Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ten smile tuesday

it's smiling time. it was a long week with mike putting in long hours of overtime on a project...but we made the most of it and survived the week. i started this week by revising our daily "routine" a bit, and that seems to have helped with a bit of the chaos i was feeling last week. elizabeth LOVES having some "school" time, but in the first trimester ickiness (and kate simultaneously giving up her morning nap) that got pushed to the wayside....so i've started spending some one on one time with her right after kate goes down for her afternoon nap (before elizabeth has quiet time in her room...which is sometimes napping and other times just quietly resting...but definitely staying in her room!). she never ceases to amaze me with her budding "reading" skills...there are a good 20-30 words she can read on her own now, and she is quickly getting better at sounding out short words (she is also quite obsessed with "spelling" every sign we run across while doing errands...and trying to tell me what she thinks it says). as for her fine motor skills...he he, lets just say that for right now, verbal is this girlies forte. now kate on the other hand...she has the fine motor stuff down pat...and i am quite convinced that someday she is going to decide to consistently find her voice (i keep reminding myself that each child is different and this skill will eventually come!), and then we'll all have to watch out! i've also been working to help elizabeth find activities she can do by herself so that i can have more one on one time with kate during the morning, and honestly, i am just feeling much less frazzled and more into things these days. and that in and of itself is a smile after last week!

1. finding these fabulous noodleboro games on clearance at wal-mart. elizabeth loves them, and i do too! they seem to hold her interest much longer than some of the other game we had...perhaps because they are technically one step beyond her level, meaning it requires a bit more concentration! i picked up the "sharing" and "listening" versions...and i highly recommend them to anyone who can find them on clearance. (not sure if i would have paid the full $20+ price, but that might just be because i'm cheap like that!)

2. a budding helper around the house. elizabeth has always been slightly obsessed with "helping" me mop...but move over big sister, kate is ready for her turn. gotta love this!

3. listening from the other room as daddy helped elizabeth create patterns for the necklace elizabeth was making. i actually headed to wal-mart to find beads on sunday when i ran across those noodleboro games...and let me tell you, this is both elizabeth AND my new favorite activity. she could sit for hours concentrating on stringing beads...and that, my friends, means mommy has a bit of extra time for kate and keeping up with the house...AND, of course, i enjoy sitting down and stringing some beads myself!

4. finding some time to release my crafty-self. mike worked all day saturday, so during naptime i pulled out some fabric and my sewing machine and whipped up a few projects. it has been quite awhile since i've done any sewing, and oh what a fabulous break from the crazy week! incidentally, i am quite happy with my projects...which i will reveal eventually...just not yet! :)

5. this delicious new dessert favorite...i got the recipe from a gal in my MOPS group. she simply calls it "apple stuff"....chopped apples, cream cheese, cool whip, brown sugar, toffee bits, and butterscotch chips...YUM! :) i posted the recipe here.

6. discovering that costco had finally decided to carry kosher beef hotdogs again....our family loves a good hotdog on the grill (or in some mac-n-cheese) but are quite preferential to the taste of the kosher beef ones...so you can imagine our dismay when costco wasn't carrying them a month or so ago when we looked. i almost did a little dance in the aisle when we found the hebrew national display sunday. (seriously, friends, some weeks/days it really is the "little" things in life!)

7. bunny making! i found two "stuff your own bunny" kits on clearance after easter last year...so i picked them up and tucked them away in the closet. so when saturday morning was getting a bit crazed i was delighted to remember those kits. kate wasn't into much of the process (except loving her completed bunny), but elizabeth had a blast stuffing and dressing hers.

8. books on cd. again, this one particularly pertains to elizabeth....and my quest to find some activities she can do by herself...freeing me up for kate. way back when we picked up the original curious george story collection, and it included all of the stories on cd. just this past week i've discovered that elizabeth is able to listen and turn the pages all by herself...AND, even better, she will sit and listen to story after story after story...calmly, quietly, eagerly. yesterday she even begged me to let her skip lunch so she could keep listening! (click on the picture to see the amazon listing)
9. boppies aren't just for babies! i've been rearranging/organizing closets, and in the shuffle the two boppies ended up on the floor of kate's room. at bedtime the other night kate nestled herself into one and sat down, and this gave me an idea. i laid them both out, told the girls they were their new storytime/Bible time chairs, and voila! who knew that getting the girls to both sit so incredibly calmly was as easy as pulling the boppies out of storage!

10. having daddy home for dinner and the evening! after being out of town and then coming back to a crazy week of overtime, i was SO missing my hubby, and the girls, well, needless to say, they were missing their daddy. having him home ALL day sunday and then for dinner last night was such a blessing. if you are reading this husband, i can't wait to see you this evening either! :)

11. and finally...not something i ALWAYS smile about...but right now i am loving the patter of rain against the roof and windows. perhaps because it just seems appropriate for naptime (and hopefully will induce good sleep!) but also because it is the promise of green grass and spring flowers! bring on april...and may...and june...and july...and august...and our new baby! :) heading into week 18...and next tues. morning is our mid-way ultrasound!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ten smile tuesday!

1. i made it through the first (and supposedly more painful/hard) phase of getting a crown on my tooth this morning....and i'll admit, i was quite terrified of the whole idea of having this done...so much so that i probably put it off far too long!

2. a fabulous trip to the Children's Museum with our friends, jill and brennan, yesterday!

getting all three kiddos to sit back, cooperate, and smile wasn't happening! :)

elizabeth takes brennan for a ride

if only this was an excavator instead, as that is most definitely libs FAVORITE word...i know, strange...but those who know her daddy will get why this 3 year old points out EVERY excavator (or other construction equipment) by name!

kater and brennan get wet...soaked, actually...but they had fun in the process!

3. these gorgeous spring dresses that arrived in the mail from aunt kim and uncle dave! thanks!

4. an evening "out" with my hubby. our church hosted a banquet for all the children's ministry teachers and workers last night....and also provided free childcare and pizza for the kiddos. there was a great meal, catered by our delightful friends lora and keith, and it was just nice to relax and enjoy an evening together.

5. the girls and i made a quick trip to the lake to visit grandmommy and poppy at the end of the week. we missed daddy, but we did have a great time. grandmommy even managed to play with us all afternoon and evening thursday (including some good canasta time once the girlies were in bed), work ALL night, and then even keep up with us all day friday! we made carrot cake cupcakes to celebrate grandmommy's birthday...and enjoyed meeting some of their friends when we stopped by their euchre club friday night. (incidentally, the hosts of euchre club had a young daughter who was 6 or 7, and elizabeth was enthralled by the opportunity to play with her "big girl" stuff!)

elizabeth beats grandmommy at a round of tic tac toe!

libs wondered why we couldn't go swimming....but it was definitely a wee bit chilly!

poppy tried to get libbers to test out the water with her fingers...but elizabeth preferred to keep her distance!

a pooped kater gator on the way home!

6. the aforementioned chance to play some canasta with my mom...it had been way too long! i won't say who won...don't want to rub it in! :)

7. while up north, we also enjoyed catching up with mommy's dear friend jill...or "miss jill" as elizabeth calls her. we had a chick-fil-a picnic in the park and then had LOTS of fun playing on the playground. it was also fun to catch up with a high school friend and her twin babies. elizabeth can't stop talking about you, miss jill...we'll definitely be visiting again soon!

8. before leaving daddy to head north, we figured we should leave him with something "sweet"...so we whipped up a surprise wednesday night...snickerdoodles! even kate got in on the fun, rolling a few dough balls in sugar and cinnamon. elizabeth was a professional roller and cookie watcher!

kate rolls (and smushes!)

"are they done yet!?"

the cookie testers!

9. our girly-girl...kate is SO into dressing up (with whatever spare accessories she can find). between this and her love for doll babies, she is definitely the more "girly-girl" of our two girls...

a belt posing as a necklace makes the PERFECT accessory, right!?

10. knowing that at least the laundry is done and folded for the week...so what if the rest of the house is a disaster, right! :) actually, our MOPS speaker thursday was so refreshing...reminding us to keep perspective in this phase of that, and that perhaps a clean, spotlessly organized house is for another phase of life! i am so thankful for a husband who would prefer i spend quality time with our daughters as opposed to having an immaculate house. thanks for the reminder michael!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


though there is surely a LONG road ahead of us, i am simply ecstatic....kate peed in the potty for the first time today! no, we are not officially potty training per se...however, she is really interested in sitting on the little potty seat...almost obsessed actually. anytime i go in to the bathroom she likes to tag along and sit on her potty, and lo and behold, this afternoon she actually did it! most likely it was sheerly "accidental" success...but i made sure to praise it with a "hooray for pee pee in the potty" song and dance...and some jellybeans. this mama is most definitely NOT against bribery when it comes to ditching the diapers! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ham, pineapple, and provolone stromboli

**i meant to publish this to good stuff maynard but selected the wrong blog...so here it is for those who are interested...i'll get it posted to maynard as well!**

this has quickly become a new favorite around our house!

1/2 lb. thin sliced black forest ham
1 large can pineapple tidbits--drained
8-10 slices of provolone cheese
honey mustard sauce or dressing (i use ken's honey mustard dressing)
1 egg--slightly beaten, then add 2 tsp. water--makes an egg wash

pizza dough (or buy a premade pizza crust dough):
2 1/4 tsp. (one packet) yeast
1 T sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. salt
1 T oil
3 cups all-purpose flour

1. dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in kitchen aid mixing bowl. add salt, oil, and flour. mix on speed 2 until dough gathers into a ball.

2. place ball of dough in greased bowl. cover and let rise in a warm place (oven with light on) until doubled (about 1 hour).

3. remove from oven and turn out onto a floured surface. flour the top of the dough and roll out into a large rectangle.
**preheat oven to 400**
4. top with ham (leaving about 1-1 1/2 in. from edge clear), drizzle with honey mustard (as desired), lay out provolone slices, and then sprinkle pineapples on top.

5. brush the inch or so ring of untopped crust with egg wash (this will act as a glue), and begin rolling up your stromboli...(using my picture as a reference i would roll from the top/back to the bottom/front)...making a LONG stromboli (NOT the width). hope that makes sense!

6. brush top of stromboli with remaining egg wash and cover loosely with a lightly greased piece of foil.

7. bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then remove foil. continue baking 10-20 more minutes until crust is golden brown. let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and ENJOY!

ten (or thirteen) smile tuesday..but, really, who's counting!

i know i am not alone in feeling like this, but wow, the warmer weather and chance to be outside have definitely improved the "smileage" around our house. everything just feels fresh and new and exciting...less stir-craziness...less whining...less boredom/blahdom for mommy and the girls! for my own ease (because that is how my photos uploaded), i'm going to share smiles in reverse order, starting with our fabulous trip to the zoo today!

1. we were supposed to have a play-date at a friends house this morning, but since the weather was forecasted to be completely FABULOUS (like 70's!), we switched up the plan and invited them to join us at the zoo! it was a blast. we saw more animals moving around and playing than i've ever seen...including a tiger up close and personal who was playing with (ie. tearing to shreds) a cardboard box, the new baby cubs swimming and playing together, the lemurs at feeding time, and, of course SO many others!

the zoo's newest members...baby bear cubs...i could have watched play ALL day!

elizabeth and riley

kate...who kind of took the whole experience in but was quite into staying in the stroller as opposed to getting up close and personal with the animals (which actually surprised me...since she is usually our go-getter!)

friends...taking a stroll through the butterfly garden

2. drumroll, please...okay, friends, this is a milestone (granted...a late one). elizabeth finally had her first hair-cut last night (at 3 1/2 years old). i'll be honest, i've been itching to even it up a bit for quite some time, but i just couldn't bring myself to schedule an appointment, but with the warmer weather yesterday we were fighting a continuous battle of the crazy, straggly, fly aways...and i finally broke down. after bath time i combed it out nicely and did the cutting myself (after some instructions from a friend who cuts hair for a living). i LOVE the way it turned out (and am thankful for the curl since it hides any imperfections or uneven cutting). the best thing...this morning when she woke up we were able to run a comb through it without snags or snarls and without needing to douse her head in detangler! :)

before (earlier in the afternoon)--i'll have to find a good back of the head before picture since i really only cut the back

after-from the back

after-from the side

3. a delicioso ham, pineapple, and provolone stromboli....i posted about this newfound favorite creation a couple weeks back, but this time i took pictures...just wish you could smell it through the computer. i will be posting the recipe on good stuff maynard after i finish my smiles...so check there if you think it looks tasty!

4. spending hours and hours out in the backyard yesterday!


...and sliding

5. our fearless little kater-bug. she has mastered the art of climbing up the steps and going down the slide...something her sister didn't dare attempt at this age. it is so fun to see the differences between the two girls...elizabeth was much more verbal but for more timid when it came to climbing, etc....kate on the other hand care little about talking (she has words but just doesn't use them often) but is CONSTANTLY on the go and busy with gross and fine motor skills.

6. and really...who can resist a cheerful, bursting at the seams with laughter, precious little spunky girl who wakes up from a LONG afternoon nap in such a fabulous mood. this mama most certainly can't! and perhaps three pictures is overkill...but i simply couldn't decide which of the group was my fav! :)

7. that blissful, magical time of day when the garage door opens and daddy steps in the door (or onto the back-porch as it happened yesterday). but seriously, i wish you could see the little happy dance kate does the second she hears the creaking of the garage door...or see the way two little girls sit at their table and peer out the window, anxiously anticipating the sight of daddy's silver car. kate is ALWAYS the first to greet daddy...standing right at the door and leaping into his arms the second he arrives...but mommy and libs follow closely! (and mugho too, of course!).

***you can tell just how much we are loving the sunshine since the first 7 smiles encompass just the past 36 hours...incidentally, the warmest, brightest, most fabulous weather we've had since early autumn!***

8. a refreshing "fresh encounter" prayer service at church on sunday evening...and stopping for a family dinner at qdoba beforehand.

9. enjoying a surprise party, birthday celebration for a friend...and excited about the fact that this particular family has moved less than 10 minutes from us! hooray! :)

10. family play-time! on this particular evening we were all feeling a bit stir-crazy, so mommy busted out the box of my old barbies grandmommy and poppy had passed along at some point. elizabeth was enthralled...and i was taken down memory lane! :) i did teach elizabeth a trick from when aunt shell and i were little girls without an official barbie car...our barbie's traveled in true style...SHOES! boots for minivans or SUVs, sandals for convertibles...on this evening barbie took a trip in a nice brown sedan...of the sketchers variety! it must have been sunny, as elizabeth insisted barbie wear her sunglasses! :) perhaps when she gets a little older i can teach her how one survives without a barbie house....by turning her entire room into a gigantic barbie mansion. shell, if you are reading, tell me you remember this! :)

11. a lovely play-date at a wonderful indoor playground at a nearby church...friends, food, and lots of equipment for the girls to expend some energy on! :)

12. just have to share a pregger update. i can hardly believe how much more pregnant i am feeling and looking at this point than the past two (i guess by three your body just knows what to do!). i finally gave in and started wearing maternity clothes the other day...mostly for comfort-sake probably...and because i scored some new-to-me clothes from a friend, but seriously, i don't remember my body changing so much so early in previous pregnancies. and i'm not complaining...right now i am savoring each moment, eager to start feeling the regular movements of this little one. a couple times this week i've felt that delightful fluttering of the babe...and oh my, i just can't get enough! :)

13. finally, i am quite excited about a last minute trip to visit my parents at the end of the week...the girls and i are headed up to help celebrate my mom's birthday and to just plain spend some quality time hanging with grandmommy and poppy...and as a bonus we get to see our dear friend jill, or, miss jill, as elizabeth calls her!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ten smile tuesday

wow...when it rains it pours (smiles, that is!). seriously, after a long string of blah-ish days and chilly weather, our cup runneth over with fun and laughter. not only did the weather warm up, giving us the chance to open the windows, play outside, and simply savor the reality that spring will eventually arrive to stay...but, we also had the chance to spend several occasions of quality time with friends.

1. getting to hear the baby's heartbeat this morning...strong and steady, music to my ears. i took both girls to the appointment with me...as i was heading straight to Bible study afterward, and, oh my, seeing elizabeth's expression at the sound of the thump, thumping of baby's heart was incredible. she froze on the edge of her chair and looked completely transfixed...then said, "is that my baby!?" priceless! she also spent the entire drive to the doctor's office talking and asking me questions about the baby...wondering why it has to stay in my tummy and when it can come out and crawl around. and, of course, whenever anyone at the doctor's office asked if she wanted a baby brother or a baby sister, she promptly and emphatically answered, "a brother!". since we are not planning to find out gender, i think we'll have to work hard to prepare her for the reality that it very well could be another sister! :) just four more weeks till our mid-point ultrasound and another chance to see the baby...even better, i'm SO close to the point where i'll start feeling the baby move...i can't wait! :)

2. bath time in the big tub. just to break the monotony we let the girls go "swimming" in our big bathtub...they had a blast! isn't it amazing how changing a little part of the normal routine makes such a HUGE difference in their eyes...

3. these adorable spring-y dresses arrived in the mail from grandma and grandpa...and, of course, the girls had to try them on right away and then call mike's parents to say thank you. aren't they precious! (and this mama loves that they are being loving to each other in the pic)

4. the hugging kater monster. seriously, kate is SO into giving hugs right now...she LOVES to wrap her arms all the way around elizabeth and then hold on for dear life...oftentimes the hug doesn't end until they both fall over. its my favorite part of bedtime when kate walks over and gives me a hug and kiss...precious!

5. warmth, warmth, warmth. oh how incredible it was to have the weather in the upper 60's and even all the way to 70 degrees! we threw open the windows, turned up some music, and i cleaned, cleaned, cleaned. and, of course, we found LOTS of time for playing outside--kate is in LOVE with the swings and can actually climb up the rungs to the slide platform by herself (which is a bit scary to watch!). we also took some walks and did plenty of sidewalk chalking...elizabeth's new favorite game is hopscotch...though it sounds remarkably like "hot sauce" when she says it...and kate, well, she doesn't get it, but she tries her best to hop along right after her sister.

6. a clean, clean house. after being cooped up, sick, and exhausted, i was thrilled to finally get the house back into some semblance of order this week...and, of course, the open windows really helped motivate me toward that task. then again, so did the reality of hosting a surprise party for my dear friend jill and having overnight guests...but, hey, whatever works...right!?

7. as mentioned in smile #6...hosting a surprise party for my friend jill. her husband cooked up the idea and asked if we would be willing to host. it was so much fun and a huge blessing to catch up with many, many friends we would love to see more often but don't get the chance to. and i simply love inviting people into our house...getting things ready...cooking....serving people...i love it and haven't done it for far too long!

8. an overnight visit from one of my dearest college friends, cortney...and her family. they made the point to come see us on their way to florida for vacation. we haven't seen her family for almost 2 years...before kate and their baby boy were even born. what a blast to simply sit and chat and catch up...and elizabeth LOVED getting to play with their little girl, gabi, who is just 10 months younger. unfortunately i only got pictures of the girls...not their little boy jeremiah or even of cort and i together...but trust me, we had a blast!

9. my fabulous diaper haul. not only that, but my hubby suggested that i go out by myself to hit my first few stores for diapers AND gave me some money and told me to head to the mall to do some shopping for myself. shopping for myself by myself is such a huge luxury...no little extras in the dressing room...plenty of time to browse...and some quiet, relaxation time. thanks hubby! as if that wasn't enough, he agreed to load the girls up in the car and venture out with me later in the afternoon to hit a few more walgreens and do round #2 of diaper shopping!

10. our little chip dipper. we finished out diaper shoppoing round #2 with dinner at our favorite mexican restaurant (hooray!). kate was enthralled by selecting her own chip from the basket and then carefully dipping it into the salsa and munching away. she was SO proud of herself...and i was surprised that she didn't seem a bit fazed by the spiciness of the salsa!

11. these curls. kate's hair has gotten SO curly...it tends to flatten out after naptime, so i haven't caught the extent of it in pictures...but i tried with this one. her whole head is strawberry blonde ringlets...and i've become a wee bit obsessed with them...rewetting her hair and scrunching with a bit of mousse to bring back the spring after naps and nighttime!