Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clean Fun

For as many times as I catch Mr. Three getting into the soap,

just to wash his chubby little hands again and again,

to splash and make bubbles in the sink, 

I sure hope that this desire to keep clean continues into teenage-hood!

I adore this soap-loving little guy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Banana Bread

The other day, Mr. Two was eating a slice of banana bread and he started singing.  He was using the tune of the Muppet show skit, "Mahna Mahna" but substituting the "mahna mahna" for "banana bread."

Now I can't get banana bread off my brain.  So, I bought some bananas and had to wait several days for them to ripen up enough to make some (ironic, since most of the time I am forced to make banana bread just because I have over-ripe bananas in my house).

I found this recipe on Becoming Betty, and wanted to try it out.  I was intrigued, especially because it has no eggs.  I thought that was odd, but I made it anyway.  Big mistake.  It was a crumbly mess.  Turns out, they left out the eggs on accident from the recipe, and then quickly corrected the post.

Sigh.  Another four days went by, waiting for bananas to ripen...

On the second try, the Becoming Betty recipe was really yummy, and I like that it uses butter instead of vegetable oil.  I will definitely be using this recipe as my new stand-by.

I've blogged about banana bread before, so if you missed it, here's the link to my post about tropical banana bread.  Another yummy alternative to the standard banana bread.

One last recipe for all of you that now are craving banana-baked goodness.  This one is from my mother-in-law's recipe collection.  My husband loves these family favorites.

Banana Bars

1/4 cup softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6 oz. package chocolate or butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add beaten egg and vanilla and mix well.  Stir in bananas.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt into cream mixture.  Beat well.  Mix in chips.  Spread in a greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Let cook and cut into bars or squares.

Go bananas!  Don't forget to let the kids in on the fun.  My boys especially love peeling and smashing the bananas to help.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Arizona Snow Day

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the kids and Mike had the day off.  We had our own version of a snow day here in sunny Arizona.

My brother and his family were in town with their two little boys, so we had some extra cousin time this weekend.  We had a yummy lunch of In 'N Out burgers for the dads and Ned's Krazy Sub sandwiches for the moms and kids at Grammie's house.  Then, we spent some time in the "great outdoors", indoors at the giant Bass Pro Shop.  The boys had fun exploring the tents and atv's, looking at the giant fish and stuffed animals and roaming around the store.

We also made snowmen, with play dough.  We made snow dough, using this play dough recipe, only I added some orange extract (Mr. Two wanted that instead of peppermint) instead of the kool-aid mix.  I also added some fine silver glitter to give it some sparkle.

I gave the boys carrot shaped buttons and round buttons, pieces of ribbon and wiggle eyes to make their own snowmen.  They started out making traditional snowmen, with three round balls for the body, scarves, carrot noses.

Then, it quickly turned into melted snowmen (by squishing them) then a giant mass of button encrusted playdough.  This turned out to be a great fine motor skill practice as I had them pick out all of the buttons from the dough and poke all the remaining dough out of the button holes with toothpicks.

Basically, the clean up took a lot longer than the actual play time, but they seemed to have fun with the cleaning too.  Well, maybe not so much for Mr. Three...

I found this idea on Pinterest and decided to adapt it to go along with our snow day.  I gave the kids a small container of water and sponge brushes to paint some foam snowflakes I had on hand.  Then they stuck the flakes all over our sliding glass door.

They loved this and stuck with it for well over half an hour (which was great so that I could fix dinner).  They had fun pretending they were looking out the window at a real snow storm.

That night, after soup and grilled cheese, we went to Bahama Bucks to have a tasty snow treat.  Mr. One and Mr. Two shared a shaved ice with cotton candy and strawberry flavoring, and Mr. Three had a great time eating Mike's and my shaved ice.  Yum!

We may not have typical snow days here in the hot southwest, but we can still enjoy them in our own way!

Looking for some snowy day good reads?  Go here for my list of snow favorites.  You can also try here and here and here for some favorite winter activities we have done in the past.

Happy winter!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Play Dough, Legos and Doctor Visits

I had a doctor's appointment this morning and took Mr. Two and Mr. Three along.  Thank goodness my office loves kids (I guess they should, considering they make a living delivering babies...).  In order to keep them entertained with something other than the biohazard garbage cans and various medical contraptions, I brought a big bag of little things for them to play with.  Here's the contents of my bag for this visit:  Color Wonder coloring book and markers, a plain notepad and package of stickers, crayons, some little cars for Mr. Three, and Mr. Two's "purse" of little animals, and two fruit roll ups.  They scattered the contents of the bag all over the floor in the room, but they kept busy and out of major trouble, so I consider that a victory.

Good news:  My labwork from the blood glucose test came back normal.  Hooray!  Even though I don't have gestational diabetes, it was good for me to be a little scared so that I could examine what I was eating and try to make better choices.  Now I just need to kick some nasty lingering cold/allergies so I can breathe better and stop coughing.

The rest of our day consisted of thrift store and grocery store shopping.  No real luck in the thrift stores, but I filled my fruit and veggie bin again.

At home, the boys entertained themselves with Legos and we made homemade play dough for Mr. Two's preschool class.  I don't think I've posted my favorite recipe for play dough here, so I'll share it with you now.  This came from Mr. Two's preschool teacher, and it is almost the same as the dough I made growing up, but you add Kool-Aid for color and a nice scent.

Favorite Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium pot.  Mix water and oil together in a seperate bowl, then add to your dry ingredients.  Stir well.  Put on stovetop and heat mixture on medium low to medium, and stir for three to five minutes until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball.  Remove dough from pan and knead until the dough becomes soft and smooth.

One of the nice things about this recipe is that it fits perfectly in an empty frosting container for easy storage.  Gotta love that!  So there's our day so far.  Now I'm off to start dinner and clean the house a bit.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sugar High

I had to go in and do the three hour blood glucose test on Friday (my levels were too high on the normal one hour test), and since then, I have had this strange love-hate relationship with sugar.  After consuming what tasted like a can of Hawaiian Punch concentrate in five minutes, with nothing else in my stomach, I didn't really want to eat anything sweet for the rest of the day.  I am scared that my holiday sweet binging is causing my problems.  So why is is that I keep pinning sweet treats?  I think I am torturing myself!  Then there is the cherry cheesecake in the fridge and pie from Mike's birthday that keep calling my name...

Here's hoping that I don't have gestational diabetes.  Stinkin' sweet tooth!

On another sugar-related note, we helped clean the church building on Saturday.  We have a little tradition of going and getting donuts after we help clean as a little incentive for our young boys to be good helpers.  Don't worry, I make them drink a healthy fruit smoothie with the donuts.  Does that make it a healthy breakfast?  Probably not.

As we placed a cinnamon-swirled donut in front of Mr. Three, he grinned ear to ear and simply said, "Happy!"

Life is sweet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Merry Christmas, 2011

I have been MIA here for a few weeks, spending time with my family and enjoying the holidays.  The boys are back in school and we are trying to reestablish our routines and get organized.  Here's a recap of our Christmas fun.

Christmas Eve, the boys enjoyed some cousin time and helped make our Santa cookies by unwrapping a bag of Hershey's Kisses.

Some little helpers sampled a few in the process.  We need quality control right?

We had a yummy Mexican food dinner together, then put on the annual Nativity play.  We had to get a little creative with our play, having five boys and no girls.  Thanks Aunt Jenny for being a good sport and playing Mary!  Isn't Mr. Three the cutest little blinged out cherub?

We opened Christmas Eve gifts (pajamas and new tee shirts) and had a little before-bed cookie before hitting the road to look at Christmas lights.

Then, we headed home to put the kiddos to bed and finish last minute Christmas wrapping, etc.  After staying up late two nights in a row, we thought maybe the boys would sleep in a little.  Not really so.  Mr. One was up and in our room, wide-eyed, at 6:00 am, followed by Mr. Two at 6:20, then finally Mr. Three was up around 7:00.  I'm not complaining.  I know this is sleeping in for most families on Christmas morning.  Plus, they were so good and didn't touch a thing until we were all in the room together, just lots of looking and guessing.

Mike and I loved watching the boys opening their gifts one by one.  They were genuinely excited about each present, from the small and inexpensive, to the larger gifts.  Mr. Three especially loved ripping into the wrapping paper and not getting in trouble for it! 

Mr. One and Mr. Two wanted Legos, Legos and Legos, and a few car items.  Mr. Three loves things that light up and talk, especially phones.  We tried to accomodate those wishes as best we could, and Santa always picks out one special item that we know they really want.  For Mr. One, it was a Hero Factory robot, for Mr. Two, a different Hero Factory robot (he asked for a remote control car, but was lucky enough to get one early for his birthday), and for Mr. Three, a toddler-friendly cell phone.

As a big gift, the whole family got a Nintendo wii.  We've been debating on getting one for several years now, and the price was right this year.  We got Mario Kart, a Hot Wheels game and Toy Story Mania.  It will be something our whole family can enjoy together.  (I admit Mike and I have been playing after the kids go to bed, too. Gotta love Mario Kart!)

I can't help it, I love the matching pajamas.  I can't resist and will keep this tradition up as long as I can!

We had Mexican sweet bread and hot chocolate for breakfast before getting ready for church.  Yum!

We had a wonderful time attending church that morning and felt the Spirit so strongly (I think I cried through most of it).  Mr. One declared that Christmas day was the best day ever because Daddy didn't have to go to meetings that Sunday.  To have Mike home was my favorite gift this year.

We went over to my parents' home after church and had a traditional Christmas dinner with ham, rolls, green bean casserole and all kinds of sweets.  It was so good to be surrounded by family and to just sit around and visit.  We were also able to Skype with my brother who is serving a mission in Brazil.  I think he was a bit weirded out by how big the boys are getting.  It was good to see him and hear his voice.  He is working hard and loves the people he serves.  We're looking forward to seeing him when he comes home in February.

We also spent a lot of time building Lego sets with the boys.  (OK, Mike spent a lot of time helping them build, I just watched.)

We made the decision to keep Christmas morning to ourselves, just our little family for a time before going to see the extended family.  It was nice to let the morning unfold at our own pace and really experience Christmas together, then to join in all of the fun with our extended family.  I feel blessed to have enjoyed the quiet times and the noisy times,  to have create some magic for my children and be in the moment.  I love creating our own traditions with Mike and carrying on some of our childhood traditions as well.  It is times like these that make me so grateful to be a wife and a mother.  I am always a little sad when Christmas is over, just because this time is so precious.

Hoping all who are reading had a joyful Christmas as well and I'm wishing you a fantastic New Year!