Wednesday, October 28, 2015

15 Weeks!

Sweet baby number three is nearly four months along now. ♥

The baby certainly wasn't shy about making his or her presence known. The morning sickness was so bad in the early months that I half-joked with Lauren that I must be having twins (who gave me much more than just a horrified look in response). Since then, the doctor granted Lauren much relief by verifying that there's only one little peanut in there. I'm finally over all the nausea and feeling good enough for regular runs and yoga again (hooray!).

My munchkins have been pretty humorous about everything so far. They just adore interacting with the baby. Elissa will put her head on my belly, and say "hug baby!" again and again. Occasionally, though, when we ask her where the baby is, she'll point to herself (or her own belly). ;)

Meanwhile, Brayden loves chatting the little one up (about anything and everything) and making predictions as to the gender. It started with him putting his eye up to my belly button and saying "Yep! It's a girl, Mama. I can see her!" Then, for a while, he was on a baby brother kick. Last week, he told me it was girl because "she swims fast and girls swim fast." This week, he's back to predicting a boy. Brayden also quite enjoys giving the baby things. He'll shove food in my mouth and tell me "give this to the baby!" It's pretty adorable, really.

All is well in the pregnancy world so far! ♥

(Pardon the tardiness of the picture below; I haven't gotten around to a new one yet!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Future Engineer

Brayden has recently decided he wants to be an engineer. It was a quite amusing conversation, actually.

It started one day when I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up. His response? "You'll just have to wait and see, Mommy." Ha! Alright, then. Thanks, kid.

We proceeded to discuss different occupations, listing them one by one and explaining what they do. Brayden contributed his fair share of ideas but when I got to engineer, he stopped me right there.

"That's it! I want to be an engineer when I grow up. I want to build things! But I don't know how to build things yet."

I explained to him that it was perfectly alright that he doesn't know the intricacies of the profession yet - that's what school is for (and student loans, for that matter).

A week later, he and I were driving in the car again and he said, "Mommy, when I grow up and am an engineer, I want to make a car that flies."

Not a bad aspiration. He followed up his ambition with, "Mommy, why don't cars fly?"

Trying to figure out an easy explanation for it that a 3-year-old might be able to grasp, I said it was because they are made of metal and metal is very heavy. His response?

"But are airplanes made of metal?"

(Insert speechlessness here)

It was then I realized that I'm starting to actually use all of those graduate degrees I have just to talk to my three year old. ;)  I had to back track and give him an entirely different - more complex - reason why cars do not fly.

You know, I really thought I would have been okay with the metal reason considering that my son still wears diapers at night! Apparently not.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New House!

Moving has proved to be much more time consuming than I gave it credit for. Everything seems to take three times longer than I think it should (which means I'm still waist-high in boxes). Despite the chaos of putting together a new house, we're off to an amazing start in our new home.

Some highlights from the first week:

1. Knowing you've been in the city too long.
Lauren's dazed reaction the morning after our first night here.
Lauren: "What is that beeping??? Do you hear that beeping? Is there an alarm going off?"
Krystin: "Those are birds, sweetie."

2. The kids having their own outdoor space. 
I know Brayden loves the outdoors. But Elissa? She's taken it to a whole new level. She would live outside if she could (and I think we're moving in that direction). Every morning, she runs right to the patio door saying "Side! Side!" (Outside). When it's time to come in - even if we've been outside for the entire day - she protests. And then runs right to the front door saying "Side! Side!"

The accessory overload is all Elissa. She added the hat ... and the bow.

3. The wildlife.
We very quickly realized that there's a family of deer living in our backyard (a Mommy with two babies). Coming from an urban area, this was amazing for us. The kids love looking out the window and seeing deer in our backyard. (The deer also spy on my little ones while they're playing on their swingset) We've seen a large variety of wildlife here already, so when Brayden saw a house cat on the street during our jog yesterday, he said "Oooooh! Mom - look!  A cheetah!"

4. Renovations.
Yep, they can time-consuming (and costly), but we're really enjoying making this house into our home. I'll post projects as they're finished, but our hands down favorite so far is the stair/floor combo. When we arrived, the wood floors were a dull gray color. We spruced them up with a different color and changed the stairs to something I had in mind that was a bit more modern. Add a different color paint to the walls and the atmosphere is entirely different. We adore it! :)

There's still a giant list of things that need to be done, but even with the house un-put-together, we're having a blast here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Little Miss Sassy Sunshine

In a nutshell, that's my little one.

With each passing month, she seems to grow both sassier and sweeter. Her personality is comprised mainly of two characteristics that are seemingly on opposite ends of a personality scale. And I think it is contradiction itself that has become one of her identifying factors:

She's small but she's mighty. She's sweet but she's spicy. She's little but man is she fierce. She wears dresses and bows but can outrun and out-climb most two-year-olds. She is quiet but insanely determined and stubborn. She hugged Daddy so tight (and for so long) yesterday when he came back into town... and then she protested so adamantly (and with quite a bit of kicking and screaming) when I wouldn't read her another story before naptime.

Elissa is hilarious. I love the dynamic nature of her personality. She just refuses to be confined into one box.

I also adore watching how her personality manifests itself. I love seeing her kindness come out when Brayden starts crying and she brings him his lovey or a cup of water (or attempts to give him hugs). I love watching her study older kids on the playground and then resolutely set out to accomplish the same feat - no matter how difficult. I love seeing her determination with whatever task she's attempting. Her stubbornness and sass may drive me bonkers from time to time, but I love her for it.

She is hilarious, sweet, stubborn and strong. She's kindhearted, determined and opinionated. Daddy calls her a "firecracker" for good reason. And come on - who doesn't love fireworks?

The following video was from this weekend, when I put a pair of squeaky shoes on Elissa and set her down in the kitchen. After the initial shock of the shoes, I couldn't keep her still. The laps went on for another 8-10 minutes. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My First Cake Show

I've only been decorating cakes for about six months... but I wouldn't be me if my chronic overachieving tendencies didn't lead me to enter the National Cake Show. The cake I made was this gigantor...

My almost finished cake (I ended up adding a lip around the top of the record player and painting a fondant covered square with food coloring to look like the Casablanca vinyl sleeve)

The theme for this year's wedding cake contest was "Sing Me a Love Song" - you had to make a wedding cake (at least three tiers) inspired by a love song of your choice. I chose the song from Casablanca "As Time Goes By" and depicted the way love songs (and all music) have changed over the years. My concept was really about timelessness - things that are part of society and life even though time might change them in certain ways. 

I definitely didn't win anything (some of the other cakes there were just insane), but I received great feedback from the judges. I half-expected them to point out every mistake I made on the cake, but they were actually pretty awesome. They really liked my cake (and concept), told me the things I did especially well (they loved the cutout speakers on the bottom and the figures on top) and a few places where I could improve (adding different techniques mostly). 

It was super amazing seeing other people's reaction to my cake. There was almost always a group of people looking at my cake and commenting on it. I loved eavesdropping on them and listening to everything they said. :) Surprisingly, it made that whole week of staying up until 2-5 in the morning worth it. 

The other benefit of the show was getting to see all the amazing techniques other cake artists used. Since I've never taken any formal decorating classes, almost all of it was new to me (and much of it I had never even heard of before!) There was even this insane technique using royal icing where you drape it in one direction, let it dry, flip the cake over and do it in the other direction. So insane. 

Participating in the show was outstanding. I'm super excited to do it again next year and work towards a divisional award. :)

A few of the crazier cakes. The one on the left won first place in the non-professional division. Thankfully, not all of the other cakes were this insane (otherwise I would have been pretty embarrassed by my showing! Lol)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Graham Cracker Snow Day

We've had a lot of snow days recently. And when you have snow days, you need to fill the time with two (super) little ones not old enough to play in the snow for more than a short amount of time.

Most recently, we spent the morning making graham crackers. Lauren scoffed at the idea, telling me that sometimes homemade things are more trouble than they're worth (and often don't live up to packaged equivalents). But when he came downstairs while they were in the oven, he kept raving about how good they smelled. And when they were done, he joined Brayden's impatience in waiting for them to cool. ;)

The snow day was a success, not just because we made delicious (non-processed) yummies, but also because the kids had a blast helping out. ♥

(Link to the recipe follows the pictures)

Maybe just a taste...

Picking out the cookie cutters

... and rolling out the dough

Elissa did not want to stop punching out cookie shapes ;)

Ducks in a row ;)

Brayden's special airplane graham cracker (minus the cockpit)

The recipe I worked off of was from Weelicious. I changed a few things and would recommend decreasing the cook time by a couple of minutes (they'll still be nice and crunchy, don't worry!)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toddler Moments

Brayden is at that age where one minute he is making your heart melt and the next he's making you want to pull your hair out. Thankfully, the former come way more often than the latter and stick with us a lot longer. Some recent gems that have made us laugh, smile and just say "awww..."

♥ Walking around with a ruler and holding it up to everything. He gets up to me, puts it against my leg and says, "Yep. You're seven months old Mommy."

♥ Hilariously professing, "I have a wiener. And Daddy has a wiener. But you and Sa-Sa Bean have baginas."

♥ Beating me to the punchline when I was trying to get the two little ones upstairs. He looks at me and says "Come on you crazy children. Let's go," then runs up the stairs giggling.

♥ Correcting me while making graham crackers together on yesterday's snow day. We were cutting ducks out of the dough and Brayden asked me where to put them. I pointed to the line of ducks on the cookie sheet and said "they do say to have your ducks in a row" and Brayden quickly responded with, "No, Mama. They say quack."

♥ Randomly asking Daddy while driving, "Daddy, do you have a song in your heart?"

♥ Deciding that in front of the pre-teen neighbor kids was a good time for a realization. He ran up the stairs shouting "I love boobies!" (Looking at you, dear hubby)

♥ After climbing on me and accidentally making me fall into a table, Brayden saw I was hurt. He comes over and says, "It's okay Mama," and starts stroking my hair and singing to me (the ABC song). After he finished the song, he looks at me and asks "Do you want a different song?" A girl can't say no to that, so he proceeded to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to me before ending with a kiss and saying "Are you happy again, Mama?" How could I not be?

This is what Brayden considers a "handstand" ♥

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sweetness Overload

Elissa at one...

... doesn't just walk everywhere -- she runs, climbs and dances her way around the world

... is very independent and curious (and thus, uses the skills above to their full extent)

... when she gets upset, she flaps her arms up and down like a bird trying to take flight

... when she gets excited, she kicks her feet in and out like she's trying to do air squats as fast as she can

... spends approximately 93 percent of her time smiling or laughing

... is learning her colors

... points to things she wants (or wants you to see)

... is daddy's groupie when he's playing guitar

... loves books

... will dive into your lap, lay on her back and look up at you with a smile when she wants to be tickled (and will do it repeatedly until someone grows weary of the game)

... flirts with strangers -- and does a really good job

... finally broke the 20 pound mark last week -- by just one ounce

... follows directions quite well (we've been told she has super-advanced receptive language skills!)

... gives you this innocent and hilarious 'oh-am-i-doing-something-wrong' smile when you catch her in the act

... is a meat and vegetables kind of girl

... is way too charming for her parents' good

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Top 10 from the Wedding Weekend

My brother (and amazing new sister!) got married just over a week ago. We were down in Florida for about a week for all nuptial-related events and we definitely stayed busy. The week stretched the boundaries of crazy (and my family isn't exactly known for being boring!), but you can never go wrong with a wedding. ♥

Top moments (and photos) from the weekend...

10. The bachelorette dinner. Because there's nothing like watching someone who has never drank before have two or three white russians. (Be warned: there may be a video somewhere of you rapping in the car on the way home, Kristi.)

9. 'Friends' themed bridal shower ("The One Where Kristi Gets Married"). I loved the themed food (Rachel's trifle was particularly delicious). Guess who knows way too much about the show and won the trivia contest? This girl.

8. Cousin love. Brayden adores his cousins -- especially the newlyweds' daughter. He followed her everywhere and she happily humored him - singing songs, dancing and playing with him to his heart's content. (Several times this week, he's asked me to go play with her or sang songs that she was singing with him) Meanwhile, Elissa was learning new tricks from her other cousins and getting a pedicure from her Auntie. ♥

7. Pool time. It was Florida, after all. Unfortunately, packing bathing suits was an oversight (I honestly didn't think we'd have any time to fit in swimming) so Daddy bought an overpriced pair of resort trunks and the lady at the shop gave Brayden the smallest pair of shorts they had -- which were probably still three years too big on him. Regardless, the guys and little ones had a blast.

6. Morning salon time. Kristi's uncle owns an amazing hair salon, which he closed for the day so we could all get pampered. It was AMAZING. Not only did the stylists do a fantastic job, but Kristi's uncles spoiled us rotten with all the food and Kristi lavished us with wonderful bridesmaids gifts (love my embroidered robe!).

5. Finishing the cake. Note that I did not say making a cake. Making a wedding cake while my husband is still in Virginia and my kids need constant attention (and everyone is running around doing wedding-related things) was no... well, piece of cake. ;) But finishing it sure felt good.

4. The catastrophe. Every wedding has one - at least on some scale. This one? Less than an hour before the ceremony and my sister's already shoddy zipper completely breaks -- in an non-repairable way. Thankfully my mom was around to sew her into the dress. (I think the groomsmen were a bit disappointed that my mom is such a good seamstress and that it held up)

3. My walk down the aisle. I have the most amazing hubby and kids ever. As I was walking down the aisle, I saw my family in one of the back rows. The second Brayden saw me, the biggest, sweetest smile in the world spread across his face. It was pure joy and it made my heart melt. My little girl sees me and starts giggling and then I hear my hubby saying to Brayden "look at how pretty Mommy is! She's so beautiful..." Once I'm finally standing in a neat row with the other bridesmaids, I hear my son echo "Mommy is pretty!" from the back. ♥

2. Baseball tennis. Leave it to my hubby to come up with an event that the entire family joins in on. It started when Brayden wanted to play tennis with Daddy (since my family has random rackets in the garage and he spotted them, it was only a natural request). Daddy starts pitching to him and helping him hit the ball as if he were playing baseball. The other cousins join in. Then my parents go out to watch. Then my siblings. Soon, everyone is taking turns pitching to all the cousins and having a blast.

1. The wedding, of course! Not only was the ceremony truly touching, but the celebration was exactly what you'd expect from our families and friends. Perhaps a bit unexpectedly, Brayden stole some of the spotlight at the reception with his hilarious dance moves. The blurry pictures below are some of the many girls who were dancing with him. At several points, they even made a circle around him! I don't know that I've ever seen that kid so out of breath and happy. He had an absolute blast.

And finally, a few more of my favorite photos from the weekend... with an end picture that accurately describes exactly how I felt at the end of the week. ;)

For the record, Brayden has never been so utterly exhausted that he fell asleep in the car, didn't wake up when I took him out and didn't wake up when I put him on the couch. That's how you know it was a good party. ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Birthday Tea Party (& Photos)

It's been a crazy couple of weeks (it feels like I'm always saying that!). My baby girl turned ONE this month and we had a great little party to celebrate. Although there was supposed to actually be tea at her tea party, daddy decided that with so many little toddlers running around, it might not be the best idea. 

With or without tea, the party was a lovely celebration of my daughter's first year. We had a great time with all the friends and family who could make it.

Birthday morning!

What will Elissa be when she grows up? If the "fortune telling" game is any indication, she'll be a scientist! :)
Elissa went right to the scientist item (the lightbulb) but was also somewhat interested in the medical item. 

Opening presents with Daddy. We're not a fan of "girly" gifts over here, but the Raggedy Ann doll was an exception. :)

Reading a birthday book with Daddy. ♥ This little angel just ADORES reading!

Party time!

Mommy's attempt at tea cup sugar cookies

I think Brayden ate about three of these sweet little sandwiches. :)

I finally got to make a birthday cake for my own daughter! :)

Mommy and Brayden at the cookie decorating table

Grandma and Elissa checking out the cookie decorating

The birthday girl ♥

An exhausted but happy little girl with her Grandma

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cake Bits (& TimeLapse)

It's been a pretty crazy couple weeks over here. I've been baking up a storm lately - code name Hurricane Betty Crocker - and I have an even more hectic coming month. Over the next three weeks, I'll be making five party cakes, one wedding cake and a few dozen cupcakes.

I usually post my cakes on my Facebook page, so feel free to look at my recent yummies there. I've found that a lot of people are really intrigued by the entire process of cake-making, so I thought I'd post some pictures that in this post. My brother also gave me the great idea to do a timelapse of an actual cake - which I've included at the end. Though I'm a novice at making videos, I think it came out pretty well. :)

There's a lot that goes into building cake. Filling, frosting, moistening syrup, cake layers. I make sure I have everything in one spot and just build from the bottom up.

When Daddy isn't around to snuggle with, my sweet little puppy keeps me company! ♥
Fondant elements for a winter wonderland cake
I always take pictures of my cakes on a white backdrop. While I was doing that, my little guy insisted I take a picture of his snowman cup. I tried to just take a picture of the cup as he was holding it, but he said "No - Mommy. Over there!" and insisted on getting a backdrop shot of Frosty. 

More fondant elements (for my family's Christmas cake, obviously!)

Frosting cupcakes. Yum!

Adding a finishing touch and boxing them up. 

Here's my time lapse of a decorated cake with fondant. It goes through each fondant element then the building of the cake.

The finished cake from the time lapse above.