Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Child's Perspective

There are many days I get caught up in the adult way a of life...you know, worrying about bills, making sure dinner is on the table, stressing over the big and the small things, and trying to be the mighty mom every.single.day. Sometimes with all of life's duties I forget to look around me and enjoy the many little blessings that I am surrounded by daily.

My little boys remind me of this, bless their sweet souls.

Yesterday there was a break in the rain and the temperature was unusally pleasant outiside, so I packed up both boys and decided we would go for a nice fall walk. Several blocks down we came across a beautiful maple tree that had a pillowing of colorful leaves strewn about the grass. Cole and I decided to run through them kicking them all about like crazy kids. If only I could have captured the joy and delight as I saw plastured across his face...I would have bottled it and saved it for a rainy day.

It was captivating.

It gave me a renewed sense of admiration for little hearts and how they find joy in things that we, as adults, often pass by without much more than a glance. How I wish that I would see joy in the rain as it brings amazing puddles to stomp in, or how cheerios taste good without milk and seem to be the hunger solve-all, or that pile of socks that are fun to throw down the stairs...over....and over...and over again.

It's the small things. Like rearranging pumpkins....

And when your 7 weeks old, it's the joy when big brother shares his trains with you...

For me, it's soaking in these little lives that have overtaken mine....I've especially been soaking in the adorable smiles from Bennett. I tried catching some of them today, but it's hard to make silly faces when you have a big camera covering half your face! So here are some bits and pieces of the smiles I tried to unsuccessfully catch....

I love the fact that I get to be around these precious little hearts every day, oh how they teach me and stretch me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. I look forward to many more puddle jumping, leaf running, and smile searching days.

How thankful I am that God has given me my boys so that I may look at life through their lenses every once in awhile.

Helps me gain perspective on what really matters.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Muffins for Dinner

What do you do when you have leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge, a baby that has finally given way into a peaceful nap, and a rambunctious two year old that stopped kicking and screaming long enough to also drift off into sleepy land? Most would probably join the others in nappy nap bliss....but I couldn't do that, not when I had this recipe burning in my head...

Photo From: Annie Eats

So I set to work, frantically stirring and mixing away in a race against the little time I had to get these puppies in the oven and in my tummy. Unfortunately, I didn't make it, and had to split up making these throughout the rest of the afternoon in any spare moments I could find.

At one point it dawned on me that I had pulled a "Rachel" off of Friends. You know the episode where she begs Monica to allow her to make a dessert for Thanksgiving. And as she was making her "English Trifle" the pages in the cookbook stuck together and she ended up with half a trifle and the other half Shepherds Pie....

Fortunately mine wasn't quite that bad,  but I did accidentally combine two different pumpkin muffin recipes because I had them both pulled up on my laptop. Lucky for me they were both really similar and after a frantic moment I realized that the only thing I had truly done differently was the cheesecake filling, and it actually turned out to be a lovely mistake.

You know what else was lovely? The fact that I was actually able to get them in the oven. AND my two year old loved them....what he didn't love was dinner and I almost let him go to bed hungry, but couldn't resist those big blue eyes...I know, a pumpkin muffin probably wasn't the best reinforcer. Oh well,  tomorrow will be my do-over. Besides, I figured I needed to cut the kid some slack...he just had his two year check up yesterday complete with a shot.

There is my cheese ball boy all cute and yet still....two. He rang in at 28 pounds and 32 inches tall. Yep, folks we have a shorty on our hands....he is in the 10th percentile for height and 50th for weight. His pediatrician is finally only slightly concerned by the fact that he is not much into talking other than his non-stop jabbering. So we will take him to get evaluated to rule out any possibilities that might be hindering his talking. I'm hoping that he is just a late talker like his daddy, but would rather nip anything in the bud instead of waiting with my fingers crossed.

Until then we will feast on more pumpkin muffins, and I may even serve them again for dinner, or use them as talking bribery....because it made a lot and it would be a shame for them to go to waste.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins 
Recipe: adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 muffins

Monday, October 22, 2012

My little man turns 2!

This past weekend was someone's birthday, he has big blue eyes, squishy cheekers, stubby fingers, and recently became the best big brother on this side of Heaven.

His name is Cole and he is turning into a little man. He turned 2!

So we celebrated his two milestone eating some of these....

He had two...by accident....trust me when I say there is no way I would have knowingly given him two cupcakes, you should have seen the bounce he had in him after only one! I suppose he wanted to ring in this second year with an extra dose of sweetness. So I chose to let him rather than stop him.

And then he decided to forgo his hands all together, I mean why waste your energy holding the cupcake when you can conserve it and do this.....

Yes, we enjoyed our cupcakes...a recipe that is definitely worth sharing, and you better believe I will share so you too can eat them with no hands.

But back to the theme of the party, since I have always called Cole my little man, I decided there would be no better theme than a "Little Man Mustache Bash".  I had so much fun with this theme, and thought Cole pulled it off perfectly, complete with his color coordinated tie and all. However, the tie was the cause of many tears upon him waking up from his nap right at the start of his party.  He wanted nothing to do with wearing the tie, or getting his diaper changed, OR even having a party for that matter. I had purposely planned the time of his party so he would have plenty of time to get in a 2-3 hour  nap right before hand. We put him down and then he proceeded to sit in his crib and yap/cry for 2 hours straight until he finally gave in and fell asleep. I think deep down he was just way too excited to sleep, at least that is what I kept telling myself as I ran around putting on the finishing touches such as setting up the bar area.

We had chocolate-caramel coated "cigars". These were almost the death of me! Seriously, I don't think my hubby had ever seen so many pretzel rods flying through the air, shattering into a bazillion little pieces as he did that day. Word of advice, if you decide to do a caramel layer, make sure you either spray your wax paper OR get stick-free foil....trust me, if you want to make them and keep your sanity...do not skip that step. Your hubby will thank me, and you won't be scraping up caramel and pretzel pieces off the floor.

 And of course we couldn't have a mustache bash without some "stache" Both paper and in lollipop form.

 We asked everyone to come and enjoy a nice cold root "beer" float at the (breakfast) bar.

There was dashing tie garland...

And more mustache fun....

There were some clever mustache signs and a birthday banner....

Cole had lots of presents to open, and then of course they needed to be played with....

we shared lots of laughs, stories, and some good ole hugs and snuggles....

I think the party was a success, everyone left with a smile, Cole snapped out of his nap time blues, and now he is two. Sniff, sniff.

My little man I love you dearly. You busted your way into this world and into our hearts. You have taught me how to see life through your eyes, and I LOVE what I see. You are precious, your are stubborn, you are pure joy. Thank you for putting on your big boy shoes and taking your role as a big brother with pride. You will always be my firstborn, the one who made me a mom, the one who taught me that the world revolves around more than just myself, the one who has tested every nerve in my being, but the one who dissolves all that frustration into such an intense love. 

My sweet little man, I love you....every last bit of you. Thank you for being you, all of the time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not without some chaos and cuteness

I am here to tell you that I have officially made it through 1/2 the week on my own....alive, and should I say, even thriving? If you take a way the sleep depravity that I am feeling I would go as far as saying I think I am figuring out the constant balancing act that comes with having 2 kids under the age of 2. Monday was a scary day for me, but once I realized that yes, I could give both Cole and Bennett quality time, keep my patience after waking up at the crack of dawn, get myself fully dressed (no, I am not talking about pajama pants here), and manage to have dinner piping hot and ready by the time my hubby walked through the door. If you would have asked if I thought any of that would happen in the first day, I would have given you a resounding "no". But let's not get ahead of ourselves and thinking that all my days have gone without a hitch.

You didn't see the pile of cereal left on the floor when Cole decided to open the box and turn it upside down.Or the yogurt splattered everywhere when he decided that he was done.....

You didn't see when I had to chase Cole down the hall...while breastfeeding....and using one hand to grab his arm and drag him to a timeout while saying things like "no, it is not ok to whack your mama with a hanger." (never underestimate the abilities a mom has, even while nursing little man!)

You didn't hear the screaming and whining that unfolded when I had to pick Bennett up because, well, he was crying....but big brother preferred that he stay laying next to him regardless.

I may or may not have used "snacks" as a way to buy a little extra peaceful time while I was busy tending to Bennett. (I don't think Cole would ever complain about this one).

Or the day I looked up to see that Cole had just discovered that his finger fit perfectly in his nose, and he proceeded to stuff it up there over and over again, as I repeatedly pulled it out.

And I may have left out a key detail such as the only way I got a shower, dressed and makeup applied was merely the fact that I got up while it was still very dark out.....not as awesome sounding as before huh.

You most definitely cannot see the pile of toys at my feet that I am choosing to ignore so that I can type this post.

Our days are not perfect, and I know we will have good ones and then ones that seem like the "song that never ends". I'm sure I will have many moments when I "lose" it both mentally and emotionally.  But you know what?  I plan on doing my very best to soak up the good along with the bad, because in retrospect I only get them this little for a snippet of time.

I mean can you believe this little dude will be two in 4 days???

Seriously, a snippet of time....

And this little guy will grow up like his brother did...why do they do that?  Cole and I decided to have a photo shoot to capture Bennett at 5 weeks, so that when he is about to turn two, I can look back at these pictures and pinch myself at how big he has become.  So here are a few of the photos we took.

OK, so that was more than a few.....but I couldn't resist, he is just too darn cute just like his brother!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Blue Box Redo

I know it's been awhile since I have posted anything about food, mainly because there were too many other important and hard things that deserved to be blogged about more. But as I try to get back into the swing of being a stay-at-home mom with two little ones I hope to start posting recipes that help me make it sanely to the table on time. I actually have several recipes that I have been dying to share...but this first one trumps the others because it is what every household needs to know about. Especially all you moms out there!

Nothing says kid friendly like a big plate of mac n' cheese....ok, let's be honest, it's hardly for the kids as it is to  the adults. It's quick, easy, cheap....and tastes oh so good.  However, that pretty little blue box packs a punch when it comes to preservatives, sodium, and all around lack of nutrients. Don't get me wrong, I still love the stuff, have fed it to Cole, and may have even kept a good stash of the microwaveable ones during my early preggo craving days with Bennett. But as with most of the food I feed my family I try my hardest to stay away from processed food as much as possible...key word, try. That is why my jaw dropped when I first spotted this recipe on Pinterest about making homemade, creamy, mac n' cheese in one pot, on the stove, in a matter of minutes. It sounded too good to be true.

Oh boy, it wasn't. It was actually very good and very true.

Photo Source: Martha Stewart

I  used mini shells that had added fiber...you know, to up the "healthy" status. The great thing about this recipe it you can totally use nonfat milk...or really go for it with the whole. I used 1%, added about a teaspoon of real butter, used a mixture of cheddar and Monterrey jack, threw in a little onion powder for kicks and it was delightful! The best part, Cole scarfed it up, and proclaimed with a great big "Mmmm" after his first bite...a keeper if you ask me.

So next time you are craving that cheesy, comfort bowl of noodles, rather than reach for the box, pull out your milk instead and stir, stir, stir away to creamy awesomeness. (By the way, the needing to constantly stir this was the only downfall of the recipe, but I suppose you can't have everything...also, this was the perfect amount for 2 adults and one 2 year old, you might want to double if making for more people than that).

So please follow this link to make your own incredible no box mac n cheese!!! 

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese 

They also include some great tips so that you can easily obtain the cheesy goodness on your own stove top. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did and that you too can happily say, "Mmmmm!" after your first bite. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's been nearly 5 weeks and life has brought so many unpredicted changes, it has been hard to grasp the awesomeness of God's provisions once again. We just moved back to our old home on a whim ( after debating over and over whether or not to sell or put it up for rent again), then all in a matter of mere days Kyle was sought out, interviewed, and offered an amazing job that he hadn't even applied for ( can you say praise the Lord??!!!) Then lets not forget that I have been trying to keep up with two little ones.....not always the easiest of tasks, but nothing I would change for the world.

So what are these two little munchkins up to these days?

Bennett is such a little doll, seriously I can't stop staring as his perfectly formed lips, his shiny bright eyes, and kissable cheeks. He is beyond perfect for our family and I cannot wait to see how his personality blossoms as he grows older.

He started giving me the most addicting smiles around 3 1/2 weeks, and lately they have become a lot more frequent and responsive, especially when I hold my face close to his and talk in a higher pitched voice, he will lock eyes with me, let out some coos, his eyes get big and light up...and then his little lips turn up into one giant, open mouthed smile! Seriously it's amazing every single time.

I know how everyone always says that all newborn do is sleep.....well, I am here to say, that is one big lie! Ha ha. Bennett is one of the most alert babies I have ever been around. He likes to soak everything around him in, almost as if he doesn't want to miss out on a moment of his new life. makes it a little difficult to get anything done, such as, moving and unpacking!  Thankfully he does pretty well at night and gives us 3-4 hours stretches of sleep (most of the time). However, he has always had a thing for 4 am, and we seem to have the hardest time getting him back down after his feeding. Now that I think about it, 4 am was always his party time in my tummy too...hmmm, coincidence?

He has taken up nursing quite well, and has greatly improved the last couple of weeks. I used to call him my lazy eater.... as soon as my milk would let down he would pull off, open his mouth and just let the milk flow in freely without any effort on his part. Or he would try and lap it up like a hamster....which usually resulted him getting milk up the nose, in his eyes, all down his face, and me being covered in milk down to my legs...very attractive, and very uncomfortable.Thankfully he is learning how to stay latched on better and dealing with the flow of my milk. I try my best to tank him up on milk during the day so he will eat less at night, which means he eats about every 1 1/2 -2 hours during the day and then every 3-4 at night. Cole liked that night schedule well into his 9th month, so I don't plan on getting uninterrupted sleep for quite some time. :)

Speaking of nighttime, Benny-boy loves to be swaddled at night, and sleeps in his bouncer next to our bed..... and does not let us forget for a moment that he is indeed still there. He is the NOISIEST sleeper EVER! I have never heard a baby grunt louder, breathe heavier and make crazy throat noises as our little Bennett. It's quite impressive to say the least, but can make for some hard times falling asleep.

My little boy is a snuggle bug, he loves to be held, so much that I am pretty sure I have developed carpal tunnel in my left wrist and will have a permanent knot in my upper left shoulder until he starts to crawl. But having a content, happy baby in my arms makes both well worth it. He also has decided that he has a preference to how we hold him....gone are the over-the-shoulder days, and welcome to the legs-smooshed-up-against-my-tummy-and-head-held-straight-out-in-my-hands days. He likes me to hold him like that and then bounce him up and down, this is how we calm him, and how he most often falls asleep. And let's nor forget about that adorable smile that gets plastered on his face as he falls asleep... ah, priceless.

I am one smitten mama...

How could you not be, with a face and smile like that? I still can't believe that in a little over a week Cole will be 2!!! He has proven over and over to be the best big brother, he gets concerned when Bennett cries, he is interested when Bennett eats, and is constantly wanting to help cover him with blankets, stuff binkeys in his mouth, feed him triscuits...cheerios....you know, snacks! (No worries, I keep close supervision and do not let any of Cole's food particles actually find their way into Bennett's mouth)

Cole is still my precious little man, he is tender....gives me lots of hugs, has a stubborn streak in which he likes to push boundaries, and has a personality that makes you want to pick him up and squeeze his cheeks!

He still is not talking much, and as of now none of his pediatricians have been worried as he communicates in many other ways. He has is own language which I, for the most part can figure out what he is wanting, needing and trying to tell me. Sometimes it gets frustrating and I wish he would start talking already and make all our lives a bit easier. As with everything he has his own personal timeline and I'm sure he will start talking in full sentences when he chooses too.

But let me tell you, for someone who doesn't actually "talk" he has no problem instructing and conducting others. He can get a whole room of people jumping or doing somersaults if he wants them too. It's pretty hard to resist the request of someone with eyes as big and blue as his. :)

Lately, he has really been into cars and making them drive all over the place. We often have car races up and down our kitchen hallway.....half the time he tries to be lazy and get me to do all the chasing after the cars....again, his instructing tactics at their best. He has also gotten braver and at a recent trip to the park he decided he wanted to go down the really tall slide..nearly gave me a heart attack, but thankfully he unwillingly went down with his daddy instead.

My favorite thing that he does is reach out for my hand constantly, it melts me. I just love the feel of his sweaty little palms tucked in mine, and how it is his way of telling me that he wants me to come with him. He is a sweet boy, one whom I love endlessly.

As for me, I feel like a frazzled mama. The other day I had been trying to get myself ready for like 3 hours, and finally looked at Kyle, tossed my hands in the air and said, "how am I ever going to be able to get myself ready ever again?" Especially with him starting work this coming Monday, and me running solo. I suppose as with any newborn it takes awhile to get into a rhythm. I just may be sporting 3 day old hair, and the same outfit for a weeks until we all find our groove. Such is life, at least I will be spending the majority of my days with two adorable boys who could care less if I have mascara on or sweats for the umpteenth time.

And thank goodness for that. :)