Daniel Tiger Birthday

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I have to say, I think I out-did myself. Not only was our downstairs perfectly decorated for this party theme, but it cost us next to nothing. PBS kids website had lots of great, thrifty ideas in addition to having free printables with Daniel and his friends on them. We made a trolley out of a diaper box, tissue paper, and a template from PBS, and we also made tissue poms and felt crowns with supplies from the dollar store. We strategically placed printables to go with these items, and they really complemented each other.

Food was another great way to tie in the theme. I had purchased orange candy melts for Cora’s cake already, so I decided to also use some for making “tiger tails” an idea I saw on pinterest. Speaking of pinterest, I had seen around Halloween that people were drawing on clementines to make them look like jack-o-lanterns. Well, I thought you could use the same concept to make them look like tigers. It was a big hit with the kids. Then there was the cake itself, which is what I am most proud of.

It was a little crazy with 10+ kids in the house, but it was also crazy fun! It was my pleasure to host some of the awesome kids who have played so nicely with Sophie and Cora over the past year, and also to create an environment where the parents could relax a little too. We have made so many more “parent friends” in the past year and it has been invaluable. We need people who understand, and who can help us in our current life situation. Every one who came to Cora’s party had helped us in our time of crisis this year, and it was really rewarding to get to celebrate with them all. Cue Daniel’s “A Neighbor Is Here To Help,” song…

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Cora Update: 12 Month

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Are we really here? Did we actually make it? There were some days that I honestly wasn’t sure if Cora and I would make it to the 1 year mark. Maybe that sounds dramatic to some of you, but as some one who has sincerely, and painfully, struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, these fear felt very real to me.

Cora is such a bright and happy soul. Her smile lights up a room and she ignites every one with her same energy. She loves to crawl and climb, though, she still isn’t showing many signs of walking. As you can see, she still clings to her pacifier every once in awhile, only before or right after bed time. Her petite frame has her, only now, fitting into 12 month old clothes.

Although Sophie’s curly hair is tough to rival, Cora is beginning to get some frizzy curls in the back of her head. Who knows if they will expand into the afro Sophie currently has, but for right now, it is her own unique style. She is extremely expressive. Every moment of sadness is a Shakespearean tragedy, and every silly moment is an upbeat, happy musical. This can make the days exhausting, but overall, I feel that I have explored the depths and heights of human emotion with her.

My mom and brother are coming out for her party next week (Daniel Tiger themed) but for now, I am just trying to soak in the fact that we made it. 

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Continuing Celebrations

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After the holidays, most people talk about there being a slump. Well, in our family we have J’s birthday come at the end of January, then we will have Cora’s 1st birthday in February, a bit of a lull in March, Easter in April, and then we are going to go to California again in May (which is also Sophie’s birthday month!) Many exciting things will be happening for us this year, and I’m hoping to make¬†2017 a good one.

I wanted to brag about how we will be celebrating well into summer, but also I wanted to share my resolutions with you. Here they are:

  1. Be more aware of spending. I know this is a resolution for many people EVERY year, but this is the first time this resolution has made it to my list. With 2 kids and a mortgage, I need to make a better effort of limiting my spending.
  2. Move more. Notice how I DIDN’T say “go to the gym ___ times a week.” Nope. My resolution is just to move more. Whether that means playing at the park with my kids, taking them to the mall to walk around, or hopping on my stationary bike in the basement, I need to get my body moving!
  3. Eat healthier. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I say it every year. Seriously though? I’m addicted to sugar. Like, once I have it, I keep craving it and thinking bout it until I can eat some thing sweet again. I’m hoping the more I move my body, the more I will crave foods that can sustain energy and therefore keep me moving.
  4. Be nicer to myself. Last year I had a mean battle with depression and anxiety. A lot of the time, I was being way too hard on myself! I am so gentle, compassionate, and understanding with many of my friends, s why can’t I give myself that same courtesy?

What are your resolutions?

Terrible Two’s

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Ok, so Sophie isn’t all that terrible, but we are definitely entering a new phase of independence and attitude. Some times it is comical when she imitates my heavy sighs, following up with an, “oh gosh…” and other times is makes my blood boil. From what I hear, that is what life with a toddler is all about.

She can recite all of her ABC’s [as well as most of the lyrics to “My Girl”], and is getting pretty good at counting too. She got some flash cards for her birthday that I am hoping will ignite her learning interest. She has moments of being both a tomboy and a girly-girl. She loves playing in the mud just as much as she loves glitter. It is fun to watch her pick and choose what she invests time and attention to.

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We’ve come to a halt potty training wise, as that was hard for me to maintain during the move and also while I was in the hospital. I’m hoping to rekindle her interest in that as she was actually getting to be pretty successful.

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She’s never been a smiley kid [as you can tell both from these pictures and past blog posts] but she has times of being hyper-excited as well as times of pouting [like during this photoshoot.

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Sophie is an amazing sleeper. She takes 2 hour naps every single day, in addition to going right down for bed at 8 pm. We barely have a night time routine for her besides brushing her teeth, yet she goes to bed without a fuss and falls asleep almost instantly.

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She truly is my best friend and love of my life. She has a wonderful imagination, and is intelligent beyond belief. It has been such an honor to raise her and watch her grow. Happy 2nd Birthday Sophie, and I hope to spend many many more with you, my girl!

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Life Update

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Last week was a crazy week. It was one of those times in life when all the gears are moving so quickly, that you don’t even have time to emotionally process all that is happening around you. If you follow me on facebook then you know I was in the hospital the week before memorial day weekend. I came home with only days to prepare for a joint birthday and baptism party for the girls. My family arrived, and every thing was looking up when we lost a very special family member the morning of the baptism, my husbands uncle. He and his wife have been very involved in the girls’ lives ever since they were born. It was a heartbreak and a shock to receive that news as we were getting ready for church.

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I’m still recovering, mentally, from being in the hospital. I’m not prepared to talk about the details of why I was in the hospital, [and I may never be ready to…] however, there were some instances of malpractice during my visit that I am trying to process and seek legal counsel for. If you add renovating the house to this craziness, you can imagine how overwhelmed we’ve been feeling lately. So much happiness amidst so much suffering. Your prayers are greatly appreciated during this time.

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I’m trying to focus on the positives though, like how well the kitchen turned out, and the fact that I got to see my beautiful family from California. I put my focus on to decorating the new place with fishy decorations that entertained the girls and hopefully distracted them from the craziness that adults were going through.

I’ve had an outpouring of love from my local community of moms. Ever since I got out of the hospital, they have been rallying around me, showering me with gifts and meals. Also, an honorable mention to my family both near and far, who have been doing anything and everything they can possibly think of to help me.

I know I’ve been absent from social media as well as the blog, but since writing is so therapeutic for me, you can expect to see more posts now that I’m feeling better.

Indulgent Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

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It’s been awhile since I did a recipe post! It’s also been awhile since I didn’t feel like I was going to hurl the moment I step foot into the kitchen….

Now this recipe has 4 bananas in it, so I kid myself into thinking it was somewhat healthy… it also has a half cup of sugar, a stick of butter, and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Mind you, this recipe makes 2 loaves so I mean, divide the calories right? In any case… I was feeling a little bit down on Monday. My birthday high was gone, I was experiencing some unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, and I was cooped up with our 1 year old. In the words of Jim Gaffigan, having 2+ more children can be depicted as such, “imagine you’re drowning… then some one hands you a baby.” Spot on.

I needed to do some thing just for me. Painting my nails seemed tedious, doing my hair and makeup was just straight-up pointless, so I went into the kitchen and grabbed my 10 oz bag of milk chocolate morsels from the cabinet [my solution to most problems…]

I have this gluten free blend of baking flour I’ve been wanting an excuse to use, as well as bananas that our new fruit-fly-houseguests had their eye on. So, I pulled up this recipe from GimmeDelicious and it was DELICIOUS. Moist, chocolately, banana-y, YUM.

I didn’t accomplish much else that day, but a day when I bake always feels victorious.

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[it was hard only have 1 bite…]

1st Birthday Smash Cake

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Going with the theme of Bella’s red blue and gold ONE-der woman party, I decided to have red velvet cupcakes for her guests with yellow sprinkles, and blue toppers. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to pump a baby, who formerly had been on an exclusive breastmilk and organic foods diet, to be pumped with refined white sugar and red dye #40 just because it was her birthday. Call me controlling, call me a party pooper… but it just wasn’t going to happen.

At first, I tried to make a gluten free, sugar free, zucchini cake. It was garbage. Next I tried my fail-proof zucchini BREAD recipe, and just poured it into a cake pan. Nope.

Screw it, I went and bought a cake mix. Yes, a chocolate, sugary cake mix. However, it was Pamela’s gluten free, all natural, organic can sugar cake mix. I mean, I made an effort here people. As for the frosting, I used truwhip. It doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup of hydrogenated oils in it like coolwhip, and it has the appearance of frosting while cutting down on the amount of sugar. Not to mention, I found it was easier to clean up.

So props to you, June Cleavers of the world, who handmade your baby’s gluten free, sugar free, Paleo birthday cake… Honestly I applaud you. But for everyone else, know that its ok if your child’s birthday cake doesn’t look like it’s Pinterest fame worthy. Either way, your baby will not care.

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Easiest cake pops!

With Baby’s 1st birthday coming up, I thought I’d resurrect this recipe!

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Traditional cake pops are a little labor intensive. Ideally, you are supposed to bake a cake, smash it up with frosting, roll it into balls, and then dip those balls in a chocolate coating. Doesn’t seem worth the effort right? Wrong, cake pops are delicious….

But if you’re looking to minimize the time it take to make these delicious morsels, I have a solution for you!

In the back of most grocery stores, there are racks containing “day old” baked goods. Now, these options are always changing, but more often than not, there are cakes, cupcakes, and whoopie pies about to expire. No baking required!

I picked up 4 medium sized whoopie pies [two cake patties, filled in between with frosting]. I tossed them into my mixer using the paddle attachment on low speed. I added 1/4 c. of my own frosting, not because it necessarily needed it, but I wanted extra flavor and a creamier texture. Then I rolled into balls and dipped in chocolate [I used melted “Enjoy Life chocolate chunks]. SO easy! The whole process only took me about 45 minutes which is NOTHING compared to the time is take to make traditional cake pops.

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Check you grocery store for day old baked goods. Its quick, easy, and even cheaper to use a day-old, pre-made cake!