Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas and other assorted updates

I feel a bit like I am coming out of hibernation or something. Even though we've been seeing lots of my family, I've pretty much neglected the rest of the world for a few weeks now. The blogging world especially has been completely ignored, both posting and reading. Sorry dears, I'll repent now. :-)

Last week was a rather nice one for us. Steve got the entire week off from work for his vacation. This makes the 4th year in a row (every year we've been married) that he's gotten that week off. We love it. Our house is so much cleaner with Daddy around full time, not to mention yummy breakfasts and dinners that he cooks. Jilly has been LOVING all the attention she gets from him too. And it's been nice for me to get to veg out and not worry about what I should be doing so much. Monday through Wednesday evenings I had to work, which was a bit of a bummer, but worked out fine. We were lucky Steve had that time off work, because it took me a lot longer to get to work this week, I had to leave the house early. If he'd been working, he also would have been a bit delayed getting home which means I couldn't have left early. So yay for that.

One of the reasons transportation is taking longer these days is because of all the SNOW we've had!!! It's insane. Over two weeks we've had snow on the ground, and we are sick of it!! I think total, we've gotten 12"-15". Ridiculous. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if 1) I had an SUV/truck/ or some All-Wheel Drive vehicle; 2) we had a yard to play in the snow in; and/or 3) it just disappeared, rather than turning to slush with 15" potholes. Our poor little Elantra has been beaten up as we treat it like an SUV and go bouncing through the slush, snow and ice. So far the worst has been in our apartment complex itself. We did find out that Reverse is our "power gear". The couple times I've almost gotten stuck, I've been able to back up and get out of it. Anyway, we did take Jilly out in the snow at my mom's for a little and she had fun. Since she doesn't have great snow gear (i.e. any snow gear) we put her in her Halloween costume and she was a Snow Bat! It's a great outfit for that because it's all fleece and thick and has straps at the bottom to hold the pants down over the shoes. Anyway, she's definitely learned the word "Snow" and loves to exclaim it. "Snow! Snow! Snow!" ;-) Now everything is melting and we're happy to see it go. We want our parking lot back! :-)

Christmas Eve was a BUSY day for our family. We got up and got rolling and headed out to do some last minute shopping. We hit Alderwood Mall, Best Buy, Target and Safeway, all within about 4 hours. It wasn't actually totally insane either. Well, parking and getting from the car to the store was a little tricky, especially having to carry a 2 year old because I knew she couldn't walk in the slush. But other than that, it was good. We got everything we needed and then some. We got home, put Jilly down for a nap and Steve got busy putting away food and such while I wrapped some presents. Then it was off to work for me and he made a bunch of food. That night we had my family over for our Christmas Eve tradition. We make Mexican food and get lots of soda and just hang out, eating and relaxing. Andy and Steve will play Madden on the Xbox and Jilly will flit from person to person begging food and attention. We had chicken and cheese enchiladas and tortilla soup and it was SO good!!! Steve is an excellent cook. The evening was relaxing and calm and super enjoyable. After everyone left, we read the story of Christ's birth from the Bible and sang Christmas carols, then it was off to bed.

The next morning, we were all lazy. Jilly and I didn't get up until around 9:30am. We opened our stockings, which were pretty much just full of candy. We also opened our presents from the Aunt Becky & Uncle Kevin and their kiddos. Jilly got a PINK SAN ANTONIO SPURS tracksuit! It's pretty much THE MOST ADORABLE outfit we've ever seen. I put it on her right away and she wore it the whole day. She also got a super fun Melissa & Doug toy called Cutting Food. There's a bunch of food cut up into pieces that velcro together, as well as a cutting board and a wooden knife. Jilly can cut them apart and put them back to her heart's content. It's fabulous and she LOVES it! Steve got a subscription to National Geographic and I got a clothing gift card. We were all super stoked. THANKS ZIEGS!!

We eventually headed out to my family's house, in the SNOW! Yep, not only was the ground all white for Christmas, but it was snowing all morning to boot. So we did have a White Christmas after all. After arriving at the house, we talked to Auntie Karen and the boys in Canada, Steve talked to Becky and we finally settled down to open presents. We had a nice little crowd gathered: Mom, Paul, Katie, Andy, Juliet, Steve, Jilly and me. Jilly and I played "Santa" and distributed presents to everyone. It was a lot of fun. We all got stuff that we love. The highlight was probably Jilly opening her present from Auntie Katie. It was an MP3 player. Not like an iPod or anything with headphones, but rather the updated version of those Fisher Price cassette players we had as kids. You know, the ones with the microphones that you could carry around with you? Anyway, it's awesome! It doesn't have a microphone, but you can download your own music files as well as the music already on it. There is also a Teddy-Bear looking cover that attaches to a crib, so you can use it for little newborn babies too. (Not that we'll be doing that! Jilly doesn't need another thing to play with in bed!) :-) Jilly hands down LOVES and ADORES the thing. Granny sent Uncle Andy off to download some Raffi on to it and Jilly just loves making it sing and light up. I admit, some of the songs get on Mama & Daddy's nerves, but luckily we can put it away and distract her with something else when we need a break.

By the time we finished opening gifts and clearing up the paper, it was like 1pm! We finally got started on breakfast and sat down to eat our Waffle, Eggs and Bacon feast about 2pm. ;-) After that, it was time for Miss Jillypants to take a nap and the rest of us settled in to watch a movie. Well, Jilly decided a nap was not high on her list of priorities but was fairly content to babble, talk and sing to herself in her playpen for 2 hours. We watched Baby Mama, which Katie gave us, and found it quite funny. We let Jilly get up after a couple hours and then we watched Disney's Robin Hood (which Jilly got from Auntie Karen and the boys). I fell asleep and got a little nap while everyone either watched the movie or got dinner going. Dinner was fabulous with Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, asparagus, Caesar salad, and sparkling juices. YUMMY!!! While the dishes were being finished, Juliet, Katie and I played a game of Scrabble. On the initial draw, I got stuck with the Q, X, and Z!! The only vowel I got was a Y. Seriously crummy. But as the game went on, things got better and I was able to make some big plays, which resulted in me winning the game. Sweet. By that time, it was definitely past due for us to head home. Jilly, having had no nap, was tired and ready for bed. Granny had gotten her into her new jammies already, which was a good thing, because she fell asleep on the way home! She managed to stay asleep while I got her out of the car, up the stairs, and into the apartment. As I laid her in her crib (with coat still on), she opened her eyes, I handed her Bunny, and she flopped right over to sleep. She stayed in there without a peep until 6 am, when I took off her coat and settled her back down. It was surprising because normally she wakes up when we get her out of the car seat.

So that was our Christmas! I will be posting pictures later, but I need to get some from my mom as well as download from our camera. It was a very nice and relaxing day. We are ending this year with hearts full of gratitude for our many, many blessings (too numerous to name) and look forward with hope and determination for the year to come! :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jillian is 2!!

Thursday was not only Thanksgiving Day, but our little Jillian's 2nd birthday! WE didn't really celebrate that day, because of the holiday, but we sure did the next night! It seems that in our family, we tend to group birthdays. Steve, Andy and I all get one party in August. Katie, Juliet and Jillian celebrate all together in November. Mom and Paul actually get to have their birthdays alone. Anyway, we had a party for all the birthday ladies Friday night and it was a blast! As you can imagine, Jilly kinda stole the show, but hey, she's just that cute. :-)

We got the night rolling with a tantrum when Auntie Katie wouldn't let her play with the camera. Yeah, she's just kinda 2.
video

One of the things I was most excited for was the 'No Man Cake. When Katie was 3, she was obsessed with Snowmen, or as she called them "'No men". For her birthday, my mom made her a No Man cake and she got a No Man ornament for Christmas. This year, Mom offered to make a coconut cake for the party. We were trying to think of ways to make it more fun for a 2 year old, and Mom remembered 'No Men. So a 'No Man Cake came to be! It was a collaborative effort for sure. Mom and Katie baked it. Mom cut and frosted it. I "snowed" it with coconut. Paul bought all the embellishments. Then Mom and I decorated it. (Yeah, Mom did most of the work.) It came out SUPER CUTE!



My mom, amazing seamstress that she is, also made Jilly this BEE-YEW-TEE-FULL dress!! She saw the pink ribbon fabric and dreamed up the rest of the dress. We found the rest of the material bit by bit and a pattern to work, then she just adjusted it to her specifications. It came out absolutely lovely and suits Jilly just perfectly, color, shape and all. Mom is still going to add some embellishments to the bodice and make some hairbows, but the dress itself is all together. Isn't it just gorgeous?!


The first present Jilly wanted to open (and I mean that, she dragged the bag off the table) was from her parents. She reached in and pulled out this!


Yep, we got her a dump truck! I think it's way fun and it has duplo-block thingies she can stack or put in the back. She LOVED it right away and ignored the rest of us for like 10 minutes, pushing it all around the kitchen.


You can't see Katie at all, but this is the pretty scarf she got. She asked for one, since it's cold over there in Pullman and she needs to keep her neck warm! It's also kinda silky and big enough to use as a pajmina (did I spell that right?) for fancy occasions.


Auntie Katie got Jilly a very exciting gift. A fairy wings dress up set! Complete with wings, tutu and wand, and all in its own nifty case too. How fun!


Jilly helped open her last present from Auntie Juliet. It was a nice leggings & velour top outfit. The top is ice blue and the leggings are cream with blue and purple stripes. I can't wait to put her in it.


After the presents were over, it was time to play with the loot! We put the wings on Jilly and handed her the wand. She immediately (and I'm not kidding on that) headed over to the mirror to check herself out. She would go over, then turn so she could look at the back! Hysterical!


Check out the awesome wand.


The little fairy ran off to cuddle with her Granny and Grandpa for a few minutes.
video



Later, after No Man Cake, we put on the tutu as well and let her run around in her full regalia. She had such a good time showing off for everyone.


And I thought she was the most adorable thing EVER!


She even went over to her Auntie Juliet to ask to be picked up.


And here's a final shot of the back of the fairy wings.


I didn't get any pictures of her blowing out the cake with my camera, because the dratted battery died in the middle of the night. But I got some with my mom's so as soon as I get them to me, I will post them here. They're precious with the candlelight on her face.

We had a wonderful night celebrating all the birthdays. Our little girl is pretty much the luckiest little girl in the world, to have so many people who love her and want to make her happy. We love our Jilly Beans!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Been a little occupied

Has it really been over 3 weeks since I last blogged on here? Shame on me! Unfortunately, you're not getting anything exciting.

Jilly will be 2 next week and I can't believe it!! Wasn't it just like a month ago that I was moaning and whining about being 9 months pregnant for Thanksgiving and desperately trying to get the baby OUT of me? And now she's two?! She's throwing tantrums and being Little Miss Independent (shocking). If she doesn't want to do something she shrieks, "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" and flops face down onto the ground. Which usually sends us into giggles. Not sure if that's sending the right message to her, but what else are you gonna do? Get upset over it? Laughing is better. At least I think so. ;-) Jillian has also developed this new trick of grabbing my hand and pulling me off the couch and leading me to what she wants. The usual suspects are the kitchen (for food and/or drink) and her bedroom (for bed and/or diaper change). Yes my kid (sometimes) asks to be put to bed. Hands down, usually the highlight of my day when that happens. But strangely, she only does it to me, not to Steve. Well, just another one to add to that list. But she still is our happy, sunny little Beanie Breath and we love her more than we ever thought. :-)

Steve and I aren't up to very much. We're both plugging away at work and Church. Steve fills his Saturdays with lots of college football (HOOK 'EM HORNS!), that is when he hasn't been roped into working. I am still working at the same place, same hours. I've been rather tired as of late, so Steve's had to pick up the slack at home. Luckily, he doesn't mind too much and is always happy to serve his girls. But I don't think there is much else going on with us. We're boring.

So that is my mini-update. I felt bad I hadn't blogged in awhile, so this is my Band-Aid fix. Hopefully, I'll get back in the swing of things soon. Until then, persevere my loyal subjects.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Last night Jilly got to go Trick or Treating with Granny and Mama. We went in Granny's neighborhood. We were a little disappointed there were more kids out, but I guess it meant more candy for us! ;-) Jilly was quite the ferocious and terrifying bat, and of course charmed everyone in sight.

Before we left our house, I wanted a picture of her without her jacket one, so you can see her cute Halloween shirt.


Once we were at Granny's with the Bat Bag in hand, she was ready to go!


I didn't get any pictures while we were walking around, but let me tell you. For the few houses we went to, we scored pretty darn well. One house we went to gave us a King Size Snickers! Can you believe it?! Steve was sure psyched about that one. She did a good job of either picking a candy or taking the one they offered and putting it in her bag. However, I did get the feeling she was trying to escape from me. Everytime someone opened their door, she tried to walk inside! :-) Granted, I don't think she'd ever encountered a situation where we just stood at a door and didn't go inside, so I don't blame her for trying. Hehehehe.

Jilly inspected her loot quite closely when we got home.


For quite awhile after getting home, Jilly walked around the kitchen, dragging her bag with her. It was adorable.
video

Then she started playing with the candy itself. The suckers were quite a hit with her.
video

We finally let her have a piece. I gave her a Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar, which she LOVED! Can you tell? ;-)


This was an accidental video. My mom was trying to take a picture, but I forgot it was on video mode. Nonetheless it was cute and you can see Jilly licking her fingers.
video

On the way home, I let her hold her bag of candy. I could hear her playing with it, throwing it in the seat next to her and such. Then it got a little quiet. I stopped at a light and turned around to see this!


She hasn't unwrapped it at all, but rather chewed on the corner, melted it with her hot little hand and sucked it all out! I let her finish the Krackel, but drew the line at the Mr. Goodbar. I was not going to let her eat peanuts while I was driving! She didn't like that idea.


We got home and I let her have a "Creepy Pop" skull-face sucker. She LOVED it! And proceeded to get it all over her face, hands and clothes. Once she began using it as a drumstick on her toys and booksheld, I took it away and she got a bath.

All in all, it was a very successful and fun Halloween!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Boogly Nights!

Last night was our ward's Boogly Nights Halloween Party. There was a Chili & Cornbread Potluck dinner, then carnival games, a costume parade and a Trunk or Treat!! It was a lot of fun and a HUGE turnout. At one point, someone counted 185 people in the gym alone, not counting anyone in the halls or outside. My guess, there were over 200 people there. WOW! It was tons of fun.

The food and games were fun. Most of my pictures are from the Costume Parade. I won't put names of kiddos on here, but if anyone either wants me to take their kiddos' photo down or email them the original, let me know!

BAT JILLY! I realized later this was the ONLY picutre I took of her that night. D'OH! Good thing I'll have two more chances to take pics of her in the costume. :-)




















Jilly enjoyed the Trunk or Treat. We knew she couldn't say Trick or Treat, so we taught her to say "Boo!" Of course, she can say it to us, but refused to do it while Trunk or Treating. Silly kid. But she liked walking around and knew to get the piece of candy, then put it in her candy bag. By the end of the night she was totally done (only got a less than 1 hour nap) but had fun. In the car on the way home, we had to stop at the store. Steve ran in while Jills and I stayed in the car. She informed me that she was a "taaahd guh" (tired girl) who needed to "go hoh" (go home) and "beh" (bed). :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Play time with Maya!

One of Jilly's favorite friends, Maya, came over to play today. Maya is one month older than Jilly and they get along pretty well. They spent a lot of time together in Primary, then in Nursery, and at Playgroup as well. Jilly was still asleep when Maya got here, but woke up soon and they had a really fun time together. For two 2-year-olds being together for 3 1/2 hours, we only had 5 minutes where they upset each other. Not bad, if you ask me! It sure doesn't hurt they're both very sweet girls.

They both enjoyed playing with the letters on our fridge.


Maya kept playing longer than Jilly and liked to tell me about it.


Jilly got a hold of my hairbrush after I did her hair and was playing with it. This says to me, "Concentrate....I know I can make this do something!"


Jilly watched Maya from the safety of her car.


Maya was rolling this car up and down the fridge. The girls both LOVED this car.


Jilly wanted to take pictures, so I got closeups of both their faces. This was the only one worth keeping.


Maya loved the rocking chair and sat on it for quite a while.


Then Jilly dragged the ExerSaucer over to me, so I could put her in. As soon as I did the girls both started playing with it.


This is the video of them. It's hilarious, if you ask me!
video

We had a lot of fun having Maya over! We hope she comes again soon. :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tagged!


I got tagged by Nancy N, so I better hop to it, before I forget.

Mmkay, seven random facts...

1) Laundry is my favorite chore to do. But I am HORRIBLE about putting it away. At the moment, the Sierra Nevadas of Laundry have taken up residence on my bedroom floor. It's fairly pathetic. I keep washing the laundry, but then dumping it on the floor when it's done.

2) I dream about future events. I would say once a month I have deja vu. I'll be doing something mundane, like talking to a friend, or pulling mayo from the fridge, and I'll remember dreaming the exact thing months earlier. Usually in the dream I didn't recognize the person or the place, but then when it actually happens, it all makes sense.

3) I'm afraid of the dark. Not like when I actually sleep (I have to have it pitch black in my room), but at night, I am terrified of uncovered windows and especially being outside- woods are the worst. I blame my mother. She tried to get me to be cautious and alert when out at night by warning me about rapists and murderers. However, it got stuck in my brain and now I hate being outside alone at night.

4) While I am obsessed with pink, I cannot paint my walls with it or have too much of it around. I like pink as an accent color, not the main color. That's why Jilly's bedding is purple and green and if I was to paint her room it would be one of those colors. I doubt I could ever paint a room pink. Too much for me.

5) I hate drinking water. I would drink soda all day long, everyday if I could afford it. Water is just so bland and boring, and I don't like the taste. So I compromise and mix it with Crystal Light most of the time. But it's rare you'll catch me drinking just plain water.

6) I have lived my entire life in Washington, only an hour or so from Stevens Pass, and have never been skiing or snowboarding. And I don't care to try them at all. I'm an indoor girl, I would rather curl up on the couch and watch TV or read with a cup of hot chocolate than be outside in the snow.

7) I will not swim in natural bodies of water. EW! The only exception is Lake Chelan. Otherwise, only pools for me! Sorry dude, but lakes, rivers, and the ocean are scary and nasty. There are weeds trying to grab my legs and drown me, other creatures wanting to eat me, and I can't see the bottom- therefore am not able to avoid aforementioned hazards. Gross gross gross. Plus I have a big fear of deep water. Boats are fine, but I don't jet-ski. Strange thing is, I feel uber-secure in seaplanes. Go figure.

I will tag: Tara H, Feather Girl, Megan P, Jeanne G, Stacey S, Candace D, and Maggie H. :-D

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Costume

We just got Jilly's Halloween costume and I had to take some pictures, because it was so cute. Allow me to introduce a most ferocious creature: BAT JILLY!


Isn't she just the scariest fat little bat you ever saw?

Look at those fangs!!


We got her costume at Old Navy which I was totally psyched about. For any of you unfamiliar with Seattle in October, it is generally cool. And by cool, I mean freaking cold and rainy. That means all those sweet, delicate little fairy and princess costumes do NOT cut it! It is WAY too cold to try anything like that without a turtleneck and thick thick tights or leggins underneath, which severely degrades the Cute Factor. My friend Britta reminded me about Old Navy costumes and lo and behold several different options of thick, full-body fleece costumes. HOORAY! After debate between Steve and me, we decided on the Bat. I really am happy with it. It's big on her, but I don't care. Now, if I can only keep her from trying to removed the jacket... ;-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bells!

This past weekend my Auntie Terry, Uncle Kevin and cousin Kylee came to visit! They moved from Washington to Connecticut 8 years ago and I've only seen them a handful of times since then. The last time was at my wedding, three and a half years ago!! Which means, they'd never met Jilly. Sad times for sure. So we were all very excited about their visit! It was a bit of a bummer that my other two cousins couldn't come. Bailey is at school at USU in Logan, Utah and couldn't come. Gator (known as Devin to most people, but will always be Gator to me) is on his mission in Tempe, Arizona. He won't be home until February. It sucks, but they're in more important places.

They were here Thursday thru Tuesday. They stayed with my uncle's parents in Kent. Friday afternoon they came up to our house for dinner and the evening. (I made a killer meatloaf and baked potatoes, which everyone seemed to love, by the way. ;-)) Jilly was asleep when they first arrived. I woke up her at about 5pm, because it was getting too late for her to be napping. She was pretty shy when I first brought her out. She would only sit on my lap, burying her face in my chest. She wouldn't even let me turn her, still on my lap, at all. It took a sippy cup, about 30 minutes and ultimately some goldfish to get her to loosen up. (YAY for goldfish!) Then she turned into a performer!

All night she kept us entertained, showing off her talking, dancing, singing, running, kissing and playing skills. It was mighty impressive. She warmed up to them all. There were even a couple times she went running over to Uncle Kevin and climbed right up into his lap and cuddled with him, then made him kiss her animals. The Bells brought her a very sweet stuffed polar bear. We have yet to come up with a name. Steve wants to call him Barack, for irony's sake, but I staunchly refuse. He's even suggested Barry (or Beary, I'm not sure on the spelling), but I still say no. I told him I would rather call the bear Sarah or Whitey. ;-) So the bear remains unnamed. Anyway, we had a fabulous time just talking and hanging out. Katie came from school part way through the evening and hung out with us too. It was just super fun and relaxing and hilarious with Jilly performing for us all. They left around 9:30pm and took Katie home.

Saturday evening, we met up with them again. Andy had driven down from Western Washington University in Bellingham that morning. I met him and Katie at their house around 5pm and we drove down to Grandma & Grandpa Bell's house in Kent. (Yes I call them Grandma & Grandpa even though they're not my grandparents. They were involved in my life as much as my dad's mom and infinitely more than my maternal grandparents.) It was fun seeing them again and having them meet Jilly. I hadn't seen them since my wedding either. They actually attended our sealing, which was super neat. Uncle Kevin and Grandpa were at the Priesthood session of General Conference (Steve was too, but up in Lynnwood), so it was just us and the girls. We went out to dinner at Azteca, since Auntie Terry hadn't eaten there since they moved. It was yummy and again, Jilly entertained us. After dinner, we went back to the Bells and visited for the rest of the evening. Granpda and Uncle Kevin were back by that point. Grandpa Bell has back surgery a couple weeks ago and someone had brought him a balloon. Jilly fell in love with the balloon and played with it all night long. I think the funniest part was when we tied it to her leg and she ketp batting at it. Hysterical, I tell you. Grandpa was very sweet and gave it to Jilly to bring home. It is now in our living room, tied to Mortimer to keep it weighted down. All too soon, it was time for us to go home. We said our goodbyes, and Katie and I kept trying to bully Auntie Terry into coming up next August, when they bring Gator and Kylee out to BYU. I also tried to convince Auntie Terry to come see me on Monday. I even bribed her with a scenic flight. That caught her attention. We said we'd talk Sunday night and figure out if it would work.

Well, it did! The Bells once again drove up to our house Monday, arriving about Noon. Jilly and I loaded up in their car with them and we went down to Lake Union. We made remarkably good time, getting to Lake Union about 12:40pm. The flight wasn't until 1:30pm, but we just hung around the terminal. Kylee played with Jilly a lot and I started educating Auntie Terry and Uncle Kevin on the types of planes we have. (Uncle Kevin- I found out that the Turbine Beavers, Otters and Caravans, which all use the same one, have the PT6 engine, which is apparently a Pratt & Whitney. Way cool!) We climbed on board 25S with Captain Marty, strapped on our seatbelts and put on the headphones. It was everyone's first flight in a seaplane, except for me, including Jilly! She sat on my lap the whole time. I even put headphones on her (more for noise-dampening purposes than for hearing the narration) and she didn't mess with them AT ALL!! Shocking, eh? We all had a blast!! Uncle Kevin got to sit co-pilot with Marty and had fun up there. It was so much fun and they were all properly impressed with the smoothness of the take-off and landing. After the flight, we went to Steve's work, where they got to see a lot of the flowers. Then it was time for us to go home and them to leave. It was sad to say goodbye, but we'd had such a good time with them over the weekend.

I was so happy to get to spend some quality time with them. I'm not really in any contact with anyone else from my dad's family, so it was great to get to do all the "Remember when?"s. I love them a lot and don't get to see them nearly often enough! Connecticut is just too stinking far away. I keep trying to convince them to move back to Washington, but they haven't caved yet. (Just you wait...) Yay for family!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our favorite recipes

We've recently discovered some recipes that we just love. Jilly enjoys them as much as Steve and I do. Well, almost. ;-) They are so good and I've shared them with a couple friends and figured, Why stop there? So here they are on the blog!

I got them both out of the American Heart Association Low-Calorie Cookbook, so they're pretty healthy! If anyone wants the serving size and nutrional breakdown info, lemme know and I can get it for you. But they're totally scrumptious!

Meatloaf with Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:
Vegetable Oil Spray
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup fat-free meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 snipped fresh parsley (Italian, or flat-leaf, preferred)
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
Whites of 2 large eggs
2 tablespoons dried basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil and 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 medium garlic cloves, minced, or 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup fat-free meatless spaghetti sauce

Preheat the overn to 350* F. Lightly spray a broiler pan and rack or a roasting pan and baking rack with vegetable oil spray.
In baking dish, combine all the ingredients except the 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce. Shape into 7x5x2-inch oval loaf. Carefully slide the meat loaf onto the rack in the pan. Spread the remaining spaghetti sauce over the top and sides of the meat loaf.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the meat loaf is no longer pink in the center. For easier handling, let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

*My take: I've left out the parsley with no ill effect. You could also easily add other veggies, like zucchini and carrots, to make it even healthier. I used the rack the first time, but it ended up being a big hassle, because the loaf was too soft and fell through it. So now, I just use a Pyrex glass baking dish and it's fine.  Here is a picture of mini heart shaped meatloafs (meatloaves?) from a Valentines Day dinner.  We normally just put it all in a square (8x8) glass Pyrex baking dish.





Rustic Stuffed Potatoes

Ingredients:
4 medium red potatoes (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup bottled barbeque sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Vegetable Oil Spray
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all visible fat removed, cut into bite-size pieces
Fat-free, no-calorie liquid margarine spray
2 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (green and white parts)

Pierce the potatoes in several pieces with a fork. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced to the center with a fork, turning once.
Meanwhile, in a small measuring cup or bowl, stir together the barbeque sauce, vinegar and cayenne.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the skillet from the heat and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray (being careful not to spray near a gas flame). Cook the chicken for 2 minutes, or until no longer pink on the outside, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to high. Add the barbeque sauce mixture; cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is no longer pink in the center, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Cut the potatoes in half; fluff with a fork. Place 2 potato halves on each plate. Lightly spray each half with 2 pumps of liquid margarine spray. Sprinkle with the cheese. Spoon the chicken mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the green onions.

*My take: I just use regular butter and cheese. I've used normal baking potatoes as well as red potatoes, and we cook them in the oven, not the microwave. We'll also add sour cream. But the chicken-bbq sauce mixture is awesome! Very much a favorite of ours!


I hope you all enjoy them as much as we do!

Pumpkin Patch!

This week for Playgroup, we went to Carleton Farms to visit the Pumpkin Patch! Stacey was kind enough to give Jilly and I a ride so we could go. We were a bit worried about the weather, but luckily the rain held off until we were pretty much done. Plus it had been dry for a few days before, so it wasn't nearly as muddy as I was expecting. We got to the farm and the first thing all the kids wanted to do was play on this tube slide. It went down the hill from where the parking lot was to where the pumpkin field was. The kids played on it for a long time! Everyone loved it. I, being the dork that I am, forgot to take my camera, so thanks again to Stacey and Kati for catching these super cute shots of Jills.

This her going down the tube slide, looking down. She would take a bit to really get going.

Then you'd see this; Jilly whizzing down the slide.

And then she'd pop out at the bottom, on her bum.

Jilly being the silly girl she is, she would often try to climb back up the slide. Or she'd try to watch her friends come down, but she'd be right at the bottom, so I had to keep dragging her away, so she didn't get knocked over. Silly pants.

After a long time on the slide, I decided she was done and we needed to find a pumpkin. I just wanted a little Jilly-sized pumpkin. She did NOT agree with my plan. She just wanted to keep climbing up the hill and going down the slide. I tried to get her to come out into the field and she fought me. She pouted and whined the whole time we were out there, and made me carry her. I can see why the uneven, slightly muddy ground was weird for her to walk on, but it was annoying to me. I finally found a little pumpkin that I liked, pulled it off the vine and we headed up the hill.

There was a "Kids Maze" up by the produce stand and the kids totally wanted to check it out. Jilly actually walked right in and starting going through it with no problem. I was totally surprised. I expected her to start getting confused and frustrated, but it didn't happen. She was just cruising. So what do I do? Jinx it by pointing it out to my friends. Haha. Seriously, as soon as I said it, she turned around and walked back the entire way she had come (more than halfway!). Silly Beans!

Here she is "finishing" and coming back out the entrance!

We then went inside the produce store to pay for the pumpkin. We actually ended up swapping pumpkins, because they had these big boxes FULL of beautiful little sugar pumpkins for only $1! It was so pretty and perfect, orange, round and with a cute stem, I liked it better. Then inside, I browsed through the produce and decided to get some baking potatoes for dinner Friday night and a mango for a snack. Jilly kept running away from me and insisting on playing with a shopping cart, so finally, I grabbed it and stuck her in. It at least kept her contained and satisfied a little longer.

After we purchased our produce, we dropped the stuff in the car and checked out the animals. At first Jilly was fairly disinterested. But that's to be expected when fruit snacks are involved. ;-) As soon as she finished the snack, she had fun looking at them all. There were chickens (roosters, hens, and baby chicks), peacocks, pigs, goats and sheep. The lambs really got Jilly's attention, she kept running out in the rain to their pen. Then the pigs just made her giggle. They started snorting and trying to get to the kids (thinking they had snacks to share). At one point, Jilly was holding on to the cage door, and one of the pigs touched her fingers with his snout. She giggled and pulled her hand away; it was pretty funny.

She really loved looking at the pigs.

After we looked at the animals, it was time to go home and put some tired kiddos down for their naps. :-) It was a lot of fun going to the Pumpkin Patch! Something I'll now look forward to every year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trip to Albuquerque!

Jilly and I went to Albuquerque two weeks ago with my mom and step-dad. They took us down there to visit with my step-brother Joe, his wife Crystal and their two kids, Haylee (4) and Hayden (2). We hadn't seen them since Mom & Paul got married over two years ago! Hayden was only two months old at that time, and I was 5 months pregnant with Jilly, so big changes had happened since then. I was really excited to see them, as well as to experience New Mexico, as I had never been there.

Saturday morning was an early one, since our flight was at 8:30am. Steve had to work that morning, so he dropped Jilly and I off at Mom's around 5:30am. The trip to the airport was fairly uneventful, luckily. Once on the plane, Jilly fell asleep on Granny's lap and slept for over an hour! PRAISE BE! It was nice for all of us. After she woke up, she was pretty good the rest of the trip, except for when she peed all through her clothes and we had to change her entire outfit on the plane.

Can I just stop and put in a plug for grandparents right here? Having my mom and Paul with me the entire time was such a lifesaver! Granny would just take over the Jilly duty while we were in the airport and on the plane, so I could deal with all the gear type issues. If I was getting stressed or needed a few minutes to deal with something else, someone was there to take over for me. Really, the ratio of 3 adults to 1 toddler was perfect! It was really the best on the flights. If I had been by myself, it would have been a whole different can of worms there. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

We arrived in ABQ, collected bags, got the rental car and headed to the hotel. Turns out our room wasn't ready yet, so we dropped a couple of bags off and headed out to lunch. We were all starving, since it was like 1:30-2pm, and we'd been up since 4-something am. While we were eating lunch, Jilly peed through her skirt AGAIN. This time I didn't have any extra clothes, because we'd left that suitcase at the hotel. Luckily her shirt was long, so she was just kinda skanky for a little bit. After lunch, we got into our hotel room, unpacked, chilled for a little then went out to Joe & Crystal's.

Before we left town, we stop by Old Town and checked out the handmade jewelry vendors. We looked and looked through the gorgeous silver, turquoise and opal pieces. Mom ended up finding a gorgeous bracelet for herself and one for Jilly! It's a pretty silver one with sunbursts carved into it. We put it on her chubby little wrist and at first she hated it, but by the next day she didn't even notice it anymore and now wears it all the time. We made one more stop at a grocery store for some supplies, then finally got to Joe & Crystal's house.

As soon as we pulled up, the kids and dogs came running over to us. Hugs all around and they wanted to show us all their pets. Haylee right away took Jilly under her wing and brought her over to a tricycle. She helped Jilly get on and would push her around, since Jilly didn't get how to pedal (I don't even think her legs were quite long enough). And Jilly was totally cool with it!

This is Haylee's bunny, Bugs Bunny. Apparently, she is rather hard to get out of the cage, but Haylee got her all by herself! Jilly didn't quite understand how to pet the bunny, or was much interested in it but she still touched the bunny.




The kids all got on the swingset and swung together. We did have to be careful to time it so that they weren't all swinging the same direction together, otherwise the swingset might have tipped over. ;-)


We ate a barbeque dinner then hung out and played. Joe took Paul for a ride on his Rhino. A Rhino is like a 4 wheel drive golf cart, or a ATV built like a car. Joe took him back out onto the dirt bike track on the mesa across from their house. They were out there while it got dark, then Joe took me for a ride! It was a blast!! We'd climb up these big hills and come down, what seemed like a vertical slope. Because it was dark and we only had the headlights to see by, sometimes I could see where the track went back up, but not where it bottomed out. It was a bit like a really bumpy roller coaster. Way fun! By the time we got back, everyone was tired and ready for bed. Especially Mom and me, who hadn't gotten any kind of nap that day!

The next morning we woke up and got ready for the day. We ate breakfast at Flying Star. Soooooooo good. The breakfast food itself was scrumptious, but the absolute best part was before breakfast. At Flying Star, you order your food at the counter, get your drinks then go find a table and they bring your meal to you when it's ready. Jilly was restless and not digging the line, so Paul and I found a table outside while Mom got the drinks. When she came out, there was something I didn't expect on the tray- an eclair! She had been surprised by it too when it was placed on the tray, but realized Paul probably ordered it and she didn't hear. Sure enough, that's what happened. It was DIVINE! Seriously, I have never tasted an eclair like that. First off, it was huge!!! Like 6 inches long, 2-3 inches across and 1-2 inches tall. The pastry was crisp and flaky, yet soft inside. The custard was the creamiest and tastiest concoction. And the chocolate on top. Oh man! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was dark chocolate icing, so flavorful and utterly delicious. Needless to say, we polished that thing off in just a few minutes between the four of us (yes, Jilly loved it too). After breakfast, Mom asked if I wanted to see the LDS temple, because it was just a few minutes away from where we were. I was really excited, because I love seeing temples, plus it was Sunday morning so I wanted to have some spiritual experience that day.

It did not disappoint! The temple is beautiful! I walked all around it and marvelled at the detail of the building. It was neat because I got to explain some about temples to Paul, not just what goes on there, but the work that goes into a temple, how they're built, etc. I also realized it was Jilly's first trip to a temple. :-) Because it was Sunday, there was no one at the temple (this surprised Paul at first, he thought it would be crowded until we explained it to him). So we were alone to experience it all.

Here is the front of the temple. It's the side that faces away from the road, but it has the entrance.


This beautiful fountain is right out front. Jilly was completely fascinated by it. Mom and Paul watched her while I wandered for a few minutes and she really really wanted to get into the fountain and played. Mom had to restrict her to only splashing her hands in for a couple minutes.


The tilework in the fountain was amazing. Such vibrant colors and intricate mosaic. LOVED IT!


This is the side of the temple that faces the road, with the spire. You can see some of the gorgeous stained glass, as well as stonework, leading up to the Angel Moroni at the top.


And here is proof that we were there! Jilly, Mama and Grandpa sitting on the edge of the fountain!


We only had a few minutes at the temple, because we were meeting Joe & Co at Explora. Explora is a children's interactive science museum. Pretty much everything in there is an exhibit they can play with. It's great for kids Jilly's age up to 10 or 12 maybe. Lots of stuff to do. We were rushing to get over there by 11am, when it opened, so we could spend as much time as possible before someone (*cough* Jilly *cough*) needed a nap. Well, while we were driving there, I got a call from Crystal saying she had mixed up the time and it didn't open until 12! Oops! Oh well, I think we got there around 11:15-11:30am anyway.

Outside of Explora there were these two curved, tiled walls with windows in them. Some of the tiles had been decorated by kids. A couple sides were murals of New Mexico and other things. We played around that for awhile.

Jilly girl sitting in the window.


All three kiddos. Hayden, Jilly and Haylee.


Haylee climbed up in there by herself and it looked like such a pretty picture, I had to snap one.


And then she flashed me that gorgeous smile of hers! She gets that from her mama.


First stop once we were inside Explora was the bubbles. We decided to start at the end and work our way backwards, since everyone had come in at once, when it opened. The bubbles were a major hit, the kids didn't want to leave!


Here is what Jilly did for the most part. Yes, she even tried to eat them a time or two.
video

The next part was a musical area. This first one was really neat. It was a bench that made you feel sound. You would play a note and the bench would vibrate. Jilly loved playing the notes, and then I would make her sit back against the back while I played so she could feel the vibration and her eyes would get super big. She and Grandpa played together.


Here's Hayden putting together pipes and stoppers to change the flow of air, and thus, the pitch it was making.


These were giant bellows that Jilly loved pushing up and down.
video


Outside on the roof, they have giant sized Lincoln logs to build with. The kids LOVED this part. Jilly is bringing pieces over to Granny to help.


Granny did most of the building, with some help from Haylee, Crystal and me. But mostly did it herself.


Hayden helped demolish another house in order to harvest materials for ours.


And here is the finished product!


Haylee took Jilly inside, but made us promise not to let Jilly tear it down.


The elevator at Explora was really neat. It was this giant room, with pictures hung on the walls, and couches and chairs. I had to take pictures while we were in there. Funny story, when we got in the second time, we all sat down to relax during the ride, then after a couple minutes, Joe got up, walked across and hit the button. We hadn't selected the floor! HAHA! So we'd just been sitting there in the not-moving elevator. Hehehe.

Haylee and Jilly sharing a chair.


Crystal, Hayden and Granny lounging on the couch.


Joe, our fearless button-pusher.


There was a fountain at Explora that was fun to watch, but hard to capture on film. This was the best I could do!


After Explora, all the kiddos were tired and hungry. We decided to all go back to the hotel so my little one would actually sleep and we'd get lunch and let the other ones swim in the pool. Well, the pool ended up being closed, plus Crystal had forgotten their bathing suits. Bummer! Jilly got her nap and Paul got us all lunch from Applebee's, which was yummy. Hayden got a little nap in the car, but then they decided to head home and we'd meet up with them later. It gave us all the chance to snooze and/or rest. That evening we went out to their house again. This time Granny and Crystal took all three kiddos to the park while Joe, Paul and me stayed back at the house to play with the Rhino. ;-) It was nice for me to have some alone time, where I didn't have to worry about Jilly. We stayed out there for awhile, then came home to sleep again.

Monday was State Fair day! While we were getting ready, I found a way to keep Jilly busy. Give her a yogurt and let her feed herself breakfast, so I could get ready in peace! It worked, keeping her busy for quite a while. And she actually ate most of it too. Her hair was so crazy (from being in a ponytail the day before) I had to take a picture.


Hayden and Crystal ended up not coming because Hayden's allergies had flared up big time. He had an appointment with a doctor that day anyway, but between welts from mosquito bites and a intense rash, Crystal thought it was best to keep him home from the fair. So we met Joe and Haylee there after our breakfast at IHOP. The first thing we did was visit the McDonald's Farm. It was this kids area where they learn about agriculture. They get a basket and a list as they come in. They have to gather eggs, milk a cow, gather veggies, etc, then return it all at the end for a treat.

Jilly wanted to check out the tractor first.


Then she toddled off with her basket. She didn't quite get the whole gathering thing, but did like the popsicle at the end!


We also checked out the animals. Jilly loved watching the ducklings swim.


After that, Joe left to go meet Crystal and Hayden for the appointment, while Haylee stayed with us. We went to the Indian Village and checked out the jewelry vendors. Mom wanted to buy me a souvenir for the trip and I'd spent a lot of the trip looking and checking things out. I finally found this beautiful silver and opal bracelet made a Navajo jewelry maker. So pretty!


We rode a couple rides with Haylee, then got out of there. Jilly was tired and hot, and had soaked her pants, once again. We weren't sure what we were going to do, because our flight didn't leave until 7:00pm and we had to check out of the hotel, since they were sold out that night. Luckily, Crystal called and told us that Joe's mom has a vacation rental home nearby to the Fair and the airport that was vacant at the moment and she said we could crash there if we wanted. Praise be! It even had a playpen for Jilly to sleep in!! It was so nice to all take a break and get a nap. Jilly slept for two hours, before we had to go. Joe, Crystal and Hayden came and met up with us there. All too soon it was time to say good bye and head for the airport.

We left later than we'd been planning on and now didn't have time to stop for dinner. My mom was understandably cranky about this. Luckily, we got through Security fast and had time to grab a quick, but super yummy, dinner at a restaurant in the airport. We got on the plane easily, even got the 2nd row! Woot! Then the real fun started... I'd given Jilly Benadryl, hoping it would knock her out and she'd sleep. It had worked on the way down. Well, I didn't think it through all the way. On Saturday, she'd been ready for a nap already, the Benadryl just pushed her over the edge and let her sleep in our arms. This time, she wasn't tired already and the Benadryl just ended up making her cranky, not being enough to get her to sleep. Oh man. She FREAKED OUT!! I have never seen her throw a tantrum like this, ever!!! She started shrieking and screaming. It was awful. My mom took her into the back, hoping to calm her. After a while a flight attendant came up to me, saying that my mom needed fresh clothes for Jilly, because once again folks, she had peed through it all. (Just to explain this: that normally doesn't happen. But we kept shoving juice down her throat all weekend long, in an effort to keep her happy, or at least quiet, during whatever we were going. So there were a lot more fluids running through that little body than normal and we didn't take that into account with changing her as often as we should.) Anyway, Mom and I changed her diaper and got her into her jammies, hoping she wouldn't pee again, because I had no more clothes with me. Then I took a turn in the back. She didn't like that. At one point, I was getting overwhelmed and stressed, thinking about how much my daughter was driving the other passengers nuts, and started crying myself. Right at that point, I look up to see Granny coming to rescue us. Eventually, after an hour and a half, and a cup full of ice from a flight attendant, Jilly calmed down and was her happy self again. Just as we were landing, she fell asleep in my arms. She stayed asleep all through getting off the plane, putting her in the stroller, going to baggage claim, getting on the parking shuttle, only waking up for a moment when we put her into the car seat, then all the way back to Granny & Grandpa's, where Daddy picked us up. That was nice since it was late! We all got home, collapsed in bed and slept in the next morning.

So that was our trip to New Mexico. Major kudos to you if you actually read it all!! I know it was long.