Thursday, January 21, 2010

Upside Down

Over the holidays our good friends, the Grahams, came for a visit! We always look forward to their visits, even though we only get to see them a couple times a year! This year was especially fun because we talked them into staying two nights, instead of just one! We manage to pack as much fun into three days and two nights as possible!

Our friendship with the Grahams started back on Summertree Court, the sweet little cul-de-sac I mention wistfully from time to time on this blog. Before we moved here, we lived on Summertree Court in Olathe for five years.

Oh how we loved that little street.

In almost every house there were babies and toddlers and stay at home mommies. The sidewalks overflowed with trikes, bikes, and sidewalk chalk. In the summertime we would set up little blow up pools and sprinklers and let the kids loose! In the winter we would walk over to each others houses, still in our pajamas, so the kids could play and the mommies could chat over coffee. Many mornings we would load up all our littles into their strollers and take long walks around the neighborhood. We had barbecues, block parties, play dates, and just so much fun. I think back on those years with such fond, happy memories. Eventually one by one, the families started to move away, and soon it was time for the Grahams to say good-bye.

What stinks about their move is that it happened just as our families were getting to know each other and hang out. We had lived just a few houses apart for a few years, but for whatever reason, just hadn't spent as much time with the Grahams as some of the other couples on the block. But Chris, Bethany, and little Huntler were the first to show up in our hospital room after Avery was born, and soon after Bethany and I were chatting away on the phone on a regular basis. Then, all too soon, it was time for them to leave. That last day we walked through their empty rooms together and reminisced about all the fun times spent there, and into the late evening we helped them load their things into a U-Haul truck and then watched through tear filled eyes as they drove down our street for the last time, headed for Arizona. . .

That was over three years ago now! Since then my BFF Bethany and I have spent more hours than I could ever count on the phone talking about everything imaginable. We moved here shortly after the Grahams moved out West and I think both of us were pretty lonely in our new homes at first. We filled many long, lonely afternoons with our chit-chat across all those miles about everything from party-planning and the latest celebrity gossip, to brain surgery and seizures.

Since that time and during their stays when they are back in Kansas our husbands and children have become great friends too! When they are here, we don't feel like we have to entertain them. They feel more like family than just friends. The kids play, (well, the husbands play too!) and Bethany and I talk for hours. This last trip, we even managed to sneak away from the house for a little while to do some quick after-Christmas shopping in the oh-so-exciting Flint Hills Mall (can you hear the sarcasm?)

As I've mentioned before Bethany is a talented photographer, but when we're hanging out she doesn't usually snap pictures, so as they were getting ready to head out the door at the end of this visit, I snapped a few quick pictures of Britton with the kiddos. Bethany's sweet little ones call him "Burt", although this time he was called "Britton" by Bethany's oldest. . . another sad reminder that they are growing up so fast. . . sigh.


Are they not some of the cutest little people you've ever seen? Huntler and Gentry wanted "Burt" to hold them upside down and me to take their pictures like that! Of course, Kaylen had to get in on the action!

I miss having my friend and her sweet family around. I miss pulling up extra chairs to our dinner table, the house extra full of little people politely requesting "choc-ate milk," and the daddies battling it away on the Wii until the wee hours of the morning!

I miss my friend.

And since the Grahams are thousands of miles away now, and our next visit isn't right around the corner, well, things have felt a little upside down around here!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kaylee likes it!

Am I the only one who has extremely pickey kiddos when it comes to mealtime? I'm guessing not. Avery- well let's not even go there. Miss Avery likes what she likes, and that's not much. And big sis, Kaylen is just about as bad. She is getting better at trying new foods, but not without considerable urging on our part. So when this cook book caught my eye, I was excited to give it a try.

Even though I've only had a chance to make a few of the yummy recipes inside, so far it has not dissappointed.


Tonight we tried Hot Ham and Cheese Turnovers. They were super easy and healthy too! They took less than thirty minutes from start to finish and include meat, dairy, vegetables, and grains! Woo hoo! Four food groups in one delish little sandwich!

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham or turkey breast (I cheated and bought the pre-diced ham in a package)
1 cup small broccolli florets (I chopped ours up in pretty small pieces)
3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 10 oz. package of refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon milk
(I also added one tbsp of light ranch dressing for extra flavor)

1. For filling, mix ham, broccoli, cheese, and ranch dressing in a medium bowl. Toss to mix.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil; lightly grease. Set aside.

3. On a lightly floured surface unroll pizza dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch square. Using a sharp knife (I used a pizza roller) cut into nine 4-inch squares. Spoon about 1/3 cup filling onto each square. Fold dough over filling. Press edges of dough together with fork to seal. Use the fork to prick holes in the top of each turnover to allow steam to escape. (Oops! I forgot to do this, but they turned out o.k.:) Place turnovers on baking sheet. Brush with milk. (Yeah, didn't do that either. . . )

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts per turnover:
141 calories
6 g fat
1 g fiber
8 g protein

I have been thinking a lot lately about how Britton's and my eating habits have such a huge impact on our girls. I want Kaylen (and Avery too. . .) to grow up eating a variety of foods, and eating to nourish her body, not because she's bored, sad, lonely or just in the mood for some McD's! I know that I need to change some of the bad eating habits I've formed in the last few stressful years, and when I think about how much I want for my girls to be healthy, I know that I need to set a better example.

So. The verdict is in!

Kaylee loved them! Broccoli and all. . .


Later this week we are going to try Smashed Potato Chicken Potpie! The recipe sounds scrumptious and the nutrition facts and daily values are great! Unlike the frozen store bought version of pot-pies! Have you ever read the label of one of those!? They should come with a warning! "Warning! Soooo not good for you!"

Here's to healthy eating in 2010!!

*Kaylen wants to be called "Kaylee"- go figure? We haven't decided if you spell that "Kaylee" or "Kayley"??

Saturday, January 16, 2010

sNOw Thank You!

I can't remember the last time we've had a winter with this much snow in Kansas! Kaylen started dreaming about and praying for a "White Christmas" as soon as she heard the song on the radio for the first time shortly after Thanksgiving. Then she added the not getting enough snow to her list of things she doesn't love about living here. For some reason in her memory we used to get "tons of snow" when we lived in Kansas City. I'm not sure if she remembers one or two decent snows that we got when she was little, but truthfully we haven't gotten this kind of snow in a long, long time!

We got over nine inches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it was hard to tell because in some places the drifts were over six foot high! Then the day after New Years we got a few more inches, and the first week of January week we added another four plus inches to our total! School was closed just two days after the kids went back after Christmas because of the bitter cold temperatures. The forcasted high for some of those days was ZERO! Needless to say it has been freezing!

Here is Kaylen testing the drifts in our backyard on Christmas Day:


Check out that snow drift! The fence behind the swingset is an eight foot privacy fence and the drift was almost all the way to the top!


Kaylen and Daddy tried to shovel our driveway so we could at least get our car out, but after an hour of shoveling Britton was exhausted and had only made it about five feet down the driveway!!


After our third snow I finally caved into Kaylen's pleading and bundled both girls up to go sledding. It was so funny to see Avery's reaction to the snow. She ran right over and stuck her hands in a drift and for a few (very brief) minutes she was fascinated!




But then she realized it was really, really cold and wet, and decided she didn't like it at. all. And it was all downhill from there.


We took the girls to a hill across the street, Avery cried and fussed the whole time, and on my second run down the hill I wiped out and BROKE my finger! It is finally feeling better, but I think my sledding days are officially over!

It's only mid-January but here's to hoping that our snow days are over until next year!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When my heart finds Christmas

I realize that it is January, and for most, Christmas 2009 is already becoming a 'distant' memory for most. I read several of my Facebook friends' updates the day after Christmas announcing that they already had their Christmas tree down and all the decorations packed away. How sad that so many just want to "get Christmas over with" and move on. Well, here it is January 6th and my tree is still up, as are all the decorations. The majority of the unbelievable amounts of toys, games, and clothes that the girls received have been put away and closets have been overhauled and reorganized. The leftover Christmas cookies and goodies have been thrown out. My wrapping paper and bows are neatly boxed up for next year, but still, I am in no hurry to be done with Christmas.

For many reasons I like to let Christmas linger. It is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I love the magical feel of the holiday season. Where hearts seems lighter and merry and children seem about to bubble over with anticipation. I love Christmas shopping, Christmas carols, baking Christmas cookies, reading Christmas stories, building Christmas traditions, and teaching my girls the true meaning of Christmas.

Which is the second reason why I am in no hurry to pack Christmas away and be done with it. I was raised Catholic and for our family Christmas didn't end until Epiphany which is the day that the wise men first visited Jesus. (Which is also where the "twelve days" of Christmas originated from- the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany- just a little Christmas trivia for you:) We celebrate the Epiphany Mass on January 6th or a Sunday close to it. My mom always left at least our nativity scene up until after Epiphany.

This Christmas our hearts and home overflowed with joy and we made so many precious memories that I don't want to forget. The rest of this post is an attempt to journal those memories so that when this Christmas does seem like a distant memory I can read my journal and help my heart find Christmas.

This Christmas was very different because of the great Christmas of 2009 Blizzard that rolled into town on Christmas Eve afternoon and changed travel plans for many people! This was the first Christmas in many, many years that we were not able to join my parents and my brother for Christmas Eve dinner. When I called my mom around two o'clock on Christmas Even afternoon to let her know that the roads were getting so bad that we didn't think we could make it over to their house and back safely, my heart just sank. As I said good-bye and "Merry Christmas" to my mom, a huge lump formed in my throat and my voice cracked. As soon as I hung up I sat on my bed and watched the snow blowing and swirling outside my window, though my tear filled eyes. And then the tears started to fall. . . I am a big girl, and I have my own family now, but I still love the traditions of my childhood, and couldn't imagine not spending Christmas with my parents and family.


But we did spend Christmas Eve alone and managed to have a wonderful time. Kaylen and I baked and decorated sugar cookies while listening to Christmas music. I let Kaylen do the majority of the decorating and so our cookies were heavily frosted, sugared and sprinkled. . . but Santa loved them! After dinner I let the girls open one present, their Christmas jammies. This year I chose flannel Nick and Nora jammies with vintage kitties playing with presents and ribbon! They were so adorable! We put Avery to bed and then went downstairs to watch A Christmas Story. Kaylen had never seen this movie and I'm not sure she truly loved it, but she did giggle at the leg lamp:)

On Christmas morning Kaylen was up at six, but we managed to hold her off for thirty minutes or so before we got up to open gifts. Avery slept until almost seven, and we started without her:) We thought she might sleep even later and Kaylen would have burst with excitement! Miss Avery doesn't really 'get' Christmas and we opened all her gifts for her. She was excited about the first present she opened and we probably could have just given her the one gift and she would have been happy!

Kaylen really made a hall this year! She got a new bike, a Wii, a daybed for her American Girl dolls and many, many other goodies! Avery was really excited about her Elmo microwave!


We spent Christmas day snuggled in as a family. We watched movies, played games on the Wii, and ate all the goodies we had stocked up on! We finally made it to my parents to celebrate with my brothers, newphew, and aunt the day after Christmas. My youngest niece called just as we were sitting down to lunch to announce that she was engaged!

The wintery scene outside our window as the sun came up Christmas morning, notice the snow in the bottom corner. . . love it!


When my heart finds this Christmas in my memory I will think of the sweet, sweet memories of being "snowed in" with my girls and their daddy. I will think of Kaylen's pure joy on Christmas morning when she saw all the goodies Santa tucked under the tree. I will think of the beautiful winter scene outside our window that kept us from celebrating Christmas in line with our traditions, but kept us home, celebrating Christmas together. And when my heart finds this Christmas, it will bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart!