Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year of Mickey Mouse

One of Gavin's favorite characters is Mickey.  He just loves that mouse!!  He got plenty of Mickey Presents to make the year complete.  I don't think he has a favorite, he just loves anything Mickey!!
 Homemade body pillow from Grandma Beth.  The best part about this was the letter "M"; or when Gavin ran to the other end of the pillow he said "W", then ran back again and said "M", and then ran and "W", ran "M", etc. - it went on for several minutes.
 A giant-sized Mickey from mom & dad.  This made it to his bed on Christmas night.
Mickey even made our Christmas morning family photo.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First Haircut

In the past we've always done home haircuts; Gavin just didn't' have enough hair to justify going to a shop.  We decided it was time to get a real, big boy haircut.  As you can see he didn't like the kid-friendly environment of Snip-Its any better than the shower at home.  He did, however, like the lollipop at the end (we can buy those and have them on hand for post-shower haircuts).

Before                   and                     After

 Preoccupied with a bus, only temporarily.
 Called for Daddy to hold his hand, like we were torturing him.
 Definitely not a fan of the cape and/or the itchies from the cut hair.

We went on Christmas Eve and the place was dead.  They said the 23rd there was a 2 hour wait so I guess we picked the right time to go.  I will give kudos to Snip-Its!  Although their prices were insane (we paid more for Gavin's haircut than we do for Jason's), they are totally kid friendly and have a very nice staff.  They make note of how they cut your child's hair so you don't have to remember the next time you are there.  They have movies for kids to watch, and toys to play with, and even a treat ticket you can use to get a treat when you're all done with your haircut.  Seen how it was his first salon type haircut they gave us all the goodies to go with it as well (lock of hair, certificate, etc.).  Thanks Snip-Its for doing your best to make this a positive experience.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Scrumptious Sundays

Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake
We decided to try a new recipe for Christmas Day; it was SO worth it.  As far as cakes go I would say this was fairly labor intensive.  Took a while to get all the pieces moving - but the end result was delicious.  Another bonus is it could be made a day ahead of time.  It was just as moist and delicious as if it had just come out of the oven.  One thing we liked best was that it wasn't too too sweet.  After a large Christmas dinner who wants a big, sweet, filling dessert.  This went great with a cup of tea/coffee.  Can't wait to eat more later in the week.
  1. 1 1/2 cups diced peeled Granny Smith or other tart apple
  2. 1/2 cup apple cider
  3. 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  4. 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  1. 1/2 cup walnuts
  2. 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  1. Baking spray with flour 
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  3. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  4. 2 large eggs 
  5. 1 large egg yolk
  6. 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  7. 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups) 
  8. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  10. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  12. 3/4 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  13. 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
The Labor Begins
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare filling, combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates and apple is tender, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick.
To prepare streusel, combine walnuts and next 3 ingredients (through ground cinnamon) in a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup bundt pan with baking spray. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds to sugar mixture. Reserve bean for another use. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine milk and yogurt in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.
Spoon one-third of batter into prepared pan; sprinkle batter with half apple mixture and half walnut mixture. Repeat layers, ending with remaining third of batter; smooth with a spatula. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove cake from pan. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Ultimate test - even Gavin ate it and loved it (the non-bread of any kind eater)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You better watch you, you better not cry...

Santa Clause Is Coming To Town!!
in the meantime we went to visit him at Bass Pro Shops.
Yes, it is random, but we got the tip from our fabulous friend and neighbor Renee.  Guaranteed the smoothest Santa visit we've ever participated in!  The store opens at 9:00 am and Santa arrives at 10:00 am.  We goT there at 9:30 and were the 3rd people in line.  Having a few adults (Grandma Beth, Jason, and Barb) to hold the place in line was perfect.  Once Santa arrived we were in and out in less than 5 minutes.
 They have SO many things for kids to do other than stand in line; excellent idea!!  The boys played with race cars for the first 20 minutes and had a great time (not sure who enjoyed it more Jason or Gavin).
 In preparation for our  move to colder weather, Gavin got in the spirit.  We weren't really sure what the deal was with the fake snow, but he LOVED it.  He turned and said "Mommy, can I lay in it?"
 Whatever makes you happy Gavin!  I mean really, doesn't he look thrilled to be laying in fake snow?  Goofball.

 He also asked if he could give Santa a kiss - so sweet!  Jason said that was a little weird, but Barb thought it was adorable.  Much better than the crying 2 year old deathly afraid of Santa that we could have had on our hands.
 In addition to a letter writing station to Santa, race cars, a snowball throwing cage, a shooting range, a train track...they also had a Merry-go-round.  Every time we came around he said "Daddy look at me!"
And then the perfect pose!  What a great kid and what a great picture.

Now if you're not a fisherman, hunter, or outdoorsman of any type - don't count out Bass Pro Shops.  All of this wonderful Santa's Workshop magic was 100% FREE.  What a nice treat compared to the typical mall.  Thank you Bass Pro Shops for making our Santa experience OUTSTANDING!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here We Come A Wassailing

Do you know what wassailing is?  Wassailing refers to signing carols door to door wishing good health.  Can you think of a better way to spread Christmas cheer?
It all started last year when the Hendricks showed up on the doorstep of the Links and sang a Christmas Carol.  Samara loved how it made her feel and said we should do it for real next year.  A plan was made.

We sent an e-vite with hopes to get a crowd big enough to not notice the poor singers in the group; our RSVP list was slowly dwindling.  We did however have one taker (YEAH)!  The Fehling family joined our group and it was simply perfect!  
 We started at 4:30 with homemade individual pizzas.  Fun and yum!
 The plan was a PJ Caroling party.  Gavin sporting his new PJ's made with love by Grandma.
 It was so great to have a playmate for Gavin; the boys played while we ate and practiced Christmas carols.
 And we headed out!  Kids in the wagon, caroling music in hand, candy canes to hand out for a little extra treat.  
 We quickly found that choosing the right day and right time can make or break your caroling experience. We thought a Sunday evening would be perfect, but we found more houses empty than full.  The houses that did have people at it loved the caroling and you could tell we really did spread Christmas cheer; it made us feel good as well as the recipients of the carols.
 The Fehlings
 The Hendricks
The girls (who carried the boys with our signing skills!) 
Should you decide to make this a tradition at your house here are a couple of tips we think are great: 
  • Start with snacks or dinner to get everyone together and practice a few songs
  • Provide the lyrics (thanks Sam!) - you think you know the words, but when you are standing in front of a strangers door it's amazing how quickly you forget.
  • Sing 1 carol followed by the chorus of We Wish You A Merry Christmas-it's a great way to leave the family you just caroled to.  Decide before you get to the door how much of the 1 carol you are going to sing - some are very long.
  • If possible, plan a neighborhood that seems to already have a lot of cheer.  Our plan next year is to hit a street and/or neighborhood where all of the neighbors decorate - and decorate a lot!  You are guaranteed a happy audience with all that Christmas spirit!
  • Follow the evening up with dessert and hot cocoa at someone's house.
We all had a great time!  We are for sure going to keep this a family tradition and will learn new tricks and tips each year to make it even more fun.  Hope we've inspired you to do some wassailing of your own!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scrumptious Sundays

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Great dish for making ahead:  holidays, guests, arrival of a baby :)
You can prepare and cook it, then all you have to do is heat it up, thank you Giada!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • We purchase already cut, cubed, and ready to cook at Costco or Whole Foods
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
    • Also known as Amaretto Cookies, not easy to find - call your grocery store first before driving all around town (like we did)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
    • We used 2% to cut down on a little of the fat
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions can be found at the Food Network Site.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Successful 60

We did it!
OK, so we do it every year, but this year we were 8+ months pregnant.  Jason walked all 60 miles, and Barb did pretty darn close.  A few sweep vans and a few extra stretching breaks, she managed to finish 50 of the 60 miles...not to shabby.
 Cold morning start.  Our designated driver Samara took us all over Phoenix dropping off cars, and dropping of us to make this work.  She has been our very early driver a couple years now - we couldn't do it without her!

 Rain??? At the AZ 3 day walk???  What???
Yep!  At least we weren't too hot.

 Our #1 Fan - one of the main reasons we walk!!  Thanks Little G for coming to cheer mom and dad on at the finish line (and thanks Grandma Patti for bringing him!!)
Yes we will again be participating in 2012 and look forward to all of the support we get.  Thank you everyone who donated and supported in any way you could.  This is an amazing experience and we feel so fortunate that we are healthy enough to walk each year.  If you are interested in learning more about the Susan G. Komen for the 3 Day, feel free to check out their website or contact us.  We'd love to have a team larger than 2 next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Big Boy Bed

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving we introduced Gavin to his new bed.  He actually was home when it was delivered and assembled.  WOW, he was so excited.  He really loved watching the workers put it together and kept asking "can I get on it".  We quickly put the bedding on and got ready for night night.  We never would have imagined the transition would have gone so easy.

He's slept in it every night since then, and only one night came to our room (he had a bad fever, so needed to be with mom and dad)
 He picks 3 books every night to read and someone climbs in bed with him to read.  If mom and dad are both home he often requests both of us.
 Luckily we ordered a bunkbed, but full size mattresses, so there is plenty of room for Gavin, mom, dad, Mickey, Boo Boo Ducky, and all his blankets (he has 5).
We added the extra security railing because Gavin hasn't quite figured out how normal people sleep in a bed.  His first night we crept in to take a photo - here he is upside down, no pillow, and no comforter.  He's making progress over the last few weeks and usually stays up towards the top of the bed.