Monday, November 29, 2010

A Visit to Gramma Brenda

We are leaving to head back to Kentucky tomorrow but we wanted to visit Brendan's grandmother before we left. She lives in a great apartment and the kids had a great time visiting. We love you Gramma Bren!Once Aoife got comfortable she didn't want to get down!Aoife LOVED the scooter!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had Thanksgiving today at Brendan's parents' house in Massachusetts. It was so much fun but BUSY! There were tons of people - it's a lot with just the immediate family - but there were other family also! The kids had a great time playing with all of their cousins - 9 with one on the way. Aidan is the oldest at 5 1/2 and Grace is the youngest at 4 months. It's so much fun!
Aoife playing her piano:
The immediate family:The cousins - left to right:
Chase (5 1/2), Grace (4 months), Murphy (3 1/2), Mary (17 months), Brody (4), Bryna (15 months), Aidan (5 1/2), Emmy (3 1/2) & Aoife (18 months)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


We got up this morning at 3:15 am (ugh!) to get to our flight at Nashville Airport this morning. The kids were great on the flights although they didn't sleep. We are in Massachusetts until next week staying with Brendan's parents for Thanksgiving. We're looking forward to doing some fun Mass stuff and hanging out with the family!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There is a website, Blurb, where you can create and publish your own books. They make it very easy to take your text and pictures off of your blog and automatically populate the pages of a book. You can then go in and edit the text, change the size of pictures and add or delete whatever you'd like. You can then order as many copies as you'd like and even send the link to other people if they want to buy it! I ordered this book of my blog for the 2008 year. It ended up being 155 pages and cost around $50 - including shipping!! The weight of the paper is nice and the printing is good - not great - on the pictures but certainly good enough!! I'm really glad that I took the time to do this - I'm ready to publish 2009 and start working on 2010!!

The pictures I took of the book aren't great - it was dark inside and raining outside. The book looks way better than these pictures!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cake Truffles

This afternoon the ladies on our street got together for a Thanksgiving luncheon. It was so nice to have a relaxed lunch. Brendan took the day off since he got home from Again-istan yesterday and stayed with the girls during lunch and naptime so I could socialize!
I made two desserts - pumpkin pie and these cake balls - or cake truffles as I prefer to call them.
I've been wanting to try them since I saw them on Bakerella's website. I hadn't had the time or the opportunity. It makes a lot and I didn't want to go through all the work of melting chocolate, dipping and then cleaning up if I wasn't going to make a lot of them. I decided to stay simple for my first go round. There are lots of beautiful ideas on her website that involve multiple colors of chocolate and sticking them on popsicle sticks but I wanted to get the technique down before I got in over my head.

I followed her directions exactly - 1 box cake (baked and crumbled) and 3/4 tub of frosting - mixed together. Shape into balls and chill until firm then dip in melted candy melts (available at craft stores or walmart). I had to thin my candy coating out with a little crisco since it was too thick and no amount of heating will fix that! I had no problems with crumbs going into the chocolate and they all held their shape nicely.

Everyone at the party loved them. I thought that they were sooooo sweet and the texture inside was too squishy - made me kind of want to gag actually. They are a very good idea but the procedure needs A LOT of tweaking. There has to be some way to create a piece of cake that will hold together but doesn't taste like you added 3/4 tub of frosting! On the up side - once the cake is covered with chocolate, it is sealed and will stay fresh for quite some time - I may be able to send them to Brendan once I get the recipe fixed!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Nashville Zoo

The kids and I had a great time at the Nashville Zoo today! Yesterday was a complete disaster - aside from it being my birthday - 33 ugh - it was just one of those days where everything that could go wrong did. I don't want to tell you about it and have to relive it so we'll just say that today was awesome! We got up early and drove to Nashville to be at the zoo right after it opened. It was so worth it - we were probably the 10th family in the door. It was the perfect temperature - 68 or so - and so much nicer than when we went in the summer. I do have to say that although the kids were great - it is nice to have another pair of adult hands on board and we all missed Brendan. I got a few pictures - not as many as I usually take - and Aoife's not in too many of them because she was strapped in the stroller for most of it. She's decided that it's a lot of fun to run away from me - she thinks it's a hysterical game!
Here are the kids outside the African Savannah -
Aoife was released from the stroller - she wanted to hold Emmy's hand and Emmy let her for once:
Aidan needed to get in on the fun too!
Watching the lemurs swing around:
The giraffe was standing right by the viewing area - it was HUGE!
Aidan and Emmy in front of the original farmhouse on the grounds of the Nashville Zoo:
Pink flamingos - everyone's favorite!
This guy's actually my favorite - I LOVE his fluffy tail!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans' Day

Thursday was Veterans' Day and the kids didn't have school. The post is also closed on Friday so lots of people from our street are gone for the long weekend. This means that there is no one to play with for the kids so we found a great playground that I had heard about for a while. It's on post - and there's even a Starbucks!! The kids had a wonderful time - there were climbing frames for every age so even Aoife wasn't left out of the fun!

There were lots of kids and moms there - very noticeably a lack of dads. Don't think that this is because dad was home sleeping on his first day of the long weekend. He's away - Iraq, Afghanistan or some other god forsaken place. Most of the moms were young - much younger than I am - and most had 2 or 3 kids under the age of 7 or 8. In general they were overweight and poorly dressed, sitting on the edge of the playground looking exhausted, frazzled and dazed. They weren't talking to each other - with the exception of pairs that had evidently come to the park together. As I wandered around after Aoife to prevent her from killing herself, since she doesn't have the survival instinct to not fall from high places, I was feeling rather judgmental.

Then, as I was helping Aoife down a slide, a young mom behind me absolutely lost it on her 18 month old daughter for spilling a paper cup full of ice on the ground. She was screaming and the child burst into hysterical wailing. The mom picked up the baby a little too roughly and stomped off. I stood there stock still and before I could stop it, the tears started. This isn't the reaction that I usually have to poor parenting but I looked around and it all fell together. These women were out of their minds with worry. Not just the normal stuff like making sure the kids get enough vegetables and don't watch too much TV but having to deal with EVERYTHING alone. Getting to FRG meetings, teacher conferences, and doctor's appointments while trying to coordinate care for their children. Getting from payday to payday with enough food in the house to feed their children. Worrying that if the worst did happen, what would they do? Knowing that there's a drawer in their house full of potential funeral plans and lists of people to call and notify. Knowing that THEY would have to live through that and then keep on living. What a horrible weight to carry. Maybe the spilled ice pushed her a little too close to the edge - terrifying emotions are just a hair under the surface - anger pushes them back down a little.

Summer's Back!

After a week or 2 of really cold temperatures - for KY - summer seems to have returned. I think it waited until I cleared out all the drawers and put all the summer clothes away. It's too hot for fall clothes - I've had to pull out t shirts again!
It's great that we get to play outside more again. Aoife LOVES playing in our backyard and we are so lucky that it is completely fenced in. I leave the back door open while we're downstairs so she can go in and out with the dogs. They are their own little pack.
She has gotten tall enough to put the balls through the little basketball hoop. She loves playing - especially when Aidan is playing on his hoop!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Buttermilk Muffins

I'm starting to feel like my inability to lose any weight despite actually going to the gym and sweating a whole lot may be linked to the large amount of baked goods that come out of my kitchen!

I was at the grocery store the other day and saw that they were selling whole milk buttermilk. I had to buy it - it's usually really hard to find. In Virginia I had to go to Whole Foods to find it! The only drawback is that they were selling it in half gallons and most recipes only call for 1/4 - 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Buttermilk is not what's left over after butter is made - it's actually a cultured milk product - like yogurt or cheese. It's slightly acidic and reacts with chemical leaveners to produce a very tender product. Usually it's made with skim or low fat milk but using whole milk buttermilk makes things extra delicious! Fat is flavor after all!

I posted the recipe here on my recipe blog! It's from the William's Sonoma Muffins cookbook. It's a little heavy on the nutmeg - reduce it a little if you're not crazy about nutmeg. Next time I will add blueberries - although tender and delicious, they were a little boring. So after this and a not so great banana bread recipe I have a whole lot left over! Give me some ideas! What do you cook with buttermilk??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekends Without Daddy

In an ideal world things wouldn't change too much for the kids when Daddy is gone. When he's here we go and do things on the weekends but I've been a big, huge, colossal failure at keeping that up now that he's gone again. I'm exhausted by the time the weekend starts and the kids aren't much better! All we want to do is stay in our jammies until the middle of the morning and eat muffins all day!

It's a short trip this time - 10 days to visit where they will be deploying to in the beginning of the year. In between this trip and the last he was home long enough to do some laundry and get fed up enough with the state of our garage to rent a storage space. December is going to be the same way - so much for family time before deployments!!

Anywho...this weekend has been very boring!! The kids all have chesty coughs - nothing too bad but it seems to sap a lot of their energy. The time change last night threw them for a loop and we were a little off schedule all day. All of that added to the fact that there is really nothing to do here makes for an unmotivated mom.

It was cold here this morning - 27 when I got up so when I got them dressed to go outside at 10 AM, I bundled them up in coats. It was so warm in the sun that the coats didn't last long - please ignore the terrible outfits the kids are wearing. Play clothes need to be updated!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cactus Cake

My neighbor asked me to make a cake for her son's 12th birthday. They moved from Arizona and he really misses it so his mom asked me to make an Arizona cake. This is what I came up with. I'm pretty happy with it - hopefully I'll be able to make it again and have longer than 24 hours to make it!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dress Ups!

Here's your shot of cuteness for the day!