Monday, December 23, 2013

The One Where Good Intentions Weren't Good Enough

I've been thinking a lot lately about being more intentional.  Last year I spent all kinds of money on a popular fancy planner.  It was beautiful and it had my name on it.  It had matching stickers and coordinating pads of paper to make my grocery lists.

And it's still empty.

I'm a horrible planner.  I'm always late.  And I'm always trying to catch up.  So I've spent 5.99 on a planner that is small enough to fit in my diaper bag so I can take it everywhere.  I'm determined and prayerfully planning to be more intentional with my time and my energy.

Enter Fantasy Lights.

Back in November we won a free ticket to the "biggest light display in the PNW" and I was excited to go.  Both Lexington and Charleston (my former hometowns) have fabulous light displays and the last few years I've enjoyed visiting one that you can walk through in Chattanooga with Peter's family.  My boys have been SO stoked about the lights....Reedster sits in the backseat saying "lights, lights" over and over again in the cutest little voice you can imagine.  I had it all planned out.

Yesterday afternoon I realized the free ticket was missing.  After searching the house we printed a coupon and decided to pay the fee.  It wasn't much and it was going to be such a magical night it would be worth it.

Magical.  Uh huh.  Right.

I read on the internet that on Friday and Saturday night there is sometimes a wait so I figured we'd be ok.  Since it was right after dinner we didn't need snacks and we had plenty of little toys/books in the backseat to keep the boys occupied in case of a small delay.  We also left without a diaper bag.

So we set out on the 20 minute drive.  According to my map we were less than a mile away.

And then we stopped.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It would get boring for you if I wrote "and waited" about 76,000 times but that is literally how long we waited.  And once you've waited so long you feel committed.  So we waited.  Patiently mind you.  Once I might have said something like "come on!!" to the traffic and I hear a voice from the backseat correcting me,

"Mama you can wait patiently."

Right.

So we patiently waited.  We finally pulled into the entrance 90, yes, 90 minutes later.  By then this pregnant Mama had to go to the bathroom and thankfully there were a couple of porta potties at the entrance.  I ran over quickly and made it back to the car before we ever moved an inch.  Yeah you read that right.

As soon as I got in the car Stafford tells us "I have to go to the restroom like Mama.  I need to go poop."  Well again we made the assumption that the drive through wouldn't take too long and we told him to hold it.  There wasn't a place to pull over and we were actually getting ready to pay and go through.

It's after 8 at this point (we left the house a little before 6:15) and that's bedtime at our house.  I think the boys were interested in the lights for about 3.7 seconds.  Then Stafford proceeded to say over and over again, "Can we get out of here?  I really need to go!!  I need this to be over.  I don't want to look at the lights.  I need to go potty."  For thirty minutes.  Literally at the end he was almost crying he had to go so badly.  And there was just nothing we could do.

It was miserable.  Seriously miserable.

It's was 8:45 by the time we made it back to the entrance and Peter pulled over and took him to the potty.  And at that point he hit full meltdown mode.  I could hear him crying the whole way back from the potty.  And I don't really blame him.  Who wants to sit in the car for 3 hours while they have to pee?

I asked Peter to pull over and get the boys cookies at Mcdonalds.  I don't normally serve them large chocolate chip cookies at 9pm but I felt so rotten about the whole thing.

We finally made it home at 9:30 and got the boys to be around 9:45.  Reed was surprisingly chipper, chasing the dog around the house as soon as we got home.  But the S-man was so tired he wasn't sure which way was up.  He went right to sleep and I set out to make corn pudding for a potluck.  Because that's what everyone wants to do at 10 o'clock at night right?

**

I'm not sure what we could have done to be more prepared.  We didn't have a way of knowing that the line would be so long.  Another friend visited the lights on a Thursday night and literally drove right in the entrance.

BUT.....it does kind of make me want to be one of those super overprepared "You need x? I have it in my purse!" kind of Mamas.

The thing is I don't think we can be prepared for everything life throws at us.  One of the ways God has asked us to be prepared is to know His word.  In light of certain media events this week I just loved this verse...

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

It's important for us to know what we believe and why we believe it.  But we are to communicate that in love and with gentleness and respect.

At our house this year we are going to be more intentional about "hiding the word in our heart".

What are things you are going to be more intentional about?


He's going to kill me for this picture but it pretty much sums up our night.
The Inappropriately named "Fantasy Lights"....this evening was no one's fantasy!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Insta-November


Healthy 18 month checkup!


Outtake from one of our many attempts at getting a good picture of the two boys


Love that sweet smile


And that one!



This is one of my favorites. Wish it weren't a tad blurry


Our almost daily visitors


Not shy at all!


Wish I had this moment on video. He was hysterical putting this hat on over and over. 


One last park night on Veterans Day 


Thankful for the entertainment Tacoma's many Filmores provide. 



Love watching him be a Daddy. 



Beep beep!!


Reedster is my one sock wonder


Playing the "how much do you love me" game before bed



Shaving cream is sometimes a lifesaver


He loves to say
Cheese


Caught in the act


Having some major crackers & Swiss cravings!


Stafford jumped up on the table upon our arrival at the chiropractor and told him he was sick because he fell off of his bike


His fire truck. Purchased with money in his "savings and spending" envelopes. So proud of our little guy!


Pictures of our healthy baby!


Helping Daddy celebrate his birthday. Isn't matchbox cars what every Daddy wants?


A successful Charlotte Russe!!


Getting our tree


Eating leftover thanksgiving peas. This picture will get its own post soon!

And there is November!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Hazelnut Cake Semi-Disaster

Let's talk a little bit about my buddy Giada.  If you are a long-time reader here you know that I love her food.  I think she makes good food that tastes wonderful, looks fancy and is accessible even to a beginning cook.  That being said...this hazelnut cake threw me for a loop.  I'm sure it didn't help that I was trying to bake and watch both boys at the same time.  But seriously....the pictures and directions were MUCH more pleasing to look at than my efforts. However....the cake did taste great so I feel like I need to share.


The cake part of this recipe is simply...a piece of cake.  (Sorry I couldn't resist...too many years of living with my Dad and now my husband.)  You simply follow the directions on your box mix of choice.  So that part was great.

Also easy to make was the icing.  Simply whip the ingredients with your mixer until well mixed.

The crunch however left me baffled.  According to Giada's directions you should first toast the hazelnuts.  That part wasn't hard.  Just put them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. Watch to make sure they aren't burning and if they seem to be take them out!  After toasting the nuts you are supposed to make a candy of sorts.  I am NOT a candy maker so when her directions said 

"Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and let cook until the sugar is light brown, about 8 minutes. Let the bubbles subside then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts."

....well that's what I did.  3 times.  The first time I thought the sugar was light brown so I poured it over the mixture.  I waited 20 minutes or so and there was NO hardened happening.  So I washed it off the hazelnuts because I didn't have anymore!  At this point I should have re-toasted but I didn't....so my nuts were a tiny bit soggy.  Oops.  The second time I burnt the caramel.  It changes from done to burnt SO quickly and unless you are experienced you probably won't know the difference.  The problem with this is the mixture is HOT HOT HOT.  Like seriously hot.  So you can't test it out or you will burn both your tongue and your finger.  Trust me.

So at this point I've now poured a burnt caramel mix over the nuts and it hardens immediately.  Sigh.  I think I've been working on the cake for about 90 minutes at this point but I was determined to have a gorgeous birthday cake for Peter!  So I soaked that burnt mixture and retrieved the hazelnuts.  Again, I should have re-toasted but there was just not time for that.  At this point I googled how to caramelize sugar and got some fabulous tips.  Thankfully with my tips the third time I was able to make a successful candy mixture.  However this time I was so worried about pouring burnt caramel over the nuts that I waited too long to pour it out and so 1/3 of it was stuck in the pan.  I decided I would just make it work with less candy.

So at this point I have my cake and my icing.  I crumbled the caramel into the icing and iced the cake. It was really pretty!

Honestly it tasted very good.  I'm not a baker so I was happy that the actual cake was moist and tasted cook.  The icing was fabulous...I'll definitely be using the mascarpone/powdered sugar combination in the future.  However!  The caramel "melted" into the icing leaving weird brown looking patches after the first few hours.  So this is a cake you'd want to make and serve on the same day.  It also didn't keep well.  You have to refrigerate since the icing is made of heavy cream and cheese but once it was in the fridge the icing basically melted down the cake.  It just wasn't pretty anymore.  

All in all I would make the cake again but only if I were taking it somewhere immediately and had enough people to serve so that I didn't have leftovers.  The flavour combination was great so it might be nice to try as a sheet cake and I think the icing might work better that way as well.


If I haven't scared you away here are the ingredients needed for the cake, icing and crunch.

The Cake
1 box cake mix

The Crunch
1 cup hazelnuts toasted
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

The Filling/Icing
2 8 oz containers mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract






Christmas Pictures

Both of my kiddos were super cute picture takers from the get-go.  And then Stafford hit 1.  Since then it is VERY hit or miss to try to get him to smile, look at the camera...etc etc etc.  Add in little brother and any type of photo shoot becomes quite comedic.  I tend to like traditional shots...faces...smiles...and I am finding that those are just going to be few and far between from now on.  Regardless I sat the boys in front of the tree today and tried to get a couple of pictures in their matching outfits.


This series was quite amazing.  Stafford's "cheese face" has reached new heights.  This was the best we could do with both "smiling" and looking at the camera.

Reed had moved on to the train table by this point but I convinced this guy to try to take a picture with Mama.  So glad I did.  He even has a semi-normal smile.


Ok so it's not a smile from the Reedster...but he is the cutest thing I've ever seen!


And another non-smiler here.  But the best we could do.  He is starting to look so old to me.  Can't believe both of these guys will be big brothers in just a few months!


They were both excited about their reindeer shirts.  I try not to dress them alike too often but for special occasions I think it is fun.  Plus I got great deals on these last year :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Halloween


Sadly Peter had to work on Halloween. Our neighborhood has a fabulous event where al of the businesses close early and they close the streets for trick or treating. It's light, warmer and safe!


Stafford and one of his gal pals!


My munchkins. Photo courtesy if my dear friend Mica who came with us! I couldn't have done it without her!!!



My favorite part of the night was when this pirate gave Stafford two necklaces. He immediately turned around and have me one and said...this one is for you Mama!  It has a special place in my jewelry box now. 


My beautiful necklace


I went to answer the door to pass out candy and came back to an empty glass and this guy chowing down on my dinner!!
 

Chili is apparently good to eat and wear!

**

Best quote of the night belongs to Stafford at the first stop. When the store owner gave him candy he looked at me and asked...What is this??

After hearing that it was chocolate he looked at the man and said with stars in his eyes...

Is THIS a chocolate factory!?!?!

It was awesome!





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

End of October



This one bloom in my hydrangea stayed perfect until the end of November. 


Stafford wants to make banana bread with me as often as possible. The first time we made it he told me he needed a chefs hat. The next day I found this little set. Isn't it precious?


Waiting for Mimi & Grandad to arrive!!


Proof that my husband and father in law love me dearly. This new fixture has made winter bearable for me this year. So very thankful!!


Couldn't find a prettier hat maze!


This was the coolest slide. All three boys loved it!!


Hanging out with Grandad


Stafford was so excited to find "baboo" at the zoo. He wanted to know where the pandas were. 


He walked down the while flight if stairs holding my hand. So big!!

Watching the seals with Mimi


The walrus is his favorite


We had a crazy week or two of fog. You couldn't see anything driving and it was foggy all day long. 


The haul from salmon fishing!


Getting more adept at the playground equipment


This is one of my favorite pictures of him ever


He told me Reed has a booboo


Every season is beautiful here


Date night at Maxwells. Fabulous!!


This is our favorite date dish. $10 and we both leave stuffed!


I want to dress him up in animal costumes everyday


These two. I pray they will grow up the best of friends



Aren't they cute reading in their t-shirts!


Reed made a little announcement this month!



S didn't want to touch the seeds but true to form Reed went right for it!













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