Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Words for Wednesday...Pigeon Edition.

Being an education major in college I have a strong love for children's books. One of my favorite authors post college is Mo Willems. He has an amazing blog that you can follow here. Some of my favorite entries are ones that showcase fan mail, his dining room chalkboard walls and brown paper tables, and when he shares snippets from his speaking engagements. I love, love, love his work. It is just as fun for adults as it is for the kids. And his style, while simple, is very relatable.

Well, AG has taken to loving all things Mo and his favorite Aunt in Texas (and fellow teacher) also loves Mo! Just recently she sent the kids the latest Pigeon book and a box of Pigeon Match-ominoes. AG enjoyed telling Avi-Cakes, "no, no Baby! When you get bigger." in reference to not being able to play with the Match-ominoes. :) And he thinks the lastest Pigeon adventure is hysterical...even telling us, "that's so funny." while he slaps his knee! Ha. Thanks Aunt Joy for the new goodies! AG looks forward to a game or two of Match-ominoes this summer and some quality reading time when you visit. We can't wait to see you soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Disney in two weeks...

Andy and I in the Magic Kingdom on the TTA in March.

 Yes, in two weeks we are off to the happiest place on earth, again. :) This time it'll just be Andy and me in our first ever solo Disney trip without kids. We are just a wee bit excited. Our plans are set, our flight is booked, we have great dining reservations lined up, and all I need to do now is pack...and keep running. Here's what we've got lined up:

 We plan to conquer Everest this trip! We are running the Expedition Everest 5K Challenge so we'll be seeing lots of Asia and Africa at night. After the race they have a huge after party and you can ride Everest at night...which we hear is we are really looking forward to that.
There will be lots of good eats this trip! My good friend Evan has a goal to eat at all the restaurants in the parks with her husband. Andy liked that idea and decided we should follow suit. (Thanks E for the idea!) Every trip we've taken we try out at least one if not more new places. So, far we've yet to be disappointed. To be honest Disney has great food. For this trip our new places we'll be The Plaza Restaurant in the MK, Mama Melroses at HS, San Angel Inn at E. All of these places are part of Disney's Tables in Wonderland program which means we'll get 20% off our total bill! If you get an annual pass I HIGHLY recommend getting a TIW has saved us quite a bundle. In addition, I'm sure we'll visit a few of our favorite quick services places like Casey's for hotdogs and the Cheshire Cafe for a raspberry lemonade slush. If we get down to Downtown Disney I'm sure we'll eat at Earl of Sandwich. We ate there on the last trip and it was so, so, so good. Destined to be a family favorite.
 We also plan to ride Snow White a few times since it will close May 31 permanently to make way for the continuing expansion of Fantasyland. (It will still be alive and well out in Cali at Disneyland. We've ridden it out there also.) I'm so excited about all the new stuff they are adding in Fantasyland but this is somewhat bittersweet to me since I've ridden this since I was a little girl. We rode it once in March with the expectation to ride it a few more times in May.

We are also planning to spend some quality time at EPCOT exploring and taking in the end of the Flower and Garden Festival. It's kind of fun that we were there for the kick-off of the event and we'll be there to see it wind down. EPCOT is so massive that while we've walked everywhere we've never really had a chance to explore in the World Showcase so we are planning to spend some time really walking around in each country. (Which will be quite easy since we won't be menuvering strollers and juggling kids.) Plus, there are lots of pictures of the festival that I didn't hassle with taking in March since we were with such a large group and I didn't want to slow us down. Andy won't mind me taking pictures while we explore.

The hardest reservation to snag at Disney is Le Cellier and after eating there in March I can totally see why. It was AMAZING. Hands down the best steak I've ever eaten. For those who haven't been it's located in the Canada section of the World Showcase. It's a steakhouse and the theming is like being in an old wine cellar. The theming is warm, inviting, and quite cozy when you couple it with the food it's perfection. Right before we left in March I was  working on our May trip and I was able to snag a reservation for Friday night while we are there. So, even though we hadn't eaten there, yet, I went ahead and secured it. After our dinner in March, all we can think about is eating there, again! Ha. We are doing this meal as our special anniversary meal since our actual anniversary will have been just a few days before. It's definitely a splurge but it's worth it since we very rarely get to eat at a place like this now that we have small kids. (And we'll save 20% with TIW.)  Yum! I can not wait. 
 The first phase of the New Fantasyland opened right after we left in March. We were able to sneak a peek at Storybook Circus from the train when we rode it. We can't wait to see the new theming, ride the new Dumbo, and check out the Great Goofini. Later this year the next wave of attractions will open in the expansion and we are hoping that we'll be able to explore it when we go back in November/December.
Tentatively, I'm working on pulling together possibilities for our trip with the kids later this year. In addition Andy is planning to run the Food and Wine Half in November. We were trying to decide between a trip with the kids in the fall or at Christmas. And we've tentatively decided to opt for Christmas instead. AG really loved Christmas this year and everything to do with getting ready for the holidays. There are so many wonderful things to see at Christmas time down there. Avi-Kate will be 18months and I'm sure she'll be in love with all the lights. We aren't sure yet if this will be a surprise trip or if they'll know before we go. Andy likes the idea of sticking them in the car at night and driving all night and then waking up in Orlando. :)  More on all of this once I start to firm up our plans. For now I'm looking forward to a weekend away with my best friend at the happiest place on earth. 

Wordless Wednesday...Opening Weekend Date with Dad Edition.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Sunday...

The Easter Bunny dropped off goodies for the kids and they both seemed quite pleased with what he left. AG was quite excited about the matching Daisy and Donald Duck. He's really got a thing for sets and pairs these days. They also got a sweet new book about Palm Sunday to go in our library of childrens books. After they examined all their new goodies we got ready for church. We had a nice service and then afterwards came home for a simple lunch. We watched the Braves get swept by the Mets (boo!) and we watched Bubba Watson win the Masters! (Hooray and Go Dawgs!) It was a simple and low key day...I really enjoyed it. I've slowly been reorganizing stuff/spring cleaning and this particular day I re-did my kitchen cabinets. Here are some pictures from our day:

Easter Egg Huntin'...

Well, for whatever reason blogger is weird sometimes and will not let me access photos when I upload them to the computer. Then at a later date they will randomly appear and I can then upload them to blogger. This has been slightly frustrating over the last few months and would contribute to my lack of posting in 2012. Enough about that.

Our church had their egg hunt on April 7th. I went early to help set up, hide eggs, and Andy brought the kids later. We had a wonderful morning with friends and hunting 1,200 eggs! The location of the hunt is really perfect because there is a ton of space to spread out. Kids aren't on top of each other all scrambling for the same eggs. We wondered off to our own spot with our kids and it was wonderful. I love that it's simple and not mass chaos. I juggled Avi-Kate and our point and shoot camera. After the fact I thought I probably should have stuck her in the Baby Bjorn. Either way I couldn't have handled my big camera and I was happy that our new little camera took such good pictures. 

At last year's hunt I was quite pregnant and this year we enjoyed having Avi-Kate with us. Next year will be really fun because she'll be running around right next to AG. This year AG hunted for both of them. Andy and I were cracking up because AG gave all the pink and purple eggs to Avi-Kate's basket. All the other colors ended up in his basket. Afterwards, I ran a few errands and Andy took the kids to an Easter Egg Party for one of AG's friends. I met up with them later and then we came home to enjoy watching the Masters. AG also learned to how to yell, 'Get in the hole! Get in the hole!' at the tv this year during the Masters. Ha. It was a great start to a very low key Easter weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mickey Cakes...

In the mornings, AG loves to eat his breakfast on his special Mickey Mouse plates. He enjoys breakfast even more if he gets Mickey Cakes. I have a sandwich Mickey cutter that is perfect for cutting out child sized portions. In the fall I started making my own pancake mix because it was more cost effective. (Plus, they just taste waaaaaaay better!) I found a recipe on Money Saving Mom and then adapted it to my needs. Click on the link for the original recipe and my adapted one follows.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

~2 cups whole-wheat flour (I use whatever I have...which is usually whatever was on sale with coupons! They are great either way.)
~2 tablespoons sugar
~2 teaspoons baking powder
~1/2 teaspoon baking soda
~2 beaten eggs
~2 cups lowfat buttermilk
~4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (you can cut it in half but they cook/brown more evenly if you do 4.)
~Handful of mini chocolate chips
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. 
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add butter, then eggs, then buttermilk and mix. Lastly, add the chocolate chips. Stir until just moistened. Some days I add an extra splash of buttermilk to get the right consistency. 
Cook on a pancake griddle. While I'm mixing the wet and the dry ingredients I let the pan heat up on high and then right before I drop my batter I cut it down to medium. I use a 1/4 cup a batter per pancake. Serve immediately or cool and freeze. Cut in to shapes with cookie cutters if you want. 
On her website she freezes them and I have done that but I prefer them unfrozen. I actually take half of what we make and put it in a container and pop it in to the fridge. I then microwave them in the following morning for breakfast. They'll keep for several days that way. Also, if you reheat them cut them with a cookie cutter before you stick them in the microwave it's much easier. 
Lastly, I used regular sized chocolate chips the first few times I made them BUT AG ended up with chocolate EVERYWHERE. So, I switched to the mini chips and it's much better. I can usually get 4-5 batches out of one bag...and then you think we get two breakfasts out of one batch so that's 8-10 meals on one bag of chips. Not to shabby. :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Words for Wednesday...Kindred Spirit Edition...

 Ginny and I in the fall of our senior year at Berry.

Ginn--Thanks for being my kindred spirit. My person. I'm blessed beyond measure because of your friendship. Excited to see what is in store as you, Josh, and the girls move in to this new chapter of your lives. Love you! --Kate

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A lefty or a righty? about both?

Over the last year we've begun to closely watch AG to see which hand he prefers for tasks. Around this age children will pick which hand they prefer and go with it. As a lefty myself I've always hoped we would have another lefty in the family. My sister, Meghan, and I were the only two lefties in our immediate family of six.

Well, for over a year now AG has favored his right hand when it comes to using utensils and writing utensils. However, he continues to favor his left hand in sports. When playing baseball he bats left but throws right. In golf, he prefers his left. Andy has been waiting to buy AG's first set of clubs because he wanted to see if AG would stick with his left hand before he spent the money on real clubs. Andy is hoping that as he begins to get in to soccer that he will also be left footed...time will tell with that one. My husband, the sports fanatic, is quite excited about the possibilities with AG using his left hand in sports since players that are dominate left can be in high demand. So, we'll see but if I was a betting woman I'd say he'll write/eat right handed and continue to play sports left handed. He seems pretty set in his ways. :)

PS--He dressed himself. When he wears his rainboots and shorts I call him Christopher which he always informs me, "I not Christopher Robin, Mama. I AG." Yes, you certainly are my always on the go three year old.

All I want for...

...Christmas is my front 6 teeth.

Okay, so not really Christmas but Avi-Kate is in the process of cutting six, yes, six teeth at once. The bottom two have broken the gum line and are working upwards. While the top four are right there...I can see two of them through the gum that's how close they are. Poor thing is all out sorts. Suffice it to say we'll all be happy once they've broken gum line so she can have a break...and us too.

It's so bad she's even come down with her first diaper rash. No fun.

Thank heavens for Dr. Stars Teething Lotion, Motrin and Tylenol. Don't know what I'd do without them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Reggie had plans, big plans..."

Anyone know where that little title came from? Anyone? Probably's from one of my favorite children's books of all time, Ira Sleeps Over. (We have the very well-worn copy from my childhood and a fresh, new copy on the bookshelves and AG prefers the well-worn copy every time.)

Anyways, I've got plans, big plans! For the house that is. Over the last few weeks we have been talking at length about some larger projects that we would like to tackle. Not on the same scale as say completely overhauling the kitchen but bigger than repainting something. So here is a few of the things we've been discussing:

~New Fence--we are in need of replacing the existing one. However, we are pretty sure that our property line is beyond the fence on all three sides. The first order of business will be to have our lot surveyed so that we can see the correct placement of our property flags. Since our lot is quite wooded, due to the age of the homes in our area, we'll probably need to take out some trees in order to move the fence out. I'm quite excited about the possibilities of some more sunshine in the backyard so that I can plant some different things.

~Semi-Makeover--We are planning to replace our sofa, chair, and ottoman this summer. We are also getting a new tv for the den since the old one needs replacing. I'm planning to order a new sofa and ottoman...I'm leaning toward something slipcovered so that I can wash it if need be and when it wears out/I need something new I can easily change it out. Our den is very casual and comfy so I think it will fit perfectly. As for a chair, I already have one and am planning to get it recovered. I just need to find a fabric I like for it. By the time we finish I'm sure it'll look completely different but we are not starting from scratch hence the 'semi-makeover'.

Laundry Room
~Completely overhauled--Oh, the joys of a long, skinny, old house. I had an absolutely AMAZING design for the laundry room remodel. And then we realized that if we did what I had planned we wouldn't be able to move our furniture out one day when we move. (Sigh!) To say I was bummed would be an understatement BUT I'm extremely grateful that we thought about that before we did anything. My dad jokingly told me we could just offer the house as fully furnished. Ha. Anyways, since my first plan is out the new plan will actually be much cheaper/won't take as long. The plan is to paint, put in cabinets, a countertop for me to fold laundry on, new appliances...I'll need to have front loaders for my design, flooring, and crown molding since the ONLY room in the house that doesn't have it currently is the laundry room. This project will be BIG but not HUGE because the room is a blank canvas. We have some wire shelving to take down and an old linoleum floor to pull up but that is it. And the hardest thing we'll do will be moving the location of the washer and dryer. Nothing like the bathroom remodel or the kitchen. Now to just get everything out of it! It's been our catch all place while we've worked on every other room. I'm looking forward to having it cleaned out and fixed up. I'm not sure when exactly we'll do  this but we'll just say that it is finally on the To Do Docket. Hooray!

~Dining Room Table--Needs to be finished. Andy started it forever ago and just hasn't had time to finish it and when he does the weather hasn't cooperated. Since the pollen is falling so early we are hoping he might be able to get some stuff done in the next few weeks before the summer heat really sets in.
~End Tables--We were able to snag two bedside tables from my grandmother's estate and they need to be refinished. They are really simple and it shouldn't take Andy long to paint and distress them the way he likes to.
~Bookcase--Lives in our bedroom and needs a coat of paint so that it will match the rest of the room.

~A week ago we went to Atlanta to claim what we wanted out of my grandmother's estate. We came home with lots of furniture! Well, in order to bring furniture home you have to get rid of furniture. Two of our students are getting married later this year and so they are taking lots of things off of our hands. Needless to say, my house is total chaos right now. I'm cleaning stuff out, spring cleaning, and reorganizing! Over the weekend I redid the kitchen cabinets. I'm slowly making my way around the house. It just takes longer since I'm having to juggle normal mom duties and then the extra work. I'm making progress...slowly but surely. I'm planning to do some before/after posts to show what we changed. I just need to finish redecorating things. Stay tuned.

Like I said...plans, big plans! We'll see what we end up working on and when. I also have several ideas for art for the walls/things I want Andy and I to make. We just need to find the time. :) Photos to come as we tackle things off the list.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, the things they say...

AG cracks us up daily. Here's a sampling of some of our recent conversations...

(Yesterday while trying to get out the door to run errands)
Me: AG, please do what I asked and put on your shoes. I'm running of steam.
AG: You're running out of Steve?!?
Me: Yes, AG I'm running out of Steve. (sigh. With a smile)

(Today. Standing in the kitchen in just his t-shirt after using the bathroom)
AG: Babe, we need some more toilet paper.
Me: AG, my name is Mom not Babe.
AG: Babe, we need more toilet paper.

(A few weeks ago AG emerges with a stack of books off of one of our shelves and leaves them in the den. He returns moments later with one more book in his hands.)

AG: Look Mom! It's me as a little boy. (Excitedly holds up Bill O'Reilly's A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity)
Me: AG, are you a bold fresh piece of humanity?
AG: Yes, mom.