Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Happy Halloween Indeed

I don't know who had more fun this Halloween...


Or Mickey Mouse...

Or maybe it was Daddy...

Nope. It was DEFINITELY Mommy!!

Halloween was a freaking blast this year with the kids. Addie was SO excited to get dressed up today and go trick-or-treating. Blake wasn't quite as thrilled about his costume, but he still had a good time :-)

Our first stop today was Mima and Papa Steve's house...

Aunt Dana, Uncle Kevin, Nia and Nolan were all there too!!

We realized, once again, that getting the kids to all smile for a picture is near impossible. This was literally the best picture I got of the four of them. Ha!

Luckily, these two cuties managed to smile for one more picture before heading out the door.

The kids trick-or-treated in Mima and Papa's neighborhood for about 10 minutes and already had an entire basket full of candy. I guess that would be fine if the fun stopped there...

But it didn't. When we got back to our house, Nana, Papa, Great Nana and Uncle Joe were all there waiting for us!

Nana passed out candy for us so that Eric and the kids and I could hit a few houses in our neighborhood. Here is our family pic (with both kids looking away of course :-)

Once again, the kids only went to a few houses and came back with ANOTHER full basket of candy.

At first, I thought Addie's favorite part of Halloween would be going trick-or-treating. But as it turns out, her favorite part of the whole night was passing out candy to other kids!! She stood at the door with me ALL NIGHT and waited for other kids to come by. She was actually sad when it was over.

But before the little Halloweiners headed off to bed, Great Nana gave them one last snuggle.

Blake went down like a ton of bricks tonight, but Addie had to burn off some of that sugar first. She literally twirled herself silly and then finally crashed a few hours ago. I can already see that we are going to be on sugar detox tomorrow and the first step to her recovery was hiding the HUGE bag of candy that she scored tonight. And trust me...I am not hiding the candy just for her. 6 peanut butter cups, 3 almond joys and a handful of candy corn later...I can honestly say that I need a sugar intervention. But it's just so darn GOOD!!!

It's always sad when a holiday that takes so much preparation comes to an end. But what I LOVE about the end of Halloween is the beginning of the HOLIDAY SEASON!!! I can officially talk about Christmas without people rolling their eyes at me now. Woohoo!! But before I jump into holiday mode, I have a very fun week ahead of me to look forward to. My bloggy friend Chelsi is finally coming out for a visit after two years of being pen pals. YAY!!! And I forced her to sign up for the Hot Chocolate 5K so she will be participating in that race with me this Saturday! Its going to be a crazy busy week but I look forward to sharing lots of fun pictures and stories.

I hope everyone has a great week and a very successful Halloween detox!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Introducing Brynn & Cora

My BFF Tara had a VERY special delivery arrive on Tuesday!!

Brynn Abigail and Cora Ann arrived happy and healthy...

Even though they were about 3 weeks early, Brynn weighed 6 lbs 4 oz, an Cora weighed 5 lbs 15 oz.

* Don't the girls look so sweet in the hats my mom knitted? *

Mommy and babies are home today and everyone is doing well :-)

Big brother Connor is just over the moon for his new baby sisters...

I know that the weeks ahead will be busy to say the least...but having the girls home safe and healthy is a true blessing. Tara is one of the most wonderful mothers I know and if anyone can handle these new's her.

But I know that having twins is scary for her. It would be for anyone!! So all of you mommies (or grandmas, aunts, friends, etc.) of twins out you have any advice? Any tricks for managing things? Any organizational tips? Scheduling tips? SLEEPING tips? I know Tara would appreciate any and all advice as she starts her new life as a mommy of 3 :-)

CONGRATS again Tara and family!!! I am here for you whenever you need me! Can't wait to see you and the girls soon! Lots of love!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

We Interrupt This Week's Eco-Friendly Friday to Bring You: PUMPKIN CARVING!!!

Sorry friends...there is no Eco-Friendly Friday this week because I promised this little peanut I'd carve some pumpkins with her today...

I think the funnest, most disgusting part of carving pumpkins is scooping out the guts. Scoops like this work okay to start...

But to really get the seeds out, you have to just dig in with your hands. Addie was SO not down with this idea...

But she was down with the carving. I showed her how to poke little holes around the design before cutting...

And then after I cut each piece, she would pull it out and examine it. This was the point where she yelled, "OH NO! His eye fell out!!!"

Now, even though Addie was grossed out by the pumpkin guts, that didn't stop Blake from diving right in...

With both hands...

After the pumpkin was cleaned and carved, I let him play with it on the floor...

But apparently I missed some guts :-)

Blake crawled around with that pumpkin for a good half hour. At one point, I noticed him giving it a kiss...

Him and his pumpkin were BFF today, so you can imagine how he felt when I told him the pumpkin had to go back outside...

I am SO EXCITED to light the pumpkins up tonight. I wish we would have carved them a little sooner, but at least this way they will still be fresh on Halloween :-)

Sorry for the short post friends...but I must run. Addie insists on trying on her Tinkerbell costume for the 30th time to make sure it fits. I have no objections though...she looks pretty darn cute in it :-)

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blake is 10 Months Old! This Means It's Birthday Planning Time!

Words cannot express how much I love this little guy...

At 10 months old, Blake is still the sweetest, happiest, most loving little baby any mama could ever ask for. He loves to cuddle, take bubble baths, play with his toys (especially balls), eat bananas, chase Howie around the house and laugh at his big sister. He doesn't love to sleep, eat any green veggies, have his nose wiped or his diaper changed. He is a man that knows what he wants and when he doesn't get it...he turns on the charm. All he has to do is flash me that little grin and I am putty in his hands.

He weighs almost 21 pounds, is 30 inches long and he is wearing 18 month clothes. All this crawling is starting to make him lose a little of his baby fat and that makes me sad. I want him to stay chunky for just a little while longer. He is doing great standing on his own, but we are still a ways off from walking (thank the lord). I am assuming he will be taking steps by his birthday but who knows...he could surprise me and take his first step tomorrow :-)

And speaking of birthdays, now that Blake's is only two months away, I feel a little less crazy about working on party ideas. I already had Blake's birthday theme picked out when he was born so it's exciting to start planning all the fun little details. And since I have chosen to go with a Snowman theme, there are COUNTLESS possibilities for decorations, food, treats, activities for the kids, etc.

I usually start the planning process with invitations, since those will need to be mailed in a month! Yikes! I usually make all of my own invitations, but with two active kiddies, a stack of final term papers to grade, a scrapbook to finish AND all the added craziness of the holidays...I think I am going to have to outsource this year :) But that's okay because I have already come across some super cute Snowman invites from Lil' Duck Duck...

As much as I love the sledding snowmen, I really like to have the kids picture on their invites. This is another cute option...

Still not sure if it is "snowmany" enough, but it's an idea. This other retro winter invite is cute too...but I may have to see if they can add a snowman. I love how the little boy is in his snowsuit and hat for the picture. I may steal that idea :-)

I still have a lot of searching to do, but I am happy I was able to find so many non-christmas snowman invites. I guess this is a pretty popular winter theme for birthdays.

In addition to invites, I have started to think of activities and food for the party. If we are lucky enough to have snow, the kids can go for rides on the pull sled my dad made us. Indoors, there are TONS of make-your-own snowmen crafts that would be inexpensive to get the supplies for and easy for the kids to make and take home.

As for food, the one thing I know this party MUST HAVE is a snow cone machine...

It just wouldn't be right to have a snowman party without snow cones. I was on the hunt for a cute machine that would work for Blake's party and next summer at my parents pool. I found this machine from CSNstores and it is just what I am looking for! And wouldn't you know...the great folks at CSN are going to let me review it!! Woohoo!! If you haven't checked out CSN stores from some of my other posts, you have to go visit right now. They have everything from snow cone machines to upholstered headboards. You can literally find ANYTHING you are looking for. It may be where I shop for all my Christmas presents :-)

It has been a crazy busy month and I have a feeling I will be posting Blake's 11 month update before I know it. Time is just going way too fast :-( But at the same time, I love watching my baby grow and I can't wait to see all the new things he learns this month. Until then friends!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If You Like Caramel Apples...You MUST Try This Dessert

If you don't already own Gooseberry Patch's Homemade Harvest absolutely have to pick up a copy...

I have tried about 10 different recipes from this book this month and I have loved them ALL. But if one dessert recipe really stands out from the's the Apple Caramel Supreme Rolls. You have to love Caramel Apples and/or Apple Pie to enjoy it...but trust won't be disappointed. Here is what you need:

* 21 oz. can apple pie filling
* 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
* 1/2 cup chopped pecans
* 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
* 1/3 cup powdered sugar
* 2 8-oz. tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
* 1/2 cup butter, melted

Now...if you are lucky enough to have a sister-in-law that cans her own apple pie filling...try to hit her up for some because fresh filling totally makes this dessert :-) Thanks for this Di!

After combining your apple pie filling and caramel ice cream topping, pour it into a greased 13"x9" baking pan and then sprinkle your chopped pecans on top of the mixture...

Next, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; set aside. Separate crescent roll dough into 2 rectangles; press perforations to seal. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over each rectangle. Starting with the long side of each rectangle, roll up and seal edges. With a serrated knife, cut each roll into 12 equal slices. Stir together sugar and brown sugar; dip slices in butter and coat with sugar mixture. Arrange slices in baking pan like so...

Then bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes (times my took mine 35-40 to be done all the way through). You know they are done when the center rolls are golden.

The recipe suggests you invert the dish onto a serving plate, but this was VERY unsuccessful the time we tried it. Like...really unsuccessful. So this time, I just scooped the dessert out with a spoon and put it in a bowl...

I served mine warm with vanilla ice cream. It was nothing short of DELICIOUS!!!!!! I might have to go make some more tonight :-)

Speaking of tonight, I just wanted to share one other quick supper recipe from this cookbook. It is Judy's Pot Roast and Gravy recipe. All you have to make is some mashed potatoes to go with it and you are set! Here is what you need:

* 3-lb. beef chuck or cross rib roast
* 2 10-oz. cans golden mushroom soup
* 1.35-oz. package of onion soup mix

Lightly spray a large sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Arrange roast on foil and place in a 13"x9" baking pan coated with non-stick spray. Pour soup around roast; sprinkle soup mixture on top. Wrap roast tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes; reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 3 hours. Serves 6-8 people.

* Quick Note: I bought a much smaller roast for our family an used the same amount of soup and onion mix and it turned out delicious!!! It was more gravy than we needed, but it kept the roast super moist. I have made this pot roast twice this month and Eric is already asking for it again :-) I think it's because this is the perfect meal for a chilly fall evening. And when it takes literally 5 minutes to prepare (plus baking time) you can't go wrong :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chucky Has NOTHING on These Dolls...

Bless my Grandma's heart...she is a recovering hoarder that has been purging her house of unwanted items for the past few years. She is a dollar store junkie and a sucker for a great bargain. But what she loves even more than buying these random items is giving them away to family and friends. My Grandma really is a giver and she spoils my kids rotten.

So when she told me that she had a special treat for Addie a few weeks ago, I assumed it was another bag of candy or some light-up toy from the dollar bin at Walgreens. But instead, she said she had a "collectors set" of these small dolls that she bought years ago. She said she had been "saving them" in case I had a daughter some day. I was almost a little choked up, thinking these dolls were some priceless heirlooms that Addie and I could cherish forever.

But when I opened the grey shoebox that held these "collectors dolls" I almost screamed. Seriously. They are by far the scariest F-ing dolls I have ever seen in my entire life. Don't believe me? See for yourself...

For weeks I have kept these dolls in their shoebox on the top shelf of my hall closet. I told Addie that we needed to keep them special, but the truth is I am scared shitless that one of these dolls is going to come to life in the middle of the night and eat my face off. But alas...she wore me down and I gave them to her yesterday. She has been playing with them ever since.

I suppose I could handle it if they were just in her playroom. But instead, she has been "putting them to bed" all over my house. In fact, when I went to bed last night, one was under my covers. I might have peed a little when I saw it.

I know my Grandma probably got this set of dolls for a great bargain but I have to wonder what she saw in them? Bargain or not...they are scary as hell! She doesn't seem to think so though because she told me I should get a display shelf for them.

I have no doubt that my Grams bought these in the hopes of giving them away to someone special. I also have no doubt that she had me in mind when she stashed them away in her closet. I would never tell her how scary I think they are and I could never get rid of them now (especially without an Exorcism) so I have to just put my fears aside and try to see the cute in them. And I guess they really aren't that bad. Although, come the dead of night, I still think they could give Chucky a run for his money.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Storms, Skinny Jeans and a HUGE Success

Have you heard the news? Apparently Chicago is literally going to blow away tomorrow. The news channels have been blowing up with headlines like "Hurricane force winds blow through Chicago" and "Epic storm conditions for the Midwest". There is no question about it...a storm is definitely brewing. The storms haven't even officially "blown up" yet and look at the radar...

Not pretty. I don't mind a storm, especially one that happens at night. Listening to rain helps me sleep. But whenever there is a chance of super severe weather, I start to freak a little. I will be sleeping with my TV on tonight so I can hear that annoying emergency broadcast if need be. Although, I am sure Blake will have me up before then anyway :-)

In other news, which is completely unrelated to weather, I am on the hunt for a new pair (or two) of skinny jeans. Now I need to be specific...I can't do true skinny jeans. My calves are too big. Or is it my thighs? Maybe it's both...I don't know. But true skinny jeans just don't look right on me. Luckily, I discovered GAP's True Straight jean and I LOVE them!! They are skinny enough to tuck into boots and wear with flats, but they don't look like leggings when they are on. Problem is...Gap only has two washes. I own them both but alternating my two pairs of jeans every day is getting kind of old. So I am looking for just one or two new cute pairs to add to my rotation. I just came across these LOFT Slim Leg Jeans and they look like they might be the ticket!

Does anyone own a pair of skinny-but-not-too-skinny jeans that they love? I would love to try some different brands. Thanks in advance for the help, fashion gurus :-)

And finally, my big update that has nothing to do with weather or skinny jeans...

ADDIE MADE IT THROUGH HER ENTIRE BALLET CLASS!!! I am just so happy to be typing this right now. Addie went into her ballet class all by herself with NO CRYING today and I just couldn't be prouder of my peanut. She did have one short moment where she whined for me and told the teacher she had to go potty (which is her defense mechanism) but once I took her out and gave her another quick pep talk, she went right back into class and finished the last 15 minutes. At the end of class, she came running out so excited and asked if we could go get "Nuggies and Ice cream" like I promised. I could I say no to this cute little face...

This week, I have literally talked Addie TO DEATH about dance class, being a big girl, going in alone, getting a big reward if she made it through, etc. and I think it really helped today. Now next week, we are going to shoot for staying in class the whole time without a "potty break". But matter what...she made a HUGE step today and I am so proud :-)

Well that's all for this random post tonight! Hope all you Midwesterners don't blow away tomorrow! Stay safe!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Six Ways to Soothe the Sickies

My poor babies have had it rough lately. They are both fighting colds that have turned into infections and they are just miserable.

Addie woke up with a temp of 103 the other night and we had to take her to the pediatrician. The doc said she could hear some congestion in her lungs and in order to nip it before it turned into something more serious, they gave her an antibiotic. I am not a big fan of antibiotics, but I certainly don't want to be spending Halloween in the hospital with Pneumonia either. So drugs it is.

Mr. Blake, on the other hand, seemed to be on the mend. His runny nose was starting to go away and he was coughing a lot less. But, a few hours after I got home from the doc with Addie, Blake came down with a slight temp too. And then this morning, the poor little guy's cold had moved to his eyes. He has a lot of discharge and is rubbing them like a crazy man. I have been doing my best to put a warm cloth on them whenever they start to get yucky, but he HATES having his face cleaned so I am trying to only do it when necessary. Poor little bugger. Looks like it's a sinus infection which means that antibiotics may be in his future too.

But while the meds do their work, my kiddies need some serious soothing. Here are some of the ways my peanuts like to be soothed when they are sickie...

1.) Warm Baths

I can't get the kids out of the bathtub on a normal day but when they are sick, a warm bath is the one place they both want to be. I sometimes add a little Vapor Bath too and this seems to help clear their noses a bit. This would actually be a perfect time for some eucalyptus essential oil!

2.) Vapor Rub

After bath time, I always like to rub just a little vapor rub on their chest before putting on their pajamas. Putting on clothes right after is key because we learned the hard way what it is like to touch the vapor ointment and then rub your eye. Ouchies.

3.) Vaporizer

I know this may seem like vapor overkill, but running a vaporizer in the kids room at night makes a HUGE difference. I am hoping that running it tonight will help with Blake's poor eyes to keep the mucus moist instead of crusting over.

4.) Lots of Fluids

Because it is important to drink lots of fluids when you are sick, I make sure that both kids have drinks on hand at all times. Blake still nurses but he has been taking water from a sippy cup which he seems to like, especially if it is ice cold. Addie likes water too, but when I really want her to increase fluids, I give her apple juice. I just read online that you can warm the apple juice and mix in some lemon and honey to help ease a sore throat. That almost sounds good enough for me to drink!

5.) Chickey Soup

This is an oldie but a goodie. Everyone knows that chicken soup (especially if it is really salty :-) works like a charm. Addison has always been a big fan of chickey soup but as it turns out, so is Blake! I think I need to make another big batch tomorrow.

6.) Popsicles

If there is one cold "remedy" that my kids never fight's popsicles. I know both kids have enjoyed eating these while they are sick because they are cold and ease their sore, scratchy throats. Extra Vitamin C is always a good thing too, so I don't feel as guilty giving them more than one (or 3) in a day :-)

So what do you all do to soothe your cold symptoms? Any special things that you, your kids or your grandkids enjoy when they are sick?