Thursday, April 30, 2009

The hot days of Spring are here

Now that the hot weather is officially here to stay, our kids have been spending a lot of time in the water. Between the water play table, sprinklers and our small pool, they are easily entertained for an afternoon.
Emma has been enjoying running through the sprinklers and our grass gets a little extra water too.
Water puddling in our driveway means lots of interesting things crawl up and hang out. Emma was playing in the puddles when she started screaming and ran to me yelling, "There's a snake! There's a snake!"

The "snake" was just a ground worm that had come out to cool off in the puddle. After she was assured it was harmless, she and Avery had a great time just watching it.

Avery wasn't quite sure about the sprinklers to begin with and spent most of her time hanging out on the porch. After awhile she warmed up to the idea and ventured out into the water for a bit.

Lexington Kids' Day

This past Saturday we brought the three kids to the Lexington Kids' Day held about 5 minutes down the road from our house at the Virginia Hylton Park. The annual festival offers educational awareness through the many booths set up throughout the park, games, and FREE food. (We went at lunch time and were able to enjoy free hotdogs, water, popsicles, popcorn, cotton candy, and pizza!) At the same time, the day is held to raise money for a local children's home through donations.

There were many mascots who made an appearance that day including the Piggly Wiggly Pig (seen in top photo), Clifford the Big Red Dog (who the girls love), Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us, Cocky from USC and supposedly, the Clemson Tiger (although we never spotted him.)

The kids had a good time and walked away tired and sticky from all of the nutritious food they had eaten. Unfortunately, we lost two of our two balloons since both Emma and Ryan accidentally launched them in the sky!

To completely ensure the crew were worn out, we then drove to Gilbert to look for ferns for our front porch. I can never find any large ferns locally! Needless to say, the girls crashed for naps as soon as we made it home that afternoon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Schlotzskys cravings and 100th post

I really don't remember having crazy cravings of particular food items with my past pregnancies. During my pregnancy with Avery, I developed gestational diabetes so I didn't have the opportunity to crave much of anything.

Now that I think about it...I do remember a visit to the Upstate where we purchased a Styrofoam cooler and stocked up on Skins Hotdogs during my first pregnancy with Ryan. I brought them home to Columbia and put them in the freezer. They actually microwaved up pretty well! But it wasn't a regular weekly type of thing.

Lately I have been horrible. I've been hitting up Schlotzsky's Deli twice a week to enjoy one of their tasty Mediterranean pizzas or a chicken sandwich on sourdough bread! What makes it extra horrible is that the staff now knows me personally.

When I pulled through the drive-through today, the cashier said, "You are going to turn into a sandwich!" I explained that I was pregnant and he better get used to seeing me every few days. At least things clicked then because he smiled, nodded and continued his personal story of when his wife was pregnant. I guess she craved Moes nachos with a side of spicy ranch sauce.

I found this particularly funny since one of Michael's favorite eateries is Moes Southwest Grill (I don't particularly care for it.) I teased Michael just the other day saying that, "Schlotzsky's was my Moes." I'm pretty sure if he were pregnant, he'd be munching down on those "Homewrecker" burritos every chance he got. Wouldn't that be a fascinating sight!

On a side note, this is my 100th post! Yea!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Emma's Spring Program

Today Emma's preschool, Saxe Gotha CDC, put on their Spring program for family and friends. The theme was "My Favorite Things" and each class sang a song about some of their favorite activities.
Emma's class sang their song, "When We Build A House," decked out in Lowes work goggles and aprons. You can see Emma in the photo below with the white bow in her hair.

She looked rather petrified up there on stage and I was shrinking down in my seat afraid that she would burst into tears if she saw Michael or I (this tends to happen at major events.)

She didn't see us however, and she did a good job following along with the song and doing the appropriate hand movements.

After each individual class had completed their song, all of the 2, 3, and 4-year-olds gathered on the stage and sang two songs together as a group. Emma is in the middle of the front row - again just look for the white bow.

Afterwards, we picked her up from her classroom and of course she burst into tears! She quickly recovered and we took her out to eat at her restaurant of choice - Chick-Fil-A!

Banana Crumb Muffins

Bananas are a staple in our house and it is actually very rare for us to have several bananas that become over ripened. But when I see that some are, I hate to see them go to waste so I generally make banana bread.

However my bread loaf pan was still home to a leftover meatloaf in the fridge so I decided to try a new recipe for banana muffins with crumb topping. Emma was excited to help and after Ryan overheard the excitement coming from the kitchen, he rushed in to help with the muffins as well.

Here are the muffins getting ready to go into the oven...

Ryan and Emma with the muffins...

And the finished product...

They were yummy with the brown sugar topping! We had a few with dinner that evening (leftover meatloaf sandwiches) and have been perfect for a quick and easy breakfast in the morning.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease muffin cups.

2.In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into muffin pan.

3.In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dance recital pictures

Emma's dance recital is coming up at the end of May. May 23rd to be exact. Although I am not sure of recital times (her dance newsletter just says that recital performances will be all day that Saturday), I am guessing her age group will be one of the first going on that morning.

Everyone is invited to attend her recital. We had to pay a recital fee and in exchange, we can invite as many people as we would like. So...if you would like to come just drop me an e-mail and I'll get tickets to you once I have them.

If you have never attended a dance recital before, let me just say that the youngest groups are generally hilarious. Not to make fun of them, but at that age they don't really know what they are doing on stage so some of them will be standing around staring out at the crowd, some will just plop down on stage and others will be dancing their little hearts out. It's been years since I have attended one but I have laughed so hard I was crying watching the little ones!

All that aside, I hope Emma learns her routines and does what she is supposed to on stage. But let's just say I am preparing myself for all possibilities.

Emma's dance class took their recital pictures last night. Since she is taking a combination ballet and tap class, she gets to be in two different dances. For ballet, they are dancing to "Mary Has a Little Lamb" and for tap, they are performing to "Lollipop." The picture at the very top is Emma in her lamb costume minus the headpiece. They are really cute costumes. I think even cuter up close.

And here we have her tap costume for "Lollipop." These costumes are adorable as well as you can see. Everyone had to wear their hair up in a bun for photos and put on a little make-up. So we had our first "home beauty salon" playtime last evening while I attempted to make her hair into a presentable bun and put eye-liner on my four-year-old. The eye-liner did not go over well with her so we opted for a little mascara instead!

Mark your calendars and join us for the big recital day if you can. It should be fun!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Emma's passion for "crafting"

Emma has developed a new hobby. It is a hobby that she calls "crafting." Basically, it consists of scissors, glue and several sheets of white paper.

She cuts out minuscule pieces of paper, lathers glue all over another page of paper and then proceeds to stick these tiny pieces of paper all over the place. Of course it takes several hours to dry the amount of glue she places on a page!

Unfortunately, yesterday's "crafting" experience was cut short due to the fact that she went through the entire bottle of glue. Since then she has been begging me to go to the store and buy her more.

On the plus side, this new favorite activity is not extremely messy (she stays seated at the table), she hasn't yet used the scissors to cut her own hair, and it can keep her preoccupied for quite some time. However, I think we may try a glue stick for our future "crafting" projects.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The BEST multi-purpose cleaner ever

Obviously, I am not employed by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. or anything of the like. I am just a stay-at-home mom who must share my new favorite product.

I picked up a can of Pledge's new Multi-Surface cleaner a few weeks ago on sale. I use it to clean pretty much everything in my house - glass windows, mirrors, electronics, dusting furniture - everything. I love the fact that I no longer have to haul 3-5 different cleaners around the house to get the job done.

I was running low on the product and low and behold, what do I find yesterday but a $2.00 off coupon available on-line. I wasted no time printing that baby off (I was able to print it a total of 3 times using my back button) and I purchased a back-up can today at the store.

Sorry for ranting on about a cleaner, but it is rare that a product excites me enough to share. If you haven't tried it out yet, print the coupon here and give it a whirl. You may find you love it as much as I do!

Our Easter Dinner

It is fairly rare these days for me to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Lately I have just been fixing the fastest thing possible come dinner time. Of course Easter was a special occasion so I did actually plan a menu and prepare dinner for our family that evening.

To make things a little easier, we picked up a mini-ham at Honey Baked Ham. They said it would feed around four people, but we still have plenty of ham left over from Sunday. The spiral-sliced hams from Honey Baked or Heavenly Ham are the only kind of ham I can bring myself to eat. I have tried many others but they just seem to have too much fat on them.

I also made Pioneer Woman's macaroni and cheese recipe. I think I added a little too much salt in mine but it was still pretty good.

I always seem to gravitate towards the starches on holidays and this year was no exception. We also had toasted rolls and an O'Brien potato bake. With only four ingredients in this casserole, you really can't go wrong or possibly make it any easier. Here is the link to that recipe:,1850,159173-231195,00.html.

To break up the starchfest a little bit, I also fixed some yummy asparagus. This is one vegetable that I frequently forget how much I actually love. With ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan cheese and lemon zest, it too was a very simple yet tasty recipe. Take a look here:

As I mentioned, I couldn't go without using our freshly picked strawberries in some sort of dessert fashion. So this is what I created using angel food cake, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and of course, lots of fresh strawberries for dessert!

We still have plenty of food leftover which is a plus so I don't even have to do much in the way of cooking for a little while anyway!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Day

As I previously mentioned, I took many pictures on Easter day! Here are a few that kind of highlight our Easter day together.

Of course the first thing the kids did was race down the stairs to their Easter baskets to see if the Easter Bunny had paid them a visit. Avery looks a little out of it still as she digs through her basket in the photo above!
The Easter Bunny hid eggs all over our downstairs so they had their own Easter egg hunt around the house searching for eggs and candy.

Ryan looking for hidden eggs...

... and examining what the Easter Bunny had left in his basket!

Then it was time to get everyone ready and out of the house for church. We arrived at the church about 45 minutes early so that we could get seats. We have stood it out before but it was not something I was about to do pregnant this year!

Emma dressed in her Easter dress.

Ryan in his Easter clothes.

Michael and the kids after church Easter afternoon.

After pictures were taken, the kids once again raced to their Easter baskets and raided the candy. They all decided to get out their big chocolate bunny which I thought was interesting. When I was a child the Easter Bunny quite often left a big chocolate bunny in our baskets. It was always the last thing I ate because I hated to ruin the bunny! Obviously, that was not a factor with my three kids because they dug in head and ears first!

Avery admiring her bunny before eating...

Emma admiring her chocolate bunny before eating...

...and Ryan eating his chocolate bunny.

After devouring plenty of chocolate, the girls finally went down for naps. After naptime, they were able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day. Emma pushed Avery on the swing for awhile.

The girls played with their new garden tools that the Easter Bunny had left them and Ryan watched his new movie and that was our Easter day.
We fixed dinner at home and I took a few pictures so I'll share that in my next post.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our church Easter egg hunt

Saturday afternoon our church had their annual Easter egg hunt. Father Bob kicked off the event with prayer and the blessing of the children's Easter baskets with holy water as seen in the above photo.

They had a special area reserved for children 2 years and under so Avery and other small ones were able to get their fill of Easter eggs too.

Like most of the other smaller children, Avery would find an egg and then immediately sit down to find out what was hidden inside it.

Ryan and Emma took to the big field together in their search for eggs. They had eggs and candy scattered everywhere. The kids were also told that there were a few golden eggs to be found with a ticket inside for a special prize.

Ryan decided his strategy would be to pick up loose candy and yellow colored eggs only in hopes of winning the prized golden egg. At the end of the hunt, he sadly did not find a golden egg, however, he racked up at least a dozen Fun Dips.

Even the Easter Bunny was on hand for pictures!

Avery scored this popcorn ball shaped like an egg and as you can see, wasted no time digging into her loot.

Ryan with his many Fun Dip packages and yellow eggs.

Of course, I made another attempt to get a photo of the three kids together at the end of the egg hunt. Avery was too distracted by the candy in her basket to bother with a photo but at least Ryan and Emma gave it a try!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. Ours was fairly laid back, although we kept busy enough with Easter festivities.

Saturday our church had their annual Easter egg hunt and then the Easter bunny made an appearance late last night which, of course, kept the kids preoccupied all of the a.m. Later this morning we attended Easter mass and this picture was taken right after we got home from church.

I took many photos all weekend so I'll be posting more from our activities as I can, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy Easter before the day was through!

Friday, April 10, 2009

An early visit from the Easter Bunny

While we were busy picking strawberries at The Patch, we had an early visitor stop by our house with some goodies.

The kids got back home and went to sit down at the kitchen table for lunch and guess who had stopped by?!? The Easter Bunny had made an early visit with letters for each of them and a special DVD for them to watch in preparation of Easter Sunday.

Ryan's letter explained the history of early Easter traditions and how we remember Easter as the time of Christ's resurrection.

The VeggieTales "An Easter Carol" movie points out that Easter is much more than just candy and decorated eggs. The movie explains why Christians all around the world celebrate Easter Sunday in a unique take on Dickens' Christmas classic. Hope the Angel shows Bob and Larry the true meaning of Easter by taking them on a tour of the past, present and future.

The kids are very excited about Easter and the Easter Bunny's visit, but they will appreciate it so much more with a better explanation of why we celebrate Easter in such a big way. They need to know that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us and we celebrate in His resurrection.

Of course, Emma still assumed that the Easter Bunny had left some hidden eggs as well and started her search underneath chairs and couches for the coveted chocolate!