Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Fort Campbell did Trick or Treating one day early this year. Aidan dressed as Ironman, Emmy was a black cat and Aoife was a bumble bee. They were adorable - I LOVE Halloween! The kids had a great time - Aidan got tired about an hour into it so we turned back toward home. Emmy kept telling us how much she LOVED trick or treating. It's so funny how much she gets into it each year. I always forget how much fun she has. Aoife had her first real Halloween - she was only 6 months old last year so she didn't get to go Trick or Treating. She had a really fun time and loved her costume. She kept turning around and around in front of the mirror checking herself out and pulling on her wings. She figured out how to say "Trick or Treat" and then would say "Thank You" at each house. So cute!!
Most of the houses on our street have a parent deployed so the people with older kids put out a table in front of the house and handed out everyone's candy on the street so we could all take our kids around and not worry about handing out candy. We took advantage and both went with the kids - it was great! Since Trick or Treating was only from 6-8 the street bought pizzas and we had a pizza/fire pit party on the cul-de-sac afterwards. It was so much fun - we are so lucky to have a fun neighborhood!
We took this picture this morning just before lunch time. I really wanted a nice picture of the 3 of them in their costumes and I knew that if I waited until right before Trick or Treating I would get this:
or this:
Here they are - starting off on their way!
All the houses are really close to each other and people do a really nice job decorating!


The crowds were insane - at some houses the kids had to wait in line!A view down the street:
Dumping out the loot:



This is what Aoife looks like after an overload of sugar and being up an hour and a half past her bedtime!!

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daddy's Home...

Brendan's home - for a little while at least! We surprised him at the airport on Wednesday - he thought we'd be waiting in the car and he was so happy to see us inside! The girls were so excited to see him (so was I!). Despite what it looks like in this picture, Aoife has actually had the hardest time and won't let Daddy out of her sight. Poor thing - it's so hard because you can't really explain what's happening to her. She just knows that all of a sudden Daddy disappeared for a month - imagine if that happened to you!

Emmy's Halloween Party

Here's Emmy's preschool class at their Halloween party - Emmy's on the bottom left! Sorry about the picture - I took it off of Facebook!

Cookies!!!

So I have been up to my ears in cookies this week - and it's been really fun!! I made an order of cookies for my friend's daughter's 15th birthday. She lives in Alaska so I REALLY hope that the cookies all made it in one piece after all that work!!
I also made Halloween cookies for Emmy's class party and for Aidan's class. I forgot to take a picture of them all before they got bagged up but they were really cute! Purple cats, ghosts, pumpkins and moons. By all accounts they were enjoyed by all!
I have also been doing a lot of cookie research online. Who knew that there were entire blogs devoted to cookie baking and decorating?? If you're interested, check out these!
Sweetopia
Bake at 350
A Dozen Eggs
Bakerella

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Little Room for Pip and Squeak

Like every other school in America, Aidan's school had a Scholastic Book Fair last week. I'm not a huge fan of these book fairs - I think the books are, in general, crap not so great and hugely overpriced. They sent an order form home that you could go through with your kid, write down your order and send in money. There was also a note in the class newsletter reminding us of the book fair and saying that we could come in and attend the book fair with our children - nice idea but the reality is that they have 20 minutes after lunch to look around. It's just too much of a hassle to get childcare for the other 2 so that I can go in for 20 minutes.

So I figured that if I could go in and buy books for Aidan without pre-ordering them, there was no reason why he couldn't buy himself a book. I decided that I would do a little experiment on Aidan. I put $10 in an envelope in his bag and I labeled it Aidan's book fair money. At breakfast I told him it was in there and I said that he would be able to look around and decide what he wanted to buy with the money. I asked him to buy at least one book and to not buy anything Sponge Bob ( I just hate it for no good reason).
I spent the day wondering on and off what he was going to do with the money. I was a little excited to see what he would bring home and to hear how he made his choice. He's never really had that much freedom with money and I wasn't sure if he would be able to make a decision. I thought that there was a reasonable chance he might come back home with the $10.
At 3:30 he bounced off the bus, as usual, with a 18 inch long pointer with a rubber hand on the end.
"Look", he says, "I got a finger pointer!!"
"Great! Did you find anything else that was good?" I asked - hoping that he had found SOMETHING else!
"Yup - a book, but I have to pick it up tomorrow. The lady put the extra money in a bag but I think I lost the coins."
I open the book bag, find the ziplock with $1 and a note saying
"Pip and Squeak". I also find 2 pennies at the bottom of the bag which may or may not have been the rest of the change. I'm not sure what Pip and Squeak is - I don't think I've heard of it before and Aidan is very vague in his description. I'm pretty sure he spent his whole time finding the finger pointer and then got the first book that he saw!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next day Aidan gets off the bus waving a book - the long awaited Pip and Squeak! It's actually very cute - about 2 mice bringing a birthday present to a rabbit. On the cover is a sticky note from Aidan's teacher saying that Aidan worked very hard at finding a book that he liked. She also said that she was very proud of the way he used his money.

WOW!! This is it - this is what I've been working for!

My philosophy is this: 100%
of your child's most important decisions will be made without you so you better teach them HOW to make good decisions before any of that happens.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Later on that evening we went out to play and one of Aidan's classmates and her mom were outside. (They live just around the corner) She asked me if I had gone to the book fair and I sensed it coming - the comparisons. I said - no - I have 2 others that need to be watched. She, of course, is a perfect mother had gone in and followed her daughter around telling her what she should buy. (Her words - not mine). I told her that I had sent some money in for Aidan to shop with. She looked at me like I was the craziest person she had ever met and said,


"Really? Why would you do that? Abby would have just come home with Barbie stuff."


"Well, you never know. If you give your kids a little room they might just surprise you with how they handle it."

Planting Bulbs

I decided that yesterday would be a good day to plant some daffodils and crocuses (crocii?) in our front garden so we went to Home Depot and got all the stuff. We got home and started to try to dig some holes for the bulbs. Unfortunately under the innocent looking mulch is rock solid clay. I managed to get the holes dug and the bulbs planted but it wasn't as fun as I'd hoped because the kids couldn't dig at all - it might as well have been solid rock! They did enjoy putting the bulbs in the holes and piling chunks of clay back on top of them.
Hopefully we'll have some flowers in the spring but I won't be surprised if they can't grow in the clay.
Aoife had fun picking up the bulbs I had arranged in the garden and putting them back into the bag.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Go Fly a Kite

While Aoife was taking her nap today, Aidan, Emmy and I took the kites out and got some good flying in! It was cloudy and windy for the first time in about 2 or 3 months - let's hope there's some rain coming in! The kids had a great time running up and down the street and the wind was strong enough that the kites stayed up in the air.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate

We got the cutest book called 5 Little Pumpkins. Aidan wanted to do a video of him reading the book and then Emmy wanted in on the action. Enjoy 2 minutes of adorableness! video video

It's not really this cold

It has been chilly in the mornings taking Aidan to the bus stop so I picked up hats and mittens for the girls while we were at the PX the other day. Emmy is in love with hers because they are PINK and she wanted to wear them when we went out to play after dinner. Aoife had to wear hers too, of course. I looked like a total idiot because every other kid on the block was running around in a t shirt and I had my kids in jackets and hats - it was probably in the low 60's!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Butter Cookies

A friend of mine asked me to make decorated cookies for her daughter's birthday and I thought I would document the process.
The recipe is really basic:

2 sticks butter - softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

1. Put the butter in the mixer and beat for 2 minutes on medium until the butter is creamy and fluffy.
2. Add the sugar and mix to combine well.
3. Add the egg, vanilla and salt - mix to combine.
4. Add the flour 1 cup at a time and mix until the dough comes together and is no longer in small pieces.
5. Split the dough in half and flatten each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6. Take the dough out and let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes so it is still cool to the touch but soft enough that you can roll it out with a rolling pin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Dust the counter with flour:

8. Roll the dough out until it is 1/4 inch thick all the way around.
9. Begin to cut out your shapes trying to keep as little space between them as possible - the fewer times you have to reroll the dough the better. This is easier with small cutters!!
10. Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheet. Reroll your dough scraps and continue to cut out cookies until the dough won't hold together anymore.
11. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees on the middle rack of the oven for 8-12 minutes depending on your oven - mine took 11 minutes. The cookies should be just barely golden on the edges.

After I finish baking them off tonight I will start decorating - I'll keep you posted!

Peek-a-boo

video
Here's Aoife playing peek-a-boo at the table. She was doing it a lot before I got up to go get the camera but you get the idea!

Flower Hat

My neighbor picked this hat up for Aoife and one like it for Emmy. Aoife loves hers and wants to wear it all the time - Emmy - not so much.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muffins

I've been baking lots of muffins recently. They are great after school snacks that you can use again for breakfast and maybe tuck into a lunchbox if there are any left over. Babies, kids and neighbors love them! I've decided they keep well just sitting uncovered on the counter - if you cover them or put them in a closed container then they get soggy! I always use paper or foil muffin pan liners and I sprinkle raw or turbinado sugar on the tops before I bake them. It gives the muffins a nice crunchy top!

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

1 stick butter

¾ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup molasses

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 egg

1 ¾ cups flour (1 cup white and ¾ cup whole wheat)

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup dates, prunes or raisins

½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins with paper baking cups.
  3. Cream the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until creamy.
  4. Add the pumpkin and the egg and mix well.
  5. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and the dates, prunes or raisins and nuts to the mixture.
  7. Beat just until the batter is smooth.
  8. Spoon into muffin pans.
  9. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/3 cup canola oil

¼ cup orange marmalade

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 oz. shredded zucchini (1 zucchini) – drained on paper towels

¾ cup dried chopped dates or raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease muffin pan or line with paper cups.
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, marmalade, vanilla, and zucchini.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 increments and beat until just combined and smooth.
  6. Stir in the dates or raisins – the batter will be stiff.
  7. Spoon the batter into the 12 muffins cups.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees until springy to the touch – about 17 – 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Unmold the muffins and serve them warm or at room temperature.


To make these a little healthier you can substitute 1/4 cup milled flax seed for 1/4 cup white flour. Don't use whole flax seeds - the body can't break them down!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Playing Outside

After dinner we all go outside and play with all the neighborhood kids. They usually ride bikes, run around, play with nerf guns and fun stuff like that. It's a good opportunity for Emmy and Aoife to play with the bigger kids. They are all so good and include the little ones - so nice to see!
Here's Aidan - throwing something:
Emmy with Logan - our neighbors' son:
Aoife LOVES cats and one of our neighbors has a patient cat that lets Aoife pat it.
Stalking her prey:
Got it!
Aoife learned a lesson after this photo was taken - I think the cat didn't use it's claws:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn

I managed to get all the kids up, fed and dressed in time to get outside and take these pictures at 7:30 before Aidan had to get on the bus. This is a miracle since from the second that Emmy opened her eyes this morning she was crying - about everything from Aoife touching her unicorn to not wanting to wear a dress - she ALWAYS wants to wear a dress. I happened to casually mention that there might be a treat in store for them if they took a nice picture and Emmy became my photo taking ringleader. She was telling Aoife to look at the camera and Emmy herself was all smiles. Let me tell you - she asked for that treat as soon as I said we were done - and really what's ONE candy corn going to hurt - even though it was at 7:30 am!! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

3 year Blogiversary!

I was just standing at the counter washing dishes wondering what I should write about tonight and suddenly I realized that I must be pretty close to my second anniversary of the blog! I checked on it and low and behold it is actually my THIRD anniversary - and exactly to the day! The first thing this means is that I can't count - at all - and the second thing is - my oh MY how life has changed!! Here's a link to my very first post.

Wow - the kids are sooooo little!! Aidan was 2 1/2 and Emmy was only 4 months old. Now he's 5 1/2, Emmy is 3 1/2 and Aoife is 18 months! Also - I had no idea what blogging was nor did I realize what it was going to become for me. I started the blog because my grandparents were moving down to Florida for the winter and I wanted them to be able to see the kids whenever they wanted to - even though it was on the computer. At that point Brendan was stationed in Alexandria, VA . My grandparents live in Arlington which was only about 30 minutes from our house. I tried really hard to make it up to see them once a week - sometimes we didn't make it but most of the time we did. I knew they were going to miss seeing the kids and my cousin's wife had started a blog a year or so before this and I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch.

It turned out to be a GREAT way to keep in touch! As friends had babies, they started blogs and we could watch each other's kids grown up from the other side of the country - or world as it turned out for us! For me, the hardest part of being a military wife is leaving good friends in my wake as we live our gypsy lifestyle. It makes me feel so good to know that they are reading what I write and looking at the photos I put up.

The blog has also turned out to be a great forum for me to share my love of photography! Luckily I have 3 subjects - some willing, some not so willing. I try to bring my camera everywhere we go because - let's face it - life's not THAT exciting and without the pictures my blog probably wouldn't be quite as fun! I tried to start the recipe blog but as you've noticed I've failed miserably on that front. I'm not sure why I can't keep up with that one - it should be a no-brainer since I cook dinner every night but I can't do everything!! The cake blog is what exactly? Hmmm...well I guess I'd be lying if I said that I want to go back to work - because I DON'T but......it's always nice to be appreciated and told that you do something well. I'd love it if people paid me to make cakes. So the blog's out there but I'm not going to go at it whole hog. I've had so many people ask me why I don't work - as if staying home isn't work - HA! The answer is two fold. It's pretty much impossible for me to have a "real career". In the last 6 years we have lived in 6 different places. Trying to find a job and then start over each time? Thanks but no - we'll just drive old cars and live on post. Secondly - I really like being home with the kids - in general. I mean - we all have bad days (and worse days) but I feel like for me the good outweighs the bad by a lot and I wouldn't trade it - but that's just me.

So anyway - off my soapbox - back to how life has changed! If you've been with me the whole time this is probably boring so I'm sorry in advance! So the kids got bigger and Brendan got a new job. I got pregnant with Aoife and we were so happy it was another little girl! We found out we were going to move to England in July 2009 and I waffled back and forth between wanting to go and NOT wanting to go at all. Aoife was born and in a postpartum haze with Brendan in Asia and then Afghanistan I got the house ready to move across the Atlantic. We spent the BEST year of our lives in Watchfield, UK. We are so lucky that we were able to see beautiful sights, meet wonderful people and travel to exotic places. Most of the time the Army tries to screw you but I think it made up for everything last year. In July we left England for Fort Campbell, KY. I am so lucky to have friends already posted here from way back in 2005 when we were in Colorado. A benefit of being in aviation - it's a small community and the odds of running into a friend again is pretty high! Aidan started Kindergarten and Emmy started preschool. They are both doing great and enjoying making new friends. Our neighborhood has turned out to be very social and we have all bonded well already with most of the husbands gone.

I am a military wife - there's no escaping that reality. I'm so proud of our little family and what Brendan and I have accomplished together. Happy Blogiversary to all my faithful readers. Thanks for visiting and for coming back. Here's to many more years of fun to come!

Almost there...

I'm almost there! Almost done with Aoife's baby book! She loves looking at it since she LOVES babies. I don't know if she knows that they are pictures of her but she can't get enough! She noticed that I was taking pictures and had to come over and look!


Put a Ring on Emmy

If you've seen Beyonce's video for Put a Ring on It you may recognize some of Emmy's moves. I shot this a while ago on my phone but it deserves it's own special post! Enjoy!
video

Halloween Decorations

Everyone in our neighborhood takes decorating for Halloween very seriously and since we didn't want to be left out of the fun we have been shopping for decorations. Aidan has decided that he is NOT scared of scary decorations and has been lobbying for skeletons and blood on our front walk. I don't really like scary decorations and prefer smiling pumpkins like these:Since he has started getting really frustrated with me I decided to let him pick out ONE decoration that was a little scary. He found this at Homegoods - it's about a foot tall and he decided that it was just the right amount of scary - since I think he actually IS scared of hanging skeletons etc.
Here are some of our other finds. It's actually hard to find nice stuff around here - we've gotten some at Kohls, Homegoods, Hobby Lobby and Target.

Aoife decided that she wanted to come outside while I was taking pictures and tried to make a break for it:
She likes the sparkly bats on this one: