Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting My Seasonal Fix

We were excited to leave our 89 degree temps and experience what fall and winter are really about. We had a couple of days of fall in Iowa with my sister where the kids were thrilled to play in the leaves (Kylie even brought home a collection to show her class what real fall leaves look like). (once again, I know it looks like Kylie is the favorite, but really Jayden was just not in picture taking mode)

We then got our fair dose of winter at my parent's home in Indiana where the kids saw snow for the first time in years. It was so fun, but I think one week of 30 degree temps is enough for me :)

(Jayden proclaiming his opinion of winter: "IT SOOOO COLD!")

Knights Castle
We just got back from an amazing Thanksgiving with my family in Indiana and I've got major picture overload, so bear with me. First of all I wanted to post pics from our little over-nighter in Tucson before we left....
Jason was down in Tucson the week before Thanksgiving and since the kids had school off on that Monday, we decided to tag along. We stopped for dinner at the Cracker Barrell on the way down. It's been FOREVER since I've been there and I thought that the kids would like it there. They liked the rocking chairs on the porch and unfortunately loved the cute little country Christmas store where everything was labled "Fragile, do not touch". Jayden has a new little game where he takes off running to see if I will chase him. If I ignore him he keeps running until I come after him. If I chase him then he just runs faster. I've learned to make him hold my hand in parking lots because I never know when he's going to take off, it scares me to death, but that's another story. So we're sitting there eating dinner and Jayden all of the sudden jumps up and heads over to the store. I give him the look. I hold up my fingers and start the count down to time out. Nothing works. In slow motion he inches closer to the oversized porcelain snowman. It was enough to make me jump out of my seat, with my oven-fresh home made buttermilk biscuit in hand, and chase after him. We caused quite the scene as I chased him through all of the displays with everyone looking at me like I couldn't control my child (which there may be some truth to that at times). Fortunately, I was able to catch him before there was a major catastrophe.

The kids were so excited to stay at the hotel, or as Jayden calls it, the "knight's castle". It started as a game to keep them entertained when we stayed at the hotel last year while Jason was taking his test. Everytime we stay in a hotel we pretend like it's a castle and we go exploring for dragons and princesses. I know it sounds way cheesy, but the kids love it and I always get a kick out of watching them scream and run when they hear a fan or A/C unit kick on and think it's a dragon (not to mention that it's better than having them cooped up for hours watching tv in the 10x10 hotel room). They had fun playing, but I was a little nervous as Jayden ran ahead at one point and climbed in an elevator and the doors closed before I could get on. Panic mode hit as I didn't know what floor he would get off at and I worried that some stranger would get on with him. Kylie and I took off down the stairs and fortunately made it to the next floor just as he was getting off the elevator. He looked so funny because he was in this crouched position looking around nervously, but broke into a huge smile when he saw me. Little stinker. The castle game then ended as he started playing in an ash tray like a sand box.
We spent Monday at the zoo down there that we absolutely love. The animals are really up-close and active, it's great. The kids were happy, cute and well behaved, it was a really fun trip.

(do you think the look on Jayden's face has anything to do with the fanny that's right in his face?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Waste Not, Want Not

I think that this is such a great bit of advice that my wonderful parents have taught me. However, as I started a small electrical fire with my blow dryer I realized that I may have just taken this advice to the extreme. Let me just start by confessing that I have somewhat of a love affair with black electrical tape (it seems a little more classy than duct tape :). As long as something still works, I hate letting it go to waste, even if it means holding it together with tape. So my poor blow started when the cord wore through near the base and the wires got exposed. It was nothing a little electrical tape couldn't handle, although I did have to manipulate the cord and hold it in the right position so that it wouldn't short out. After that problem was temporarily worked out, I noticed a spot on the handle that would heat up every time I used it. Naturally I just avoided touching that area. Then the day inevitably came when that infamous hot spot melted right through the handle and burst into a small flame. I dropped it immediately and burned my tube of Colgate toothpaste. It was a dramatic moment. It also allowed me the opportunity to ponder the many things I've used 'til they couldn't be used no more:

-The Dirt Devil. We got a Dirt Devil vacuum for our wedding. After 5 years, the handle broke off, but alas that motor was still a runnin'. So I rigged up a new handle by duct taping the hose to the base. It worked great until I was 9 months pregnant with Jayden and bending over to use the so-called handle just wasn't cutting it anymore!
-The GE washer. When we bought our first house Jason's brother and wife sold us their washer and dryer. They have been trusty appliances up until the last few years. I'm not quite sure what happened, but I think that the wash basin kind of got disconnected or something. Every time it is on the spin cycle the whole basin just bangs back and forth and the washing machine sort of takes on a life of its own as it moves around the floor. It has been known to scare unsuspecting children on more than one occasion. In our old house the laundry room was upstairs and I was just waiting for the washing machine to crash through the ceiling during the dreaded spin cycle. But once again, it still faithfully washes the clothes so it has secured it's location next to it's matching dryer.
-Beauty supplies. My sister can vouch for me on this one. One year for my birthday she bought me a new hand mirror and hair brush after she saw the ones I was using. My mirrors always seem to get dropped and broken and I still manage to use them down to the last shard. My brushes and combs are missing teeth, but darn it, they still work. My compact powder usually doesn't get retired until every last broken piece is gone.
-The Laundry Basket. Yes we got it 8 years ago when we got married, yes it is completely falling apart, but yes it still holds clothes (sort of).
-The Swiffer Wet Jet. This little beauty is a dandy of an invention, too bad it doesn't last long with my vigorous mopping skills. The top half of the handle broke off, resulting in the severing of the wires so that it no longer sprays. Do you think that stopped me? Oh no, give me more credit than that. I now just put the cleaner in a spray bottle. Nothing stands in the way of my cleaning day. The bottom part broke off too, so I"m still dealing with that.

I have to put a few disclaimers out: first of all, I'm not a pack rat--far from it (although I believe I am flirting with the term "white trash"). If I don't use it, I get rid of it. But if I do use it, then I use it to it's last shred. Second of all, it's not that I can't afford another $15 blow dryer, I just hate throwing it away when it's still got some juice left in it. And last of all, Jason doesn't condone my behavior. Infact, our latest disagreement was centered around the clothes iron. So I was ironing Jason's clothes when there was a little metal thingy poking out that snagged his shirt. I thought that I could simply just file down the culprit, but Jason thought I was being ridiculous and should just go buy another $10 iron instead of risking ruining another shirt. He won the battle, so it was off to Wal-mart to buy a new iron, blow dryer and yes, I even splurged and bought a much needed laundry basket.

I'm Officially Retired

After what seems like years (okay, months) of endlessly drawing trains and pirate scenes, I have been officially retired. Jayden figured out how to draw trains on his own and is doing a pretty good job at it. I LOVE the details on his little pictures and as a bonus it makes my life soooo much easier!

I am all about bargains, although there have been many times where after wearing a shirt once I realized that there was definately a reason it was on clearance. I don't think that will be the case with this shirt. How cute is this for only $2.50?? Gotta love Tilly's annual by one get one free clearance event. I know I do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All About the Kids

Here's just a little list of things about the kids that I wanted to write down before I forgot....


This past month Kylie has reached some milestones that she is pretty darn proud of. After much practice and more than one meltdown, she can now officially pump herself on the swing, tie her own shoe and draw a star (you know the criss cross kind...I used to make dot to dots for her so that she could do it and she finally did it on her own. She now draws stars on anything and everything--several of which have landed her in time out.) She is getting so big and I love watching her sheer excitement when all her practicing pays off and she finally accomplishes her goals.

Each night before Kylie goes to bed she has her little ritual. Everything has to be perfect and in the correct order from the time she goes potty, brushes her teeth, reads one story each, drinks one glass of milk and says her prayers up to the point where I tuck her in and she has to repeat this exact phrase to me: "good night mom, I love you. Will you please stay up here and even if you have to go downstairs will you still come back up here and even if you have to do something will you just bring it up here?" It is so funny, she never fails to say that before I leave her room and she never skips a word or misses a beat.

We finally went shopping for winter clothes for the kids. They could probably still go a couple more weeks in tank tops but since we're going to Indiana next week we thought they might just need a little more than a t-shirt. While we were out I saw the cutest little vest for Kylie, you know the puffy outdoor ones that come in all sorts of cute colors? I thought it looked adorable on her but she kept saying she didn't want to get it. In what I believe was an effort to avoid hurting my feelings, she confessed her true feelings to Jason when I was out of ear shot and told him, "I look like I'm wearing a floatie!"

Speaking of floaties, the kids were crazy and wanted to go swimming last weekend. Even though it's hot outside I'm sure the water has got to be in the 60's. Jayden was the first to jump in and even though I think she was hesitant, Kylie wasn't about to let her little brother show her up. In true Daddy fashion, Jason wasn't about to be out done by his own kids, so he jumped in too. I think I was the only smart one that didn't succomb to the peer pressure.


Jayden's speech is really improving, but I always get a kick out of some of his pronunciations. He kept saying that he wanted to go to Donald Duck's house and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what he was talking about until he described the slide and chicken nuggets and it clicked--McDonald's! That's the only other "Donald" he knows, so why wouldn't it be his house? I was reading "Bambi" to Jayden for the first time and it made me laugh when he kept pointing to the picture of Bambi and calling him "Band-aid".

Out of the blue Jayden will say "mom, mom, mom" until I say "what". Once he gets my attention he gives me one of his sweet looks and says "hi", then goes back to his playing, it's really cute.

(this picture is from the carnival at Kylie's school. Jayden was obsessed with this chicken and would not put it down)

Jayden has always been really good about saying thank you, although sometimes the things he is thankful for make me laugh. A little while ago Jason was wrestling with the kids and gave Jayden a wedgie and he said "oh, thanks dad!" He must have thought his little undies were sagging and Jason, being the good father that he is, was just helping him out. Also, whenever he has an ice-cream cone it inevitably drips all over. I remember my dad using this as an excuse to eat half of our ice-cream cone when he was "just licking off the drips". I would get so mad, but whenever I use this trick on Jayden he says, "thank you, mommy" as I hand back his ice cream that has now shrunk to atleast half of the original size. And last but not least, you've gotta love a kid that says thank you everytime you wipe his bum after going potty!

Jayden has always been a little on the wild side during family scriptures and prayers and I still don't think that he knows the meaning of "reverent". Although I haven't lost faith in him completely when the other night Jason was gone and the kids were getting to bed late so I was rushing to get them to sleep and forgot about scriptures and prayers. Jayden kept trying to tell me something but I didn't know what he was talking about so out of frustration he grabs my hand and drags me over to the scriptures and points to them saying "forgot!" then he folds his arms, closes his eyes, bows his head and says "talk, talk, talk" then looks up and says "remember?" I guess maybe I'm not a complete failure after all, what a sweet boy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

French Toast Smothered in Divinity with a Light Dusting of Powdered Sugar

I had seen this recipe before, but when I came across it in the midst of blog hopping (I prefer blog hopping to blog stalking :) and saw it advertised as "the best syrup ever", I knew I had to give it a try. And believe you me, it DID NOT disappoint! All I need now is a good stuffed french toast recipe to go with it (you know, the really creamy, fruity kind). It's okay to occasionally eat all of your allotted daily calories in one sitting, right? Yeah, it's THAT good.

Buttermilk Syrup:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (don't cheat, use the real stuff)
2 tablespoons corn syrup (I substituted maple syrup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Caution: Never Leave Children Unattended
(Yes, he was in the front yard when we caught him in the act)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Another fun holiday come and gone...we delayed the great pumpkin carving extravaganza until Monday's FHE because the life span of these poor jack-o-lanterns is very short here in the AZ heat. It has only been 4 days and they're already turning brown around the edges and wilting away (hmmm, maybe I should relieve them of their front porch duties...). We were sad that we had to do the carving sans the Daddy-o (doesn't "sans" mean "without" in Spanish? I don't know, it sounded cool). Unfortunately he had to work late. He's such a hard worker and was sad that he had to miss the big event. The afternoon started out as "one of THOSE days" where the kids were suffering from a serious lack of sleep over the weekend and it was one thing after another. I opted to do a "family home afternoon" instead of evening because I needed an outlet for the kids besides killing eachother. This picture sets the mood at the beginning perfectly, but it was nothing that a good old fashioned pumpkin carving couldn't take care of. By the end we were all laughing, especially when the kids were playing on the swing set and got soaked by the sprinklers. It turned out to be a fun and memorable afternoon.

Halloween was a fun/busy day. I was up the whole night before getting things ready for the Halloween party at the preschool that I teach at. Jayden comes with me one day a week, so he also had fun partying with his friends. I would have liked to have helped out at Kylie's class party, but that was impossible considering there was no party :( In fact, they purposely distracted from the holiday by declaring Oct. 31 "drug awareness day" and had all sorts of activities related to that. It was salt in an open wound. The only time they acknowledged the holiday was by sending home a letter suggesting to donate your Halloween candy to the school's carnival. No thank you. I'd rather give it to Jayden's school where atleast they're giving it to the food bank. I really do love Kylie's school, I was just a little disappointed with the anti-Halloween spirit. But have no fear, my friend Mandy and I took matters into our own hands. After the preschool party I spent the afternoon getting ready for our own little Halloween bash with the neighborhood kids from our ward. I think we ended up with like 25 kids in our back yard. Mandy had a cute Jello craft, Chelsea had a fabulous pin the tail on the cat game, and some other moms did some fun games and brought yummy food as well (I was sad that I forgot to do the cake walk and was stuck with 36 mini-cupcakes, just what I did NOT need). I did some far-from-professional face painting and we even ended with a hayless hay ride. My kids had alot of fun and hopefully the other kids did too.

After the party we rushed to eat the pumpkin shaped pizza I had made for dinner and then Jason and the kids literally ran out the door to go trick or treating as I'm trying to adjust costumes (in the midst of the mad rush we even forgot the ever important eye liner mustache, goatee and whiskers). Once again they made quite the haul and had a fun time doing it. After that our neighbors had a little Halloween party and we had a great time hanging out with them. We really lucked out with such great neighbors here. We live on a cul-de-sac thing and it's fun to have all the kids come out and ride bikes in the evenings while the adults hang out, we've never lived in a neighborhood like this where the neighbors are so close, it's great. Anyways....we partied there until the kids were completely wiped out. What a fun Halloween, although I'm glad I have a whole other year to recuperate!