Monday, October 28, 2013

Train Party

Cole has been talking about his train party since I first brought up the idea....months ago. He is OBSESSED with trains so I decided to capitalize on it while I had the chance.

I was so tempted to just purchase a package printable deal, there are soooo many cute ones out there. But in the end I opted to try and save the money and just use most of what we had or could borrow from my family.

I had found some super cute free printables online that I had meant to use, but ufortunately we don't have a printer and for some reason we couldn't find out flash drive, so taking them to kinkos was not an option.

So back to just using what we had.

I did splurge and buy a roll of tickets at the dollar store to make a ticket garland. An easy and cheap way to add color while adding to the theme.

My dad was kind enough to set up his American Flyer trains, some of them he had when he was Cole's age! Cole thought Papa's trains were pretty fact, I believe those may have been his exact words. It took everything in him to be a good boy and not play with them. Oh, but he wanted too.

(And notice that adorable train belt? That was his daddy's when he was a little boy, the buckle is actually shaped like a train! I about died when "Bramma" brought it over.)

We served Cole's favorites, popcorn and chocolate milk (or cocoa as he calls it...usually ovaltine, but home made chocolate for his special day). He would have that every single day if I let him.

Kid after my own heart.

So it was a pretty easy decision to set up a "Popcorn Station"....get it?

Themes....I have a problem.

I am going to share the popcorn recipes later this week, as they are super addicting and super easy to make! It was really fun for everyone to be able to walk over and make up their own popcorn mix with add-ins of their choosing. I may be repeating this idea for future parties, definitely cost effective and easy on the mama preparing it!

The "Happy Birthday" banner is one that has been hung at practically all of our birthdays growing up. with the sentimental value it was pretty sweet to be able to incorporate it into the party. The banner below is simply made out of red twine and burlap strips.

No party would be complete without cupcakes. The request was for blue cupcakes, but unfortunately I had ordered some special aqua coloring, and didn't realize it had been delivered until after I finished the cupcakes. But it didn't seem to phase the birthday boy in the least....

I love how he always keeps the same cupcake eating form every year.  He always goes straight foe the frosting and then munches his way to the middle. This year they were filled with peanut butter cookie dough....yum.

We had so much fun celebrating this little boy. He has blessed us richly and life would not be complete without him. I look forward to many more train filled days!

Life would not be complete with all 3 of my guys. Love them all.

And love everyone that came out to celebrate!

Just having a little man to man heart-to-heart with Uncle Chris

 Happy 3rd birthday my sweet man!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When you don't have the energy or time.

This post is going to be short and very sweet.

Here is a truth: I LOVE cinnamon rolls. Like, really really love them. Could eat them every-day-for-the-rest-of-my-life-and-still-look-forward-to-the-next-ooey-gooey-one.

Here is another truth: I HATE to make them. Maybe hate is a little too strong of a word, but it is safe to say that I truly do not look forward to the work it takes to make those little rolls of amazingness.

Enter the perfect solution--- Cinnamon Roll Cake.


And when my little boy started asking for cake for his birthday, I knew in my heart of hearts that this would be the perfect solution to start his birthday off right. Plus, I wouldn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn to make it!

Oh, and it was good.

It still won't take the place of my beloved cinnamon rolls, but it is a close runner up.

It passed the husband test and the birthday boy's test.

He was one happy camper on his birthday.

So here you go, the road to an easier cinnamon roll craving fix.

Cinnamon Roll Cake

(Source: Lil Luna )


3 C. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C butter melted
1 C butter  softened
1 C brown sugar
2 Tbls. flour
1 Tbls Cinnamon (I added a bit more, because I love cinnamon)


  1. Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla together.
  2. Stir in melted butter, slowly. Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
  3. Mix topping ingredients (1 cup butter softened, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon). Drop over cake mixture evenly.
  4. Swirl your topping and cake mixture with a knife going up and down the length of the pan.
  5. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.
  6. Top with the glaze which is made by mixing 2 cups powdered sugar, 5 TB milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Drizzle over the cake while it's still warm.

Monday, October 21, 2013

3 years

If you were to tell me I was dreaming, I might believe you.

3 years.

3 whole, very short years. Poof here we are.

I knew my life would change, people told me all the ways it would, they tried to prepare me.

So I prepared myself for the sleepless nights, for the possibility of postpartum depression, for the explosive diapers, for the midnight feedings, 5 am mornings, making baby food, breastfeeding, binkies, and baby toys bigger than Mt Hood.

I prepared myself for it all.

Well, except for one thing. I didn't prepare myself for the immense love that over came my heart that day. I mean, I knew I would love him, I knew he would be an incredible treasure that I would get to hold, kiss, and grow with.

But that love.

Indescribable. Really, it is.

And it has only grown, as hard as that is to imagine.

He is such a big boy now, talking all the time. Saying the cutest things. I see more of his heart now through his words, and it is so special. Makes this mama so happy...

At church yesterday someone excitedly exclaimed that it was almost his birthday. When asked how old he was going to be he thought for a moment, then said,

"Party hats, cake, and presents."

He couldn't care less that he is turning 3, just as long as party hats are involved.

So I made sure this morning upon waking up there was a bright sparkly party hat.

And cake.

The presents will be coming sweet boy.

Happy birthday my big boy.

Thanks for being absolutely perfect for our family. Thanks for going easy on me during what the world describes as "terrible two's". They definitely were not terrible, but wonderful. We had our moments for sure....oh goodness, we had them. But i could not be prouder to watch you grow and mature through them. As always, you surpassed all expectations.

I'm so thankful for you, for the big brother you are, for the loving cousin you have become. You can be ornery for sure, but I have yet to meet a little boy that isn't. 

You have delighted us for 3 years, and I can only imagine how much more you will delight us as you grow up into the young man God intended. May He be the light that guides your path.

So thank you to all who prepared me for the worst, God prepared me for the best.

Three years of the best. Still in shock.

Love you little dude to eternity and beyond.

Yes, you are special. Special indeed. ;)

Happy 3rd birthday sweet boy!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fishies and Referees

Someone is learning new tricks.

Aside from the grinding of his brand new teeth, he also found this....

I see a lot of that little tongue these days.

And also a lot of new faces, someone has been experimenting with his lips.

There are a lot of fishy and puckered lips going on around here.

A lot of reading books. He finally sits still long enough to read through one---sometimes he gets the quick and condensed version, but I'm just glad he is interested.
A lot of picking out his favorite book, standing up and then walking it over to me. (ah, my baby is growing up)

A lot of saying "cat" just because he can.

A lot of trying to keep shoes on.....and then finding this. (I give up)

A lot of following big brother around.

Followed by lots of kisses.

And then sometimes this happens.......possibly a million times a day.

Brothers will be brothers.

One brother screams because the other is driving toy cars all over his face.

One brother hollers because the other is sitting on him, steam rolling him, taking his favorite book from him.....

And so it begins. The joy of having two boys close in age. There will be competition, tests of strength, all out wrestling matches....and of course intense brotherly companionship.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Although lately I feel my title should be brother referee rather than mom. But I still wouldn't change a thing.

This is life with boys, and I can't help but be thankful for this season that we are in. (I just glanced over at my youngest just as he gives me a big grin and starts dancing to the alphabet song.....yep, love this season!)

Now I have some fishy lips crawling there way over to me, must go and soak those up while I have the chance!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Flannel and pumpkins

It's no secret, I LOVE the summer. And quite often dread the dark and dreary winter months. But there is a special moment sandwiched right between the two, it tends to be a little fleeting but it is beautifully needed.

It's name is fall.

It's that time when the leaves start changing, the air becomes crisp and pumpkin spice latte's start popping up at every coffee joint. The time of year when Christmas lists are being made ( or finished up according to some), football games are in full swing,  Nana and Papa's pumpkin patch, and my little boy stares out the window getting upset that leaves are falling to the ground.

It's also the time of year you can get away with eating pumpkin for breakfast, lunch and dinner and no one gives it a second thought.

I dream about this time of year. Because I, for one, can't ever get enough of pumpkin anything.

Especially cute little boys posing next to ones.

And even more so when they are decked out in flannels and vests.

Then their daddy zips up their vest and they look like they might fall over if they move an inch. Oh man, I want to reach into that picture and just squeeze him!

Don't worry, I helped the kid out and unzipped him a bit, giving him a little breathing room.

Then there is the boy on a mission to drive the tractor instead of playing in the pumpkin patch. This boy should have been raised on a farm. I'm not even kidding.

Have I ever mentioned that his word for "another" is "anubber" ? It has absolutely nothing to so with this post, but it makes me smile every time I hear it. As did watching him work over that tractor.


I love it. I really do. And having this baking in my oven on a crisp, bright morning makes me fall in love even more. 

I believe I have shared this recipe  before, but it deserves a second chance and a reminder if you haven't given it a whirl yet. The best part, Cole begs to help me cook, and this is so kid friendly....errrr, taster friendly (if you know what I mean).

I often hear "anubber one" from his lips whenever we make this together.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
(Source: Good Life Eats)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats, not quick cook
  • 1 Tbs whole flax seeds, optional ( I use flax meal)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tsp butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4 individual sized ramekins. Set aside.

Combine the oats through salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk. Whisk thoroughly. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oats. Stir until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between 4 individual sized ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.). Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the topping: chopped pecans, butter, and brown sugar. After the oatmeal has baked for 10 minutes, remove and divide topping mixture evenly between the ramekins. Bake and additional 7 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

I have also made this ahead and reheated in the microwave and it is just as good...makes for an easy midweek breakfast ( we had it for dinner one night when I was at a loss of what to make!)

* Sometimes I even sub out the butter for coconut oil, and it tastes just as delicious.

Monday, October 7, 2013

They make me smile.

Every day I find myself chuckling with or at my boys. I can only imagine how much more we will all be laughing once Bennett starts making sense out of his words. He says Dadda, Mama, and something that sounds like a very crisp "WhaaaaTTT!" He will roar like a lion, and says a lot of "Dah's" and "Duh's" and points....he loves to point, at everything! He is still working on his walking, and is getting more adventurous in letting go and walking to me. And he has a growing love of turning on and off lights, and playing in his brother's potty. (Although we try and avoid the last as much as possible, but sometimes I forget...and he is too quick!).

He is such a charismatic little dude, and I know I have said this lots, but he truly wears his emotions all over his face. You can pretty much read his thoughts.

Such as this....

"WHHHHAAAATTTTT?!?! I can't eat out of your dust pile that you swept up?!?!"

"But YOU said I could help!!!!!"

"AAAAAHHHH, I give up, soooo frustrating!!!!"

See what I mean? All over his face. And so was some of the dust out of my pile that he decided to go ahead and help himself to anyway.

Oh well, you do what you can....and in the end if they really want to eat hairy cheerios, why deprive?

Then there is Cole. His vocabulary is growing by the words daily. Some of the cutest things come out of his mouth. 

The other day I was going to the bathroom (sorry, but this one is waaaayyy too funny not to share!) Cole came running into the bathroom after me and started cheering me on. Upon me finishing he squeezed on over next to the toilet paper, ripped off a big wad and then turned to me and said,

"Ok mama, touch your toes!"

Um, thanks sweetheart but mama's got this one handled......

I have also been trying to talk to Cole more and more about Jesus. We have conversations like, "Cole it makes Jesus sad when you kick your little brother." or "Cole, that makes Jesus very happy when you share with your little brother." 

After one of our conversations, Cole turned to me with a big smile and said, "I WIKE Desus!" When asked why he wikes Desus, he responded with...... "Trains, cookies, balls, treats and dories (stories)....." 


And I wike that you can vocalize that sweet boy. Not quite sure you know the full impact that statement will have one day, but praying with time you will accept the gift of love and grace God has freely given you. 

And may you continue to appreciate all the gifts God has given you to enjoy each day, whether they be "cookies, treats, trains" or the "beebug" you find hiding under the rock.

And may your "wike" for "Desus" grow into a full-fledged-heart-abandoned kind of love for Him. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see you, my son, flourish and grow in an independent love of our God on your own will.

And same for you my other little man.

I pray you too, "wike Desus". Perhaps your older brother can help lead you into that love.

That would be joyous.

Yes, they make me smile, my heart smile.... sooooo much.

I am just loving this stage that we are in. I feel like we have finally reached place where life is getting easier, more predictable, and so much more fun and entertaining (as hard as that is to imagine, it was very fun before!). 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Eggs, Potatoes and Squash

First of all, I want to say thank you to all the mama's who gave me reassuring and helpful advice. Some of your comments brought tears as they were just so encouraging and humbling. For the record Cole seems to be sleeping and doing much better. We heard about the "dary man" for two days and then nothing. So we will leave it at that for now. I'm so relieved, I can't stand to see my little boy scared.

And second, I realized it has been awhile since I have shared anything that has been cooking in my kitchen. I have been soooo horrible about taking pictures of food, as usually dinner time is summed up with me scrambling to finish cooking dinner, two little mouths screaming because they are hungry and a hubby hurrying to sit down, pray and help get the two little birdies fed. Usually by the time we have devoured our food, what's left just does not look all that pleasing to the eye. Thank goodness the Food Network can find time to take some pretty tasty pictures along with serving up some pretty yummy dishes!

With all the fallish weather we have been having this one seemed so fitting. And after taking the first bite I knew it was one worth sharing. Even Cole, who has turned into quite the picky little eater, decided to scarf it down. Bennett....well, he just eats anything.... except for potatoes and eggs.


I have tried making all types of eggs,  the minute I put them on his tray he won't even attempt to taste them, let alone touch them! Same thing with potatoes...doesn't matter, he avoids them like the plague. I even spent a good amount of time yesterday making him ultra creamy, super cheesy, with extra half n half whipped potatoes. The moment they touched his tongue he ejected them and looked like I had fed him poison.Takes after his mama, I wouldn't touch them until I got pregnant with I actually enjoy them from time to time.  Looks as though there may be no hope for Bennett as he most definitely won't have the pregnancy taste buds to change his mind!

Ok, so no potatoes. No eggs. Apparently Gnocchi (which is made out of potatoes) made it to his good list.

So Gnocchi is what we ate. And Gnocchi we enjoyed.

Never tried it? You must, it is sooooo good! A cross between a noodle and dumpling. Definitely can't go wrong with it.

Photo: Food Network

I made this dish almost exactly as written, except I used dried sage and quite a bit more than called for, and added more I usually do. Also make sure that your butternut squash is almost soft by the time you add the gnocchi, mine wasn't quite done...and I was afraid of the gnocchi getting to mushy. Or someone suggested cooking the gnocchi separate, which you could absolutely do. I might try that next time. The broiling at the end adds a nice depth and crunch that is divine! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Gnocchi With Squash and Kale 

(source: Food Network)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  (I completely left out because I wanted both boys to be able to enjoy it)
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.


Friday, October 4, 2013


My heart is heavy.

As a mother you want to do everything in your power to protect your children. You don't want them to get hurt, be sad, or get scared.

Yesterday afternoon while we were playing "park" a game Cole invented and we play pretty much every single day, sometimes two or three times a day. It's super simple, and one of the biggest reasons we haven't coughed up a bunch of cash to purchase some new couches that we so desperately need  want. You just pull off every couch cushion and toss them all over the floor, create "slides" with some of them, and then let your kids go to town climbing, tumbling, face planting all over them. Personally Bennett loves to catapult himself over the "slide" section....that boy, the death of me....

We were all having fun, then out of the blue Cole pops up on the couch and starts talking about a man and night-night. My heart sank a bit, as I encouraged him to tell me about this man. He said he sees  him when he closes his eyes, and he opened and came out of his closet and "he dary mama". He said he got big, big, bigger and put on big shoes. There was something about a spot on his door, that the man left through to go downstairs. His story went on for at least a half hour. Listening to my little boy's voice tell me in little boy fashion about this "dary man" that comes out of his closet pretty much haunted my own heart.

His nap time he was nervous and fidgety. He went down fine but then started screaming about 45 minutes into his nap, I went up to be with him and let him know I was there with him, that Jesus was there with him, and if he felt scared all he needed to do was say, "Jesus, I need you". There is something completely innocent and sweet in hearing the words "Desus, I need do" coming from a nearly 3 year old's mouth. He asked me to remove all of his sock monkey's and stuffed dog from his room, and then he went down and slept for maybe 45 minutes (nothing compared to his usual 2 hour nap that he needs).

So suddenly I find myself trying to figure out how to explain to my little boy that this man isn't real. That he was dreaming him, that God is bigger and more powerful than this man? Then my mind wanders to the spot of questioning is this my fault? Did he see something scary on one of his shows that he watches? Is it something he saw while we were out and about, was there something I could have done more to shield him from this scary man?

I try my hardest to monitor everything that gets put into my little boy's brain. I am reminded of the old school "Mcgee and Me" (anyone?) episode of when Nick really wants to go see a scary movie, and his parents tell him "no" and explained that his brain and heart are precious, he needed to protect what he puts in them, because once it's in, there is no taking it back.... no erasing it. The whole garbage in, garbage out idea.

While he isn't old enough yet to know what to shield his mind from, I am.  I have tried to protect his little mind, and I can't help but feel as if I should have done more.

I'm not really sure what to do next, as this stage of being scared at night is all new to us. We have decided not to bring up the man unless he does, to continue to pray with him nightly, to try and teach him more about the mighty God we have, and to reassure him that we will do everything in our humanly power to protect him.

This is the part of parenting I don't like, to watch my child wrestle with something so hard to understand. I wish there was any easy fix.

Any other parent's out there who have gone through something similar, I would love to hear your advice on how you helped your little one get through this. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Alphabet Birthday Breakdown.

Usually I make things easy on myself by deciding a theme, buying a full printable package, and then purchasing a few things here and there to complete a party. But this year I wanted to try and use what I had and spend money on some fun details. I didn't want it to be cookie cutter, and I wanted it to have charm and character.

Of all the years to try this approach, this probably wasn't the best. We have been beyond busy every single weekend, we had trips to the hospital, very sick little boys, and everything in between. We actually had to cancel poor Bennett's birthday not once, but twice. For a brief moment I even considered cancelling it all together......but I just couldn't do that, not for my Bennett boy.

For me, 1st birthday's are very very special. Not only are you celebrating a sweet little babe making his way into toddlerhood. But you get to celebrate the fact that you both made it, you both survived, you both learned the art of coexisting, how to understand, love, and participate in grace daily. You survived, they survived and it was beautiful.

So despite the odds, and what some may think on first birthdays I was headstrong on making it work....and thanks to some help from my mom I think we were able to pull it off.

I started by choosing an alphabet theme, fitting for any little kid party. I decided to use this adorable garland my mom and I had used for my sister's baby shower. Which proves that it is versatile for both boys and girls.

Plus, it's free! Can't beat that!

You can find the garland from The Handmade Home. Print it on card stock, cut and string or I used mini clothespins. Easy as 1-2-3.

For Bennett's garland I left out some of the more frilly letters like the ballerina, high heel shoes, and dress coat.....

Originally I had planned on having the party outside in our backyard. I had visions of lanterns hung in the trees, floating gently above long tables that were to host an ice cream bar (because my son is obsessed with ice cream!) a lemonade table, and a pretty back drop strung along the fence that would make super cute cake smash photos. That vision quickly vanished when the forecast predicted  40 mph winds and excessive amounts of rain.

So much for plan A, I had to get creative with Plan B. So the Sundae Bar was moved into our formal dining room....and the lanterns helped add color and frame the Sundae Bar.

 I bought the white containers from amazon, wrapped them with aqua bakers twine and finished them off with chevron wooden dessert spoons. While it probable wasn't completely necessary, it sure was nice to not have do a bunch of dishes after the party was over. Sooooo worth it to me!

Cole helped dip the cones in chocolate and roll in sprinkles. He loved it and had chocolate up to his elbows, naturally.

The garland was super easy and super fun to make. I just ordered some woolen felt balls off of Etsy, and then threaded it together with a needle. I might try and eventually incorporate it in one of the boys' rooms once I actually get around to decorating them! I also used the same felt balls to make fake Craspedia Billy Ball flowers. I plan on keeping those around and adding them to my shelves every once in awhile.

My parents battled wind, rain and awful conditions just to bring me fresh cut dahlia's. I know it's a boy's party....but a I just couldn't help myself, they are too beautiful.

Ok, I just have to take a minute to point out that adorable vintage truck! My Mother-In-Law actually just passed that down to me several weeks before the party. If I remember right, it used to belong to Kyle's Grandpa's, then passed to his dad and now our boys! I about died when I first saw it, so perfect and so special to have. Thank you Bonnie! 

Oh, and I couldn't have a party without using my milk glass bottles. I think I'm addicted to these guys!

Last minute I decided to try and create a present area....and maybe try and hide our ugly green fireplace. I used some ABC pictures that had originally been in Cole's nursery. And then I threw together another garland. You can never have enough garland!

All in all it was a wonderful day celebrating such a precious little boy. He deserved every ounce of energy that went into his special birthday. I still can't get over the fact that he is one. Seriously, why does it happen so fast? And how did I luck out to get two incredibly handsome, sickening sweet little boys.

Blessed. That's what I am. So amazingly blessed.

I don't deserve him, but God knew I needed him.

He is spicy, he is kind, he has an opinion, always.

He hates hats. Like, rips them off the moment they touch the tip of his curls....

Soooo...his party hat was a fun one....Leave it alone Bennett!


He was hesitant when it came to his cupcake. He seemed more interested in what was going on around him. At one point he was scooping frosting into his mouth without taking his eyes off of everyone surrounding him.

And then this happened.

It's not your first birthday unless you have cake on your mug and in your ear.

Happy Birthday little boy, you are my happy place, my joy, my life.

Your brother thinks so too, or at least he thought that of your cake....