Friday, December 27, 2013

Twenty Nine

Today was my 29th birthday.  We had no big plans, which was totally intentional.  However we DID plan to spend the day at home and then go to Olive Garden for dinner.  I seem to be the only person in my family that loves Italian food so we hardly ever eat pasta anymore.  But, since it was my birthday, and I've really been wanting Olive Garden lately, we decided that this would be a good day for pasta.


The Olive Garden near our house always seems to be insanely busy, so we planned to eat a very light lunch and then get to the restaurant around 5:30-5:45 for an early dinner.  Our intentions were to beat the dinner crowd. 

It didn't quite work out.  We got there at the time we planned, but there was already a 30 minute wait.  We were all starving, and one thing that you perfect with kids is flexibility. So we went to Five Guys, which was across the street.  Not exactly the birthday dinner I had planned on but it was still great.  And we made plans to leave Kate at home one upcoming weekend so Kevin and I could return to Olive Garden. 

Kevin had bought me a big cookie cake for my birthday.  He really knows the way to my heart.  :)  He stuck some candles in it when we got home, and Kate helped me blow them out.  




My twenty eighth year was a great one.  It's crazy to think that I'm already a few days into the last year of my twenties! Where has the time gone?  I feel like I was just in high school, when in actuality I've been out of high school for a decade.  These past years have flown by, and I want to make sure to enjoy and SLOW DOWN time as much as I can.  I know this year will be a great one too, and I'm looking forward to turning twenty nine again next year. :)


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day Family Photos

Toward the end of Christmas day, most everyone had already left, but I asked Kristi to take a few family pictures for me.  At first we were just playing around...



But then we really tried to get some good ones, and I think we succeeded. 







Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

It's only 8:30 and I'm exhausted.  Christmas will wear you out!  To say that we had a good day would be an understatement.  I totally enjoyed our first Christmas at home, and our first Christmas with a 2 year old.  My parents and Kristi spent the night on Christmas Eve, so we were all together when we woke up on Christmas morning. (Can't break tradition!).  Kate had a blast, and I had just as much fun watching her enjoy herself.  I'm sure I'll share more when I have some time, but for now I'll let some of the pictures do the talking...














Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie


This is not a recipe blog, but I thought I would share one that we first tried a few days ago.  I definitely did not come up with this recipe, but it is a good one and after posting the below picture on Instagram, more than just a couple of people have asked me to share.  I actually got the recipe from my sister, who got it from a friend at work, so it has been used a time or two.  Pretty simple, and very good! Enjoy!


Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 10-oz can cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 boiled & shredded boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 1 rotisserie chicken, pulled apart)
1 10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables
2 pre-cut pie crusts (the kind you roll out)
2 cups water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium pan, melt butter over low heat.  
  3. Add flour, stirring until mixture is smooth and thick. 
  4. Gradually add cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. 
  5. Stir in salt, pepper, mixed vegetables, and chicken.  Thoroughly stir to completely thaw vegetables. 
  6. Roll one pre-cut pie crust onto pie pan.
  7. Spoon chicken mixture into pie pan, filling pan to the top but making sure not to overfill it past the edges of your pie crust.
  8. Roll out second pie crust.  Cut the crust into inch-wide strips. 
  9. Place the strips on top of the pie filling, alternating above and below the others to create a lattice.  Once finished, pinch the edges of both crusts together to keep the filling inside during cooking. 
  10. Place the pie pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. (My note: The pie crust I bought said to bake for 45 minutes.  I ended up baking mine for about 40 minutes, so just adjust as needed based on the pie crust that you buy.)



Friday, December 20, 2013

Hollywild at Christmas

We've been doing a lot of Christmas activities and staying so very busy. I'll blog about some of the other things that we've done later, but wanted to share what we did on Tuesday.  We went to Hollywild with Nana and Papa Don!  I hadn't been since I was a little kid, so I was pretty excited myself.  Basically, it's a huge petting zoo, that they decorate with a million lights at Christmastime.  When you get there, you drive through tons of lights until you get to Santa's Village.  Then you park, and go walk around.  They had a bonfire, hot chocolate, and of course- animals!  There were tons of goats that you could feed crackers or bottles.




There were zebra, ponies, bison, horse, donkeys, cows, and more.  My kid was fearless.  She wanted to touch them all.  And, she decided she did not want to see Santa, because she was too busy with the animals.  Future vet, maybe? 



We had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the time that we all spent together.  Although, I will say that I am glad we went on Tuesday night, because on Wednesday night a bull got out of its enclosure.  That probably would have made me nervous enough to skip Hollywild for one more year.  Can't imagine how scared those parents were with all of their little kids!  Crazy.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Card 2013

Last year I linked up for the very first time with Faith's Christmas Card Carousel.  Of course I didn't want to miss out on the fun, so we're doing it again.  Below is our 2013 Christmas Card.  It's been a wonderful year, and we're looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store for us.  Who knows, hopefully our 2014 card will show us as a family of FOUR!  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Click below to check out some of the other cards.  Enjoy!



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Parenting a Strong-Willed Kid

This kid.


Oh man. Don't let the cuteness fool you.


This kid is stubborn.
And strong-willed.
And independent.
And defiant.
And challenging.




But she is also sweet.
And funny.
And smart.
And playful.
And outgoing.
And so very loving.

And, oh yeah, CHALLENGING!  Did I already say that one?

Let me back up and brag for a minute.  Kate was an easy baby.  I mean EASY.  She was one of those kids that you didn't want to necessarily tell your fellow parent friends about, because while their child was waking up 15 times a night, Kate had been sleeping through the night since about 8-9 weeks.  Might I add that this was totally a God thing because I went back to work full-time at 7 weeks, and He must have known I wouldn't have been able to handle getting up a ton.  We got very lucky.  She was a great eater (and still pretty much is).  We never had issues with colic or milk intolerances. She was so laid back as a baby.  Easy, easy, easy.

But she is not an easy toddler.  Not even close.  She presses my buttons.  She tests the limits, and our patience.  She pushes boundaries.  Wait- she doesn't just push against boundaries, she pounds on them with a sledge hammer. She is what we in the south call "a handful", or probably more accurately- "a mess".

We've all heard about the terrible twos.  And then when you have a kid that is either in or nearing that 2-year mark, magically every parent that you know starts telling you "Just you wait- three is worse".  What!? Seriously? And even if that is true, why would you tell me that right now?  I don't need to know that!  I need encouragement. I need to be built up. I need that hope- hope that it is going to get better instead of more difficult.

So here's my advice (for what it's worth).  If you're talking to a mom who is struggling, who is tired, who is so frustrated with dealing with the "terrible twos" - do not mention the "trying threes" or whatever they are called.  Just don't do it.  Tell them it gets better.  Tell them to stay strong.  Tell them to be consistent.  Lie if you have to.

Because we already know that our kids can be difficult.  We know that being a good parent is difficult.
We know all of that already.  The challenges aren't a matter of not loving our kids enough, or not giving them enough time, or enough attention.  It's just a part of them growing up, of learning to make choices and decisions themselves.  Technically, it's a GOOD thing.  It's just not an EASY thing.

So what we need to remember... especially when our kids are in the middle of being stubborn, and strong willed, and defiant, and, and and... we need to remember that our kids are also sweet.
And funny.
And smart.
And playful.
And outgoing.
And loving.

And to make all those challenging times fade away a little bit, sometimes your kid will run at you full-force, throw their arms around you (for no reason at all), look up at you, and say "love you mommy".  And that's pretty awesome.




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Visit to Charleston

The weekend before Thanksgiving, my mom, Kristi, Kate and I decided somewhat last-minute to take a long weekend trip to Charleston to visit my grandmother.  We left late Friday afternoon and got to Charleston right around Kate's bedtime.  We did get to visit with my grandmother a little bit, but then Kate and I had to get to bed.  :) 

On Saturday, we knew we had to run out some of Kate's energy... and boy did we!  We went downtown to walk around and found all kinds of things to get into. 


We walked all the way down to Marion Square and found some Christmas decorations...



And puppies!!


And pretzels!


And ponies!


And a bounce house! (No picture of that one.) To say that she had fun would be an understatement.  After all of the afternoon excitement, we went back to Mitzi's for Kate to nap and for the adults to visit. 

Before dinner (Mellow Mushroom), we went back outside to check out the playground at Mitzi's.  Kate seemed to approve. 



And of course later that night, we went to the James Island County Park to drive through their Christmas lights display.  This was a tradition that we used to do every year when I was little, and it was so much fun to see some of the same displays and the new ones.  If you're ever around the Charleston, SC area from Thanksgiving through New Years, definitely check this out! 




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