Sunday, May 2, 2010

Carter’s Construction Party

Carter turned 2 on Saturday! Two! He’s getting so big. We threw him a construction birthday party at our house. The weather was perfect, sunny, warm and just beautiful.

The big pile of dirt for the kids to play in:

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Some of the food:

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Some decorations:

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The cake:

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Worm pit:

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Carter’s new ride:

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Please put it together faster:May 2010 Carter's Birthday 074

Reagan’s mean face:

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Hard at work:

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Piñata fun:

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Carter’s fit when he realized he couldn’t just pull candy out of the top of the piñata:

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Jeff finally broke it open after all the kids got a couple turns:May 2010 Carter's Birthday 118 

Cake time:

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Carter likes pushing his new truck better than driving it:

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New tricycle:

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Bubble bath party favors:May 2010 Carter's Birthday 158 

The end.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010


Over the past couple of years, we’ve had some sink holes develop on our driveway and down the side of the hill near the driveway. Last fall, we had that section of the driveway repaved, but still needed to fix the side of the hill.

On Friday, Jeff ordered 25 tons of dirt! It sounded like a lot of dirt, but I had no idea how much dirt 25 tons really is until it was all piled up in the driveway, waiting for us to shovel it down the hill.

Here’s Carter watching the truck dump it out:

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That is A LOT of dirt! The pile was taller than me!!

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At least we have 2 good helpers to move some of it.

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The Good News: Jeff and I were able to get almost all of the pile spread out and the holes filled.

The Bad News: Jeff ordered 6 yards of loam to put on top of the dirt fill to spread this week.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Foolery

I love pulling April Fool’s Day jokes on the kids.

This year, I did several jokes. I put some food dye in Reagan’s cereal bowl under her mini-wheats. When she poured in her milk, it turned blue.  I made the kids “eggs” outs of marshmallows and apricot halves.

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Reagan can read now, so my tricks can get a little more advanced. She has a morning snack at school and she normally eats a Baby Bell cheese round and goldfish. I sent in “chips” instead of goldfish:

April 2010, Easter MI 006

Thursday, April 8, 2010

O Lolly, Lolly, Lollipop

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen busy getting stuff done to get Reagan off to school. I kept hearing Carter run in the room, open as drawer, slam it close and run away.  I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was doing until I realized I could hear him unwrapping something in front entryway.

I went to see what he was up to and discovered this:

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Well, ok, this was taken after I ran back to grab my camera and take a picture. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crock Pot Refried Beans

This recipe makes a lot of yummy refried beans without any added fat and hardly any effort. They smell delicious cooking in the crock pot all day. My entire family loves them.   Use them as a side for Mexican, for burritos or as the base for 7-layer dip.

Crock Pot Refried Beans

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 small can diced green chilies*
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 9 cups chicken broth or water
  • *I add less chilies when I’m making it for the kids. If you want the beans spicier, add more.

    Place the onion, rinsed beans, chilies, garlic, salt,  and pepper into a slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth or water and stir to combine.

    Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.

    Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Puree the beans with a hand blender or mash them with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Ice, Ice Baby

    Carter was on ice skates today for the first time. Here is a pictorial description of his debut on the frozen tundra:

    His first attempt to stand on his skates:

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    I think he may have realized he is wearing figure skates…c i 3

    and not hockey skates….(next time buddy you can have boy skates!)

    Crater ice face

    Before we hit the ice, he’s not quite sure what’s going on;March 10 egg hunt ice skating 019

    He’s up,

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    c i 7

    but not too crazy about it! Please help me Grandpa!c i 2

    I take over and we manage to get all the way around the rink once. He even managed to move his feet and skate a little.

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    Once around was good for now. The boys took and break and Reagan and I skated for a while longer. She is getting to be a really good skater. She can do all of these fancy turns and spins that Jeff can tell you the names of thanks to his sister Rebecca and her years of figure skating.

    The thing that Carter liked the most? Yep, you guessed it, the Zamboni resurfacing the ice at the end.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Microwave Caramel Corn

    My mother made the best caramel corn when I was a kid. It was labor intensive to make and the caramel burned easily.

    I found a recipe that is so easy and so yummy, that it is dangerous for me to have brown paper grocery bags in my house. I could possibly eat the entire batch in one sitting.

    Microwave Caramel Corn

    4 quarts popped popcorn, (which is ½ cup popcorn kernels)

    1 cup packed brown sugar

    1/2 cup margarine

    1/4 cup light corn syrup

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    Unused brown paper grocery bag

    Non-stick spray

    Spray the brown paper grocery bag with non-stick spray. Place the popped popcorn (make sure to remove any unpopped kernels) into a large brown paper bag. Set aside.

    In a 2 quart casserole dish, or other heat-proof glass dish, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat for 1-1/2 minutes in the microwave, and then take out and stir until well blended. Return to the microwave, and cook for 1-1/2 minutes. Take it out and stir it and put it back in the microwave for another 1-1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave, and stir in the baking soda.

    Pour syrup over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top once or twice to close the bag, and shake to coat the corn. Place bag into the microwave, and cook for 45 seconds on half power. Remove, shake, flip the bag over, and return it to the microwave. Cook for another 45 second on half power. Dump the popcorn out onto waxed paper, and let cool until coating is set. Store in an airtight container.

    ***After I posted this recipe, the kids and I made some this afternoon:

    Reagan popped the corn and sorted out the kernels:

    Of course, there would be some bowl licking. Yummy caramel!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup

    We had perfect soup weather this weekend. On Saturday, I asked Jeff what he wanted for dinner and he replied, “the yummy squash soup.”  I never expected him to use yummy and squash in the same sentence.  This is a man who HATES orange vegetables. You should see the faces he makes at cooked carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. He claims there is something addicting about this soup.  I’m just happy that I finally found something with squash in it he happily eats.

    Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup

    1-1/2 Tabl. butter

    1-1/2 Tabl. olive oil

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    3 carrots, sliced

    3 ribs celery, sliced

    1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced

    12 cups chicken stock

    1 cup sherry

    8 oz. salted tortilla chips, plus more for garnish

    2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

    1 bunch scallions, sliced

    2 Tabl. freshly squeezed limed juice

    8 dashes green Tabasco sauce

    Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

    In a large stockpot, melt the butter in oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and squash and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the stock and sherry and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the squash is soft and tender, about 40 minutes.

    Remove from the heat and stir in the tortilla chips until softened. Add the cheese it melt into the soup. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or in a regular blender until smooth. Add the scallions and stir to combine. Season with lime juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Serve hot with garnished with crushed tortilla chips. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Florida 2010: Beach Day

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    The day after we arrived in Florida, we went to the beach.  We knew that it was forecasted to be the warmest day of our trip, so we wanted to make sure the kids had a chance to play in the sand.

    At the beach, it was breezy, misty and chilly.  FL 2

    Carter didn’t care. He couldn’t wait to get in the water.FL6 

    He was soaked before I managed to get his swimsuit on him.

    Reagan wanted to play in the sand and test out the sand sprayers.

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    We tried using a block mold, but the sand was too dry and the ocean too cold, so the sand kept crumbling.

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    So, we decided to build a giant turtle instead of a giant castle. Everyone pitched in and got sandy. We even sprayed him with colored water:

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    Carter mostly sprayed himself in the face and chest instead of the sand, so he ended up looking like a crime-scene splatter pattern. Feb 10 Florida 046

    The result: one psychedelic giant turtle.

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    He had so much fun chasing the pesky seagulls all over the beach,

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    taking Grandpa for a walk, Feb 10 Florida 021

    and venturing in the frigid waters:

     Feb 10 Florida 029  Feb 10 Florida 031