Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

I hope you were truly blessed this Christmas.

I hope you felt as much love as is seeping from this picture.

I hope you felt the closeness of Christ as you celebrated the true gift of the season.

Merry Late Christmas from all of us!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

run, run gingerbread man!

Seriously, they should have ran when they had the chance. I feel sorry for those whose fate fell into the hands of my boy. Good thing they still taste just as good, missing limbs, piled heaps and all....

 My mom was a brave soul and decided to have a little cookie baking fun with my niece and Cole.

 There was lots of dough to be licked off beaters, rolled to perfection, eaten off the cookie sheet, shaped and baked.

Cole "helped" tremendously in the eating department, and organizing (dismantling) Jenna's pretty gingerbread men...

Jenna was a good sport.....

Cole had so much fun.

 Got a little messy....

But it's not fun unless there is flour on your hands and cookie on your mug....

Such a fun memory watching Cole bake with his Nana, watching him enjoying himself.

 Watching him get taken over by a sugar coma, and watching him ditch the arms and legs of the gingerbread men, and go straight for the gold.

fist fulls of dough inserted in mouth. Yep, that's my boy!

These are the memories I will cherish for all time. 

Sugar spike and all.

Thanks Nana!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hold them a little tighter

Today my heart is still heavy when I think of the tragedies that have plagued our nation. Innocent lives lost to reckless, unfathomable sin. My heart stops for a moment when I put myself in the shoes of those parents waiting....waiting to see if they will see their child's face again, if they get to squeeze and hold them in their arms one more time.....

I cannot imagine.
I don't want to imagine.
And yet, I have too. 

Sadly, I don't think this will be the last senseless act of violence our nation will have to recover from. I am perplexed and burdened by this truth. I have no other words to say other than, yes, I have tried to put myself in the shoes of those that have lost their baby, whether young or old. And just thinking about it makes me want to fall to my knees and never get up. It's a very solemn reality.

For all those mama's and daddy's that can't kiss their baby good night to night, or watch their child's delight Christmas morning, and find themselves on the ground unable to move, unable to heart goes out to you. Though I am not in your shoes and do not know your pain...

I cry with you.

For I do not know what tomorrow holds, I do not know how many more years, days, minutes I have left with my own two boys. The future is unknown. What I do know is that I have this moment, the now. I have this moment to kiss and hold those I love. To stay up all night because my baby is fighting sleep and least he is there, steps away from my bed, for me to scoop up.  I can smile at my oldest boy across the room as he sits on his froggy potty, fully clothed and using baby brother's socks as puppets, and then tries to do a somersault off his throne. 

I have the now.

I will savor the now, and linger in it's sweetness.

I thank God for the now.

For this.....

We have been giving even more kisses....more hugs

Because this is what God has given us for today.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

3 months to a lifetime

Bennett Lee you have managed to wrap me completely around your little finger, just like your brother. I love you beyond words and can't fathom not having you in my life.

You are a delight! A joy! And bring a sweet energy to this family.

You are such a generous smile giver, all I have to do is look at you and say "hiiiiii". You respond with cheeky grins.

You have already proven your strength by rolling over, again and again.

You are an amazing sleeper, and took mama by surprise when you started consistently sleeping 6-8 hours right before turning 2 months old!

You love your binky.....your brother would have nothing to do with one, until now. He now likes to steal yours and walk around with it in his mouth. Perhaps you are a trendsetter....

You LOVE to talk to me, we often sit face to face and have some deep heart-to-hearts. I hope this never changes as you grow older.

You are super gassy.....All.The.Time. Let's hope this does change as you grow older.

You still enjoy bath time, but coming out of the bath is a whole other story. And let's not forget about lotion time, you often share your disapproval quite heartily.

You give me about one poopy diaper per week...thank you sweet boy.

If you are fussy all I have to do is hold you facing out to the world, I don't think you want to miss a moment of what is going on around you!

You love patty-cake.

I still can't get you to take naps in your bassinet, you much prefer your bouncer.

Your new favorite game is staring and laughing at your reflection in the mirror.

You are a good sport when it comes to dealing with big brother Cole. You put up with his smothering kisses, and endless pats on your head, you even kind of act like you enjoy it when he drops trains and toys in your lap.

However, you still are not a big fan of tummy time....we try.

You like to stand and dance in my lap.

You are still in 0-3 month clothes and size 1 diapers, your clothes finally look like they fit you now.

You can light up a room with your joy.

I still can't believe you are a quarter of the way to being one! when i think of how fast the past three months have flown by, I know 16 is right around the bend.

You are so loved and adored, you have no idea. Your daddy and I stand in awe of you and who you are daily. My prayer is that you will never go a day without feeling our intense love, but more so, that you will never go a day without feeling the even intenser love of God. It's hard to imagine He loves you more than I....

Oh, but He does little one. 

And He is going to guide you through this sometimes dark and confusing world. Oh how I pray that you will not lose sight and focus on Him as the world muddles and softens the lines of integrity.  May you have conviction for truth; what is right and noble. May your heart be burdened for those who need love--who need Christ. I pray you live your life with purpose and Kingdom minded.

You are 3 months old, with a lifetime (whether long or short) full of meaning and impact. And this is my time to impact you with love and grace.

May God give us both clear direction 

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Love is Sweet" a bridal shower

This post is a little late in sharing. My cousin is going to be walking down the alter to become a Mrs. at the end of the month. To join in on the excitement of her marriage my mom, sisters and I threw her a shower. (I should add that my super talented mom did most of the work since 2 of us recently had new babies.)

My job was to help come up with a theme and to plan the menu.  Here is shower I came across, fell in love with, and really wanted to do our own spin on....

Photo Source: Hostess with the Mostess
Here is our take on the shower to make it our own.

Isn't my mom talented?!  That's why I always ask her to come help me decorate for my parties! Plus, she has the coolest things to decorate the aqua mason jars, I'm such a sucker for anything aqua.

Since I love food and planning for parties, I was in charge of coming up with the menu.  It was a little harder to get myself focused since I was juggling a two year old, newborn, and moving. But once we decided to do small bites, and my mom threw some ideas at me we were able to solidify a plan.

The Menu

Caprese Skewers (Mom's recipe)
Prosciutto wrapped and Goat Cheese filled dates
Apple Chutney Crostini
Autumn Salad
Mini quiche (frozen from Costco)
Olive Tapenade (Sister in law's recipe)
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (store bought)
Cheese Sticks (Mom's recipe)
Baked Spinach and Artichoke dip

Chocolate Malted Cupcake with a Toasted Marshmallow filling
Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting

If you are having a party then  you have got to try the Prosciutto wrapped goat cheese dates, they are like little bites of Heaven! Don't be scared of how they look, they simply don't show as well as they taste.  We had people coming back for second and thirds....and secretly I was hoping there would be a lot left over...

 Dates with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese

The recipe as written I'm sure is amazing, but we decided to use plain goat cheese and omit the basil leaf due to making it easier and quicker to assemble. We did taste it with the basil leaf and it really added a nice component to the bite.  But if you are short on time it tastes just as good without!

 Apple Chutney and Goat Cheese Crostini

I have been making this for several years now...and I must confess that I have never actually included the layer of roasted garlic or the tomatoes and they taste just fine! Every time I make this people are a little perplexed by the idea of garlic and apples together, but after one bite are often quite sold on the union. I enjoyed munching on the leftovers for several days after the shower. The best part of this recipe is that you can make the chutney up to 3 days in advance....just mix in the minced mint right before plating.

 Autumn Chopped Salad

Again unique parings such as peanuts, pears, crisp apples and bacon come together to create a dance party on your tongue. We had a lot of requests for this is a fun take on the traditional sweet and salty salads.

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Again this is a tried and true recipe that is very, very addicting. It was the first spinach artichoke dip I ever made. Once I made it and ate it I stopped my mad hunt to find the best. I do everything as the recipe calls for except I add additional mozzarella into the bake. We just had this again last night at my mom and dad's and yummers! Trust me it is better than the photo makes it appear.

Now we get to the good part.....DESSERT!

Malted Belgium Chocolate Cupcake with a Toasted Marshmallow Filling

Seriously, talk about a cupcake that melts in your mouth. This one takes the cake and also a good chunk of time to make. I ended up splitting it up between two days because I just did not have enough spare time in one day to devote to these beauties. But the good news is the cupcake is super moist and you can actually fill and frost them a whole day ahead of time. Just make sure they are stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Beware, you will be tempted to eat the filling straight from the bowl by the spoonfuls! I even used the leftovers and ate with grahams crackers.  I learned that I can roast marshmallows by broiling them in the oven-- and it pretty much creates perfection. Plus, I don't have to dodge any flaming marshmallows! (that will be a story for a later date). Double bonus!

And last but definitely not least are these beauties....

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting

These are also the same cupcakes I made for my little pip-squeeks second birthday. I had promised to share the recipe but wanted to wait until after the shower to do so. This is such a good spin on a classic pumpkin cupcake. And who can resist a good salted caramel? I actually didn't use the caramel recipe posted in the recipe as I have my own that I make all the time and it always turns out perfect. I have a hard time straying from recipes that I know and love.

Here is the Caramel recipe I use.....I actually can't remember where I found it, I think from an old newspaper article.

Salted Caramel

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 Tbls. corn syrup
6 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 c. whipping cream
1-2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla


In large saucepan combine together sugar, water, and corn syrup over med/high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves (mixture will go from grainy to clear looking). Cook over med/high heat, swirling pan (do not use spoon to stir) until mixture becomes a deep amber/nut brown in color. (at this point you will notice a change in the smell, it will start smelling rich and caramelly). Watch closely, it can burn quickly. Remove from heat, stir in butter, cream and salt. Stir in vanilla. ( I usually start with 1 tsp of salt, and will add more later if needed).

I hope this gives you some inspiration and confidence that you can plan a party without having to stress over what to serve. All of these little bites are easy to prepare, some can be made ahead of time, leaving you more time to enjoy family and friends during such a special season! And don't forget the cupcakes, a party isn't a party without a yummy cupcake to partake in. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Masterpiece Theater

This is what happens when you are trying to document the day your baby turns 12 weeks, and you are too busy snapping pictures to realize what is happening in the background...

Take a close look, this should have been my first indication of what was to come....

But I kept snapping away thinking nothing of it.....

Should have thought more of it.....
This was me, "Cole, is the floor paper?" Giggle, giggle.
Hand over my mouth to hide my smile, "Cole, we do not draw on anything other than paper!" Giggle, giggle.
In my most stern voice, "Cole you are going to scrub up every last crayon mark!" Giggle, giggle.
I couldn't help myself, the irony was too funny. I should have realized all of the busy scurrying around in the background would lead up to no good.

But the look on Cole's proud face was priceless.

Let's face it, the floor must have seemed like the perfect blank canvas for such a masterpiece. So I gave him a towel and told him to "scrub, scrub, scrub."

Then I noticed blue streaks all down the hallway....I have never been more thankful for washable crayons as I was last night!

AND I did manage to catch a couple cute photos of the littlest man, still can't believe he is almost 3 months! He is starting to look all grown up in his big boy clothes...

He is all kinds of preciousness.

And so is his brother, blue crayons and all.

Did I mention that he also went poo-pooey on the big boy toilet last night....courtesy of his daddy, apparently a natural born coach! Looks like operation potty training may begin real soon, as in yesterday.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

From one soup lover to the next

The holidays are upon us with full force. On blistery days like this one I like to have something warm and toasty to help thaw my iceberg hands. This would do the trick nicely.

Photo Credit: Iowa Girl Eats
 Or this one....

Photo Credit: Tasty Kitchen from Bake Your Day

They are both amazing on their own, but throw in a  slice of  thick crusty bread for dipping and whoa!  For whatever reason am craving them both simultaneously, weird.  Perhaps it's because I'm sitting here staring at our freshly cut and decorated tree and the thought of having a nice hot bowl of soup just seems right. (Or could just be the fact that I am staring at both of the pictures and remembering how yummy they tasted in my tummy).

Oh, and did I mention they are both amazing as leftovers? Need I say more? Hope you enjoy yourself a cup BIG bowl of hot and satisfying soup to help bring warmth to your soul this holiday season.

*Update, You can find the recipes by clicking on the link under each picture.  I also added extra veggies and some addition seasoning to the Cheesy Chicken and Rice soup (Kirkland's Organic No Salt seasoning to be exact).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Most kids choose a stuffed animal....

Mine chooses my giant pink sparkly comb, a plastic cup, or daddy's wedding ring....

This is just a small list of things I have found cuddled up next to my two year old when I get him in the morning. See, my hubby puts him to bed each night, and every once in awhile I will hear a wail right about the time Cole should be laying his head down to sleep. Come to find out the source of that wail is because he wanted to bring something to bed with him that Kyle said "no" too. Like his wedding ring....

The best was when Kyle came down and said that Cole had a stack of his sippy cups tucked closely under one arm and the lids under the other....both to which he fell fast asleep with.

Ah, to know what my boy is thinking.

It's these quirky little things that I want to remember for the rest of my life...perhaps someday he can shed some light onto the choosing of his bedtime buddies. Until then I will continue to store them in my mommy heart and allow them out when I need a good chuckle or a slight pick-me-up for a hard day.

Another memory that I hope becomes more and more of an occurrence is this...

As I'm sure you all know I LOVE to cook, and lately I have been pulling up a stool and letting my boy get in on the action. I try to find things that involve lots of mixing and stirring and that won't hurt if decides to taste test. After all, isn't that what they tell you to do on the Iron Chef?

I have to let go of the notion that my kitchen will not get usually ends up looking like a bomb went which my husband would probably say doesn't look all that different when it's just myself in the kitchen. I'm known for creating amazing messes...usually do to my clumsiness or forgetting that the mixer is on high speed when I turn it on.  And I like to use bowls....lots and lots of bowls.

So in order to keep the chaos down to a somewhat reasonable amount I chose to put Cole's culinary abilities to use on one-bowl recipes.

Like this one. Here's to my next little Iron Chef in the making....

Photo Credits: Green Lite Bites
Banana Oatmeal Cups. These were awesome! Kind of like baked oatmeal in a muffin form, perfect for little hands to both make and stuff in their mouths. And great for a quick and easy energy boosting snack for a nursing mom. Cole loved making them and followed directions pretty well....until I turned my back for two seconds and saw him stuff a spoonful into his mouth with lightening speed! I freaked out for a a quick moments due to there being raw egg in the batter, but then I thought back to the bowls of cookie dough I consumed as a kid and remembered, I had made it out alive. 

And guess what? So did Cole. He not only lived through the experience but you should have seen his eyes glow every time I asked him if he wanted an oatmeal muffin that he made! I look forward to many more culinary adventures with both my little guys....

But most of all, I look forward to seeing what I will find in Cole's crib in the morning!

Check out the recipe here: Green Lite Bites

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lunchin it up

It's 11:30 and I have already polished off my lunch, I have been eagerly awaiting this since about 5:30 last night. And this is why...

That is a tamale pie full of YUM. 

Remember that mental list I made and was determined to take both my boys to the park, and then how it turned into a wrestling match to get my darling 2 year old back into his stroller???  (for the record, I actually have attempted the park outing again, and the result was much, much better) In fact, he did so well that we walked over to the Starbucks down the street and I got him his first "latte" aka a child's steamer with 1/2 pump of vanilla.

I think he liked it.

I kept telling him over and over, leave the lid alone....or it will be a mess. It was all fine and dandy until....he didn't leave the lid alone. And he stood in the middle of a "latte" puddle. Sad day.  I guess it goes without saying that we are still working "obedience" and perhaps next time he will listen to his wise mother.

Oh well, life went on and this wise mother continued to check things off of her mental list.

 #2 on that list was to continue preparing home cooked meals and have them ready and on the table by the time hubby came home each night. Sometimes this is a very easy task, and other days I'm ready to toss in all the pots and phone the nearest pizza joint. However, recipes like the one above make this task extremely and beautifully possible.

Even after a day of check ups and baby immunizations....

Poor baby wasn't all grins and smiles yesterday after all his little pokes. But he checked out very well and rang in at a little over 10 lbs and just shy of 22 inches tall. Which puts him in the 20th percentile for height and the 30th for weight. Still my little bean.

We arrived home with barely enough time to get dinner thrown together and in the oven. which made me soooo thankful for this jewel of a recipe. The only changes I made was I used 1 whole egg in place of the egg substitute, didn't include the green chile's because I forgot to buy them, and added extra taco seasoning to the batter. Yum.  even Cole gobbled it up and had it smeared in his hair, down his chest, behind his ears.....that, my friends is the sign of a good meal. :)

If you find yourself in a pinch,  head on over to Pinch of Yum and make her Tamale Pie, it's even better the second day..... Even at 11:30 in the morning.

P.S. on a side note, the following picture has absolutely nothing to do with the above post other than it is pure cuteness. I find myself chuckling multiple times throughout my day when I see things like this...

The mark that big brother has been by....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2 months already?

My Bennett baby is growing up way too fast, maybe if I snuggle him too much he will decide he doesn't want to grow up anymore....doubtful, but worth a try!

Where do I even begin? He absolutely could not be more perfect, he is an amazing baby and brings so much joy to our hearts. When I stare at all of his perfectly formed features I can't help but think, he lives up to his name in every possible way.

While trying to pick out a boy's name I absolutely fell in love with the name Bennett. When I saw it I just knew it was the name, it was sweet yet manly, cute yet as my husband would say "it will look good on his job application or a name plate when he is older." When I brought the name to Kyle he wasn't as excited as I was but he also didn't turn it down.....there was hope. :) Then one evening while I thought Kyle was studying and working on homework I heard him call me over. He happily explained that Bennett meant "Blessed" or "Blessed One". I hadn't even thought of looking at the meaning, because usually the names I really like mean something like a "tall hill" you know, nothing that I want to call mom and brag about. But as I heard the words "blessed" I knew secretly we had both made the decision that was to be our boy's name. Plus, I was dead set on using his middle name to carry on the legacy of two very important men in my life. My dad and brother. They both have Lee as their middle name and it sounded almost too perfect following Bennett.

As the months progressed and we faced the thought that he may need to come way earlier than expected , each day thereafter solidified the meaning of his name. Each passing day that I got to carry him further was a blessing, and I knew God had a far better plan mightier than our own. This boy was so blessed and he hadn't even made it outside the womb yet! Then on September 9th 2012, he came to us healthy and little blessing bundle! He made becoming a family of 4 one of the most incredible blessings ever.

Yes, Bennett we are beyond blessed to know you and call you are own. Now please stop growing up so fast!

You make my heart melt daily.

If I blink I fear you will become a grown man.

But for today you are my baby, the baby that breathes softly on my neck as you fall asleep. The baby that would rather be held close than anywhere else. The baby with big shiny eyes that dance when I talk to you. I pray they never lose their dance, for it is precious. 

You have yet to completely sleep through the night, but regularly give us 3 hour intervals between feedings....and every once in awhile you slip in a 5 hour stretch and we are so refreshed. 

You like to rise and shine with the sun...or before the sun, usually our mornings get started between 5:30-6:30.

You are slower than your brother to pack on the rolls and cheeks, but you are a great eater nonetheless. I call you my grazer, you like to eat from one side and want nothing to do with other until about an hour later....

You are finally transitioning out of newborn sized clothing and kind of fit into 0-3 months. Personally mama loves you in a onesie and leg warmers.

You LOVE to get your diaper changed, if you are fussy all I have to do is place you on the changing table and smiles and coos await. 

You are a snuggler, you insist on being held, and would rather sleep on my chest than anywhere else. 

You love to be carried around in my Beco carrier, and I love to carry you close to my heart.

You hate my cold hands.

You haven't been officially weighed or measured yet, but I'm betting you are around 9 lbs

You have a new fascination with your fingers, I keep waiting for the thumb to find its way in your mouth, but for now you settle for your fist.

You like to hold onto my hair, a wad in each hand,  kind of like it's your security blanket.

You have mastered the really adorable lower lip just like you brother.

If you are really fussy and the mama bounce doesn't work I hold you close to my chest and do squats....this works every single time.  I think you are trying to help your mama get her bum back in shape!

You are a complete joy, and I cannot even remember what life was like before you joined us. You keep me on my toes, teach me patience daily and never cease to amaze me with your ways. Happy 2 month birthday little dude, can't wait for many more monthly celebrations!!!