Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quick Pop In...

...to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'll see you after the holidays!

Source


Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, December 16, 2013

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Happy Monday!

Is it really a week before Christmas?  How in the world did that happen?  It seems like we were celebrating Thanksgiving yesterday.

Last weekend, my brother dressed up as Santa Claus for my son.  He has yet to have a bad time with Santa - I keep thinking every year that this will be the year he freaks out, but so far, so good.


John wasted no time telling Santa what he wanted for Christmas.  This year, Santa brought him a book and some Matchbox cars.  John listened intently as Santa read him a story.


Santa told John he heard he was being a good boy in school and John said "yes, but sometimes, I'm not so good."  I hope that honesty never fades.


John was over the moon when he was able to ring Santa's bells.  See his mismatched socks?  John thought Santa would get a kick out of them.  


 Of course, I had to get my yearly picture with Santa too.  It never gets old.


My brother is such a good sport dressing up as Santa.  See his costume?  It was actually my grandpop's many, many years ago.  My grandpop used to dress up as Santa for the local kids in the neighborhood.

Of course, once Santa left, John lined up his Matchbox cars and asked me to take a picture.


Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Today, I'm thankful for silliness.  I'm the kind of person who can take things too seriously and sometimes I forget to stop and be silly.

John reminds me to be silly almost every day.  Whether it's him making a funny face or just giggling at something, he gives me the opportunity to relax more and worry less.


He is in a phase now where after posing for a regular picture, he immediately wants to take a silly one, which almost always involves sticking his tongue out.  Gotta love it!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happenings Around Town

Happy Monday, and happy belated Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!  

The little guy was fighting off an ear infection last week, hence the lack of blogging.  

Last weekend the hubby and I took John and my mom to ride on Thomas the Tank Engine.  John saw a commercial advertising the ride over the summer and he told me he really wanted to go.  Being the sucker that I am, I went online and bought the tickets for the end of November.  It was a really cold day, but John seemed to enjoy himself!



I was pretty surprised at how life-like Thomas was.  I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was, it was way more than I thought it would be!  Our ride was scheduled for 10:15, and we got there in plenty of time to get our picture taken with Thomas.

At first, John didn't want to ride on the train.  He thought he was going to go super fast, but after some coaxing and buying him a chocolate chip cookie the size of this head, he bit the bullet and climbed aboard. Thankfully it was a slow ride, and John was smiling the entire time.

Let me tell ya, I was super duper excited for Thanksgiving.  After spending the last 8 years with my husband's side of the family, he decided to spend it with my side of the family this year.  With the exception of my cousin's finance, everyone was in attendance.  That's a pretty rare thing these days and I was grateful to be with everyone.

My aunt started a tradition way too many years ago of a "step picture." All of the kids line up in age order and take a picture together on the steps.   It was cute when we were young but now I think we're all over it! Over the years we've added spouses and kids and to be quite honest, it's getting harder and harder to fit everyone on one staircase.  We usually do the step picture on Christmas, but since we had almost everyone there and we were at my uncle's house (he has a much bigger staircase), we made an exception and took our yearly step picture on Thanksgiving.  My aunt swears we're doing another one on Christmas but my cousin's and I are boycotting it.


So, meet my family of cousins, niece and nephews.  Starting from the bottom step - my niece Sophia, my nephew Aiden, my son John, cousins Allison, Brian, Christopher, brother Kevin, cousin's wife Lauren, cousins Andrew and Peter (the twins!), me, my sister-in-law Jacqui, brother Eric and hubby Dan at the very top.

That's a lot of people to fit on one staircase, right?

Yesterday we spent the day decorating the house for Christmas.  John still hasn't gotten over his costume from Halloween, so we had "Woody Santa" decorating our tree.


I had to sneak in and get a picture with him too.


So that's pretty much what's been going on around town.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Case of the Lazies and Kit Kat Cake is Pretty Awesome!

Hi! Happy whatever the heck day it is!

Ugh, have I had a case of the lazies!  Every day I'd think "hmm...maybe I should do a blog post about "x y z" and then never get around to it. I can't believe it's been over two weeks since I've done a blog post!

Thank you Ron and Biz for reaching out to make sure everything was okay.  You guys are the best!

So, what has been going on over in my neck of the woods?  My brothers and I celebrated my Mom's birthday on Saturday.  It was much more low key than previous years.  Instead of making a big dinner, we ordered pizza and ate on styrofoam plates.  It was pretty awesome.  No clean up and everyone enjoyed the pizza.  Love it!

I put myself in charge of the cake because there's been this amazing-looking cake going around the web that I just had to try.  It's called the Kit Kat Cake.  It looks way harder than it is, which makes it even more awesome.  It was a big hit!



Ready for how "difficult" this is?  Make a cake and ice it.  I used chocolate cake with chocolate icing because it's my mom's favorite.  After you're done icing it, take an entire bag of Kit Kats and break them apart, standing them upright against the icing.  Once you are done the Kit Kat layer, take an entire bag of M&M's and dump them on top of the cake.  Tie it with a bow and you've got yourself a Kit Kat cake.  It was delicious!

The birthday girl was happy to have all of her children and grandchildren in one place and we were happy to celebrate with her.


Question of the Day:
Which do you prefer?  Chocolate or vanilla cake?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Today, my friends, is a very important day - it's my mom's birthday!! It's no surprise that today, I'm thankful for her.



My mom is the kindest, sweetest person in the entire world.  She has been my rock and I know I can always count on her no matter what.


I've said it once and I'll say it over and over again - if I can grow up and be half of the woman she is, I'll be lucky.  I never really understood just how much love and sacrifice she has given over the years until I became a mom.  That's why I couldn't think of anyone else who deserved to be John's Godmother.



She's the link that keeps us all together and, hands down, my very best friend.


I love you, Mom! Happy birthday!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When the Craving Hits

Happy Wednesday!

We're halfway through the week and more than halfway through the workday, at least for me.  I almost opted out of blogging today but for one reason or another, here I am.

I'm not sure whether it's the colder temps or the fact that it gets dark super early, but I've been majorly craving comfort food.  One of my big comfort foods that I don't indulge in too often?  Nachos.

I made a semi-healthier version and served it for dinner over the weekend.  When the craving hits, I just gotta go for it.


On top of the baked chips was corn, refried beans, diced tomato, black beans and, of course, cheese.

The one person who wasn't a fan?  John.  He didn't like the idea of food on his chips.  That's okay - it just meant more for the hubby and I to enjoy.


Question of the Day:
What have you been craving lately?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Weekend of Birthdays

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Mine was fabulous!  On Saturday, I took John to see my Grandmom to celebrate her birthday.  As you can see, John was dressed in his Woody costume - he has pretty much refused to take it off since Halloween.  

I love how much these two love each other.  It's pretty flipping fantastic!






On Saturday afternoon, my hubby got a call from his mom wanting to know if we wanted to stop by.  Her birthday was on Friday.  Even though it was a bit of a hike to get there (to the tune of 50 minutes), we headed over for a visit.  

On Sunday, John slept until 5:30, which was a pleasant surprise with the time change and all.  We pretty much did nothing yesterday, and since we gained an hour, the day didn't go by as fast, which was awesome!

And here we are, back at another Monday.  Shouldn't we be able to have 3 day weekends or something?!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Very Special Birthday

Today, my Grandmom turns 86 years young.  

My Grandmom is one of my favorite people in the entire world. She's a woman of incredible faith, love and generosity.  I was lucky enough to live 5 minutes away from her while I was growing up.  I can't count just the number of times I've played "hairdresser" with her, learned the games she played as a kid and even how she would jump rope with me when no one else would.




As a child and into my teenage years, Grandmom taught me how to make homemade spaghetti, how to knit on a loom and how to make Italian Christmas cookies.



A few years ago, I asked my Grandmom to teach me how to crochet.  Every time I start a new project, I think of her and can't wait to show her the finished product.

As amazing as she is as a Grandmom, she's and even more incredible Gigi to my son, niece and nephew.   



She lets John play with her cane every time he asks, always has something sweet to offer him when he comes over and John just eats it all up.

Happy birthday, Grandmom! I love you so much!

Question of the Day:
Are there any birthdays you are getting ready to celebrate?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

You know, being a mom has given me a whole new appreciation for things in life - both big and small.  On Sunday morning, John was up early, so we went downstairs and turned on the TV for some snuggle time. You'll never believe who was on PBS at 6:00 in the morning....Mr. Rogers.

I was a Sesame Street girl growing up while my older brother adored Mr. Rogers.  I never understood what he saw in him and I thought the show was dry and bland.  Well, on Sunday, I finally got it.  It took me 30 years, but I am in love with Mr. Rogers and his message of thankfulness, joy and love.

The episode involved a little boy, Jeffrey Erlanger, who was in a wheelchair.  John kept asking me why he was in a wheelchair and I told him we had to listen to Jeffrey explain it, and explain he did.  As the tears were rolling down my face, I realized what a teaching moment this had become.  To have a little boy who can run, jump and skip is a blessing that I too often take for granted.

Obsessed with Jeffrey's story, I came into work on Monday and Googled him.  I found this clip, which shows part of the episode I referenced along with a follow-up when Mr. Rogers was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame.  Jeffrey surprised Mr. Rogers by coming on stage, and the genuine surprised look on Mr. Rogers' face says it all.

What an amazing man he was, and what an inspiration Mr. Rogers is to countless generations.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey passed away in the late 90's, but his spirit lives on in his story.




Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Was A Good Idea In Theory....

Happy Wednesday!

Every once in awhile I come across a recipe that I just have to try out because it's different, or sounds interesting or simply because I have all of the ingredients in my house.  This recipe happened to meet all three criteria.  I present to you Cheddar and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese.

My first thought was "eww - carrots in mac and cheese?"  I read through some of the reviews and many people said they couldn't taste the carrots and that it added a creaminess to the dish.  I thought it was worth the shot so I went to work.  

Cheddar and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese from Slender Kitchen
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Info: Cals: 255, Carbs: 35, Fat: 7g, Protein: 13g, Fiber: 5g

Ingredients

8 oz high fiber pasta shells or elbows (I used Ronzoni)
1 lb. baby carrots
1.5 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the carrots in a microwave safe container with 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for 5-7 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. Take the pasta out when it is al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid. Return to the pot.
Place the carrots with any remaining liquid in a blender. Add the 1 cup of cooking water from the pasta. Blend until smooth.
Add the carrot puree to the pasta and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the 1.25 cups of cheese. Stir until creamy and season with salt and pepper.
Pour into a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes until sides are bubbling. Broil for the last 2-3 minutes if you want a crispier top.



When I first tasted it, I could tell there were carrots in there immediately.  I wasn't sure if it was because I knew they were there or if I could actually taste them.  I asked John and the hubby to taste it and both of them said that they could taste the carrots.  It was necessarily a bad thing.....it was just....um...carroty.

I will definitely make this again because it kicked my craving for mac and cheese without breaking the calorie bank.  Next time, though, I'll try it with half a pound of baby carrots instead of a pound. 

Question of the Day:
Have you ever hidden vegetables in your food?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 21, 2013

This One Time, Over The Weekend....

....I legitimately ate an entire butternut squash myself, realized that I have a food blog and stopped to take a picture three quarters of the way through.  It's a bad picture, too.....but I was enjoying the squash too much to care.  



Prior to this, the closest I've come to making butternut squash was opening up the baby food jar and stirring it around for John.  He LOVED the stuff as an infant.  When we were food shopping last week, he saw a butternut squash, asked what it was and if we could buy it.  I have a rule when it comes to stuff like this - never turn down his curiosity when it comes to fruits or vegetables.

When I finally got around to roasting the squash, I decided to make fries out of them.  The only thing I didn't enjoy was cutting/peeling the thing open.  I roasted them for about 40 minutes or so, and as soon as they cooled down, I ate them.  John was only interested in eating one or two.  Oh well - it's definitely something I'll continue to make and offer him.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

I woke up today thinking it was Friday.  Bummer.

I've mentioned this before on the blog, but every Wednesday I go to a Zumba class.  I found one I love and it's my "day out" so to speak.  Last night, though, I just wasn't feeling it.  I kept telling myself that I never regret going to the gym but I always regret not going.  No matter how much I tried to convince myself, I couldn't get it together.

I ended up giving myself a pass for last night and today, I'm thankful I took some time to relax.



Source
I'll be at the Zumba class again next week but yesterday?  Yesterday I needed some time off.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pickin'

Happy Monday!

I was out of the office on Friday - apparently John has developed an immunity to the Amoxicillin he was taking for his ear infection.  He came home from daycare on Thursday crying because his other ear hurt. Since the pediatrician's office was closed, we took him to the Minute Clinic.  Turns out his ear was still red and the other ear....let's just say his eardrum was ready to burst.  The nurse practitioner prescribed him Augmentin, so we'll see how that goes.

As fate would have it, John had his 3 year old well visit scheduled for Friday, so it worked out that we had a doctor's appointment the day after the Minute Clinic visit.  The pediatrician also confirmed that his right ear was pretty bad and that John has a high tolerance for pain - she was surprised he wasn't complaining for days prior.  Oh joy.  

After her assessment of his ear, the doctor went on with his well visit.  She was so happy - apparently, John, at 3 years old, is doing things a 4 year old should do.  The doctor told us to stop teaching him using "rote learning" and to start teaching him a different language, how to play an instrument and basic math skills. I'm so proud of my little guy!

On Sunday, the hubby and I took John to Linvilla Orchards to pick some pumpkins.  John was beyond excited.


The hubby and I were convinced that he was going to pick a monstrous pumpkin but all he wanted to do was find one he could lift.


Linvilla was beautifully decorated but John wasn't very interested int he decorations.  He wanted to stick his head in all of the cut-out picture things.  You know, there's nothing like being a witch!


Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Little Mickeys a/k/a This Project Took Much Longer Than It Should Have

Happy hump day!  It's so nice to be halfway through the work week, isn't it?

As you know, John's birthday theme this year was Mickey Mouse.  For some reason, I feel the need to be creative at the worst times, i.e., the day before hosting a birthday party.  I had seen Mickey Mouse Oreos on Pinterest and knew I wanted to give 'em a try.

Essentially, you take a package of regular-sized Oreos and a container of mini Oreos, stick them together with melted chocolate to make Mickey Mouse.  If you want to get fancy, you can melt some red candy melts and dip half of the Oreo into the melted red chocolate for Mickey's pants.  Homey don't play that.  I'm not that fancy, so instead of driving to the craft store for the red candy melts, I bought Wilton's red icing in a can. I thought this would be an easy solution.  I was wrong.

First of all, trying to get the mini Oreos to stick to the big Oreos was nearly impossible.  After trying all sorts of ways to make them stick, I literally untwisted every big Oreo and every little Oreo.  I put the melted chocolate on half of the mini Oreo, stuck it to the inside of the big Oreo, repeated with the other mini cookie and then put the big piece of Oreo on top.  After they were finished, I put them in the fridge to harden.  I tried using the red icing on one of the Mickey Mouse cookies that was cracked and it looked terrible.  I kept messing around with the different tips of the icing and finally figured out that I could use a knife to smooth out the icing.  All of that work for one cookie?  I wasn't feeling it.  Plus, I was exhausted, John was up from his nap and I figured the red icing idea was out the window.  Wrong again.

I showed John the cookies without the icing and the one with the icing and guess which one he chose?  The red iced one, of course!  I told him perhaps we could leave half of them iced and the other plain, but he wasn't having any of that. 

Thus, we began putting Mickey's pants on each of the cookies. By this point, I started thinking I was super mom because they were actually starting to look like Mickey Mouse.  Then I got the brilliant idea to put mini M&M's on top of the icing to look like Mickey's buttons on his pants.  I was amazed at the way they turned out.....


....that is until we showed them to the hubby who proclaimed "awesome! Mickey has eyes!"  I literally slapped my hand to my head and tried to explain that they were buttons, but by that point I was over it.


You be the judge - buttons or eyes?! haha

In the end, they ended up being a pretty big hit and I'm glad John and I had the opportunity to make them together, even if the entire project took over two hours.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite kind of cookie?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Very Happy Birthday

Happy Monday!

Thank you all for the beautiful birthday wishes for John.  We truly enjoyed our long weekend!  John's birthday was on Thursday, so getting to spend the entire day with him was amazing.  The hubby and I bought him his first "big boy bike" i.e. one with training wheels. 


John immediately wanted to take a spin on his bike and thankfully the weather was beautiful.


On Saturday we had his party at our house.  This was actually the first time we've had his birthday party at our house.  You see, our house is super small, and the thought of hosting 20 people in our teeny tiny house was scary.  How would it be with 5 kids running around?  Would we all be squished in like ants?  In the end, everything worked out beautifully.  No one was squished and the kids were great.

John loves everything Mickey Mouse, so that was his theme.  I hoped on ordering a Mickey Mouse cake from BJ's, but apparently they discontinued the Mickey Mouse cake.  Seriously?  Isn't he a classic character or something?  I opted for Mickey Mouse colors instead and found a Mickey candle for the cake.



 Despite the craziness of the day, we were able to sneak in a few family photos.
Don't mind the scab on his head - John fell at school on a rug.  Boys!
One of my favorite parts of the party was the Mickey party hats we asked people to wear.  Can I just say that I love my family?  They are pretty awesome for going along with it.

In the end, everyone had a great time, even the photo-bomber in the back....haha.



Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today's post will be picture-heavy.  Consider this your warning.

Today, I'm thankful for my sweet baby boy.  Today is John's 3rd birthday.  It's hard to believe that 3 years ago my hubby and I were meeting him for the first time.  Now, I don't know how we survived so long without him.


Watching John grow up has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  John is amazing, and it's hard for me to think of any other word to describe him.  He was such an easy baby, and despite some challenging toddler moments, he continues to show me how to smile more and worry less.  



As a new mom, I thought I'd have all the answers and that I would be teaching him so many things and yet, as I think about it, I think John has taught me so much more. 


I love the way he smiles.  It melts my heart every time and that smile comes from a place of utter joy and happiness.

I love how John has a silly side.  He knows not to take life so seriously and he can typically make any situation humorous.


I love how he has a sensitive heart.  If someone is sad, he wants to know why, and when he has his answer, he runs right over with hugs and kisses. 


I love how literal he is.  When I told him he should be wearing a mask while he helped the hubby cut the lawn, he ran inside and grabbed his mask.  I had a face mask in mind - his allergies were particularly bad that day but I couldn't resist taking a picture of the mask he chose.


I love how proud he gets of himself.  With each new craft he brings home from school, he can't wait to show it to me, get my reaction of how great of a job he did and then proudly display it on the refrigerator....or in the case, on his head.

Happy birthday, my sweet baby boy.  Never ever change - you are perfect as you are.  I love you to the moon and back!

 
Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie