Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out Paula Deen

That's right.
There is now a new maven of homestyle Southern cooking...and I am she.
After feeling like I was in a cooking "funk", I proclaimed to John (mostly so that my intention was made public, and then I couldn't back out of it!) that I would start actual meal-planning for upcoming weeks. That means researching and discovering new recipes- then actually planning which days to make them, what ingredients I needed to buy, and even preparing marinades and sauces ahead of time. So I armed myself with my all-time favorite cookbook, and declared it my mission.
I bought this book a few years back, and it has been my secret weapon ever since. Plus, it has introduced me to some classic southern foods that I would have never tried. So I am happy to report that a month or two later after my "cooking resolution", I have been successful at my new venture! Some recipes were lip-smacking fantastic. And some....not so much.
Tonight I whipped up my first ever made-from-scratch-southern Mac N' Cheese.
Not from a box. Not made by Kraft.
My very own creamy oven-baked batch! Ok, so the picture may not look to appetizing. I had already served up a couple spoonfuls to the kids before remembering that I wanted to take a picture of it! So ignore my messy presentation. But oh boy, was it delicious. I'm a sucker for good old fashioned comfort foods...so this reigns supreme on my list. It's made with everything that would make a cardiologist feel faint...but I don't mind a little indulgence. It's like Julia Child once said,
"If your afraid of butter, use cream".
And in case any of you are curious about some of my other favorite new recipes, here are the top favorites so far:
*1* Garlic Fried Chicken Breasts
*2* Chuck Roast BBQ Sandwiches (my slow-cooker favorite!!)
*3* Garlic Lime Chicken
*4* Pork and Pepper skillet
*5* Ziti with turkey sausage and broccoli
Food Network, here I come.......

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quick Little Catch-Up

So the summer has finally reached that half-way point. Hopefully, we are even a little more over the hump...and well on our way to the best fall weather ever. Every summer I ask myself, "why do I live here?" Then I remember the beautiful home, our fun city, our family and our best friends that all surround us...and I just have to sigh to myself and muster up the stamina to get through the heat.
There are a few blessings about the summer weather. For instance, John and I played a mean game of pool volleyball last night. After the kids had been tucked into bed we jumped in the pool for a little friendly competition. It was intense. We don't play easy when we compete against each other. I'm not the kind of girl that likes to admit defeat- and John isn't the kind of guy who would ever let his wife win. We play fair and square. Even if it means that John puts this little "fake spin" on the ball when he serves that drives me NUTS because I can never hit it back....but we still ended the night in a draw- I won 1 game and he won 1 game. The tie-breaker couldn't happen because I accidentally hit the ball so hard it launched into the trunk of our palm tree, which speared a hole into the side of the ball.
I told you it was intense.
In other random-family-story news, Bella was very proud of her mini pizzas she helped make the other night.
It was the classic English muffin pizza recipe, and according to Isabella, you can never have too many pepperonies stacked on one little pizza.

We made a tray full of little pizzas, then she made a big one just for Dad. She was very proud of her creation. Not the best pizza we've ever tasted, but the little smile on her face at the dinner table gave the pizza some extra flavor :-)

And can you believe Ty is 20 months?? What has happened to my little baby boy?

He's putting two or more words together to talk to us in little sentences, and he's become very opinionated on his likes and dislikes and what he wants. He and Bella are still the best of friends. John and I just crack up when we spy on them and eavesdrop on their little conversations together. Bella used to get away with being the boss, but now Ty challenges her and they've been learning to work together. So I'll leave you with a little clip that I think will make you smile.... Aunt Katherine got Bella this little electric guitar the other day, so I videotaped Bella playing it in the playroom the other night. Notice a few funny quirks: Bella is just in her underwear and Ariel socks. Don't ask me why- but she strips off her clothes the moment she gets in the door. She likes to play without clothes on- but she makes an exception for a pair of Ariel socks. Of course. And also, watch for a brief cameo of Tyler's little bare bottom. We have been letting him play in the playroom naked lately, it hopeful attempts of getting him to sit on his training potty when he has to pee. We caught a little dribble in there the other day. Other than that, it's been a lot of accidents and carpet cleaner. So enjoy Bella's performance!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Healing and Help

I haven't written about it before, but a young couple at our church recently experienced the most devastating loss of their lives. After many miscarriages and struggles with infertility, Renee was able to get pregnant with what they referred to as their "miracle baby". After a long and healthy 9 month pregnancy, Renee's uterus suddenly ruptured, and their son Titus went to be with Jesus....just a few days shy of his due date. As a mother, I cannot imagine the absolute agony that CJ and Renee experienced. But God, in His amazing grace, has carried CJ and Renee through the past 4 months of healing. Though they may not be fully healed- God has brought them to face an opportunity to adopt. Though I am skipping many details- here is my point: They will be flying to Utah on Monday for the birth of their new son. CJ is a worship pastor at church and Renee is a freelance photographer, so the financial expenses are beyond what they can afford. But it is not beyond God's reach. They have full trust that God will open doors for them and provide in areas they cannot.
So click here to go to CJ's blog. You can scroll back through many posts- even all the way back to the beginning to read about their story (warning: have tissues ready!) Their story has touched my life, and has inspired me. If you can help financially, there are ways to do so and instructions on their blog. And please keep them in your prayers, it is still a long road ahead.


On a lighter note, I can't possibly put up a post without a picture! So here is a picture of us the other day with John's aunt Sarah and uncle O'Neal and his cousin Sunshine. They came in town for a quick visit and we were able to hang out with them for lunch, and enjoyed every minute of it! They are truly such sweet and loving people, and we just love getting to spend time with them!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Morning Bath

Ok, so I realize that my blog posts have not been that interesting lately. They've mostly been about the kids, and random stories of our everyday activities. John and I have been super busy redoing and revamping our master bathroom, so I will definitely share that when it's finished..and we have a couple trips coming up that I will post about as well. And last night we went out to dinner with John's adorable cousin Sunshine and his uncle Big O'Neal, who were in town due to some very exciting news...but I can't share that just yet ;-) maybe later.... So the best I can give ya is a cute little clip of my darling Tyler in his bath this morning. Bella is off at preschool this morning, and so Ty and I have our little morning routine together. I love quiet mornings at home with my boy!

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Isn't the way he says "bubbles" so darn cute?? :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oh No She Didn't!!

What you didn't see, is that right before I tried to take a picture of the three cousins, Lucy stole the football right out of Tyler's lap. Hence, the look of pure devastation on Ty's face.
Lesson learned: Never come between Tyler and his sports equipment...or prepare for a world-class meltdown.
Then, in a very smart and calculated effort to retrieve his ball from his cousin, he offered her his juice cup in exchange for the football. Lucy wasn't backing down.
Better luck next time Buddy.
Just another moment among toddlers! The laughs just never seem to end :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Know What You're Thinking....

This just may be the most beautiful, precious little face you've ever seen...
..And you know what?.....You'd be right. :-)
I'm just such a proud Mama!

Playroom

One of my favorite rooms in our house is the playroom. It's at the end of one side of the house, so the kids can have their own separate area where they don't have to worry about being careful around furniture, or running into things. Its a big, comfy, open space filled with toys and games from top to bottom. Imagination can run wild- and I can shut the double doors so that I don't have to see the mess :-) Even cleaning up the playroom is easy- everything is organized into baskets, which has made it easy to teach the kids how to help pick up after themselves. The "type A" in me wants to decorate it and organize it better- but I just always remind myself that I have 99% of the house- this room is theirs. So, naturally we spend a lot of time playing with the kids down there, and I usually have the camera around so I can capture these memories of when our kids would play, wrestle, dance and use their imagination together. Here are a few examples of playtime.....
I call this picture "Bella in a Bucket". Apparently, the Lego's inside the bucket weren't very fun...but dumping them out and squishing herself into the bucket was a blast.
A playroom favorite: dressing up and putting on "performances" for John and I. Ty practises his jump shot. Notice the toes and wrist-action! Great form!! :-)

Bella like to also use pretend she has a magic wand, and turn her dolls and barbies into princesses.

Ty often gets frustrated when his sister teases him! Sometimes it's hard to be the baby brother.

Monkey-See, Monkey-Do. If Bella did it, then it must be fun. Therefore, Tyler must try it for himself :-)

I guess it's not so much the room itself that I love, it's the fun that goes on inside the room.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oldie But A Goodie!

Remember this sweet little contraption?!!A Lite Brite! I had a Lite Brite when I was a little girl, and I just loved it. There's something about plugging in the little lights, and then the anticipation of turning it on to see your masterpiece glow! Simple pleasures :-) So the other day we were at Target and we gave Bella some money to pick out anything she wanted (thanks Nana!) and this is what she chose! I have to admit- I was pretty excited. Maybe even more than Bella.
So tonight we taught her how to do the "color-by-letter" method, with the dotted pictures, and she understood it right away! When the last last was placed, we turned off the lights and lit up her artwork! Bella was super excited (mom too), so we had to take a picture, of course!

Morning Playdate With My Babies :-)

Seriously- could she be any cuter?! Or look any happier? This morning we didn't have any particular plans, so we relaxed around the house in our jammies well into the late morning hours, then packed up some toys, snacks and juice and headed out to the park. We found a perfect shady tree and spent the next hour or so splashing around, blowing bubbles in the grass, and sipping on icy cold CapriSun.
How perfectly....summer.
Bella was pretending to be Ariel- which is her favorite Princess for the moment.
And Ty just wanted to splash and wrestle with his big sis.
He also discovered that his head fits perfectly in the bucket. *Sigh* Rough day, right?! What's a girl to do? :-)


Beautiful Bump.

My sweet friend Jessica is pregnant with her first baby- a little girl who will be named Avery, and who will have lots of attention and affection when she arrives! We all can't wait to meet her, and Jess asked if I would take a few pictures of her some afternoon, so she could remember her beautiful baby belly. So we met up and had lots of fun exploring together and taking pictures (thanks for being such a good guinea pig!) so here's a few fun examples of our little adventure together. Isn't she gorgeous? Pregnancy definitely agrees with her :-)

Peek-A-Boo!

Hmmm...Where's Tyler?........
There he is!! He actually came up with that hiding spot all on his own. Genius boy- isn't he?
I just love this playful, snugly, adorable little man. But apparently, his heart belongs to Daddy.

Now if I can just figure out how to make time stand still.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whew! Exhausting!

I am wiped out. Good thing I had kids young, because I'm already too tired to keep up with their endless energy! This morning we headed out to Pump it Up playtime, to let them jump around and (hopefully) tire themselves out. No such luck. Turns out, my kids produce more energy after doing something hyper and exciting. So after jumping and running around for a while, we went to the library to read books together in the children's area, and then attend the Shake Rattle n' Roll class. They both danced around, sang the songs and played instruments (mental picture for you- Tyler chose the maracas when it was time to pick out instruments, and then I chased him around the room trying to catch him because he kept going from person to person, bonking them in the head with his maraca. So embarrassing.) Finally, after apparently failing to exhaust them with all my activity ideas, we headed home for lunch. Low and behold...what do you think happened? Yup- Tyler fell asleep in the car and Bella's eyes were heavy as she tried to watch her movie in the car without falling asleep. So I succeeded! Too bad I had to wake him up at home so that he can eat some lunch. But I'm guessing that naps will go well today :-) Here's a little clip of Bella and Ty running around one of the jumpy inflatables- notice how Ty falls down at one point, and Bella stops to check on him. So cute!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lots of Spinning Rides and Junk Food...

...at 11:00 in the morning.
Continuing in my efforts to take the kids to fun (indoor, air-conditioned) places to play this summer, we ventured out to Jeepers indoor amusement paradise. That's its actual name...and I wouldn't call it a paradise, being that my opinion of a paradise involves being alone on a quiet tropical beach with John. But maybe this indoor mecca of bright lights, sugary foods and rides that spin you to an oblivion- might be a paradise for my kids. We got there early enough to actually be the only people there, so for about an hour we had the place all to ourselves. Tyler immediately saw a couple games of "Pop-A-Shot", and basically it was love at first sight. We could hardly peel him away from the basketballs, so I gave in, and ended up buying a bunch of tokens so he could play for a little while. Bella, on the other hand, bounced around gleefully from ride to ride. It's just so satisfying to see them have fun- it's a weird feeling that is hard to explain to someone unless you have kids of your own. I'm just a sucker for those two angelic little faces- they've had me from the very beginning. And now I find myself actually getting excited to take them to these kind of places- when did that happen??! This time will go by way too fast, and when John and I find ourselves with all the time in the world to go lie on a beach, I think we'll sit around talking about how much we would much rather be back doing these days over.

More pictures of our fun click here: http://picasaweb.google.com/Bri.and.John/SummerFun2009# (scroll to bottom of album)

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's That Time Again...

Welcome back to my "Not Me" Monday. It's been a while since I've done one- but MckMama's new logo is just too cute to resist doing a new "Not Me" post! Maybe my absence is partially due to the fact that I do not want to talk about the fact that I did not finish off some sour candy I had lying around for breakfast. No way. And I did not forgo giving Ty a bath simply because I really wanted to watch my TiVod episode of House Hunters this morning. **What is it about that show that intrigues me? I find it so fascinating watching other couples look for a new home..and then I play this little game in my mind where I try to guess which house they are going to choose....wow, that's even more embarrassing. Not me!!** I did not call my sister this morning to ask if she could come over and play with Ty so I could get some chores done. And I did not end up scratching some of those chores off my list because...well....I just didn't feel like doing them. It was just one of those days...so tomorrow I need to have a BIG cup of coffee to get me going, and to make up for all this things I did not do today!

Quick Clips.

I have been so proud of Bella and her swimming lately! We have been dedicated about getting her in the pool every day, and it's really paying off. Today at her actual swim lessons, she learned to jump in from the edge of the pool and roll over and float on her back. It's more of a survival technique that they teach the kids in case they fall in fully clothed, but it's definitely given Bella some added confidence. Here is a little clip of her playing and swimming with her dad tonight.

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And this next one is just a short little video clip that will make you smile. When we went with the Yule's to the 4th of July festival the other night, there was this spinning ride that Bella insisted on riding. Don't ask me why, but John, Kerri and Kory all thought it would be a good idea to join her..and bring the little boys along too! The best part of the video is listening to everyone- Kerri can't hold her head up straight, Bella is squealing and saying "I wanna go again!" and poor Tyler is clinging to Kerri and saying, "All Done!" But the real star of the video is little Hudson's face. The camera is on him most of the time, and he is just sitting there wide-eyed, as if he is thinking "what the heck is going on?!" So adorable- and slightly hilarious.

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Happy Birthday Sweet Allie!

I can't believe it's been a whole year since we took this picture. Heather is truly the most precious friend to me and I had the absolute privilege of being there the night Allie Grace entered the world. Besides being an incredible friend, Heather is a beautiful and compassionate mother. We have already agreed on an arranged marriage between Allie and Tyler, so someday I'll be able to count Matt and Heather as actual family! :-) I love being a part of Allie's life- watching her grow up, being around her and watching her discover the world around her.
So yesterday we all gathered for a birthday celebration in honor or Miss Allie turning 1. I totally forgot I had even brought my camera until the end- so I don't have many pictures, but we had to snap a quick one of the usual girls before everyone took off. This first picture just cracks me up because it was taken before we were ready, and we were all cracking up at some inside jokes, and it displays the genuine love and laughter between us as friends.
Its such a sweet thing in life to celebrate our life milestones and family celebrations with one another. We have so much more to come...sporting games, recitals, graduations...and someday even weddings! (yikes!) They say it takes a village to raise a child, and with each other- we make quite the village. Love you girls and we love you Allie!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Real Buddies Hug...and Wrestle!

Happy 4th of July! What better way to spend the holiday than with our family and some friends? Last night we headed over to Kerri and Kory's house to BBQ and take the kids to the Anthem Community Celebration that was going on just down the street from them. One of the best little pleasures lately has been watching Ty and Hudson start to interact more with each other. Only being about 5 months apart, we can only imagine the trouble our boys will get into as they grow up together. If their personalities today are any indication of the future- then Tyler will be the instigator of bad ideas, and Hudson will happily follow along with his buddy. We can just see the trouble brewing... But for now, we just absolutely delight in seeing them play around together. Now that Hudson is walking, they will be running around and getting into trouble before we know it! Here's a quick clip of us trying to get the boys to hug (apparently they are too busy and too cool to hug). But watch what happens when Ty is a little rough with his hug...no gentleness here!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Get Ready to Laugh.....

It's time for a Blog Shout-Out!!
I've told you about my friend Amanda right? Yes Amanda, I'm blogging you :-)
So I was checking out her new blog layout today (very snazzy girl) and I stumbled on her list of favorite blogs & websites. Of course, I find my own little blog baby on the list...but what caught my eye was her link to a little piece of hilarity that is called "Awkward Family Photos". It's just like the segment on the Ellen show, where she shows awkward school pictures or holiday cards (which happens to be my favorite segment). I laughed so hard at this website that my eyes were literally tearing, and both kids stopped what they were doing in the playroom and stared at their strange mother who was simultaneously cracking up and wiping tears from her eyes. Bella asked if I was ok.
So I had to pass in on to those of you who haven't seen it yet..here are a few of my favorites. And please note their captions...they make the pictures that much better!!!!
1. A late attempt by mom to speak now or forever hold her peace.

2. "Awkward Pose of the Week: The Thigh Chair. For youngsters 7 or younger who aren't quite ready to attempt an armshelf."

3. "Beyond a reasonable point of casualness."

4. Banished to live under the chair forever, Amy decided to make the best of it.

5. Someone is feeling left out.
6. We call this "the backpack".
Oh my goodness, my cheeks still ache from laughing. You have to go to the site to see the abundance of awkward pictures. Enjoy! Thanks for the laughs Amanda!!!
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/