Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekend and randomness

We had such a fun weekend! My friend Christie and her crew spent the weekend with us, and my brother Alan, his wife Anna, and our cutie pie niece, Taylor, spent last night with us. It was a house full of people (5 adults and 7 kiddos, to be exact), but the squeals, laughter, running, and general chaos was awesome. When everybody left this morning and all that remained were me, Ben, and our three, it just felt too quiet. I love a house full of kiddos so much!

Whitt and his cousin Taylor are so cute together...they're 7 weeks apart and love each other dearly.

We spent the day at the pool yesterday and these little fishies were worn out by bedtime...

Then tonight after church I had a little impromptu photo session with my little buddy. Pure sweetness!

And for the random stuff...

*I deactivated my facebook account a couple of weeks ago and it's going surprisingly well without it. It was such a time waster and I feel like I can be a better wife and mom without it as a distraction. Not sure how long I'll stay away but the break was definitely needed. If any of you FB friends are reading this, you can still get in touch with me by email---my regular one or the so happily us one you can find on my sidebar.

*EC fell on the edge of the pool today and when I asked her what hurt, she YELLED through her tears, "my vagina!" I didn't know whether to laugh or find a hole and crawl in it. I'm sure the people around us enjoyed that one. :)

*This is Grayson and Emma Claire's last week of school!! So excited about this---I'm looking forward to lounging in our pj's, going to the beach and pool, and traveling around to visit friends and family this summer.

*We are going on week 2 with no AC in our house and 90+ temps outside. It broke a month ago and we shelled out way too much money to have it fixed, only for it to work for a week before breaking again. We need to bite the bullet and buy a new unit, but it's ridiculously expensive so we're trying to tough it out and live without one for as long as we can. I have no idea how people lived before AC!

*Whitt has been pooping on the potty! Gross, I know, but he's doing great and I'm hoping he'll be ready to potty train full force this summer---I've had somebody in a diaper for almost 6 years now!

*Please pray for our friends' little girl, Lily. She has been in the hospital for several days due to 12+ days of 104-105 degree temperatures--she was transferred to MUSC last week and is now there undergoing tests to find out why she is so sick.

Hope everybody had a good weekend!

Edited to add: just realized that this is my 500th post! I started blogging four years ago this month and can't believe how quickly it's flown by! Check out my second blog post ever right here. Grayson was younger than Whitt is right now! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Avocado obsession and some recipes

I have a slight obsession with avocados.

Slight, meaning I could eat them for every meal and some days actually do. I've made two new avocado recipes this week that I have to share, and both are from my friend Beth's blog.

The first one is my favorite....I've made it both for lunch and dinner this week, and it will absolutely become a regular in this household!

Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich: My mouth waters just thinking about it!! I used sliced Italian bread from the bakery in Publix, but any bread will do. I didn't have any fresh parsley so I left that out, and all I left the tomatoes out as well. The only bad thing about this sandwich is that it's not healthy---otherwise I'd eat it every single day! :)

This next recipe was really easy to make and will also become a regular in our house---it's fresh and summery and perfect to make for dinner when you don't have a lot of time. It took less than 30 minutes to make, including the prep work, and it's also a light recipe!

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado and Tomato Salsa: I was surprised that it said to marinate the chicken only for three minutes, but that's all it took to make it so tangy and yummy. The kiddos were leery of the salsa, but they gobbled the chicken up and even asked for seconds. By the time we finished the chicken, I was eating the salsa with a spoon. YUM!!!!!

Finally, I was craving chocolate and peanut butter a few days ago but couldn't find my favorite ice cream in the grocery store so I combined a few recipes I found online and made some pretty awesome brownies (if I do say so myself!). Here you go....

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Starbucks Via Ready-Brew coffee (or another fine-grain instant coffee)
3/4 cup flour

Peanut Butter Filling
4 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Melt butter and chocolate in microwave (this took me about 1 1/2 minutes---stopping and stirring often so I didn't burn the chocolate). Once this is melted and stirred together, add the Starbucks Via and stir.

3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.

4. Whisk in the chocolate mixture (making sure it's cooled a little so it doesn't cook the eggs...gross).

5. Add the flour and stir until just barely blended.

6. Pour into a 9x9 or 8x8 square pan.

7. Mix all of the ingredients for the peanut butter filling in a bowl. Try not to spoon all of it into your mouth.

8. Put dollops of the pb filling onto the brownie mix. Take a knife and run it through the peanut butter dollops to make a marbled effect. Don't mix it too much because the bites of peanut butter are the best part when eating.

9. Bake for 25-35 minutes---until the brownies start pulling away from the sides of the pan a little bit and it's baked almost all the way through. Take them out before they're completely baked because with these, the more gooey they are, the better! :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

In an effort to save money and have a greater positive impact on our environment, we have made a few changes around our house. All were easy changes and pretty fun along the way!

1. Felted wool dryer balls

A few weeks ago I found an online tutorial on how to make felted wool dryer balls and it looked like fun, so I decided to give it a try. I stopped using dryer sheets a few years ago due to the chemicals they were leaving on our clothes that were affecting Grayson's eczema, but I'd been using PVC dryer balls and they were working just fine. However, after reading about wool dryer balls and how they're even better for the environment and dry clothes even faster than the PVC dryer balls (since they can soak up some of the moisture from the clothes), I thought it sounded like something I wanted to try. I had to order the wool yarn online (I think I paid maybe $10 to make four dryer balls) but the actual creating of them was kind of cathartic and so far they're working great!

2. Homemade laundry detergent

Since laundry occupies a good portion of my day and I seem to be buying laundry detergent ALL THE TIME, this project was mainly motivated by money---or rather, saving money. My friend Mandy did a post on her blog a couple of months ago about how she was going to give making her own laundry detergent a try, and since I'd already been considering it I decided that it was a sign I needed to do it. I altered my recipe just a bit and have tweaked it since the first time I made a batch. This is SO easy and saves me probably $20 every six weeks on detergent.

Here's my recipe:

2 cups Borax
2 cups Arm and Hammer washing soda
1/2 bar grated Fels Naptha soap
entire half bar (2-3 oz) of goat milk soap (in any scent you like)

*the first three ingredients I found in the laundry aisle at Publix, and the goat milk soap I ordered from here. My favorite scent so far is lavender vanilla. Before I started using the goat milk soap I just used an entire bar of the Fels Naptha. For some reason I feel like the goat milk soap gets the clothes even cleaner, though, and the smell is an added bonus.

I put the 2 cups each of the Borax and washing soda in a bowl, and then put the soap in the microwave on 45 seconds to a minute on high. The soap expands and after it cools, it crumbles really easily. It's much easier to do this than grating it with a cheese grater. After this, I mix the soap with the powders and put them in the food processor to make it an even finer consistency. Finally, I put everything in an old wipes container and keep a tablespoon measuring spoon in the container. I use 1-2 tbsp per load (more for a dirtier load, like Ben's running clothes). Clothes get just as clean as when I used commercial laundry detergent, at a fraction of the cost!

3. We kicked our paper towel habit!

Now, on to our latest transition....using paper towels has long been a habit that I've been wanting to break, but I could never take the leap to cloth. A couple of weeks ago I was organizing the drawers in Whitt's room and stumbled upon a drawer full of burp cloths from all three children. As I sat there thinking about what I could do with all of these burp cloths, it dawned on me that they could easily replace our paper towels. I ran to Dollar General and spent a whopping $7 on 24 dishcloths to use as napkins, and the conversion from paper to cloth was done!

I keep a drawer next to the kitchen sink filled with burp cloths (for wiping down counters, cleaning up spills, etc) and old baby washcloths (great for wiping dirty hands and mouths after meals), and I put the new napkin/dishcloths in a lower drawer that is easily accessible to the kiddos, and it's been smooth sailing. I still need to go out and buy some nicer napkins that are "company worthy" so when we have guests over for dinner they aren't using the ratty Dollar General napkins, but besides that, this was a really inexpensive transition since we had almost everything already.

The only negative so far in doing this is when I need to drain food on paper towels. I do keep one roll in our pantry for this purpose and so far I've only used them once--when I fried squash and used two paper towels to drain them.


And this has nothing to do with the environment, but adding it to this post anyway...

I've made a few deeeelish recipes this week that are worthy of sharing:

I didn't change a single thing. Only thing I'd do differently is make more carrots because we were fighting over them---they were that good!

Also didn't change a thing. I've made this several times and it's always one of my favorites. Great the next day as leftovers, too. Go out and get some corn and make it tonight---you'll thank me.

This is from my friend Angela's blog (which, by the way, has tons of great recipes!). We ate it tonight and I'm trying hard not to go back into the kitchen and eat some more, even though it's now bedtime. I've made other crock pot chicken and dumplings recipes before but they always seemed to lack flavor and the chicken was always dry. This, however, is fabulous!!!! The only changes I made was using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts (because I had a package already in the freezer) and I added some chopped celery. Even the kiddos loved it, which is a bit rare these days! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirt magnet

What is it about little boys and dirt??? :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The munchkins

I haven't done an update on the little munchkins in quite goes!


1. Grayson is five (and a half, as he insists on adding) and in the primary class (3-6 year olds) at his Montessori school.

2. He'll be in Kindergarten next year and is just starting to read. It is SO much fun to watch him sound out words, and we are dying for him to get the hang of it. Love watching the little gears in his head turn as he tries to master this new skill.

3. He loves anything having to do with bugs. He spends hours outside every day catching grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and worms. More than once I've found a creature that he has snuck into the house.

4. It's rare to find Grayson without Emma Claire nearby, and vice versa. They are best buds and do pretty much everything together. Love this---and ready for them to let Whitt into their inner circle. :)

5. This boy loves the beach and the water. He would spend all day in the ocean or swimming in a pool if we let him.

6. He still has a little lisp and I think it's pretty cute.

7. Favorite foods are french fries, cantaloupe, blueberries, macaroni and cheese, and anything sweet. Can't get enough milk, either.

8. Is taking weekly tennis lessons and is doing so well. He loves it and is really excelling. We love that he's found a sport that he can enjoy throughout his lifetime and hope that he continues to love it.

9. Recently got his first bee sting, and then got his second bee sting just four days later. Both were on the bottom of his foot---not a fan of wearing shoes outside. :)

10. Has two loose teeth but has yet to lose a tooth. Keeps his tooth fairy pillow next to his bed every day, just in case!

Emma Claire...

1. EC is three (and a half, of course) and will be four next month!!

2. Is in the same class as Grayson at their Montessori school. She is a year behind him and will be in Kindergarten the year after next. She loves school and just soaks up new knowledge and skills.

3. Miss Priss is a rock star at memorization. We work on memorizing bible verses every night and she's usually the first to memorize verse---even before Ben or I do.

4. Like her brother, she spends every free second outside catching little creatures. She still doesn't play with her girly toys very much but has recently really started wearing her dress up clothes, especially when we have other little girls over to play.

5. The definition of "strong willed child" has Emma Claire's picture next to it. We pray daily that this serves her well as she grows older. :)

6. Continues to be pretty small. She's shorter than most of her peers and is 31 lb. What she lacks in size she makes up for in attitude. :)

7. Favorite foods are oranges, watermelon, blueberries, macaroni and cheese, and butter (seriously). She's not a huge fan of milk but can't get enough water to drink.

8. Has a best friend named Isaac and is convinced that she can't have any other friends besides Isaac. We're working on convincing her that she can have more than one friend!

9. Has the CUTEST little voice and can't pronounce her R's.

10. Gave up her naps a couple of months ago the same time Grayson did. BOO!!


1. My sweet boy is 22 months old! I think I'm in shock that my baby is going to be 2 in less than two months. :(

2. Whitt has a speech therapist come to our house twice a week and he is saying new words and phrases every day. A couple of weeks ago he started putting words together---today he said, "I want Gaggy here." Gaggy = Daddy

3. Adores his brother and sister. He calls Grayson "Sha Sha" and Emma Claire "Eh Eh".

4. Is the best sleeper I've ever known. He sleeps everywhere, as is evidenced below. Pretty much every morning I run errands while he naps wherever we go. I get him out of the car seat, carry him through stores, put him back in his car seat, etc. and he stays asleep. I've also been able to take him out of his crib while napping, drive to school to pick up Grayson or EC, drive home and put him back in his crib without him ever waking up. It's nuts. He sleeps from 7pm to 7am and takes a 1.5 to 3 hour nap every afternoon beginning around 1:00.

5. Is such a little love bug---he loves everybody and isn't shy about showing it. He'll go to pretty much anybody, including the people bagging our groceries and strangers at the playground. Whenever anybody stops by our house, even if he's never met them, he almost always gives them a hug. So cute!

6. Loves, loves, loves his paci.

7. Has several quirks, but the strangest is that he will only drink milk laying down on his back on the floor.

8. Doesn't have many favorite foods because he's not a big fan of eating. Pretty much the only foods he will eat are PB & J, grapes, waffles, cantaloupe, yogurt, and occasionally Cheerios and french fries. Feeding him is a struggle and we are praying that he overcomes this soon.

9. Loves taking a bath--he is always so sad when it's time to get out. :)

10. Whitt is our little daredevil. He seems to have no fear, and will jump off of the ottoman, run off in a public place, and attempt to do everything that his older siblings do. Love my adventurous little dude SO much!

Annnnnd, there went April

Okay, peeps, I'm back now for REAL! Way too much going on in the past three months to even attempt to blog about and I've taken approximately 1500 pictures since my last real blog post in February. Once I get behind with this thing I feel like I need to catch up but then more time goes by and eventually I just feel so overwhelmed about how much catching up I need to do that I just stop blogging. The whole reason I started this blog was to keep a virtual scrapbook for myself and keep our friends and family updated on the kiddos, and I know I need to get back in the saddle---so now's as good of a time as any, right?

Here's a small recap of some of the things we've been doing for the past (almost) three months:

*I turned 32 in March.

*Had a fun girls' weekend in Edisto

*I had a little surgery the end of March and spent a couple of weeks recovering physically and emotionally---doing great now.

*The kiddos had a not-so-fun, unseasonably cold, rainy spring break while I was recovering. I felt so bad for them and they made it very clear how boring their break was. :(

*We spent two different weekends at Edisto (besides my girls' weekend)--one with my brother and his family and one with one of my BFF's, Laura, and her family. Both weekends were loads of fun and involved lots of laughing, eating, drinking, and playing with the kiddos.

*Grayson started going to school full days---he is loving it and I'm amazed at how much easier life is from 11:45-3 when I only have Emma Claire and Whitt.

*We had our first day at the pool (the weather has been awesome for the past several weeks) and Grayson was more than thrilled that he hadn't forgotten how to swim. :)

*The kiddos and I (Ben was in bed with a!!) spent a day with my friend Joanna and her ADORABLE family. The fun part about this is that Joanna and I have been friends for five and a half years but this was the first time we met in person. SO much fun!

*Ben turned 33 at the end of April. Had a very fun night out with friends!

*We spent a fabulous weekend celebrating the glorious news that Jesus died for our sins so that we can be forgiven and spend ETERNITY in Heaven with Him. The Easter bunny also paid a little visit to our house and way too much candy was consumed by all. :)

*Ben and I went to New Orleans! It really couldn't have been a more perfect trip. We stayed with our friends Jen and Mark and they were the best hosts ever. We did so many fun things, from beignets at Cafe du Monde to shopping on Magazine Street to Jazzfest (we saw Bon Jovi!). I need to do a post just on this trip---not many pictures were taken but I want to document all of the awesome things we did before I forget them.

*Grayson and Emma Claire were in a bike race. EC actually did really well for her age group and was at the front of the pack. Sweet Grayson got a late start and finished dead last, but he had no clue and was thrilled when they were both rewarded for their effort with an ice cream cone.

*We spent this past Saturday celebrating our beautiful niece Taylor's 2nd birthday. I can't believe that she is going to be TWO in a couple of days!! Love that precious girl SO much!

And that's just a small sample of some of the things that have been going on. Our weeks are jam-packed with speech and early intervention for Whitt (he's doing great!), dance class for Emma Claire, tennis lessons for Grayson, driving back and forth to school three times a day, all in between (almost) daily walks for me, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, diaper-changing, and the usual mommy-duties that we all have.

PHEW! Now that I'm caught up, I'm going to get back in the swing of things and post regularly again. I hope all of you---if anybody is still reading---are doing well! :)