Thursday, February 25, 2010

inspiration & joy in the "little things"

Yesterday, Parker & I drove out to Minnetrista to pick up Bella for a "playday." First, we headed out to the MN Zoo where the kids were free to roam & ooh & aah together over all the animals. I felt such joy as I watched was the perfect place for them to have just enough freedom to "be big" & go at their own pace through each of the exhibits. I never could get these two to sit or stand still long enough to get a good "posed" picture of both of them together, but here are a few fun ones captured in the moment. We made it throughout the whole zoo time with only 2 boo boo's -one for each of them- and they were only minor! Success!!! One of their favorite play areas was at the aquarium exhibit. Parker & Bella would run up & down the slope leading to the massive tank squealing & pointing to the colorful fish as they ran by. I think we spent at least 1/6 of our entire time at the zoo at this one place!

It was so cold outside yesterday (19 degrees...the wind chill made it a lot colder though...hence, their pink cheeks in the turtle picture below!)

Parker loved to stick his little hand in the coyote's mouth & squeal...this must be a boy thing! ha!

After the zoo, we drove back home for lunch & "rest time." I honestly didn't think the kids were going to nap, so I suggested we put on a movie for a little bit. They chose the classic Disney Chip n Dale movie/episodes. Bella was holding "greeny baby" & Parker held his Mickey Mouse. Bella liked Mickey Mouse & wanted to cuddle him too. Not even 2 minutes into the first episode, Parker got up from his little red chair, walked across the room to Bella & handed her Mickey. (Proud mama moment!) Bella then walked over to Parker & handed him her "greeny baby." So sweet. Parker didn't need greeny baby though, so he walked back over to the couch & handed over greeny baby to the owner. She smiled. By the third episode in the movie, Bella had laid down (holding both stuffed animals) & passed out on the couch. A few minutes later, I picked up Parker & rocked him to sleep as well. It was a glorious hour of silence. :)

While the babes were sleeping, I piddled in the kitchen getting dinner ready for some friends. Shortly after the naps (& a little playtime!), we left for Shakopee to deliver the supper & then drove on to Minnetrista to drop Bella off. I also got to hold sweet Brady (Bella's new little brother!) for a few minutes. That was my favorite part of the drop off!!!

It was a late night for us, but well worth each minute of it. Tired this morning, but totally rejuvenated by these two things: adorning our kitchen table with spring fixin's (including these beautiful flowers my hubby surprised me with last Sunday!) & my latest Beth Moore Bible Study, Living Beyond Yourself. Thanks to my Sis in-law & my hubby, who at Christmastime decided this would be a perfect at home study for me, I will be relishing this material over the next 10 weeks!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Houston trip & Happy Birthday to Greta!

Last Wednesday, Parker & I flew down to Houston, TX to visit with family for a few days! Aah, it was nice to fly in to warmer weather! :) I didn't take a lot of pictures, but we had a blast!!! We stayed at Ash's & KK's place...did I mention that it had the greatest playground for Parker?! He probably spent a good 4-5 hours at that play area while we were down South.

The girls got creative each morning & while they were getting ready (showers, hair, makeup, clothes, etc. etc. etc. :) ) LC & KK would put Parker in his pack n' play, play Disney music, set up a special tent with his blanket & let him play his little heart out! I so wish I had gotten a picture of the famous tent that he looked forward to "working in" each morning!

He always enjoys watching his aunts while they get ready too! I think it totally mesmorizes him!We spent an evening or two hanging out at the girls' apt...watching movies, playing with his aunts & Nana & Poppie, entertaining us with Buzz & was all fun! We even got to check out Reliant, where the 2010 Houston Rodeo is being held. KK is volunteering at it this year & we (Clay, Parker & I) want to go sooo badly!!! (What could be cuter than getting those boots & that cowboy hat for Parker & taking him to see the horses & fun?!) Oh, for just a few more hours in our weeks! :)
Another hour at the park...
After finding the right hat at the cowboy store, his Aunt Ash helped him pick up some good-looking red boots to complete the rugged ensemble. ;) I have to say that he was by far the cutest little cowboy running around that store that one has ever seen! (And I'm only slightly partial!)
Thank you for hosting us KK & Ash! We had a fabulous time with everyone last week! It was fun getting to sit back & watch in on a part of your life for a few days! Looking forward to more visits this spring & summer!

Parker & I flew back home Saturday morning; Clay had just gotten in from a trip the night before, so he came to pick us up at the airport.

Parker's friend, Greta, was celebrating her 2nd birthday party Saturday afternoon, so we scooted in for the last bit of it. LOVED her theme...Strawberry shortcake! So cute & sooo fitting for her sweet personality! Lucas & Parker had fun helping her eat the cake & play with her new toys of course! :) Thanks for the invite Greta & Jami!!! Looking forward to playing again soon!

Since arriving back in MN, we've been busy, busy on the go...I'm loving (just about!) every minute of it. With that being said, I'm going to scoot off of here & go organize something...

Monday, February 22, 2010

our little cowboy

While we were in Houston, TX this past week visiting family, we took one of Clay's sisters cowboy hat shopping. Parker had a fun time trying on his own hats! I have to say he was fitting right in with the cowboys! Sooo cute! (Thanks for taking these with your iphone, Ash!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marinated Cheese Recipe

Marinated Cheese by Southern Living

1 (.7oz) envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbs minced green onion
2 Tbs water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 (8oz) block Monterey Jack cheese
1 (8oz) block Cheddar cheese
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese
1 (4oz) jar chopped pimiento
Assorted crackers

Whisk together first 6 ingredients
Cut Monterey Jack cheese in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 1/4 in thick slices. Repeat with Cheddar cheese & cream cheese.
Arrange cheese in 4 rows in a shallow 2qt baking dish, alternating Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, & cream cheese. Pour marinade over cheese. Cover & chill 8 hrs.
Drain marinade; arrange cheese on platter. Top with pimiento & serve with assorted crackers.

One of my girlfriends back home used this for Natalie's baby shower. I couldn't get enough of it; it was so yummy! She passed on the recipe, so that I could also serve it at Kelli's shower this past weekend. (Thanks Ashley!)

Here were the alterations I made for Kelli's shower...
Simply for time, I left out the green onion & cream cheese. I actually bought the cubed cheese in the bag to save on cutting time as well. One of these days, I'll do it exactly by the book, but for now, this is what worked...and it was yummy!

At the Grenada shower, Terra actually bought green olives to mix with the cheese because they were out of pimiento at the store. It was also delish!

Marinated Cheese is a great appetizer/party dish that makes 25 appetizer servings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

an afternoon at the zoo

Yesterday morning, Parker decided to help his mama with some of the chores around the house. :) Did I mention he kept me quite busy?!

After an exceptionally short afternoon nap, I decided enough "work" had been done around the house. It was time to get out of the apartment for some fun. For Christmas, one of our family members gifted us a year's membership to the MN Zoo (thank you G & P!).

Because the zoo closes at 4pm in the winter, we quickly scooted out the door so that we could have enough time to visit each of the indoor exhibits. We both had such a great time!!! Parker ran around oohing & aahing over the different animals. Two of his favorite spots on the MN Trail were the ducks in the water & the lynx climbing around on its chilly & rocky environment. Parker always enjoys seeing the sharks & fish at Dolphin Bay. It was a joy to watch him run energy out happily, show such interest in the animals & fish, & behave so well the whole time we were there!

Here's to a wonderful afternoon at the zoo with my little man! So thankful for these special opportunities!

Monday, February 15, 2010

our Valentine's Day together

I wish I could say that I did something fun & crafty in preparation for Valentine's Day with Parker this year; but alas, I didn't even think about it (well, I did, but then I opted to not do anything for it!) As a matter of fact, our Valentine's gifts to each other are still wrapped in the storage room. (gasp!) :) We're celebrating Vday gifts this weekend when we get back from Texas. Last week was a busy week.

We did, however, have a funfilled day with friends. First, we went to church, where Clay & I did our Couples Spotlight presentation. It was fun putting the Powerpoint presentation together & gathering pictures from when we were first dating & engaged. After Sunday School, Clay went in the church service while I had the nursery. We then met with 3 other couples after church for lunch at D. Brian's in Eden Prairie. Kristen & Craig live fairly close to Eden Prairie & had invited us over for some sledding time over at a park by their house after lunch, so onward we went! Parker had a blast going down the hill with everyone & even went once by himself (this was a pretty big hill so I was impressed!)

Kristen & Parker taking a turn down the hill!

Craig taking Parker for a round!

Cute prego Kelli & Brent! Kelli obviously just watched in on the was a good thing she did though...after about 45 min of being out there, Brent got daring & went down "the jumps" & didn't land so well. I'm pretty sure he's ok now, but yeah, it took him a while to get up & make the walk up the hill. He was going to the chiropracter today. Hope you feel better soon, Brent!

After Brent moaned & groaned on the ground for more than a few minutes, Clay & Craig realized he wasn't joking & ran down to check on him. Poor Brent....and Kelli! Kelli was standing at the top of the hill just shaking her head. :)

Parker took a nap on the way home & for a little bit into the early evening. Clay ran to check a movie out for me (Time Traveler's Wife) & then went with Mike, a friend from our Sunday School class to see the U of M Golden Gophers vs Iowa in a wrestling match. Iowa clobbered MN so the guys were a little disappointed but had a good time. I enjoyed relaxing on the couch after Parker was asleep & watching a girlie movie. I really like Rachel McAdams, so I wanted to see it. I cried. It was good; not one I would own though. I bet I would've liked the book better actually.

(It is 5:48 pm. I put on Parker's Classic Chip n Dale Disney movie that he got for Christmas, so that I could get this blog done...I am loving listening to his little laughs when the characters do something funny. He has run in here twice already to tell me something or wanting something, but runs back in the living room when he hears something interesting happening!)

We got back a little over an hour ago from the MN Zoo. I took some fun pictures & will share about our afternoon adventure there tomorrow! :0 Stay warm this evening! I hear MS is getting snow! I know my friends & family are saying Whoohoo!!! ;)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

pink showers, frosty snow, family treats, & growing up!

Yesterday, a few girls from our Sunday School class threw a baby shower for Kelli, who is expecting her first baby next month! It was so much fun sprinkling pink into the apartment...obviously, we see a lot of blue around here! :)

Decorations were simple I made pink & green tissue paper pom poms to hang, as I did for Parker's birthday party. The cake was FABULOUS...for refreshments, guests enjoyed a fruit tray of strawberries & grapes, marinated cheese (a recipe a girlfriend of mine recommended from Southern is so yummy I can hardly stand it!), pink & white peanut butter mm's, and a raspberry sherbet punch.

Kelli received many fun gifts to help prepare the nursery for their "little peanut" that is due to arrive in a few weeks. We played two games: "Guess how big her tummy is!" with string & Baby word scramble! There were several other "prego" moms there & one girl who just had a baby a few weeks ago! Baby talk was filling the air!!! :) Thanks to my sweet hubby & Brent for taking Parker out on a guy's adventure while we girls had our party!

This is what it has been looking like around here...lots of snow & ice! I have to say that the sights have been beautiful...if it wasn't so cold it would be a true winter wonderland! In the mornings, the branches are covered in frosty snow.

It was a fun surprise when this landed on our doorstep last week! Not only did I have fun putting all the juicy steaks & meats away in our freezer, but the dry ice experiment in the sink entertained Parker on & off for about a half an hour!
Clay & I are blessed to have such wonderful family that loves to spoil us so! I hope this is not taken as bragging when I write about this; I am just truly thankful for our family & appreciate everything they do for us. They are so good to send us treats such as this & others such as restaurant gift cards, new books for Parker, clothes for the upcoming season & the growing boy...THANK YOU to our family who loves us the way you do!!! We love each of you too!

A couple of weeks ago, Parker "moved up" to the Toddler Two's room at Kindercare. Several days ago, when I went to go pick him up, I peeked in the door to see time. Before I ran to grab my camera out of the car, the first thing I saw was Parker sitting like a big boy cross-legged on the floor with his sweet little hands folded in his lap. (Yes, I got choked up!) When I came back, camera-in-arms, I still was able to capture a sweet picture of the boys enjoying storytime. (The class is broken up into 2 sections because it is so large. There are lots of girls too, but for some reason on this special day, group time consisted of all boys.)
I love these little peeks into his world!
Fun but rough week ended:
Last week, Clay was gone all but Monday & Saturday (remember that the week and a half prior Clay didn't see Parker at all because we were in MS & he was flying). Let's just say that by Thursday Parker was done with mommy & mommy was all but done with Parker. :)
As much as I thrive (most of the time) on our fast-paced & crazy schedule, I am really looking forward to our days slowing down here in the next couple of weeks. I will also be thankful when Parker's sleep time gets back on a regular routine (a few weeks ago he started waking up at 5am & then again at 5:30 every morning...previously he had begun sleeping in till 7am...Hallelujah! Can we please go back to that...I'll take 6:30!!) An extra hour of sleep makes such a difference for me in the morning!!
Parker & I stay busy even when our feet are planted on MN ground, but busy in a different way. Busy doing whatever we feel like doing on those mornings...going to the zoo & the children's museum, walking at the mall on super chilly days, taking home-cooked meals to & visiting with our friends who have recently received a new addition to their family...
I am also anxious to get in some much needed therapy (ahem), I mean scrapbooking time. ;) It has been a little while! Thank goodness for this blog! :)
I hope everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day! I'll post soon on our adventures for the "love day!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

one wintry day

Monday was a big snow day for us here. Clay, Parker & I decided to take off early in the morning & have some fun in the "white stuff."
It is exciting to see the changes in our little man as time passes. At the first of the season, Parker was timid of snow; now you can hear him calling, "More, More!" before he even reaches the bottom of the hill on his little sled!
I love how he is willing to try new things...with mama & daddy's help of course! :)
Did I mention Clay is ready (ahem, for the last couple of months, he has only mentioned it every other time we have walked outside) to get him on the ski slopes?

P.S. This morning I asked Parker what he wanted to wear to school...he pulled his lime green & red Santa shirt out first, followed by his green froggy rain pants I might add! ha! No, he did not get to wear those to school today. I would have let him put them on & then taken a picture, but I was afraid I would never get them off! ha ha!

Monday, February 8, 2010

trains, marbles, pizza & more!!!

It's snowing outside my know, the big, fluffy kind...I love it. The streets, buildings, signs...everything is blanketed in white. I would love to try & get some cool pictures to share with ya'll later today.

This morning while I was changing Parker's diaper he wanted to hold one of his mini airplanes. While he was lying there, he started making "Vroom, Vroom" sounds. Next, he said, "Vroom Vroom Daddy."
Mama: "Does Daddy fly airplanes, Parker."
Parker: "Yep."
Parker: a bunch of jibberish I couldn't quite make out then..."Nana." "Vroom Vroom....more jibberish..."Waadee" (for Rassie)...."vroom" with some exaggerated flight motions "a Poppie."

Parker was telling me all the people he wanted to fly to see today...I thought it was so cute that he called out each of the grandparents' names!

I wanted to share our Saturday morning outing to St. Paul with ya'll. A friend of mine had invited us to join them for a toddler adventure to Choo Choo Bob's Train Store, a fantasy land for train lovers of all ages. They were having storytime & music time for the children; the store probably had 50+ children in there at one point while there. There were two birthday parties going on back in the Birthday Junction, toddlers & young school age children playing around the 6 Thomas the Train Display tables, & kids sitting & listening to the exciting train stories & songs up front with Engineer Paul (Parker kept wanting to climb up on the train display tables up front & play with the miniature characters & trains!).
The store itself is filled with any kind of train toy, train book, train game, & collector trains imaginable for kids, adults, and collectors. Choo Choo Bob's even has its own tv show & dvd collections for kids!
It's a really neat place...I would recommend checking it out if you live near the St. Paul area!
Parker & Greta playing at one of the train stations.
After playing awhile at Choo Choo Bob's, we left for Wonderment, a toy & craft store in St. Paul that consists of natural toys & creative pastimes for children & their families. Along with the store itself, they offer art/craft classes for children of all ages starting at 2 1/2 & up to adults. The marble runs caught Parker & Clay's attention & held it until time to leave for lunch! :)
We enjoyed lunch at this fabulous little place called D'Amico & Sons on Grand St. in St Paul. For my meal I chose a Roast Turkey sandwich with Avocado. Parker & Clay decided on wood-fired neapolitan pepperoni pizzas...they were delish! I liked my choice of sandwich, but I must say those pizzas are to die for!!!! Parker even shared a little of his with his mama; wasn't that sweet! ;)

Parker loved driving down the big, hill on Grand as we headed back home; it always grants you a beautiful view of St. Paul. The picture doesn't do justice (& we were about halfway down the hill), but it's fun to take a ride down it every now & then just for the view.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

our trip to ms in summary...

Did you miss me?!? :) I meant to post more while in MS, but when I got down there I realized I left my camera cord (you know, the one that links the camera to the computer?) back at home.

I would love to sit & type out a detailed story of all the fun things Parker & I did in MS for the 8 days we were there, but it is Sunday afternoon & this is my first chance with time on the computer since I returned to Minne on Friday afternoon. As you can see, I'm a little behind...

Rest assured, we had a fabulous time visiting with family & friends...& even managed to squeeze in a little R&R! Just in the first 4 days, we helped with 2 baby showers, visited with great-grandparents, grandparents, great-aunts & uncles, cousins, friends, met with Mary Kay customers, visited my old school & had lunch in the cafeteria with the children, played with vintage toys, & collected family memorabilia & pictures for our family history albums. I am so thankful for the time that we had down there. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip that sum up our activities.

Carrie & Ashley at Terra's shower:

Ashley, Carrie & Terra at Natalie's shower:

Terra & Carrie

Supper at Crackerbarrel with Granddaddy, Nana & Aunt Kathi...thanks for my Bulldog gear Aunt Kathi & Alyssa!! (I do think some of our Rebel Fans in the family will have something to say about this though!) :)
This vintage car belonged to Poppie (Clay's daddy) when he was a little boy. It was given to Poppie by his grandmother (Faye's mom)..Parker's great, great grandmother. Parker is having such a time playing with it!!! I am amazed at the great condition it is in! Makes you wonder why they quit building toys with the "stuff" they used to!

Collected bits of memorabilia for our family history albums...what a treasure hunt this was! I was like a kid in a candy store!

Took a walk down to Mama Sam & Shorty's garden in Oxford. Parker enjoyed this first outing "down the hill" to see the dogs, the four wheelers & shed, the garden & more fun outdoor boy toys!!! It was special to see the two of them walking hand in hand down the hill. This brought back many childhood memories for me.

Parker meeting another cousin for the first time...thanks for coming to see us Sam!

Getting into mud & puddles in Rassie's front yard & neighborhood. I should have packed the rain boots & gear for this trip! I believe it rained all but 2 days we were there. ha!

Visiting Rassie & her children in her classroom at school...they loved listening to Parker talk! They wanted him to continue repeating "Rassie" which sounds like "Wahdie."

Special to see Parker walking down the steps at my old school that I went up & down almost every day for 12 years. He visited the preschool classroom (thanks Mrs. Jan & Mrs. Melanie), ate lunch in the cafeteria with all the other students & ooh'd & aah'd over the gym that mama used to cheer & play basketball in (he just wanted to play ball of course!)

Loved "monkeying" around with all his toys at Rassie's & Grannie & Papa's in Grenada...Parker spent a good bit of time at G & P's house with Nana too (thank ya'll so much for watching the monkey for me so I could get my jobs done!!!). I didn't get any pictures of his playtime there, because most of the time I was running around Grenada getting tasks done while they were gracious enough to chase him around for me!!!
One of my favorite relaxing hours while there was when I was able to sit on mama's couch & look through some of Grandmother's recipes. Special moments like this make each of my MS trips even more memorable...
Another picture from one of the baby showers...didn't Ashley do an amazing job with setting everything up. It truly looked like a picture out of a Southern magazine. I especially loved how so much of the refreshments were featured on McCarty.
Yes, I took a lot of pictures while on the trip. And yes, I only wish this was my day... :)

Thank you to everyone who helped to make our trip so special & fun! Until next time...

One of the best attractions for little children at an airport is to get a front row view of your airplane...then you can explain to him the process of everyone checking & getting the plane ready for take-off..."see the pilot walking around & checking the plane, Parker," "Look Parker! They are loading our food & drinks on to the plane now!" All the activity amazes them!
Best plane ride activity for a toddler: Stickers & a blank sheet of paper (or blue jeans will work fine too! ;))