Christmas traditions

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As a child my parents always made Christmas time very special.  I remember going together and picking out a tree that my dad would cut down. We'd bring it home and decorate it while listening to John Lennon's Christmas record. My mom would get out all of our special hand made decorations and we each had special ornaments that we would hang on the tree. 
I loved the anticipation of Santa coming and as I grew older, I enjoyed the time I spent with my family. My mom and I would bake and I enjoyed the traditional Christmas dinner we would have. We also always had cinnamon rolls while we opened gifts. 
Now that I have my own family, it is time for me to decide what I would like to do to make the holidays special for my children. 
This year was the first year that Evelyn really started to understand what was going on.  Mike and I decided that Santa would bring each child 3 gifts. We will also each get them one and maybe next year they can pick out one for each other. Mike and I haven't exchanged gifts the last couple of years. We don't usually for birthdays either. We tend to enjoy doing something together so we try to find a concert or a different activity to do. 
Christmas morning I just want to spend together as a family and open gifts and have a big Christmas breakfast. In the late afternoon we go to Mikes uncles house and have a big, really fancy dinner.  It's a meal done in courses. Usually a soup, then salad, next is sometimes pasta and then the main course and then of course dessert. It is relaxing and always a fun time. Oh and last year we decided to do a pj Christmas so everyone wore pajamas. Makes it easier to eat more when you have stretchy pants on.  Ha ha. 
Next year I want to do some baking with Evelyn like I did with my mom. I'm sure more traditions will come as the kids get older but so far I am enjoying all that we do. The holidays for me are all about spending time with the ones you love. 

Christmas

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We had a great Christmas. Evelyn really understood the idea of Santa and was really excited about getting to bed and getting up in the morning. We put out cookies and milk and carrots for reindeer. 
Evelyn woke up early and Mike heard her open the gate to go downstairs. He jumped out of bed and yelled, she's going downstairs. We both ran down the hallway and Evelyn was sitting by the stairs. She said did Santa come? 
We went downstairs and Evelyn was in awe that presents were under the tree. She was so excited to open everything. 
It was a great day. I hope everyone had a great Christmas. 





20 weeks old

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20 weeks pregnant 

 
20 weeks old baby 

Visiting Santa

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We took both the kids to see Santa on Saturday. Evelyn sat on his lap for the first time. She asked for Cinderella, I'm not actually sure what that meant. Either way they both did great and we got a good picture. 

Sensory bin, snow

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I have lots of gifts to wrap and cleaning to get done today in order to prepare for Christmas. I needed something to keep Evelyn busy so I put together a quick sensory bin of fake snow. 
Here's how I did it. 
I used a 9x13 Pyrex dish that has a lid. Then I mixed together 1 box of baking soda and 1/3 cup of white hair conditioner. 
That's all. Evelyn's been busy playing with it for an hour. When she's done I'll put the top on it and keep if for a week.  If it starts to dry out, you can just add a bit more conditioner. 

Let the snow fun begin. 


Time, oh you go so fast

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Today was one of those days that I look at Evelyn and Jack and realize how fast they are growing. I just want to do so much with them. I want to play with them and teach them new things. I want to watch them experience the world and I want to guide them through all of that. 
In my free time I look online for activities that we can do together. Evelyn loves crafts so I try to do something like that with her everyday.  Lately she has been loving puzzles so we do those. Jack is loving toys and of course putting everything in his mouth. 
Our days are non stop.  We are moving and busy all day. 
Between chores and errands and taking care of both kids, no one gets much of a break. Mike gets home from work and jumps right into the grove. It's dinner, clean up, a bit of play and then bedtime starts. It's go go go.
At night when everyone is asleep I think about how the day went and I always feel like I should have done more with both of the kids. I always wish I would have held Jack more.  With Evelyn I always feel like I should have taught her more.  She is a little sponge and is just craving information. It really just makes me sad to see how fast time is moving. Then I feel happy to be able to spend this precious time with them. 
 I should say something like carpe diem, but instead I'll just say, enjoy the days and enjoy the cuddles because time is going to go faster than you think. When I feel so tired because Jack was up 3 times and Evelyn wanted me to sleep in her bed. I think about the time when they aren't going to need me like that. I can always sleep later. 



Glucose free, low carb pizza. Where's the crust?

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I'm always looking for low carb dinner ideas. I especially love recipes that can remake my favorites, such as pizza. 
I found this recipe, "where's the crust pizza"  from the www.plainchicken.com blog. 
It calls for a "crust" to be with a base of cream cheese, egg and parmesan cheese. Then you top it with your normal pizza toppings. 
We tried it out tonight.  I have to say that honestly it wasn't bad but, I did miss the actual crust. I'm a bread junkie those. I could live on carbs and other than cooking lower carb at dinner for Mike, I pretty much do. 
This will satisfy a pizza craving though. I'm not sure I'll make it again but if you are looking for a glucose free, low carb pizza this is definetly one to try. 
Here's the details 

Crust
1 8oz package cream cheese ( not low fat)
2 eggs
Black pepper
Garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese ( the green can kind)
 
Use a hand mixer to mix all this together. 
Spread into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

After it is baked let it cool for 10 minutes and then top with whatever pizza fixins you like. I put sauce, cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms. Then bake it again for another 15 minutes or so. 


This picture is after we already started eating it. Ha. 

Healthier version of broccoli cheese soup

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I was looking through my cookbooks on a hunt for a broccoli cheese soup. Most of the recipes called for velveeta cheese. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for that amazing processed cheese goodness but the thought of eating it with a spoon somehow makes it very unappetizing for me. 
The healthier versions only called for a couple of ounces of cheese. Come on people, I am trying to make a broccoli CHEESE soup, I need more cheese. 
So, in the end I came up with my own version and it was perfect. 

3 cups vegetable broth ( chicken broth would work too)
10 ounces frozen broccoli florets
1 medium onion, diced 
2 carrots, diced
1 tablespoon garlic ( I used the jarred stuff but fresh would be great)
Salt, pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded

I put everything into a stock pot except the cream, milk and cheese. I let it come to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 minutes or so. Then I used an immersion blender to smooth it all out. I like it to have texture but not be chunky. 
Then I added the cream and milk and then slowly added the cheese and let it melt. 
When everything was melted I simmered it for a few more minutes and ladled it into bowls. 
It was better then expected. 

Birthday gift from Mike

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For my birthday Mike bought me the iPad air. We don't usually do bit gifts for birthdays or holidays. Since I've been blogging more and using Pinterest all the time Mike thought I'd enjoy having my own iPad. He has one and the one for the house has pretty much become Evelyn's. She has all her videos and games on it. It has been a lifesaver when traveling.
I've only had the iPad air for a couple of days and it is pretty awesome. He even had my name engraved in it. Awe!!!




Can you believe I'm 3...?

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It's my birthday and I can't believe I'm 34!!  Crazy. I don't mind people knowing my age. I know as we women get older we tend to shy away from others knowing our age. It's no big deal to me though. I love birthdays and look forward to mine each year. Mike made sure to tell me that I am now in my mid 30's. Ha. He is an ego boost for sure. 
Anyways to celebrate we are making chili and cornbread from my new Pioneer Women cookbook that my parents got fir me. I'll post the recipe later. It looks so good. I'm excited for dinner. 
Until we eat though, I am enjoying a glass of wine and some quiet time while both the littles nap. 


Holiday decorating

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I love decorating for Christmas. This year is especially exciting because it is our first Christmas in our new house. 
I'm still figuring out what needs to go where and I'll probably buy lots more after Christmas when things go on sale. This is what I've done so far.
I have a few more things to do but I'm running out of time with Christmas neing only 2 weeks away. 








Christmas pictures

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I had the little ones pictures done a couple of weeks ago and we just got them back. Here are a few of them. 
I decided not to put them in the tradition red outfits. I just don't really like red and I wanted something festive and a little different. 
I think they turned out really cute. 




Evelyn's entire outfit is from old navy. Jacks entire outfit is from Carter's. 

It's a coffee day

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Both of the little ones have runny noses and are coughing. So you know what that equals, yup, no sleep for the mama. Jack was up every 2 hours and Evelyn went to bed at 10:00 and was up at 5:00. 
I'm having my first cup of coffe now but I'm thinking it's going to be a 3 cup morning. Oh how I love coffee. 
I busted out the Christmas mugs too. Also I'm having a mini bagel with pumpkin cream cheese. It is amazing. It actually tastes like pumpkin cheesecake. It's only here for a limited time so I'm going to stock up. I might start eating it with a spoon. Why waste calories with the bagel. 

Jack's first bite

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Jack is almost 5 months old and is growing great.  He eats often during the day and sleeps well at night.
So, we decided to let him try some rice cereal last night.  I remember giving Evelyn rice cereal for the first time and she didn't like it at all.  She is nearly 3 and eating is a battle most days still.
So, I wasn't expecting Jack to take more than a bite.  This early it is just about teaching him to swallow.  The rice cereal is mixed very very thin with breast milk.
Well, he really liked it.  I only gave him a tablespoon and he ate it right up and was reaching for the bowl.  I hope this is a good sign that he will be a good eater.
I can't believe we are already to this stage.  It is like once they start eating, then they are drinking out of a sippy cup and then all of a sudden you look back and realize they are running and are a toddler.  Time just goes by way too fast.  

Christmas tea

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I attended our church's ladies Christmas tea this afternoon. This was my 5th year and for the past 2 I have hosted a table. 
This is my favorite church event out of the year. It is a time where the women of our parish get together to celebrate the Christmas season. 
We listen to some songs and hear the Christmas tea story. We have dessert and of course tea. The church ladies also make some amazing champagne punch. 


Homemade cranberry sauce

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I decided to try to make cranberry sauce this year instead of opening a can. I've read a lot of different recipes for homemade sauce so I combined a few and came up with my own. 

12 oz fresh cranberrys
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water 
Juice from half an orange 

I just added everything to a pot and brought it to a boil. When the cranberrys started to pop I turned it down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and let it cool. I stored in the refridgerator until we were ready to eat. 
Everyone really liked it. No more canned sauce for our house. 

Happy thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving dinner was great. I did all the cooking and other than over cooking the turkey a bit, it all turned out great. 
We had the traditional menu which included, mashed potatoes with lots of butter, green bean casserole, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and brown and serve rolls. 
I also attempted to make gravy but it was a bit too salty so ended up using turkey gravy that I bought. 
Evelyn and Jack both took a nap during dinner. They ate later and we were able to enjoy an adult dinner. It was a nice relaxing day. 





Getting ready for Thanksgiving and the weekend

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It is going to be a busy week here.  I have a list of to do's two pages long so I am up early today getting some done before both the little ones get up.

My father in law is coming into town on Friday for a few days so I am trying to get the guest room organized.  I also have to finalize our Thanksgiving menu, meal plan for the weekend including the big game on Saturday and I am hosting a table at church on Sunday for our annual ladies Christmas Tea.

Busy busy but with all really fun stuff.


Hot Yoga

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I started working out pretty consistently last month.  I am finally starting to lose some more weight but with nursing 8 times a day I still need to eat more than normal.  I have been running a few times a week but was looking to try something new.
So, yesterday I took a hot yoga class and it was much harder than I expected it to be.  
First, I should mention that I have never taken a real yoga class.  I have taken classes that have incorporated some yoga but, I have never taken a full hour long yoga specific class.
Second. the room was hot.  105 degrees hot.  I wore tight fitting shorts and a tank top.  It was a nice and calm environment and I really was excited to get started.
The class started with the instructor walking us through a few of what I think are normal yoga poses.  Then for the next 20 minutes we were to do a sequence of those movements.  I was totally lost and confused most of the class. And I have terrible balance so I was tipping over a bit. 
But it was so fun. The others in the class were really welcoming and really good. I mean they were standing on there heads. It was amazing I hope to be able to do that someday. I'm definently going to keep going however I'm going to take some beginning courses next week first. When though the class is for all levels I think I would benefit from a yoga 101course first. 
Oh I should also mention that it's been 2 days and I am super sore. I can't believe the all the different muscles that hurt. 

Bedtime for Evelyn

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It was really time to start getting Evelyn on a sleeping schedule.
 Evelyn has never been a good sleeper. We have always had trouble finding a nap and bedtime routine that worked. She has never slept through the night and stopped napping around 22 months. 
We even had her in our bed for the past 6 months or so. 
Well I knew things had to change but I was not comfortable letting her cry. I mean I am the one who never really taught her to get to sleep so I should help her with this issue.
Last week my mother in law came into town and painted Evelyn's room. We choose to do purple with 1 wall striped purple and white. I also bought Evelyn a new twin sized daybed bed. 
Doesn't every girl want a daybed?  It is so cute and can be pulled out to a full size if she needs it bigger. It also had 3 drawers so I opted not to get a dresser since her closet system has drawers too. 
She had been in a youth sized bed but I felt like she needed something bigger. 
We also started a new routine. At about 7:30 we brush her teeth, wash her face and hands and then put on her pajamas. Then we sit on her bed and I read to her. I've always read to her but usually just one book and them it was lights out. For the last week I just kept reading. And you know what? She started falling asleep while we were reading. When we finish a book I let her decide if she wants me to keep reading. 
By the way, her favorite right now are the skippyjonjones series. They are really cute. 
I've actually enjoyed bedtime with her. It's a refreshing change to the usual argument about going to sleep. 
Hopefully this continues to work. 

4 months

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Jack is 4 months old. He is weighing in at 16.7 lbs and is 26 inches tall. 
Lately he has been going through a wakeful period at night and is also taking very short naps during the day. He eats every few hours during the day and although he used to sleep 8 hours straight at night, he has been getting up every 2 to 3 hours. I'm pretty tired but he is as happy as ever. I'm sure this will all pass and my great little sleeper will return. 
Jack is such a happy and chatty baby. 
He laughs all the time and has a lot to say. Just look at those cheeks. He couldn't get any cuter. Love you baby boy. 


Goulash to share

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My mom's group makes meals for each other when someone has a baby.  I love that they do this.  When Jack was born it was so nice to have someone bringing over dinner for us for a couple of weeks. Life is crazy with a toddler and a newborn and having dinner delivered took a big weight off of my shoulders.  

This week I had the chance to cook for one of our moms who just had her 4th child.  I am sure she is really busy so I wanted to make a dish that would not only satisfy her hungry family but would also give her some left overs for a couple of days.  I decided to make goulash.  

Who doesn't like goulash? I mean it is simple but oh so, tasty.  It is a dish that I remember my mom making when I was a child.  So, I was on the search for a recipe that was easy and simple and well, tasted like my moms.  

I came across the Paula Deen recipe and it was exactly what I wanted.  I made a double batch and kept some for us.  This make a HUGE amount.  I really could have just make a single batch and still had enough for both my family and the family I was cooking for.  


http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/view2/bobbys_goulash/


Ingredients 
1 tablespoon Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3   bay leaves
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2   (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2   (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
3 cups water
3   cloves garlic, chopped
2   large onion, chopped
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tablespoon season salt
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
Directions


In a Dutch oven, saute the ground beef over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sauteing. Spoon off any grease. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, House Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves, and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving. 

I served this with a salad, crescent rolls and for desert, brownies and strawberries.  I could eat this for days, and with the amount I made I probably will be.  

Circus

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We went to the circus yesterday. My mother in law is in town so she watched Jack and Evelyn and I had a girls day. We met my sister in law, Dana and my niece Amelia there. 
It was a great show. We all really enjoyed it. 



Night out

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It is so rare that mike and I get a night out. We don't have family close by that can watch the little ones and we have only left Evelyn with a babysitter a few times. My mother in law is in town so we took advantage of a free babysitter and went to the redwings game with friends. We had a great time. It was nice to spend some adult time together. 
I wore a vesr, skinny jeans, uggs and a scarf. It was only around 30 so it was pretty cold. 







Jacks baptism

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Jack was baptized on Sunday. It was a big day for the little man. 
The ceremony was really nice. 
The whole family came and then we had a party at our house afterwards. Jack did great. He looked adorable in his gown and fell asleep right after we got him dressed. 












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