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Friday, November 22, 2013

Contemporary Holiday Dishes

I haven't shared any recipes in a long time over here. Probably because nothing too terribly exciting is going on in our kitchen. Eating to live these days. :) But I was thinking about Thanksgiving next week...and thinking about the traditional meal my family will be having with both sets of my grandparents. Jeremy and I swap holidays with our families. Thanksgiving is with my side this year and Christmas will be with his. That way, we are not running all over the place trying to see everyone. It's an attempt to get solid quality time with our families and with just the five of us as well. Well, last year we hosted Thanksgiving for Jeremy's family. So I took the opportunity jazz up the menu. I just don't like the traditional spread: turkey, ham, green bean casserole, canned cranberry sauce. I do like my meme's dressing. But her recipe is really the only one that I like. She passed away last August. But so many eyes have watched and helped for the last 30+ years, they can just about recreate her special dish to a T. Back to last year...thanks to Pinterest I tried a few new recipes and put a contemporary spin on our Thanksgiving meal. I thought I'd pass on some of my favorites in case you had a holiday gathering you needed to bring a special dish to in the coming months.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip was a tasty little appetizer I made. Served with Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins, everyone seemed to love it. Except my dear husband who won't come within 10 yards of cream cheese. Had he tasted, I have to believe he would have loved it as well!

I always love a good salad. So for Thanksgiving, i went with Autumn Chopped Salad. It's full of Romaine, pears, craisins, bacon, pecans and feta cheese. The dressing was an easy combo of combining two different premade bottles. This salad was amazing.

And probably the best part of a Thanksgiving meal  is always dessert. Says the girl that doesn't like pumpkin pie. I do love pecan pie though! But instead of going that traditional route, I found this Pecan Pie Cheesecake. I had never made a cheesecake and I was very intimidated by the idea. But I followed the instructions and it came out perfectly. At some point during the holiday season, I will be making this one again. It's a little work, but so worth the extra effort!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

fall snapshots.

To make this catchup quick and simple, here are a few memorable moments from the last 6 weeks or so.

We took the boys to their first real football game. TCU versus TEXAS! It was also, MY first real football game. Unfortunately right before halftime, a storm came through. We tried to wait it out for at least 2 hours, in order to see more of the game. But the game was delayed until 11:30pm! The big boys were tired and done with football. Plus we were paying for a sitter for Abe and our cost was going up as we waited it out. So we called it quits and missed most of the game. Luckily our tickets were free through Jeremy's work. :)
We took the boys to an annual carnival that our church hosts. It's a fundraiser for a unique ministry for families of special needs children in our area. We go each year. The boys love it. And our money goes to a great cause!
Blurry Pax, random girl and Holden. They loved this slide and rode it over and over again.
Holden road this terrifying thing with some boys from church. He loved it!
And we left as the proud owners of two new goldfish named Silly and Goldie. I'm not sure why we stopped at WalMart and bought fish food. We should have fed them breadcrumbs. They were dead in less than 24 hours. :( Dead fish gross me out. Jeremy flushed them once he returned from work. Pax cried. He wanted to keep them. Dead and all. :) It was hard not to laugh as he said that through his tears.

We had a little cousin time. I just loved this picture.
Carson and Abe. The oldest grandchild and youngest grandchild on my side of the family.

Mister Abe has decided that peekaboo behind the curtains is his new favorite game.
 And he is sharing green smoothies with me daily. He often cries as we slurp the ending from the glass. Sweet sweet boy!
School is trucking along. We are all enjoying the structure, the new material and our time together. Here are a few pictures from some recent school activities.
 A week on leaves and fall. Cute little button trees and leaf collecting for some other projects.
 I know they are learning and growing through my teaching. But when I can visually see improvements, in things like handwriting, my heart leaps. :)
 Turtle week. Below they both acted like a turtle and pulled all limbs into the laundry basket when I warned that an attacker was coming. :) It was a very tight fit for long and lanky Holden.
Speaking of that boy, he has lost his 3rd tooth! They are falling out faster than Abe's are coming in!
And just because I was going through pictures on my phone and thought this one was worth sharing.
Jeremy ran in to the store to buy a pumpkin for our carving before Halloween, while the rest of us sat in the car. I had told him to carry it like it was heavy. And since he doesn't resist an opportunity to make me laugh, he carried it like this. And he got a few strange looks from others. I still laugh when I look at this picture. I may never delete it. :) 

And those are a few of the fun things that have been going on in our family lately. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November is upon us!

I love the month of November. And now we are a week in. Fall is, hands down, my favorite season of the year. I'm one of those that loves each season and I'm always anticipating the next one.

I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with family that we don't see as often. My sister from Colorado will be coming this way with her family. We will also be headed east to see my grandparents and those are rare visits these days.

We are starting our Thankful Tree a little late. I just returned home with our paper to make our leaves. I told the big boys on the way to MDO today that we would start adding leaves to our tree tonight. Pax told me he was thankful for baby Abe. :) Hopefully my pathetic attempt at a tree won't look so sad once it's covered in the colorful leaves. I'm not much of a planner these days. Sometimes I throw it together and hope for the best. As evidence of the sad tree.
Probably the biggest reason I love this month is that it includes a special celebration. Jeremy and I will be celebrating 11 years of marriage this month. 11 years. Ahhh marriage...just as dreamy as we envisioned when we were 21 and it was finally confirmed that we had found the person that we truly wanted to commit forever to. ;) Ha. Not always easy and never perfect. But solidly committed and forever blessed because of that. And for the first time in a while our anniversary is falling on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, just like the year of our wedding. It won't be crammed in with holiday this year.
It's National Adoption Month! For my first time ever, I sat through a church service that recognized Orphan Sunday last week! It wasn't the big advocacy that I am so passionate about. But it's baby steps and I'm thankful for those steps.
To add even more excitement to our month, tomorrow we will have our last post placement visit to finalize Abe's adoption. Hopefully finalization will happen before the end of the year.
November is always a special time for us and this year is no exception.

Monday, November 4, 2013

11 months!

On Saturday Abe was officially 11 months old! He has now been in our family longer than with his first family. And I can only hope that he knows deep, deep down that he is home. I pray that in his future, he will always trust that this is forever. It's permanent. Abe is bright spot to my morning when I retrieve him from his crib. He's a bright spot to my afternoon and evening too. :) He's just a very sweet part of us. All four of us love him dearly and feel particularly blessed that God gave him to us!
I'm a baby lover. I love all things about the baby stage...except for maybe bottle washing. The smiles, the cuddles, the babbling, the rocking, the baby food making and feeding, the bottle feeding, and watching them learn new things on a sometimes daily basis. I LOVE being a mom to babies. (I adore my role as mommy to all three of my boys. And I love the other stages too as they grow and learn and develop....don't get me wrong on that. But I am just a sucker for babies.) About 2 weeks ago, Abe's sleep was still so inconsistent. He was normally waking up at some point during the night. So we decided to finally let the boy cry it out. It took two nights. And he has been sleeping beautifully ever sense. He needed us to break that nighttime bottle habit for him. He's a big boy. We knew he didn't really need that extra feeding. So we finally had to make the tough call. And I'm very thankful to God that the process was very short lived. Just two nights. I couldn't have asked for better circumstances. Now he is sleeping from about 7:30pm-7:30am (with the exception of the time change that has thrown him off a little bit). He also is a great napper. He takes about a 2 hour nap in the morning and again in the afternoon. I was starting to wonder if this boy would be an awful childhood sleeper for years to come. But I think we have made it over that hump! He's really doing fabulous in this area, which is a blessing for him and also for me.
He now takes four 5oz bottles a day. This is a whole lot less than both Holden and Pax. But based on his size we are confident he is getting enough. I don't know his exact size but he is still wearing 12-18month clothes. Abe is still eating a lot of purees and other soft fruits and veggies and plenty of grains. He is a great eater right now! He's learned to drink from a straw recently. I often share with him my green smoothies and he thinks it's a huge treat. His two top teeth finally popped thru this month. They are about halfway in at this point. Teething has been a very slow process for this little guy. Poor Abe. It seems to be a long, drawn out, painful process to earn each tooth. I hope they continue to come in two at a time. So as of now, he only has his front 4 teeth.
Currently, Abe is very close to walking. He stands up on his own, without using anything to pull himself up. He stands independently while shaking a rattle or clapping his hands. I'm always surprised when the quick movement doesn't make him fall back down. This weekend he took about 3 tiny and wobbly steps towards me, with my encouragement. He may be our earliest walker yet. Since he is so close to walking, he now loves to bear crawl around the house on only his hands and feet. He now likes to wave his hand, especially when he sees his own face in the mirror. He bobs his head when he hears music. So far that's the only kind of dancing we get from him, but we find it adorable. And the whole family has to stop and watch. He plants kisses on my face several times a day. I say "Abe, give me kisses." And he leans in and gives me a mouth kiss, or he will place his cheek onto my lips allowing me to kiss his cheeks. He came up with that one all by himself and I think it's pretty clever.
He still does not like diaper changes much or to even be laid on his back for much of anything. If he is irritated, he doesn't hold it in. He's been known to yell at his big brothers if they are in his face too much or take something from his hands. And he's been known to yell at me if I'm not meeting his needs according to his timeline. He's a pretty content, happy and sweet boy. But he has his moments. He loves anything with buttons right now. Especially the remote controls. He doesn't really need toys. He finds most of his entertainment from emptying the entertainment center drawers or emptying the cabinets where the tupperware bowls are stored. He can destroy either of those areas in 5 seconds flat. He's fast at demolishing a neat and tidy space.
Abe still loves bathtime (and playing in the dog's water bowl. I'm constantly closing off doors in our house.) He just loves water. Whatever water he can get his hands in to splash splash splash. Which reminds me of another little boy that I know very well. Speaking of brothers, they can make him laugh like no one else. He has an infectious little giggle that Holden constantly brings out in him. Abe is quickly becoming a daddy's boy. It seems as though a major highlight in his day is daddy returning home from work.
I can't believe our baby is almost 1 year. It really is hard to believe! Time has moved quickly. I cherish where we are now, but I know much more excitement is in store for his life and in return, for us. Our third little blessing is growing up...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween 2013!

The big boys really had opinions this year about their costumes. They decided months ago they would be Ninja Tutles (specifically Raphael for Holden and Leonardo for Pax). As time went on, other things were discussed: Mario and Luigi and Holden mentioned being a robot. But it always came back to the infamous TMNT! I found a steal online for the costumes, but of course the two they had wanted were sold out. So Pax settled for Michelangelo and Holden went with Donatello. To go along with these Ninja Turtles, I found a baby turtle costume for Abe. Perfect! A few pictures from our day and night.
 Heading out trick or treating.
These friends joined us in our neighborhood. Cruz the lion fit right in with all the turtles. These little guys might just be big buddies one day soon. It was a fun night full of goodies that I can't seem to stay out of.

Carving the Pumpkin!

The boys are excited for this little event every single year. Daddy is a whiz with the carving knife. But they hardly participate. This year Jeremy sat a the kitchen table carving the picture the boys had chosen, as Holden and Pax ran circles through the living room/kitchen area.
They did participate a minimal amount in scraping out the gunk. Holden really wanted nothing to do with that mess. This was the first year we were able to convince him to touch it.
And the finished product...our spooky spider. This is about as scary as it gets over here at this house. 

the pumpkin patch.

I'm starting to catch up over here on the blog.
It wouldn't really feel like autumn without a trip to the pumpkin patch. Typically I've just taken the boys during the week, normally meeting friends there for a playdate. This year we planned it so that Jeremy could come along with us on his Friday off. The boys had a great time. In fact, one little boy was a little teary when it was time to return home. He was having too much fun to leave. A few pictures from our afternoon at a new-to-us pumpkin patch.