Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peanut Butter and Nutella Puppy Chow

This puppy chow is not for your fur legged's the kind that you put in a bowl, sit by the glow of the Christmas tree light and savor each sweet crunchy bite slowly as you relish in the peace and quiet since your kiddos are snoring softly in their beds. Oh wait, sorry that just might be me??? Anyway, this thing is absolutely amazing!!! I had never made it before so I went to my go to place and I pinned a few recipes on Pinterest, but truthfully there's a basic recipe on the back of the box, but you know me, I don't really follow recipes all that well. This could mean a great big flop or sweet success. The first recipe I made was using peanut butter. I'm not a huge peanut butter fan, but I must admit it was pretty yummy. The Nutella recipe is at the bottom. Here's my version:

Gather it:
6 cups of Rice Chex
~ 1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large spoonfuls of peanut butter
1 tsp of vanilla
~ 1 Tbsp of coconut oil (you can probably also use vegetable oil or butter)

Make it:
1. Place chocolate chips, peanut butter, vanilla, and coconut oil in a small bowl or even in a glass measuring cup. Melt together in 30 second increments and stirring in between. Mine took about 1 minute. 

2. Place Rice Chex in a large Ziploc bag or a large plastic container with a lid (I chose the latter) and pour melted chocolate mixture over the Chex. Shake it around until all the Chex is covered with the chocolate mixture. No matter what you do, don't melt the chocolate in a large bowl and then dump the Chex into the bowl and mix will cause a lumpy Puppy Chow. How do I know this??? Because that's how my first batch came out. I tried to save a step and not have to wash 1 extra bowl. Unfortunately the kids teachers received lumpy Peanut Butter Puppy Chow, but the Nutella Puppy Chow that it was mixed out turned out perfectly. 

3. Pour half of the powdered sugar into the mixture and shake. Add more as needed until the Chex is coated with the powdered sugar.

Gather it:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nutella
Everything is the same as above except NO peanut butter 

Make it: 
Same directions as above!

And that's I dare you to not eat it all at once!!!

A basket full of Puppy Chow and a gift car for all EIGHT of the kid's teachers. I had a slight freak out moment when I realized I had 8 teachers to buy for. Parker has 1 speech teacher (his teacher's aide is no longer with them otherwise it would have been 9), 2 morning teachers at his preschool and 2 in the afternoon. Avery has 2 morning teachers and 1 afternoon teacher. 

A gift was also sent out in the mail...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I have been wanting to get family photos done professionally for a while, but have just never gotten around to it. Well actually, I had a reason for putting it off. I didn't want to shell out big bucks for photos and my kids not cooperate. Let's face it, if there's an opportunity to look in opposite directions, pick their nose, look anywhere but the camera, frown, stare off in space, etc my kids will do it. But I really talked myself into getting them done this year since we haven't had pictures taken professionally since Avery's newborn session...2.5 years ago!!! I figured Avery usually loves the camera and she often hams it up and Parker listens so much better now...and he can often be bribed with an ice cream cone. No I'm not ashamed to say that I was willing to bribe my children to get decent photos. Nope, I will do almost anything to get a decent pic of the family...much to my husband's annoyance!

But I had a dilemma...who's going to take our photos? The fabulous photographer I used for our 3 previous sessions had just delivered a beautiful baby boy and can't travel 4 hours away! After a little research and some recs, I booked Alaina Elliott. We got along great from the first moment I contacted her. I think I went a little crazy with all the texting as we planned the location, date/time, and outfits...I probably drove her nuts!

The afternoon of the session was beautiful! It was slightly (very slightly) cool from the rain we had the day before, which meant Kevin wouldn't be grouchy and sweating. Nov 2nd was also the first day of day light savings time so the sun was setting 1 hour earlier so nap schedules had to bumped up earlier so that we could take sunset photos. Call  me crazy, but I was very optimistic that we would get fabulous photos. That is until we tried to get our first shot with Avery. My sweet and sassy little bunny refused to hold hands, sit, lay down, stand up, look at the camera or smile. She did the opposite of whatever it was we asked her. She wanted NOTHING to do with this photo session...that is until we would leave her out and then she'd walk up to the person being photographed and just stand there and stare off in space. Sigh! I just kept hearing "ka-ching! ka-ching!" and a toilet flushing as my money went down the toilet. I was so sure we didn't have any photos of Avery smiling or that she absolutely ruined all of our pics!

But then I saw these pics:

Avery was pretty attached to me and refused to smile...but you know what, I don't mind it now as much as I did when we were getting our pics taken. I think it showed her sassy personality. 

LOVE this pic of my mini me and me!!! This was the first sneak peek that Alaina sent me and it was such a tease! I wanted to see the rest right then and then I still had like 2 weeks til the rest were edited! Avery was pouting, but there was a little hint of a smile. 

Avery does this thing where she closes her eyes when she doesn't want to do something you want her to if you will think she is asleep and won't bother her anymore. She did it even as a little toddler when I would try to feed her veggies she didn't like. She would just sit in her high chair and close her eyes. In this case, she's closing her eyes b/c she doesn't want to smile, hold Parker's hand or stand up. Sigh!

my babies and me...LOVE this pic too!

this trike caused a few tears...she wanted to ride it from the moment she saw it on the back of Kevin's truck. Granted the morning of the session was when Avery first started using the trike pedals...that we know of anyway. 

such a sweet little smile

still not a full out smile, but I'll take it!

Avery LOVES it when Daddy swings her around like this! They both like to make my Mommy heart stop with their crazy least he didn't throw her up in the air this time!

sweet kisses from Daddy

and this little girl def has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger...from the moment she was born!

Then there was Parker. He did pretty good overall. He listened to Ms. Alaina for the most part. He did goof around, gave his crazy smile, and lost his listening ears a few times, but hey he's 4 years old and smiling for 2 hours is hard work!

My little did he get so big! He looks so much older than 4 years and 2 months in this picture. Make time slooooow down! 

this was a last minute photo that we took before leaving the park. I'm glad we stopped and get this fabulous picture of Parker...even though he was copying my hand on hips pose. lol

another great pic of Parker! LOVE!!!

this didn't come with the original ones on my gallery, but I begged Alaina to review them and pick the best one...Not trying to be vain, but I looked pretty darn good. Alaina, whatever editing you did on this pic, I like!  Now if only I looked like this all the time! lol I just wish Parker wasn't looking off to the side!

my boys...LOVE them!

Parker did so well during the 20 minutes or so that we spent on this bridge! Avery...not so much. 

this picture ended up being the main pic on our Xmas cards. 

one of the first few family pics that we were just warming up...

Alaina: "Mae, look at up at Kevin." So what does Parker do, but also look up...or maybe he was looking at a bird that flew by??? lol

this picture cracks me up. First b/c I was trying to not twist my ankles on the huge roots. Second b/c Avery has this "oh crap, my Dad's gonna drop me" look on her face and is gripping Kevin's shirt/arm pretty tight. Third b/c Kevin's got that smile like "hehehe...I'm not sure if I've got a good grip on my squirmy daughter, but I hope we get the shot" look. And fourth Parker's off on his own little doubt side tracked by a squirrel or something. 

can I just say how much i LOOOOOOOVE this pic? one b/c both kids are looking at the the same time...and they are both smiling! it was as if avery was like "well ok i will grace you with one fabulous smile!"

this was one of Alaina's sneak peeks and i literally squealed b/c it was too cute! this is absolutely without a doubt one of my favorite pics of the kids! i would have put this on our Xmas cards, but Kevin liked the picture before where both kids are smiling and looking at the camera. he doesn't ask for much so i figured i'd let him "win". 

one of the first few pics that Alaina took of the kids. Look at that scowl on Avery's face. Parker knew the = special place after the park and maybe a special treat

love this pic of the kids too. kevin wishes avery's hand wasn't up over her lips, but i think it's cute...she was slowly warming up to alaina. 

love this man!

we were trying to take a cute pic of avery leaning down to give me a kiss, but kevin's 6'3'' and avery's pretty tall herself so even with my wedges on and standing on the roots i was still too short to reach that pretty pink pout!

hitching a ride from daddy

this pic cracks me up b/c avery was in such a zone and didn't even blink, she was like off in space. she didn't respond to her name, kevin and me jumping up and down yelling and making faces to get her to smile. she zoned out for a few minutes, which caused alaina to remark how very independent she is and that you can't make her do something she doesn't want to do. yep...i know this attitude all too well. she should be fun when she's like 12-13 yrs old. 

one of our last pics at the park...this was my mom's favorite shot!!! 

Alaina had a second location for us to go to after the park. I immediately jumped at the chance b/c I knew Parker would LOOOOVE it!!!! I had told Parker that he smiled a lot and listened well that we would take him to a special place to take more pics and if he smiled and listened at the special place then we would get a special treat afterwards. Bribery, folks, works least for Parker. Avery could care less.

there's a place near the town house kevin and i used to live at (and Parker for the first 11 month of his life) that has a small train museum (it was closed when we went), but that's ok, we just wanted to use the small section of train tracks and the caboose. i don't ever remember seeing this place when we lived near it, but kevin said it's always been there. 

parker has a slight obsession w/ trains. it has kind of taken a back seat in the last 6-8 mos to Match Box cars (or similar cars). he still plays with them when he goes to a friend's house or even at pre-school, but at home he primarily plays w/ his cars now. and he always asks for a new car whenever we go to publix or target. if he has been good we usually buy him one since they are less than $1.

alaina brought this cute little wagon and her daughters' puppy that avery refused to part with...she even wanted to bring it home! poor alaina felt so bad that she ended up giving avery a little plastic dolphin...which avery called a whale and refused to let go of. 

these are real train tracks and real trains go through them...not like the prior one that parker was playing on. parker would have been on cloud 9 if we could have seen a train go by, but no luck!

parker was so amazed by the caboose that he got too busy to smile and look at the camera. 

our family of 3...why 3 you ask? well b/ avery had had it and alaina was taking these photos w/ avery sitting on her lap.

it's pretty rare that kevin and i get a pic of just us two...even rare that i get pic of me unless it's a selfie. lol

would have been so cute if parker was looking up! oh well, can't have everything! oh and this caboose has signs all over it that says don't climb. but alaina was there a few days before checking out the location and an employee basically told her that they look the other way when they see someone on the caboose. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Spy With My Little Eyes Something Red...

Well this time of year it could take all day to figure out what it could be and it did take the kids pretty much all day. So I'm just going to get right to it...

Welcome back Elfs!!! Not sure if you remember this post and this post from last Christmas. Elfs came back from the North Pole sometime after we all went to bed Thanksgiving night.

I think Elfs liked our new tree...its not as big or tall as our old tree. So much easier to put together, just three pieces and then fluff the branches. Our tree before, while I loved the height, I wasn't a fan of the width. It was a HUGE tree and each branch had to be placed on the base separately...oh and it wasn't pre-lit so we had to string the lights. It literally would take Kevin and me half the day to put the tree up. But then again, I was a bit crazy when it came to the tree being perfect and the lights being placed just right. But I digress...

Elfs became our tree topper. Our old one won't work on the tree. Kevin said it's too heavy. 

I had to give the kids a hint as far as what they could be looking for and I may have waved in the general vicinity of the tree.

"Elfs, Elfs!!!!" I didn't read the book to the kids this year, but I did tell them that Elfs wants to make sure they listen to Mommy and Daddy, no hitting/kicking/pushing, no saying bad words (poopie head is being said quite a bit lately...Parker learned it from school and Avery adores her Bubba and mimics everything he says and does), and no whining or tantrums. I also told them that Elfs can see them even when they aren't in the same room as Elfs or even when they are at school and that each night after they go to sleep, Elfs goes back to the North Pole to tell Santa whether they've been good or not. Parker I think understands the concept more this year than last year b/c once I was done explaining, he told Avery "you have to be good or Santa won't give you presents". 

Elfs LOVED the new tree so much that he decided to stay in the same exact spot for 2 days! But tonight he came back from the North Pole fairly quickly and decided to find a new spot. He overheard Parker ask me for a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast so he decided to make the sandwiches himself and made a little bit of a mess! Kevin may have rolled his eyes a bit and asked why Elfs can't do something simple. I rolled my eyes back b/c I'm sure Elfs will throw in more than a few simple things during his visit with us. I can't wait for Parker to see Elfs and the mischief he's gotten into.