Monday, December 31, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Grandma and Grandpa hosted Thanksgiving this year, and the kids were thrilled that they were going to get to play in GG's basement again.  I don't quite know how it all started, but they love going down there, running around like mad, and yelling, "Hey!" at each other.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

On top of yelling, "Hey!", we spent time visiting ...

... eating, of course ...

... checking out their digs and all the different gadgets they have ...

... eating some more ...

... and celebrating a couple birthdays, Grandpa Chuck's ...

... and Grandpa E's.

While the kids played with some new-to-them toys GG picked up, we watched a little Thanksgiving Day football.

After a delicious dinner and dessert, we went out for a walk to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

Everyone had a blast, and we most definitely had a lot to be thankful for.

Dad's Birthday with the Bean Spillers

The day after the MSU game was Dad's birthday and we, of course, helped him celebrate.  The kids, though, were determined to be the first to tell him about his gifts ... even before he opened them.  

Thankfully they didn't know about all his gifts so he had a few surprises.  The kids just love spending time with their Grandpa E and really enjoyed helping us celebrate him on his special day.

We love you, Dad!

Mollie's First MSU Game!

After hemming and hawing about it all season, we finally let Mollie go to her first MSU game in mid-November.  And by first I mean first EVER!  She was super excited when we left the house, but by the time she saw all the crowds she had subdued a bit.

Baylor, having been to two at Spartan Stadium and one at the Big House before this, was just plain excited.

We stopped off and got pizza for the kids and Aunt Christine ...

... and a couple of us got turkey sandwiches.

When going to a football game with kids who aren't really into watching sports, it's important to bring along some extra activities.  Of course, Spartan Stadium doesn't allow bags of ANY KIND inside the stadium walls (including diaper bags), so I had to improvise.  Which meant that I ended up shoving diapers, wipes, squeezie applesauces, crayons, paper, stickers, boxes of raisins, and so much more into my pockets.  Thank goodness I had on a few well-pocketed layers!  Unfortunately, it left me looking about 7 months pregnant, though I'm guessing that's why no one asked to see inside my coat.

Mollie got to see Zeke the Wonderdog ...

... and ate raisins out of Oma's hand like a goat.

Oma was thrilled.

Baylor is the kind of kid who can sit for an hour or two without moving, just enjoying coloring or chatting, so our times with him at previous games weren't terribly strenuous.  Mollie, on the other hand, is a bit of a mover and a shaker; she shifted seats so many times during the game I thought she'd end up on a stranger's lap!  (If she wasn't so terrified of strangers, of course.)

The kids loved watching the marching band ...

... and dancing to the music.

After halftime, we headed down to the concourse and enjoyed a Melting Moments ice cream sandwich together.  What a good big brother he is!

I know Mollie sure thinks so.

They even shared with Oma!

When we didn't win, everyone was pretty bummed, but Baylor - ever the optimist - tried to cheer us up, saying in a chipper voice, "Well, but the other team won!"  All in all, it was a great time and I feel confident that Mollie will be even more fun to have at the game next year!

Go green!

Mmm ... Monday: Light Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Every year I give Bryson's aunts and dad some homemade treats for Christmas.  This year, in an attempt to avoid making cookies, I found a promising recipe for cookie bars.  I didn't have a few of the ingredients but substitutions I could make were in the comments, so I plowed forth.  The result?  Some of the tastiest, softest, and easiest cookie bars a girl could ask for (in my opinion, anyway).

The original recipe can be found by clicking the link above.  (It is likely a bit lighter than mine listed here, so if you are in need of that, head on over and check it out.)  Here is the recipe I ended up making ... I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Nicole's Light Chocolate Chip/Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Bars

6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pear baby food
4 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon reduced sodium baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped (in food processor, if possible)
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips*
1/4 cup peanut butter chips*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3. Melt butter and pour into mixing bowl.  After allowing it to cool a bit, set mixer on stir (or lowest setting) and blend in the remaining ingredients in the order they are listed, including the flour/baking powder/salt mixture but NOT the walnuts or baking chips.

4. Stir the walnuts into the dough by hand.

5. Spread into greased 13" x 9" pan and sprinkle baking chips on top and press gently into dough.

6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until edges turn brown.  Cool in the pan, then enjoy!

*I used half chocolate chips and half peanut butter chips because one of Bryson's aunts doesn't like chocolate much, and spread half on one side, half on the other.  Obviously, you could mix them together or just do one kind altogether.

These are beyond delicious and seem to keep very well in an airtight container.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dancing Fools!

My parents have a juke box in their basement with some pretty awesome 45 records loaded into it.  Baylor has loved that thing ever since he laid eyes on it.  And now that the kiddos are into dancing ... well, things are just that much cooler!  Enjoy!

Baylor's Homework: Emotions

Baylor learned about emotions at school this November, and for his homework that week he had to draw some faces to go along with the emotions listed above.  Happy, sad, angry, and silly ... Baylor actually drew pictures for these without putting up much of a fuss.  

Upon closer inspection, he drew little thought bubbles for the happy face.  Apparently his happy person thinks about "mom" and "dad".  Such a sweetie!

Sorry, I just can't get enough of how kids try to fit in words and letters!

He isn't always too thrilled about doing his homework, but I was so glad he was up for it this time!

Feather Decorating

Baylor had to decorate a feather for the giant turkey they were creating at school.  When asked what he wanted to decorate it with, he said, without hesitation, "marshmallows".  

I helped apply the glue as the bottle was quite tough to squeeze, but Baylor did the rest.

By the end, it was super heavy but also super cool.

Exterior Illumination School

Usually I put up the Christmas lights solo, but this year the kiddos wanted to help me.  After checking all the strands inside, we headed outside for exterior illumination school.  I demonstrated exactly how I put up the lights, and we brainstormed about how we'd end up connecting them all.  Baylor even showed me a thing or two about how to get the strands on each bush connected with minimal loose ends!

But most of the time they just stood there, enjoying wearing their new boots and listening to Christmas music.

Though it was a bit more work having them out there with me, I enjoyed their company and I hope that they'll want to join me again next year!

Makin' Maps

Baylor has been into making maps lately, most of the time they are for bear hunts or trips into space.  

I just love how detailed they are and how much thought he puts into them.

I wonder where he'll go next!

Parent Teacher Conferences

The day after my birthday I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first parent-teacher conference ... as a parent!  His teacher was a bit behind, not surprising since they only allotted her ten minutes with each parent.  While I waited, I snapped a couple pictures of a spaghetti painting Baylor did at school ... here is his.

And here is the class as a whole, Baylor's being the fourth in from the left on the top.  His style is definitely more simplistic than most of the rest of his class.

The conference itself went well; his teacher said he's doing well and seems to be enjoying school.  All in all, it was a really great first conference.  I hope there will be many more like it!

My Rockin' 31st Birthday

For my birthday this year I got a special treat; not only did I get to spend the day with my wonderful family, but my grandparents joined us as well!  

We did a lot of the usual things; Baylor played Legos, Christine and Mom helped with technological difficulties.

But Baylor had something special in mind ... we went on a rocket ride into outer space!

Having drawn a map of the planets he wanted to visit in the order we ought to visit them, Baylor made a wonderful navigator.

Grandma and Grandpa looked on and bounced along with us on our journey.

After stopping at a few planets, I got to open my presents.  Mollie even modeled the hat Christine made for me!

What an adorable gift he is!

In addition to the hat, Christine also made me the most delicious homemade Peeps a girl could ask for ...

... and my favorite: red velvet cupcakes!  (They didn't have any regular candles and the "3" and "1" were missing from previous parties, so I settled for a "0".)

Like little pros, they got their cupcakes all ready by themselves.

Then they enjoyed them, almost as much as I did!

Thanks again, everyone, for a lovely birthday (almost two months ago)!  I had a wonderful time!