Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Things I don't want to forget Part 2: the adventures of My spunky2-year-old Ansley

Oh the terrible, wonderful, bi-polar 2's. We have embraced you again in our household, this time with this little creature:

Ansley Carolina is my fiesty, inquisitive, and fiercely independent 2-year-old. She thinks that she's just as big and that she can do just as much as her big sister. From the way I fix her hair, to how we tuck in at night, she makes sure that she is on an equal playing field. She is so conversational. She loves to ask everyone what their favorite part of the day was, and she especially loves to tell us about her day at the dinner table.

Ansley is super affectionate, and she has become even more affectionate as she gets older. She is a nurturer and loves her babydoll more than anything else she owns. Sometimes her baby is Annabelle, sometimes she is Carolina Crawford, and sometimes she's just baby. She carries her and her blanket with her wherever we go, and some mornings she won't come down for breakfast until she has fed her baby her breakfast in her highchair.
Ansley had been telling me she was ready to pottytrain for awhile, but I wasn't ready. :/ We decided to potty train her on MLK weekend since we had no plans and knew we could camp out on the homefront. My little girl really was ready too. We used that Pottytraining in a day or less method that we used with Addison, and the first day you pump them full of juice all day long so that they can keep practicing. Well, after 16 trips to "pee" and 2 "poops" and only two accidents, she thought she was trained. She's doing great, but that day and weekend wore me flat out. :) She wears panties all the time during the day and pullups at night. She's only wet her pullups 4 times during the past 5 weeks that she's been "trained," so I'm hoping we can wean her from those soon. Her only hard time is naptime. She sleeps in her panties during naptime, but she has had a few accidents. She gets so upset. Bless her. I couldn't be happier with how she's doing though, and we are so thankful.

Here she is at my mom's birthday party chowing down on her special cupcakes. Her allergies are the same, but she is doing so great, and I am finding new ways and products I can use to make sure she is always included at mealtime. We went to eat at Logan's the other night, and I almost got emotional--not really, but I did feel a little giddy-- watching her devour the peanuts as fast as Patrick would shell them. I remember a time in the not-so-distant past when I wondered if she would ever be able to eat "real food."

Who can resist a little girl with pigtails. NOT ME! Especially with this scrunched up nose grin. Her character loves are still Elmo, Dora, Angelina Ballerina, and Sofia. (Addison prefers Amber to Sofia... Seriously?!?)
One thing I notice about Ansley is her emotional maturity. She is keenly aware of people's feelings, and she loves to comfort and "check on" people when they are having a "hard time."

Yesterday, I was downstairs grading papers for my University of Phoenix Survey of Literature class, and the girls had gone upstairs to change their baby doll's clothes, and they didn't come back. It got quiet. Too quiet.  When I found Ansley, she looked like this (The left hand had already soaked in fingernail polish remover at this point). You should have seen her baby doll and Doc McStuffins...
 I put her in timeout, but she was just mad. She had no idea what she had done that was so wrong... She said, "Mom, I just painted fingers. They are so pretty." Pretty soon when the pink glitter polish wouldn't come off her skin and began to itch, she started yelling, "Somebody, PUH-LEEZ give me a bath!" Bless her little heart popping a squat in timeout.
Ansley has entered her 2's full-throttle, but I am thankful to say that they are mostly the wonderful 2's these days.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Things I don't want to forget: snapshot of 4-year-old Addison

I feel like I did a much better job keeping up with my girls' milestones and funny stories during the first year of their lives with the monthly updates. Things keep getting funnier, but I have stopped recording them... I need to do better because there are just some things that I don't want to forget.

Here is a snapshot of Addison at age 4:

Addison loves life. She loves to have fun, and her eyes sparkle at the smallest pleasures. She makes life so much more interesting.

She is going through a growth spurt and is eating me out of house and home. Her current favorites are spaghetti, cheeseburgers, strawberries, bagels with cream cheese, bacon, and oatmeal pies.

Her extracurricular interest is dancing--ballet and tap each Monday with her cousin Savannah. She has mentioned wanting to play soccer again and take a drawing/art class, so we will see where her interests lead her. She loves to dance, though, and just this one little experience has given her more balance and coordination, rhythm and confidence.

She is going through a very fearful stage also. She doesn't like Lion King anymore because of Scar. She prays for Maleficient and Mother Gothel, and she doesn't even like Mulan anymore because of "John U" as she refers to the villain. It is very real to her. She has shown up in our room at 3 a.m. claiming to have seen shadows of wolves biting her hands off. Bless. her. heart. So we have put a nightlight in her room.

Addison loves school. She loves her friends, and she talks about Addison Adair, Ivy, and Kalli at home all the time. She even has pretend sleepovers with them. She loves doing the lessons and she especially loves coloring and writing. She is really learning a lot, and she constantly wants to learn more. I LOVE that thirst for knowledge and hope that it stays with her.

Her favorite toy right now is definitely Kit Kittredge. She takes her with her everywhere, changes her clothes every day, brushes her hair and teeth, and wants to be just like her. We read her chapter books outloud each night, and I hear her rereading her version of them outloud to herself.

Savannah is still her best friend, and I hope they will always love each other like they do now. It is so sweet and pure and innocent. She will come home and tell me that she "talked to Savannah and she said that when we go to Disney World, we need to stay in a hotel, and that our best chance of meeting the characters is by going to a breakfast." She has been really concerned about Savannah going to kindergarten next year because I think she imagines it as some boarding school where she will rarely see her anymore. It is a precious friendship that these two share.

She's been a trooper with her ear stuff. She failed her hearing screening when she was three, and everybody thought it was a fluke. When she failed it again at 4, we were sent back to our ENT doctor who put her tubes in. When he looked in her ear and removed the tube that was lying in her ear canal, he discovered a hole in her ear--probably something that never healed correctly from her tubes--that was impairing her hearing on the right side. We went back on Friday and since it hasn't healed any since the fall, she will have a tissue graft surgical procedure over Spring Break where they will take tissue from behind her ear and use it to hopefully cover and seal the hole in her eardrum.  If successful (75% success rate), then her hearing should be restored. Please pray for my little brave girl.

She loves church and lifegroup and being with her sweet friends, Lillly, Lane, Robert, Lauralee, and Ruth. She is learning so much about the Bible right now, and I am amazed at her ability to make the stories hers. She talks about Heaven and Jesus, and her prayers are so sweet and sincere. I know why Jesus loves the innocent, childlike faith of his little children.

She loves dress up. Here she is in her sister's Snow White dress with bows all in her hair. Her favorite princess changes daily.

She is trying to read and spell. She sounded out Snow White below, and she is constantly writing me real messages that are fairly close to what they should be.
Kit Kittredge introduced her to hobos, and she is obsessed. She constantly draws the hobo signs and leaves them places to send me on a trail.

At the end of the trail is usually a surprise--like a picture of me.
I love this little girl more each day, and I am so blessed to be her mommy.

Roasted Veggies and Black Bean Burrito

In our quest to find Ansley-friendly meals, so we can all eat the same thing (or at least some version of the same thing) at dinner, I found a recipe on Pinterest that that twisted and tweaked to our tastebuds' likings. It was a hit.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1VERY large Sweet Potato, Peeled And Cubed Small
  • 1 whole Red Pepper, Diced Small
  • a small handul (less than 1/4 cup) of frozen diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt And Pepper
  • 1 can Black Beans, Rinsed And Drained (15 Ounce Can)
  • ½ cups Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 cups Shredded Cheddar (I also have a non-dairy Ansley version)
  • 1 package Wheat Tortillas Or Wraps (6-10 Count)

1. Toss raw veggies with olive oil and spices and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.
2. Combine roasted veggies with black beans and cilantro.
3. Scoop desired amount onto a warmed tortilla.
4. Top with cheese.
5. Roll into a burrito and place into a greased casserole dish for crispier burritoes; wrap individual burritos into aluminum foil for softer burrito.
6. I made six burritos out of this mixture. Warm them in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes.
7. Serve with homemade tortilla chips, fresh salsa, and guacamole.

***Patrick was skeptical about this meal since there was no meat in it. He quickly backpedaled when he tasted it and has already requested it again. We loved it!
***Ansley wouldn't eat it... Oh well, at least she COULD. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

What we've been eating: Easy Chicken Florentine

I have become bored with our regulars in the kitchen, and while I love The Pioneer Woman and all of her recipes, my waistline can't handle all the butter and whole milk and heavy cream of her recipes. After salivating over this dish that she prepared on her show a few weeks ago, I went on a search to find a lighter version of this and then added my own variations. I even set aside some to make an Ansley-friendly dish.

This iphone picture doesn't do it justice, but at least it gives a visual.

2 large chicken breasts (I used some from my freezer)
1 8oz desired pasta (I used bow-tie.)
3/4 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp black pepper, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup milk of choice (I used soy milk)
1 cup chicken broth
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • Prepare chicken however you choose. (I baked mine drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.) Shred or cube.
  • Cook pasta until tender. Drain well, and keep warm.
  • Heat skillet on med-high heat. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add flour and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes while you keep stirring.
  • Add milk and broth and stir with a whisk for about two minutes (or until it thickens). 
  • Add half a cup of cheese, remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper.
  • Once cheese melts, add spinach and tomatoes, and cook until spinach wilts.
  • Add chicken and pasta. Toss to combine.
  • Top each bowl with remaining parmesan cheese.
(Before I added cheese, I separated some of the sauce and used Ansley's tapioca cheese for hers. It wasn't a big hit with her, but it least it didn't exclude her from our dinner plans.)

Valentine Love: the wedding of Q and U, preschool parties, and pajamasall around

In my first year of the preschool world, the letter I was least excited about teaching was the letter Q. I was too short-sighted.  This week we rained on Noah's ark with q-tips, made quarter rubbings, took turns being the quarterback, wore queen crowns, and made quilts.

Today, however, on this lovely day of love, we did something extra special.  What better way to celebrate Valentines day than with a wedding--the wedding between the letters Q and U.  This was an impromptu wedding; I got excited while the kids were in chapel, and I hurriedly made cutouts of bow-ties and tulips, used the letter cutting machine to make q's and u's, and craft sticks to make bouquets for the girls and a way to hold the bow-ties for the boys (who, by the way, might have even loved this activity as much as or more than the girls). We lined them up, marched them in (to the Wedding March, of course), and then I officiated the ceremony wearing a queen's crown.  They giggled as they said, "I do," and told all their parents that they got married today at school as they showed up for the party.

After our wedding, my kiddos went to recess, and I snuck over to Ansley's party. Her sweet teachers made the menu completely Ansley-friendly--crustables, pretzels, grapes, oreos, and juice. They are so sweet and thoughtful. You see she eats in the high chair instead of the little table, and this is to prevent her from any milk or yogurt spills, or goldfish/cheese crackers that could come within her reach.  Thankfully, I don't think she even notices.

Her class activity was to make a Valentine's keep sake with all of the Valentine's from her friends.  She loves glue and is constantly asking to do a "project," so she was thrilled with this, and I was excited to get to do it with her.

Meanwhile, my party moms we decorating our table for my cute class.

The kids, of course, bypassed the "growing food" and went straight for the cupcakes. That made for a nice, amped up activity time. :)
These mustaches are all the rage, and my daughter has drunk the kool-aid.

Their crafts were to decorate their valentine bags, make monkey masks, and do these cool hearts with sticks. They played pin the heart on the heart, and then passed out their Valentines. That part was chaotic but fun. Ad is sitting with her two favorite buds below, Addison A and Ivy.
After school, we came home, and the girls were shortly surprised by these pretty tulips from their daddy. We have developed a tradition of getting Olive Garden take-out (we split the Tour of Italy and salad and breadsticks) and eating in the dining room on our fine China. Then we exchange our cards and treats.

This year, we did pjs all around. Patrick and I both needed some, and the girls legs have outgrown most of their pants, so we got them gowns.  We even got Kit one to match Addison and Ansley's baby doll some pjs also.
Ansley definitely loved her treat, but nothing could compare to sweet Addison's reaction. She got emotional and told us that she had happy tears in her eyes, and thanked us for including Kit on Valentine's Day. I have never seen a little girl more excited for bath time and so giddy as she put on her new gown. I have definitely drunk the kool-aid on this American Girl Doll world.

Here are my pretty flowers from my sweet husband. He knows that tulips and Italian food are the direct routes to my heart, and I loved waking up to these this morning.

We have had the chance to go through all of our loot (I got some from kiddos too!), and I picked these two as the most creative ones of the year.  The one on the left is a little hard to read in this picture, but Hayes' Valentines said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Love Bug." Ummm, precious.  The one on the right came from my sweet kiddo Josh. It is brownie mix and a spatula, and you can read the card. Again, too cute!

Now the countdown for Spring and Spring Break begins...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love is in the Air

We have been Valentine-ing it up over here. Last week we did a bunch of nothing since we were ALL sick, and so this week we have been trying to have us some fun.  Since we completed our Valentines pretty early this month, we have spent today playing games, baking, and getting our nails all fancified.

I found this cool pattern/conversation heart activity here, and even Ansley could do some of the basic ones. I wanted to try it out with Addison to see if it would be something fun to do with our class tomorrow. Both girls loved it, and I caught them both sneaking some conversation hearts in their mouths too. :)

Then we decided to make some heart-shaped cookies. Ansley can tolerate Betty Crocker's sugar cookie mix since it just calls for one egg, and I use her special butter. Even though the girls have some cute kitchen aprons, they insisted on wearing their Home Depot ones. I asked why, and Ansley shrugged and said, "the pockets." Addison said, "Look, there's even two of them." Lol. Who can argue with that?

They even got to help decorate them too!

Addison woke up this morning requesting some "fancy hands." Ansley said that she wanted "hands like Savannah." So here we go.

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you celebrate all of the love in your life!

Monday, February 04, 2013

The girls' finished HD project and the beginning of a looong DIY binge list

Below are the side versions of the girls' finished Valentine holders. The first one is the Ansley/Patrick creation, and the other one is all-Addison. They are so excited, and these boxes have already been filled with secret messages, jewelry, keychains and "cookies." Such a fun project, and we will be back for the March one for sure!
While we were at Home Depot, we decided we needed a home project. A few months ago the girls literally ripped their towel holder out of the wall... I saw a version of this on Pinterest, and Patrick was excited about making it happen. I love my handy man. He cut the chair rail molding to fit the length of this wall, glued, screwed, caulked and painted (a light green--the color of Ansley's room and one of the colors in their shower curtain) the board and then attached the hooks. They are the perfect height for the girls to hang their own towels on them. They are also not going anywhere this time. :)

After he finished, Patrick was itching to do another project. We love doing stuff like this, but we always battle between putting too much into this current house verses doing stuff that we could take with us wherever we go.  Patrick has been thinking for a long time about doing something about a bed... for real adults... See, we've always just been boxsprings and mattress people... in our 7+ years of marriage. We have rectified that by using big euro shams and hanging some iron pieces above it.

I think that it might be time, and he is sure that it is time to do something about it.  I left him for a couple hours with his thoughts and went to celebrate my friend Wren with a girls night out to celebrate the upcoming birth of her 3rd baby and her first SON!  Wren and I were pregnant together 2 times before--both of our sets of daughters are one month apart and are the best of friends.  When she announced she was pregnant with her third, I freaked out and checked my bc pill pack to make sure I hadn't missed one, silently chanting my mantra, "2 and through, 2 and through," but when she found out she was having a boy, I started dreaming about having my own boy babies... It's funny those wars between the conscious and sub-conscious... Anyway, we went out for a girls night at Wild Ginger and enjoyed some good sushi, good fried rice, and good conversation.
When I came home, I was presented with these ideas.

While I had been thinking about a scalloped-fabric-tufted one, these are growing on me--especially the first one. Plus, with the access we have to building materials, it seems like a natural choice. Hope that we make some progress on this project soon-- at least more progress than I have made on the one below. I got this new sewing machine with Christmas money in early January, and it is still sitting on my dining room table looking just like this.  I thought I would be inspired to get going on this with baby gifts to make for Hadleigh, Scott, and girl-baby Stephens; Valentine shirts, etc... But, alas, it still sits like this...

Here's hoping I can get on the ball this week!