type game, something about stay off the hot lava (leaves).
Cake time.
The little siblings corner.
The grand finale of the party was supposed to be the eruption of this awesome volcano that Rick made out of paper mache. The baking soda and vinegar just wasn't cutting it in the practice runs, so Rick bought some Coke and mentos just before the party to see if we could get the "lava" to really shoot out of there. Welll it didn't really work, and all the kids were just sort of waiting there for a while. (Laura has no fear!) So eventually Rick shook the Coke bottle real hard and it exploded all over him and the wall. The kids still thought it was cool!
Carson's actual birthday was Sunday, and after church and naps we had a nice family dinner and opened the Grandma presents. He's being funny when I asked him to smile here.
Opening presents = real smiles.
You better believe Everett can't wait til April 4th after all this birthday talk.
His birthday dinner request was mac 'n cheese. (NOT from a box, thank you very much! Actually I didn't have any cheddar and made it with mozzarella, feta and parmesan, and it was really, really good.)
We love it when Carson has a laugh attack. Usually it's because Everett is about to do something naughty.
So glad this boy's awesome wavy hair is growing back in!
The boys had fun blowing out the candles at our "fancy" dinner.
I'm certain that this sneaky little look means she is thinking about standing up and trying to jump out of her high chair, which she does every five seconds during every meal. Do I need to get a high chair with a five-point harness or what??

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First ponytail!!

Faye loves riding this thing around. She's our little dare devil.

Also, Faye is 10 months old today! She celebrated by taking two or three steps by herself. She still prefers crawling for sure, but she gets the biggest grin when she tries to walk!

Fall Leaves: Carson joins in.

He did get a little upset after being thrown in the leaves here.
Rick just looked at this and said he could have jumped way higher.

Rick's pee wee football portrait.
The girl. We can't believe it's been so beautifully warm in November! Playing outside in the nude is the best.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


(Actually started this post yesterday, so "today" means yesterday.)

Starting the day with an awesome 14 mile run, plus having no heat on a chilly day made me feel 0 desire to get anything done today. So, the kids and I bundled up, cranked up the space heaters, and broke out Carson's new birthday goods. Usually I go crazy staying home all day with the kids, but for some reason we just had a wonderful time all day. I think it was because I really allowed myself to just spend time with them instead of trying to sneak in work, laundry, cooking, etc. These boys are pretty fun playmates.

Not related at all, a few random pictures from when we were making Carson's birthday cake. Everett looks like such a goof; it cracks me up! (He is doing so much better, by the way. Actually today was the first day since he started acting differently that he didn't have any terrified moments or outbursts or anything. Thank heavens. I thought we were going to have to send him off to some reform school or something at age 2.)

Carson finds interesting places to read. I was trying to get him to do something the other day, and he told me he was too busy "studying the solar system." And he really was. (That reminds me. A few days ago we were watching a cute little girl who was a little upset that her daddy had left her here. Carson, trying to comfort her, said things like: "Shiloh. SHILOH! All the outer planets are GAS GIANTS!!" Yeah, that really made her feel better.)

Faye girl had her first little fever a few nights ago. I was in heaven since it slowed her down and made her actually snuggle me for once!! She even fell asleep on the floor like this; very unlike her. It sounds awful, but I sort of wish the fever had lasted a little longer so I could have snuggled her more.

Rick coming home at 5 (still loving this emergency medicine rotation), having dinner with some friends (I brought butternut squash soup, which I LOVE), and going to an evening church meeting made for a lovely day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall leaves.

These pictures remind me a lot of last year. Except everyone's a year older, and there's a cute little girl crawling around. (And the pictures are NOT as good, thanks to our nice camera dying. It breaks my heart every time I take pictures on a cheap little thing.)

Rick was seriously asleep for a few minutes here.

We're enjoying Rick's wonderfully predictable schedule, as he's on Emergency Medicine right now.
I need to start styling her messy hair, but I embarrassingly don't know what to do. And she rips out most things I try!

And there was certainly no playing in the leaves from this boy. He had new books from the library.  Carson has recently gotten good enough at reading that he will sit absorbed in reading a book for long periods of time. (I know. He's three. I take no credit for his smarts; I taught him the letters when he was itty bitty, and he randomly started reading any word he saw over the summer.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day (yesterday).

We're grateful for this handsome soldier. He works so hard and stays cheerful despite getting very little sleep. (He went into work last night at midnight. But don't worry, he'll get off just in time to make it to Saturday morning football!) I'm grateful I have a husband who I would consider the ideal example for my boys.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I was going to follow the trend and post something I'm grateful for every day in November, but obviously I'm a little late to begin. Tonight I am feeling particularly thankful for a friend's visit and wanted to at least record this one.

Everett has been quite the challenge lately. I'm not sure where to begin as I think about his behavior changes, but this little boy is having a hard time for some reason. He wakes up crying at night and during naps, scared of things I can't see. He cries when I leave him at the church nursery or in the childcare at the gym. Sometimes he cries if I leave the room and he's feeling particularly scared. I can't even remember what set him off this afternoon, but the crying and screaming lasted for about two hours, no matter what I tried to do for him. I had to resort to locking him in his room so I could at least have a few minutes without him in order to nurse Faye and put her to bed. And wrestling a very upset Everett into pajamas and brushing his teeth is a downright miserable job. This has been going on for nearly a week now, and I'm feeling quite worried about my cute boy.

So tonight just after I got everyone to bed and was about to start on the dishes, I was so grateful when I good friend came over to chat while she did some sewing. I really believe that my Heavenly Father knew that I needed that. I don't think I could stand another night alone with only my Everett worries to keep me company. So tonight I am grateful for a God who is aware of my needs, and for really good friends who uplift and inspire. Now if only I could figure out what Everett needs!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A recipe share.

Lately I've been on a total baking and cooking mode. I think I'm feeling the excitement/stress of getting ready for Christmas, but I'm not quite ready to do anything about it yet.

So, time to share a few recipes. Here are our dinners from last week:

Crock pot lasagna. I didn't really use this recipe; I just layered it all in the crock pot with what I had. I use cottage cheese, not ricotta. And ground turkey for the meat. I was so happy with how great lasagna turns out in the crock pot! You still get the yummy, crispier edges that you do with traditional lasagna. This was a winner for everyone in the family; Faye and the boys loved it and Rick said it should be in the regular rotation.

Breakfast casserole with roasted sweet potatoes and peppers. I do a pretty boring breakfast casserole, but we all love it. Cube 5 or 6 pieces of bread and squish them all down in the bottom of a pan. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Then pour over that a mixture of about 5 eggs (beaten), 2 cups of milk, 1/2 t. ground mustard, and salt or whatever seasonings you like. Cut up ham or bacon on top. When you bake it (325 for 1 hour), it gets nice and poofy!

Chicken bakes (like from Costco). Although as much as I alter these, they don't taste at all like the Costco ones. I start with wheat pizza dough and roll it out to the rectangle. This time I wanted to use up some cottage cheese so I spread that in, then cubed chicken, a little caesar dressing, mozzarella and Permesan cheese, snuck some peas in, and some red onion and spinach for the adults. It's fun to roll them up and then let the kids put something fun on top like cheese to spell their names or something.

Sweet potato burritos. Read the reviews: black beans instead of kidney, and don't add all that water. Soo good with homemade tortillas.

Chicken and broccoli alfredo. I totally cheat and used canned cream soup to make the sauce. It's just too easy, and everyone likes it just as well. One can cream of chicken or mushroom soup plus half cup milk and half cup Parmesan cheese. Stir in cooked cubed chicken and steamed broccoli, and add it to your favorite pasta.

We made more than one batch of pumpkin bread last week. When I looked for a recipe I just couldn't make the ones that called for three cups of sugar. This one I linked to is perfect; it has yogurt and less sugar. I even cut the sugar to a half cup the last time I made it, and the kids still gobbled it up. Oh, and add a few chocolate chips of course!

And we have a fresh batch of granola at our house. Here's how I make it:

Mix in a BIG bowl:
12 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
2 cups dried apples
sometimes flaxseed

1 cup brown sugar
1 t salt
1 1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup oil
1/3 cup water
2 t cinnamon

Pour the syrup over the oats mixture and stir until evenly coated. Spread in a jelly roll pan and bake at 250 for at least an hour. (This amount should fill three pans.) Bake longer if you like it crispy; shorter if you like it chewy.

I don't take pictures of my food, so here's this crazy girl instead. She loves to dive off the couch, and I usually catch her with her head inches from the ground. She now can do the sign for "milk," and it is so cute, except for when she randomly asks to nurse in public places. I am going to miss her gummy smile with just those two little teeth; two more on the botton have broken through!

Friday, November 4, 2011

And Halloween night.

Carson about died of happiness when I told him we would be trick-or-treating with Olive and family. Once recently he told me his favorite people in the world are Mom, Faye, Olive and Etta. With some convincing he added Dad to the list. We know he loves Everett, he just won't admit it.
You know you wanted to see Miss Peacock again.

And the peacock's mom.

A street in our neighborhood gets blocked off for trick-or-treaters. Most of the houses are decorated, and the place is packed with kids and parents in costume. So basically the whole block is one big party.
I think this is the house where the witch offered alcohol to the parents. Wow.
Isn't this street just so fun?? 

Carson and Olive acted like big kids and raced from house to house. Little Elmo was soooo slow and would stop to check out all the decorations. And Faye was for sure the cutest baby on the block.