Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the Old In with the New

With the New Year upon us, there are a lot of changes going on. For one, Eric will be heading out soon for only a few months, the boys will be turning 2 which means I might be starting to lost my sanity, and finally, out with the old kitchen sink and in with a brand spankin' new one. The faucet has leaked and the sprayer hasn't worked since the day we bought this house...almost 5 years ago. We bundled up all of our Christmas money and treated ourselves to a shiny new DEEPER sink with a nice TALL non-leaking faucet. B-E-A-utiful!

Old Crappy Sink

New Beautiful Sink

We can't have a small home improvement project go 100% according to plan...of course not! The original faucet we picked out dripped and the sprayer didn't work. So, we had to go pick out a different one. Our plumber had to do some special piping under the sink since the drain holes weren't centered with each other. Oh well, it's all finished and I love it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saying it through Playdoh

It's amazing how much our lives have changed since the boys came along. I know I made a posting once about how our freezer went from being stocked with frozen meals, to breast milk, to homemade baby food, and now to all kinds of ingredients to satisfy my culinary cravings. I never thought I would sit and express myself through Playdoh. It's just one of the amazing things that happens when you have kids.

Here are my feelings about this past week of the holidays...hope you enjoy!

Connor started out being sick, but Mommy can't get him an appointment before the holiday...this is how she felt...

Titled "OH NO...My Poor Baby is Sick and I Can't Get an Appointment"

This is how Mommy felt on Christmas morning while the boys opened their presents and played...

Titled "Pure Joy"

This is how Mommy felt when the doctor didn't write the prescription out correctly for some of Connor's meds and it took 3 hours and 2 trips to the pharmacy to get it taken care of.

Titled "Just Plain Ticked Off"

This is how Mommy felt when Brandon's ear started oozing..on a SATURDAY of course...

Titled "Frustrated with Another Sick Baby"

And finally, this is how Mommy feels now that both boys are on medicine and getting better...

Titled "Sleep is Wonderful"

Christmas Week

Ok...sorry for the delay in posting anything, but we've been very busy lately. Here's how our week went.

Tuesday - Connor wasn't feeling well and I couldn't get him into the doctor. She called in a prescription for some oral steroids and some nebulizer treatments for him. He's had a cough and runny nose for about 2 months now.

Wednesday - Christmas Eve - Eric and I went to mass and tried to stay up to see what Santa brought the boys. Here's what he brought...

The boys each got a power wheel, lots of coloring things, some books, puzzles, Playdoh, play food, and finally a really neat wooden train. They love it!!! It was the first thing Brandon went for when he walked out of his room. Thanks SO much to Eric's parents for sending that to the boys. We all love playing with it. The barrels in one of the cars have become a big source of fighting, but it's all worth it...the boys love it!

Thursday - We opened presents and let the boys play outside in their jammies with their new bikes. That's the best part of Christmas day..playing all day with new toys in your pjs!

The boys don't quite understand how to steer, but they'll figure it out soon enough!

The Christmas aftermath!

Brandon trying to fill up his new "Brandon" cup that Grandma Dorie got him.

We had our friends over for a very delicious dinner. I made turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cherry pie. Sharon brought over some corn, wine, and a really good spinach salad. Everything was homemade and delicious! The turkey was the most delicious one I've ever had. It was perfectly cooked and very juicy! We had a cheese ball appetizer in the shape of a Christmas Tree!!!
It was very easy, very delicious, and very festive. Click HERE for the recipe. This was my "new recipe of the week" recipe. Next time, I'll work a little harder at shaping it more like a tree. It was still very cute and yummy!

Eric bought me a Nintendo DS and I'm totally addicted to it. I like the brain games...the ones that really make you think. I'm such a nerd! We also bought a new kitchen sink and faucet with our Christmas money and gift cards. It's being installed as I type this!!!

Friday - Connor still wasn't any better and Brandon was coughing. We managed to get into the doctor to find out that Connor had an ear infection...I KNEW IT!!!! He's on oral steroids, breathing treatments around the clock, antibiotic, Allegra and Singulair. I'm tellin' ya, I feel like a pharmacy tech! I have so many different medications to keep track of now.

Poor sick Connor...laying on the pillow while Mommy tries to get an appointment with the doctor

Saturday - Eric and I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Yes Man. Benjamin Button was an excellent movie!!!!! I recommend going to see it. Yes Man was good too...a typical Jim Carrey movie. We got a text from the babysitter that Brandon had stuff oozing out of his right ear...that equals another ear infection. I managed to get some antibiotics for him too, and got those filled on my way to a funeral service. My boss's father passed away on the 23rd. Please keep Dale in your prayers as she mourns the loss of her beloved father.

Sunday - I wanted to get to church, but the boys both have some upset tummies from the medicine. I didn't want anyone to have to change their yucky diapers, so we stayed home. In the afternoon, I went to the funeral service at the church for Dale's father.

Monday - Called the doctor's office again for Brandon to get him some antibiotic ear drops. We have an appointment with his ENT doc on the 5th. It's time to reevaluate his ears and decide what's next for him once his current tubes come out. The one in his right ear, the infected ear, has dislodged, but we aren't sure when it will actually fall out.

SHEW!!! It's been a very busy few days especially when there are 2 sick kids involved. We're also gearing up for Eric to head out of town again. This is only for 10 weeks, but I'm losing my helper, best friend, and spouse so it's going to be rough nonetheless. Here are a few cute videos from the last few days too. ENJOY!

Brandon's new trick

Connor AKA Pete and Repeat!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rocking Chair

Here's a picture of them I took the other day. They both climbed up in their chair and started rocking each other. It was super sweet. They are such a joy!!!!!

Here's a picture of the two of them in a rocking chair in the NICU when they were only a month old. This was one of the first pictures of them together, and it was taken a few days before Brandon was released. Wow...where have the last 2 years gone?

Brandon is in yellow, Connor is in red.


We took the boys to the mall tonight to let them ride the Choo Choo! There's a little train by Macy's that was only $1 per ride. I wasn't sure how the boys would do without us sitting by them, but they sat very still the whole time. We even let them have a second ride since there wasn't a line. Eric and I are looking forward to Christmas this year and are so excited to see the boys' faces on Christmas morning. Needless to say Santa, us and our family have all been so generous. I even put away some things until their's just way too much! I don't want them to lose sight of the real reason for the holidays, but they are only young once. Christmas is all about the kids now and Eric and I can't wait! I'm sure I'll have some video of them when they walk out of their room.

Here is a picture of them right outside the mall.

Ridin' the train...look at Connor chillin' with his arm over the side. What a ham! I think he looks more and more like a big boy every day. Brandon still looks babyish because he's so tiny :(
Here's Connor...still chillin'

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Happenings

This weekend has been very busy!!!

Friday night started off with a Christmas Party with some of Eric's coworkers at Carrabbas. We all had a really nice time and had some delicious food. Thanks to Dr. Ho for taking us all out to eat!

Dr. Cameron, Me, Eric, Dr. Ho, and Dr. Villacarlos..aka VC

Saturday afternoon we had a Christmas party with the playgroup that we belong to. We all had a really nice time, and all the kids cried at Santa. The only ones who didn't were the 3 infants!!! I didn't get any good pictures from that party other than the one Alexa took of us sitting on her stairs.

Finally, and the BIGGEST NEWS OF ALL, is that Brandon POO POOED IN THE POTTY TONIGHT! He recently started telling us that he has to poo, so we bought 2 potties and have been talking about it. I wasn't planning on doing any of this until next Spring, but if they are telling me they are ready, then I guess we're starting it. He started making his usual pooping sounds while I was cleaning up dinner. I ran in, grabbed him and put him on the big potty with their little potty on the seat. A few seconds later...POO! I'm not going into full force with the potty training, but I'll continue to talk about it with them and have regular "potty sitting time" WAY TO GO B!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kids are so literal

The boys are at the age of "literal translation." They do what you ask them to...literally. I told Brandon it was time to get into his chair for lunch. Here's what proceeded next...

He's done this one other time, but I was so shocked that he could do it that I didn't think to grab the camera. Eric has the little one, so I couldn't get it on video, but it's obvious what he's capable of by seeing the still pictures. Speaking of lunch...I made some creamy pesto sauce last night for our stuffed mushrooms and had a lot left over. I cooked some elbow noodles and put some of that sauce on it, topped it with a little parm cheese and the boys loved it. I used the dry packet mix made my Knolls. It only called for olive oil and milk (I used skim so I could have some too.) It was something different and super easy! If you have a picky/unpicky toddler, he/she might like it.

I had the camera in the kitchen from this morning. I'm not sure if the boys are getting some back molars or what, but they haven't been sleeping or eating normally lately. As saw in the pictures above, Brandon had his "baba" at lunchtime. I normally don't let them have it until it's bedtime, but he was crying so hard, and asking for it, that I gave it to him. They are drooling again too...I think it's teeth. Needless to say, the morning routine has consisted of a lot of tears lately. One of the things that makes them feel better is to sit on the kitchen counter while I empty the dishwasher and to even help me empty.

If you look close enough, you can see the tears on B's cheeks :)

Connor is getting so tall!!!! He can reach just about anything on the kitchen table as well as the counters. I'm running out of places to put things they aren't kid proof...AHHHH!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scary Santa

I have this santa figure that is supposed to hold a tea light candle. His eyes are supposed to light up with beautiful's what happens when you use a red candle!

I love the smell of cinnamon during this time of year. I just bought a new cinnamon candle and was excited to realize that it fit in my santa candle holder. While it was burning, the radiant eyes were gone, and red scary eyes appeared. Next, the red scary eyes started bleeding out onto the stove. I think santa needs to see the eye doc...what do you think? I know this seems kinda gross, but it was pretty funny!

New Recipe Night

I've decided to continue to feed my current culinary obsessions and try a new meal once a week. The whole meal has to be something I haven't made yet. Tonight's meal included Stuffed Mushrooms (From, Roast Cornish Hen (From the Today Show), Baked Vegetables (From a new show on Lifetime called Moms Cooking), and Mint Joe Joe pudding (My own personal invention).

Click HERE for the mushroom recipe. It was very easy, relatively low in fat, and yummy. I used skim cheeses...makes a big difference on the calorie scale!

Roast Cornish Hen draped in bacon with acorn squash, chestnuts (which I omitted due to allergies), and radicchio. This recipe was very involved, so I don't think I'll do it again, but it was very delicious. I think turkey with stuffing is much easier to make, but it just takes longer than hens.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add 2 pears, cored, 2 seeded acorn squash, sliced, 3 cinnamon sticks, and 4 pieces star anise. Broil in oven for about 15 minutes, or until they start to soften.

Meanwhile, prepare cornish hens. Salt and pepper them generously inside and out. Lay them on top of the broiled squash, pears, etc. Drape 2 pieces of bacon over each one. Broil for 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear. Here's the finished product. I don't think my oven is working properly. The door won't stay shut, and the top heating element didn't come on when I set it to broil. Maybe the birthday fairy will bring me a new one in March!....hint hint.

Baked Vegetables

2 bunches of broccoli, cut into florets
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 yellow zucchini, sliced into rounds
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp onion powder (I recommend 1!)
1/2 tbsp garlic powder (I recommend 1!)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cracker meal ( I only used 3/4 cup) I couldn't find cracker meal, so I just used my food processor and "processed" crackers. I figured it was about the same thing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place veggies in large bowl
Add soy sauce, oil, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss and mix well, making sure all veggies are covered with seasoning.
Place in a large baking dish, Sprinkle with cracker meal.
Place in the over for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I will definitely make this again. It was easy and very tasty, but I'll "half" the recipe next time.

Dessert was also super yummy.

1 pkg fat free sugar free white chocolate pudding, made according to pkg directions
1 pkg fat free sugar free chocolate pudding, made according to pkg directions
10 Trader Joes Pepper Mint Joe Joes, puree 5 of the cookies

Mix the pureed Joe Joes into the white chocolate pudding mix. Divide among 5 single serving dishes; allow to set for a few minutes.
Pour chocolate pudding on top.
Top off with one Mint Joe Joe and a candy cane piece.

If you don't live near a Trader Joes and can't but the mint Joe Joes, use Grasshopper cookies. You could even use regular oreos and a tsp of mint extract. They might even make mint oreos...I'm not sure. This dessert was very easy, and since I made it with skim milk, it was relatively low in fat and calories. Each dish had the equivalent of 2 mint Joe Joes in it, which isn't too bad!

We had some friends come over for dinner tonight, and that's why I made so much food. Everything was yummy and I really enjoyed trying it all out! Trust me, I don't normally cook like this every night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beautiful Day

I know most of my friends and readers are dealing with snow and I'm not rubbing this in, BUT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL HERE yesterday! It was about 69 at the highest..according to my thermostat. The boys are both dealing with a head cold from their flu shots, so there's been a lot of fussiness around the house lately. I packed them up and headed out for a walk yesterday to relieve some of the stress, and they loved it. Connor fell asleep before we hit the top of the neighborhood, and Brandon fell asleep about halfway through. Connor even slept through the 15 minute conversation I had with our neighbor. They haven't fallen asleep in the stroller in a really long time. I'm convinced they both needed that little nap to collect themselves. I was able to run inside and grab the camera to video Brandon snoring...enjoy!

We also got out the crayons and colored some Christmas pictures with stickers. They love stickers.

I spent the night in Durham with my friend Jess, so Eric had the boys for Friday night and all day Saturday. They shopped a little, played, fussed, and slept. Here is a cute video of the boys wrestling. If you listen, you can hear Brandon fussing and then saying MORE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A little bragging...

I have to share this "moment of accomplishment" that Eric and I had tonight. Wednesday night is usually our eat out night. It's nice to know that I have a break one night a week from preparing a meal. We are limited in our restaurant choices because of Brandon's allergies. We like Golden Corral because they can eat whatever they want, and they can eat right away. They LOVE the lima beans, fruit, and steak. Connor likes the fish, but B can't have it since it's covered in a cream sauce. Tonight, we went there for our usual dinner, and I started to look for our favorite server, Charles. Then, I ran into Tony. Tony was Eric's favorite waiter at Mi Casita, but he left Mi Casita about 3 years ago. We were VERY excited to see him, and even more excited when he recognized us! We sat down and started our dinner routine. Eric and I have a good routine when it comes to eating out with the boys. I'm always very aware of the people around me. I want to make sure my family is safe, but I also want to make sure no one looks annoyed by the goofiness of the boys. There was a man sitting by the boys who looked like he was trying to enjoy a quiet meal to himself. Connor kept showing this man his lima bean and saying...bean. Brandon kept turning around telling the lady behind As if she didn't know the baby she was holding...was a baby! When the man sitting by Connor got up to leave he said, "Couldn't be any closer to perfect kids" LIKE WHOA! I know I say the boys act like angels a lot, but I'm biased. It was nice to receive such a nice compliment from a perfect stranger. My goal in life is to raise respectful, intelligent, well rounded kids. I think I'm well on my way. Kudos to my well-behaved munchkins

More Sweets

I ran across a few more recipes for holiday cookies that I wanted to try.

Cherry Tassies

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely crushed candy canes or starlight candy mints
48 maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 Beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powd sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in peppermint ext, vanilla, and egg. Finally, beat in the flour and candies.

Place remaining 3/4 cup powd sugar in shallow dish. Shape dough in 1 inch balls, roll in powd sugar . Press each ball into bottom of mini muffin cup. BE SURE TO GREASE CUPS!!! Bakers Joy worked much better than Pam.

Place cherry stem side up in each cup and bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until pastry is browned. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to cooling rack.

I think these taste a lot like spritzer cookies. It's not "cakey" at all, but more like a muffin shaped cookie. They look really cute and have a different taste than typical cookies/muffins.

Now, this next recipe, I won't make again...most likely.

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp red food coloring paste

Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar until light and fluffy. (mine was never fluffy) Add egg and vanilla until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture on low until blended.

Divide dough into 2 equal portions ( mine didn't look like bread dough, it was more cookie dough-like) Roll 1 portion of dough until 12 x 8 inch rectangle on a piece of lightly floured plastic wrap.

Knead food coloring into remaining portion of dough. Roll into 12 x 8 rectangle as well. Place rectangles on top of each other. Cut in half lengthwise. Roll up each rectangle, jelly roll style. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 350. Cut ends off each dough log and slice remaining dough into 1/4 in thick pieces. Bake on parchment paper for 7 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool cookies on sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Frost 1/2 of cookies and top with another cookie to make a sandwich.

Peppermint Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

I wasn't too happy with this recipe. Cookie dough is impossible to "roll out" I was expecting it to be more like bread dough...not so much! On top of that, it's hard to get RED cookies...mine usually look pink. I picked the best 2 cookies to take a picture of, but don't let them fool you. Most of them look like the steak shaped doggie treats! I was thinking that to myself, and then Eric said that exact thing. Great minds think alike. I'm going to wrap them like mints once they are set, and maybe they'll look better. It's all about presentation!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Rush of Culinary Ambition

I was feeling a rush of culinary ambition the other day. In order to feed that ambition, I made homemade ribs for the first time in my life. Along with those ribs, we had Roasted Pine Nut salad with an orange vinaigrette and Pumpkin Cream Trifle for dessert. Why the big meal, you ask?
I realized that a guy I went to high school with is stationed here at Ft. Bragg. Kyle Simon is a captain in the area of Civil Affairs. I haven't seen him in over 10 years!!! We all had a nice night filled with conversation and yummy food. Here's what I made....

First was BBQ ribs...
I know this looks odd, but they were extremely good! The ribs are under all the fruit and veggies you see in the picture. There's orange juice, beer, apples, oranges, sage, and a jalapeno in there. You simmer it for about an hour and a half. Then, brush it with the homemade BBQ sauce. Throw them on the grill for 7-10 minutes on each side. They come out looking like this...

They were OH SO delicious!

I made a Pumpkin Cream Trifle for dessert....even Brandon could eat it! It was also super delicious! It was as tasty as it was pretty!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

No more monkeys...


Toy Drop

Eric likes to take part in the Toy Drop every year. Basically, he donates a toy, gets a ticket, and goes through a lottery to try and get a spot on the manifest. He was lucky enough to get a spot this year, and it was today!

I had to park and walk about a mile and a half away...which was irritating, but we made it in plenty of time to see him jump. The boys were perfect angels the whole 3 HOURS we ended up being out there. I thought for sure they would fall asleep on the way home and I would lose their afternoon nap, but they didn't! We all managed to squeeze in a nap!

Here are some pictures from the day....

The happy boys...wearing the same hats from last year!

The soldier lining up and boarding the plane

The plate taking off

Eric is the 6th one off...he thinks. There are two little people right by the end of the plane. He's the one on the left...we think!

The plane landing