Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For Chris

Present from Dave
Yes, Chris, yes he does. He is a closet romantic. Was. But then I outed him just now on this here blog. Oops!

He knows the power of surprise flowers and chocolates and remembering anniversaries. Though I have to say - I think him doing the dishes is super romantic. Really - makes me feel loved. Plus he's got a cute behind. What?

We sure are excited to have you out here too! Riley misses her Uncle Kiss!

Student Daddy David

So on this blog you see a lot of what me and the babies are doing from day to day. Maybe you would like to know what Dave does all day. Which makes two of us! Kidding! I have a rough idea:

Every morning he is up and out, grabbing a cheese stick or an apple for the bus and forgetting his lunch on the counter, before the sun has even risen and while the rest of us are still snuggled in our beds. I get a kiss and an, "I love you," before he sneaks out the door. Do you know how annoying it is to head out into the cold dark after kissing someone still snuggled in their bed? Cause I don't! Ha!

He studies, attends class, does group work and, if he gets out in time to catch the express bus, we see him at about 5:30. If not, later. But whenever he comes home, he comes with a smile and a hug for everyone. Last night he got home a bit late, during the kids bathtime. He hadn't even got his backpack off before he went to say, "Heeeyyy BABIES!" to them in the bathtub, and recieved a delighted cheer in return.

Then he ate a heaping plate of dinner (missed lunch again, perhaps?) and started on the dishes while I pajamed the children, brushed little teeth, and read stories. A half hour or so later, Dave finished the dishes (we don't have a dish washer - it takes a little time) and settled down on the couch with his laptop and books. There was a break in the studying in which we discussed fun things like Christmas and Halloween and Don's visit, as well as less fun things like the logistics of making rent on student loans (ugh - money. Dave told me don't think about it. Also don't spend it :). But when I went to bed at 11:30, he and his great brain were back buried in that homework. When I rolled out of bed at 7:00 this morning, he was gone.

He never complains. He doesn't even tell me how much work he has lest I feel guilty letting him help around the house. He consistently and cheerfully goes about the business of full-time husband, daddy, and student. Real loads, all of them - even for someone of his resourcefulness.

His confidence and faith are the rock of this house. I love him more than I thought I could love a person and I have absolute respect for the way he has chosen to live his life and be the person he is. Often I say, "Thanks for doing that," when what I mean is, "You are the light of my life." "Great idea!" when what I feel is, "What would the world be like without you???" Seriously. In our prayers together he often prays that we will feel gratitude for our blessings. Well, I am overwhelmed. So grateful for you, Dave!

*And yes I did let the kids have their way with the house while I wrote this. I love you that much! We now have captain crunch floor instead of laminate in the kitchen. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls in Under an Hour + Weekend Update

Quick(er) Cinnamon Rolls
Or "Yummy Snakes," as Riley calls them.

1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbs oil
2 Tbs rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 egg at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup of butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs melted butter
1-3 Tbs milk, as needed to achieve desired glazey consistency

Directions: Mix water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl, set aside till frothy on top, about five minutes. Add oil, egg, and salt. In large bowl, add 2 1/2 cups flour. Pour yeast mix into flour and stir with a wooden spoon, adding flour till kneadable (dough will be very soft and light). Turn out on lightly-floured surface and knead for about eight minutes, or till smooth and springs back when poked. If using a kitchen aid mixer, use kneading attachment to knead for 3-4 minutes. Roll dough out into a wide rectangle, fairly thin (about a quarter inch).

Pour melted butter on rectangle, spread evenly with spoon or pastry brush. Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl and pour mixture over butter, using a spoon to even out the layer. Roll up the dough tightly, slice into 1 inch pieces and place in a greased cookie sheet. Cover with lightly greased wax paper and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes to rise.

Bake at 400 degrees about ten minutes or lightly golden on top.

While baking, whisk together glaze ingredients, spoon over rolls hot out of the oven. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from here.

I made these on Saturday and they were a great way to start a chilly fall weekend! After breakfast we packed a lunch and hopped on a bus to the zoo (Riley could die of happiness, riding a bus. She kept saying, "This is amazing! I like this. Wheels go round and round!" accompanied by the arm movements.) It was cold and windy so we mostly dashed from building to building to see the animals, eat our lunch, and then charged through piles of leaves to get back to the bus stop. Naps. Pizza. Harry Potter. Dave and I are on number six and will probably finish the set by Halloween if not before. October is a good month for a Potter marathon, no? 

Oh look! I finally gave Riley a good haircut! It turned out way better than my previous attempts.
Apparently the trick is to breastfeed the one-year old during part of it. MOM POWER!!!
Have a great week!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ward Halloween Party

Games and donuts and photo booth and activities and trunk or treat and the verdict is in: Riley tried trick or treating and she LOVES it.  Bring on the real deal next week! With Grandpa Don - we are sooo excited for your visit!

Sugar shock sets in...

And then the after party back at our pad. (There was no party - the babies are just cray cray).

I think this will be the best Halloween yet. These babies, they really make a party a party.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"It's a kilt! Sickos!"

We had snow this week. SNOW! No accumulation but it was enough to get us excited and keep our snotty noses indoors. It is that special time of year when you have to get a little more creative, lest your subordinates turn on each other. We bake, we have playdates, we color on all different surfaces, we try stuff from Pinterest, stuff way too weird for me to ever think up on my own.
I love rounding a corner to see a baby giggling to himself over a stolen cookie.
Pipe cleaners, colander, and Cheerios. Pinterest idea, clearly.

Turned hat. Riley idea, obviously.
Bitter parenting sacrifice #1: letting babies have the brownie batter bowl. 
Riley was so emphatic with her, "Mm-mmmm- it's deLICious, Mommy!" 
that I minded sharing slightly less.
Riley recently came into a second tutu (thanks, Mom!) and Joe goes running for the original when he sees her wearing one. It IS rather fabulous. And Dave WAS rather late getting home from studying today so...clearly I am not one to deny a little boy some dress-up time.

We'll see if Dave lets me continue on as full time caregiver.

 And that was our day. Nothing special but every now and then I notice these kids growing up on me, and then behold, another 'nothing special' blog post is born. Its good - it helps me appreciate my everyday blessings. "Someone is praying for the things you take for granted," is the quote that comes to mind.

 I wonder if anyone else was praying for someone to share their brownie batter with this evening?

If you ever find yourself in that situation, you may call me anytime. Day or night cause I'm chill like that. :) xoxo

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall is here, my peoples

 And it is beautiful.

Friday was a breezy 78 degrees. Minnesota ,you kill me! We uh, went to the zoo. Again. And then the park after.

That's our girl - loves the rush of the big kid slide, toddler play area be darned.

Then today the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees. We're cool with that - we had determined we were going to wear boots and sweaters to do some pumpkin patching regardless of the weather, so it worked out. Me and my boots, we had a blast! Oh and so did Dave and the kiddies - that Afton Orchards is LEGIT. They had hay rides, pumpkins, apple orchards, rasberry patches, a petting zoo, playground, cider press, and live music. And WE had these crazy babies - it was a perfectly perfect outing.

Riley's big thing these days is the word, "ah-HAAaa!" as if she just solved a mystery or something. She says is with such gusto whenever she sees something that makes her happy and gets me every time.

Finds a pumpkin small enough to pick up: ah-HAAaa!
Discovers the M&M's I packed in our picnic: ah-HAAaa!
Joe abandons my lap finally so I now can read her her book... etc and so forth. It really is a wonderful word. We should use it more.
It got cloudy and COLD! But a little chill to nip your fingers and nose is only appropriate in a pumpkin patch.
Riley found a friend to ride pigs with her whilst listening to a this fiddle and banjo duo.
What with all the constant chatter about farm animals, Riley is somewhat less excited for them in real life. She seemed prepared to punch it in the nose and run away if it showed the least bit of interest in engaging her.

Berry pickin'!

Our Joe couldn't get enough! They were really delicious.
And then we had our picnic in the car because we were ready to thaw out and enjoy our M&M's in peace.

Finally we went home to relax. Dave made us some cornbread and chili for dinner and now I can go to bed feeling fully satisfied that is is my favorite time of year. That is, after I show you this picture of someone who knows how to enjoy life.

Smoothie Monster!

Joe, you are a joy and a gentleman. Gosh I love my family. I love the time we get to spend together. Dave is such a rock and a blast at the same time. Riley is sweet and funny and sympathetic. Joe is focused and quietly observant and cuddly. When I think of them, my life's blessings, you just kind of feel like life is beautiful and everything is going to be ok. Its still hard but your challenges feel more like challenges than hardships - you feel the purpose behind the difficulty, and struggle becomes an honor. That thought has some more developing to do but suffice it to say, I have been uncharacteristically thoughtful for the past few weeks. Not considerate - thoughtful. Just trying to adapt, get my head around our new life here and my place, nitch, groove, what have you. Where to focus my energies. It's been a journey.

On that note...I'm off to bed. A body needs to be fully rested to teach one's primary class tomorrow. Otherwise, those Sunbeams will DESTROY you. Just kidding! But am I?

Night night!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cheezits > Oatmeal; Chicken Soup

Wherein Riley feeds Joe pilfered cheezits (found before I finished making breakfast), and Joe's belly gets too big for him to sit up properly.

It made me laugh. And tell them they were having kale for lunch to make up for it, which made them laugh. Well, who hasn't had cake for breakfast and called it a muffin? Oh, you haven't? I'm guessing you are a dude then, cause come on!

We actually have leftover chicken noodle soup for lunch today - really delicious and nutritious such that I wanted to write the recipe down for future use but it was all kind of 'to taste' - chicken stock, bullion and water, 2 celery, 3 carrots, 1 onion, 2 garlic, thyme and parsley, chicken and egg noodles and squeezed lemon. Paired with crusty homemade bread and it was a good rainy day meal. Our neighbor and her toddler joined us and brought acorn squash too. Welcome, October! I love you I love you I love you I love you.

Here is Riley loving it too. Especially when it rains!

She had a good time dashing back and forth and I am sure the neighbors knew it from all the squealing. I am grateful to live with such happy people. Life is better when you are laughing!

Well, let's here it for the weeeeeekeeeeeend! I am really excited for this weekend. General Conference! And with it, a little needed encouragement, inspiration, direction and peace. God is good.

Now back to work! It ain't the weekend yet - we got puddles to splash in and laundry to do! (I have a pretty good job I must admit).