Thursday, January 31, 2013

Busch Gardens Play Date

We had a play date at Busch Gardens with Lauren and Cammie and their families. It's the first time all of us have gone there together and we had a blast. I didn't tell Parker about the play date until that morning when I woke him up (crazy kid kept waking up the night before so I actually had to wake him up at 8 am) in case our plans fell through. You might remember from this post that our last trip to Busch Gardens was a huge fail. Was I worried that Parker would have another epic meltdown? I would be lying if I said no. In fact, I was a little lot scared. But I also knew that Parker remembers that situation very well and he knows it was not a good experience. During the drive to BG I decided to have a conversation with Parker. It went something like this:

Me: "Parker, do you remember what happened the last time we were at Busch Gardens?"

Parker: "Ummm. Ummm. Yes, Aunt M get mad at me." Sure he remembers his aunt getting mad at him (she wasn't mad, she just wasn't happy about his attitude), but he doesn't remember the smoke coming out of my ears.

Me: "Yes, but do you know why she was mad?"

Parker: "Umm. Umm. Yes because I throw tantrum."

Me: "Are you going to throw a tantrum again?"

Parker: "No, I be good boy!"

Me: "So you're going to listen to Mommy and Daddy and no crying, no yelling, and no tantrum, right or we go home?"

Parker: "Nooo! We no go home! I listen. No cry, no yell, no tantrum."

You know what?!? This worked for the most part! There was a handful of times when he wouldn't listen and start whining and I'd remind him about our talk in the truck. His behavior would change after a minute or so.

Our first time sitting thru the Sesame Street show. Parker loved it even though he's not usually a big Sesame Street fan. Avery kinda sorta likes Elmo, but freaked out when Elmo came down the aisle and wanted to high five her and cried and screamed. I should have known after this. Maybe she thought Elmo was really Santa??? After all they are both red???

they just can't keep their eyes off each other ;)

oops! they got caught ogling each other! lol
3 Musketeers!

Parker and Caleigh on the hippo water ride that had a small drop...so cute with them raising their hands up in the air!

fish ride...these 2 are so cute with each other

Avery's first time riding the fish...she loved it and kept saying "whee" and "yeah". She rode again with Daddy while Bubba went on the hippo ride.

swing ride...I wanted to see if Avery would go on since Beckett went on. She refused! I should have known...she HATES swings. Weird since she loved her baby swing! Don't make fun of Parker's high waters. lol He's in between sizes...3T is getting short length wise (although just a tad when he is standing), but 4T is too long and def HUGE around the waist (I'd have to buy adjustable and really cinch it in which would like absolutely ridiculous). Come on warm weather so he can wear shorts!

going on the dinosaur egg ride with the two littles. Beckett needed a little reassurance since his Mommy and Daddy wasn't on the ride. Sweet boy held my hand the whole time and I could hear him softly mutter: "whee" and "yay".

Caleigh and Beckett wanted to get their face painted. I've never had Parker's face painted b/c he's got issues with being "dirty". But he really wanted to get it done so I said ok. I asked what he wanted and guess what he said....BLACK TRAIN! Too bad the lady only had pics of animals and flowers. She was nice and said she'd do a train if I could find a pic so I searched online (thank goodness for smartphones!). She painted a red train so now Parker keeps asking for a red train...thanks a lot lady! lol

Avery also wanted to get her face painted. I was hesitant b/c I didn't want the lady to  paint a tiny little flower and then have Avery flip out and then I'm stuck paying for a $10 paint job. lol But while the others got their face painted, I asked her about 5 times if she wanted her face painted and she kept saying "yes paint" and patting her face. Surprisingly, she did really well. Daddy just held her face so she wouldn't move her head and follow the paint brush and ruin the paint job. Lesson learned: don't underestimate your kids...they may surprise you! 


The four kiddos with their paint job.
painted faces...for only $5 for both. It's great having a Platinum Pass! lol

We all had lunch at one of the restaurant's outdoor patio...mainly chosen b/c the big train goes right by and our kids (well 5 out of the 6) like trains. I swear it isn't b/c so that our six kids loudness wouldn't be as noticeable. After lunch we all rode the train, which took about 40 minutes for a round trip ride. We needed to do the round trip since we left our strollers at the "train station". I was a bit worried b/c Parker tends to get antsy, but it's doable - he's ridden the train numerous times. It was Avery I was worried about. She had a full belly, but she was tired and it was almost nap time. I armed myself with my lunch bag full of snacks just in case. Thankfully the kids behaved for the most part and I only had to bring out 1 snack bag sized of graham bunnies for Parker and Avery to share. 

pretty scenery during the train ride

my little man and me on the train

Parker fell asleep within 10 minutes of getting in the car...Avery was hopeless, she zonked out within 3 minutes! Mommy last much longer...about 20 minutes. lol I'm like a baby in a car...it just rocks me to sleep! 

my beautiful baby girl



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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Donuts

OH.MY.GAH!!! You HAVE TO make these! These donuts are so easy to make (duh, of course...otherwise I wouldn't be making them!) and they are always a big hit. This "recipe" came from a friend of a friend. We used to make it all the time, but haven't made it in years. I know my friend, Sara, is probably drooling while reading this and will likely make this soon now that I've mentioned it ;) lol Don't forget to invite me over!


Gather it:
1 can of refrigerated biscuits
vegetable oil
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (you will not use it all)

Make it:
1. Pour vegetable oil in a deep wide pan (not a skillet or a pot) and heat over low/medium heat. I didn't use that much oil - just enough to "fry" one side of the donut. Maybe 1/4 of a cup??? You can def use a pot and deep fry it (this was how I used to do it, but I hate using that much oil), however, I found it easier to use a wide pan. If using a pot, increase the temp to medium/high heat.

the pan I used...

2. Meanwhile, cut each biscuit into thirds. Roll into sticks, twists, circles, etc. You may have to "re-stretch" them out before placing in the oil.

3. Gently place each biscuit into oil (do not drop as it may splatter everywhere). Watch it carefully as it may burn and def watch out for splattering oil. Flip the donut to the other side with tongs once it has turned golden brown. I was only able to cook about 4 at a time b/c the donuts cooked pretty fast and had to be turned over by the time I got to the 4th one. 

*** My first batch burnt a little bit b/c I had it on medium/high heat - the temp I normally have it on, but that was when I used to use a pot with a lot more oil. Shallow pan with not much oil means the oil gets super hot and cooking time is next to nothing. I turned the heat down to low/medium and waited a few minutes for the temp to adjust - this worked out perfectly for the rest of the donuts. ***


my burnt first batch of donuts - they weren't completely burnt, just not the pretty golden brown color I was looking for

pretty golden brown donuts

4. Place donuts on a paper towel lined plate (I use a double layer of paper towel) to absorb excess oil.

5. Pour condensed milk in a small bowl for dipping...or you can pour over donuts. I prefer to dip :) Serve immediately.

Avery ate ALL of her dinner (strawberries and chicken and dumplings - I added fresh baby spinach to the recipe and it was a yummy addition)

Parker couldn't believe Avery was eating a donut so he made the choice to eat his dinner

Excited to get a donut! It's rare that we have dessert so this was def a special treat!

"Hello, Nana, Lola? I eat my dinner and I eat my donut!"

PURE DELICIOUSNESS!!! 

Parker LOVED these donuts! Avery ate hers plain and Parker started eating his plain until I convinced him to dip it in the sweetened condensed milk. He's not a huge dipping fan b/c I've never given him dips (ketchup, ranch, etc) before. His response once he tried it: "Mmm...taste like chocolate! Mmm...taste like ice cream!". He was making a sticky mess trailing from the bowl to his mouth so I taught him to dip and wipe the donut on the side of the bowl. After I showed him this I started to hear him mutter: "dip dip, wipe". lol  Parker actually "stole" a plain donut while Kevin and I were getting Avery ready for bed. He comes into her room laughing and gave himself away. Crazy kiddo! 

FYI: this will make a lot of donuts so if you're only making this for 1-2 people, you might one to place the rest of your uncooked biscuits in a ziplock bag to be used...oh I don't know...the next night for more donuts??? Also, you can also use cinnamon, sugar, powdered sugar, chopped up peanuts, chocolate icing for your topping. Sara and I have done it all...do whatever floats your boat. I like the plain ol' sweetened condensed milk. Enjoy this yummy and easy dessert!




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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bachelorette Party...

My 5 year anniversary is on Saturday and I was just looking through some pics and reminiscing and then I saw a bunch of pics from my bachelorette party. It was a fun and crazy night! I only grabbed PG pics (mostly of myself since I'm the "good" one) b/c I'm not so sure my girls would want "incriminating" pics of themselves out there! lol For some reason, I don't have any pics of all of us! Boo! So if you girls have any of all of us, please email me a copy! One day I'll get to making that photo book! lol

The night started out with my future sisters in law taking me out for a sushi dinner and we drank a couple bottles of wine. Next we went to the hotel where my girls had decorated the room. We had some more wine and cocktails and I opened up some presents. Then the headed down to a few bars...typical bachelorette party, but oh so fun!

headed to some bars to  celebrate!

My sister in law made me a shirt to wear...I was instructed to wear black pants. All the other girls wore pink tops and black bottoms. My wedding colors were pink and black.

I had a scavenger hunt to complete that night...I think completed everything except "kiss a guy named Kevin". To clarify that last item is a shot, a not so yummy one!

 my girls got me lots of goodies to bring on my honeymoon! 

one of the very few innocent pics. lol


dancing??? lol

a dark and blurry pic...not sure where I was??? Taking the pic? lol 

This was at the last bar we went to...I was tired, sleepy, my feet hurt from walking and dancing on stilettos and it was such a cold night!

nite nite!



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Pineapple Salsa

When I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner this week, I saw that we had a bunch of tilapia filets in the freezer. Kevin wanted to have fish tacos, but I need a taco break so I suggested grilled tilapia with mango salsa. We used to make this all the time when we were dating, but haven't had it in a really long time. I went to Publix and saw that they only had a handful of super ripe mangoes. When making mango salsa, I don't like super ripe mangoes b/c it tends to be too sweet for me and soft/mushy. I wandered around the produce section and decided to just go to another Publix on a different day. Then, I saw the fresh pineapple and figured I'd give it a try.

My family's reaction: Kevin said he liked the pineapple better than the mango and in Parker's words: "Mommy, I wub (love) it!". Avery just said "Ummm!" and remained pretty quiet as she ate. I didn't follow a recipe. I just kind of made my own years ago based on what Kevin and I like. Back in the day, I used to add a jalapeƱo or red pepper flakes to give it a kick, but I can't do that with the kids eating it too. I opted not to add any on my portion, but feel free to add some if you want a little kick to yours. Here's my recipe:


Gather it:
1 whole fresh pineapple, cut in small chunks (I cut mine small b/c of the kiddos)
2 small handfuls of grape tomatoes, quartered
3 stalks of scallions, diced
a small bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste (I added this to my own portion)

Make it:
1. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

That's it! lol It tastes better if you cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 1 hour to allow all the flavors to blend together. It's not required - def still good if you don't do this, but to me it's just better when you let it sit in the fridge for a bit. I made the salsa right after I put the kids down for a nap so it had a few hours to chill in the fridge and get yummy.




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Monday, January 28, 2013

English Muffin Pizza

Parker LOVES pizza! It is his favorite food! He's not picky either. He will eat pepperoni, sausage, veggies, plain cheese...whatever I put in front of him. Kevin and I used to buy Bagel Bites, but my kids are big eaters! Parker can eat 8-9 of those in one sitting and Avery can eat about 4 so one big box is gone in one sitting! I decided to make a healthier version when I started to stay home with the kids. It's super easy and the kids gobbled it up! I mix the toppings up depending on what I have on hand, but the kids aren't picky when it comes to their pizza. Now that Parker is older, he gets to help me make the pizzas...which of course means Avery wants to "help" too. It gets a little messy with cheese and herbs everywhere, but the kids have fun. Not that they don't already love pizza, but they tend to eat more of whatever we are having if they help make it...even if it's just to shake the dried parsley container (hence the reason why I have parsley on A LOT of our meals!).


Gather it:
English muffins, sliced in half
pizza sauce (pasta sauce will work too if that's all you have on hand)
pepperoni (regular or mini - the kids LOVE the mini)
yellow bell peppers, diced
shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian herb seasoning

Make it:
1. Set oven to broil. Place English muffins on a pizza stone (or baking sheet) and broil for a few minutes to allow it to crisp up a bit. If you like a soft "crust" you can omit this step. Watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.

2. Put sauce on top of muffins then the cheese. Sprinkle herbs on top of cheese then add pepperoni (and other toppings of your choice). Sometimes I add a little bit of extra cheese on top of the toppings so that they "glue" together and don't just slide off.

3. Place back in oven and broil until cheese is melted. I like a few little brown "burnt" spots on my cheese. Again, watch it carefully so it doesn't burn.

Easy and yummy!!!

This was last summer when Parker wasn't 3 yet and yep Parker had a whole English muffin pizza! 

I told Parker as I was tucking him in bed last night that if he has a good day at school we would make pizzas for lunch today - his eyes lit up and got excited. I also told him  he had to stay in bed and no getting out...guess what...he stayed in bed! lol

Parker wanted to know if he could eat the pepperoni instead of putting it on the pizza. lol he ate a handful before any others made it on the pizza. FYI the pot holders are there to protect their little hands/arms from burns. 

taking big bites of his pizza

Parker shoving a large piece in his mouth while Avery contemplates what to eat first.



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Sunday, January 27, 2013

GattiTown

On Friday  night we got together with my sister in law and her family. We went to a local spot that served a pizza buffet, had arcade games, and a large play house. It reminded me of Chuck E Cheese, but bigger and had a play house that was a huge hit (unfortunately I didn't get a pic of it! Boo!). One thing I wish they had that Chuck E Cheese had is the stamp that each family member gets and kids cannot exit the building unless their stamp matches the stamp of the adult that is taking them out.

Parker, my niece, and nephew had a blast going through the playhouse! We didn't buy a ticket for Avery b/c she's too small and I would have had to crawl through it with her plus there were some big kids in there that were kinda crazy. One good thing is there was an employee that was stationed at the play house that would implement the safety rules and tell the big kids to watch out for the smaller kids. Avery hung out a few times by the opening of the play house and tried to climb in a few times, but what really grabbed her attention was the arcade! We will def be back again soon!

Avery saw a kid get a prize out of this "door" so she walked over and tried to get one and looked confused when it was empty. lol

trying to hit the moles

trying to pop the balls into the dog's mouth

my one and only blurry pic of Parker - he was running around like crazy all night

Parker playing with his cousin A

after all the running around, she finally wanted to eat dinner. She LOVED picking off the tomatoes and olives and popping them in her mouth. 

then she got distracted by the people behind us singing "Happy Birthday", which happens to be her favorite song! She scooted off her chair so fast and ran over to sing before I could even stop her!


the sweet birthday boy came over and gave us a piece of his cake! Avery was in heaven!



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