Monthly Archives: February 2011

Big Red and Sue E.

The night before we flew home from Arkansas in December, Jake and I took the boys to their first ever Razorback basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville!  Opi, Hunter, Tim, Candice, and Laci also joined us and we all had a great time!

Walking from “The Pit” to the arena.  Two of my favorite things about this picture…1.)  Laci, Hunter and Ben holding hands and 2.) Laci’s pig tails…they’re absolutely adorable!!  The kids were all so excited about the big game that they didn’t seem to mind the long, cold walk to the arena.

Finding tickets.  So we didn’t exactly have all the tickets we needed when we arrived at the game.  Ben was eager to help out by proudly displaying four little fingers.  I mean, really, who could turn him down?!?  We quickly found tickets, made our way inside and grabbed our seats just in time for the tip-off! 

Snacking on concession food!  Ben loves popcorn and he and Hunter are sharing a box of it in this pic.  He also munched on nachos and a hot dog!  A couple of times I heard Ben holler out “defense” even when we had the ball and he’d clap anytime anyone on our team or the opposing team scored a basket!

Cheering on our team!  I wasn’t sure how Jude would hold up considering game time was his normal bedtime.  But, in typical Jude fashion he was pretty chilled out and quite content to hang out on Opi’s lap.  (This picture really doesn’t show just how excited he was…he was bouncing, clapping and letting out little squeals for most of the game!)  I’m pretty sure he was in Hog heaven and happy to be out and about with all of us!

And the most anticipated event of the evening…

meeting Sue E.

and Big Red!!


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Food, Hobbies, Holiday, Jude, Travel

Loving Christmas 2010…A Little Recap

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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

A Tale of Two [Christmas] Parties

(I know…I’m posting about Christmas in February…)

Back in December, the Family Events Committee put on the annual holiday party for all the kids in our neighborhood.  The kids sang Christmas carols while they waited for Santa to arrive.   And arrive he did, on a fire truck!!  (Don’t forget to turn up the volume to hear the cute carols!) 

This was Ben’s first official meeting with Santa!  I wasn’t sure if he’d be scared to meet him this year, but as you can see he was very eager to make his way to the front of the crowd!  Before we left for the party I asked Ben what he was going to tell Santa he wanted for Christmas.  “Guido, Luigi, and the Leakless Truck,” he replied.  Forget about even letting Santa sit down, Ben was ready to give him his wish list right away!

There was plenty to do at this party:  a DJ played music for the kids to dance to and he led them in some fun games; craft tables were set up for kids to make Christmas ornaments and decorate sugar cookies; and there was lots of yummy food to eat.  While Ben had fun doing all of these cool things, this window seal overlooking the lake below is where he and a few of his buddies (Kaden, Sophia and Kailyn) enjoyed playing the most while the party boomed on behind them.

And just in case Santa forgot, Ben sat on his lap and reminded him one more time about the things he’d like most for Christmas!  (Is anybody with me on this one or does Santa seem just a bit…odd?  I know he’s missing his glasses and all, but we all felt Santa was just a little, well, strange.  When referring to Santa, I overheard a party goer say, “All he’s missing is his bottle of whiskey!”)

Jude was well into his morning nap when the Christmas party started so when he woke up, Jake brought him up for a visit with Santa.

We managed to get both of the boys to sit together on Santa’s lap for half a second.  I love their cute smiles in this pic (even if Ben is covering most of his mouth with his hands)!

Oh, and did I mention face painting?  Ben chose the tiger design!!  He’s very into tigers these days.  He loves the book Rumble in the Jungle because it has a tiger that goes “Grrr”!  Every time we get to that page Ben pretends to put his finger in the tiger’s mouth and we have to make pretend noises like the tiger is eating his finger.  Funny, that boy!


The day Ben’s preschool let out for Christmas break they put on a small presentation in the corridor right outside their classroom for all the parents.  The older preschool kids put on a much larger Christmas production in the church sanctuary, but since Ben is only in the 2’s class they scale it way back for the little ones.  Ben is considered to be in the “older 2’s” class based on the date of his birthday so that’s his class you see standing up behind the “younger 2’s” class sitting in the chairs.  I should also note that I was only able to record a little (and I mean a little) bit of the actual singing because my camera memory card ended up being full.  Bummer, I know.  I even made sure to clear all the pictures from the card the night before, I guess I just had more video on it than I thought.  The good news is that my friend Steph (the one you’ll see in the video) did get all of it filmed so I hope to get a copy from her and I’ll try to get it posted here at some point!  Anyway, Ben did a great job!  The first song they sang was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…I love his little twinkling fingers!

After the big show we mingled with Ben’s classmates and their parents while munching on muffins and juice!  Before we left, Ben handed out these little bags of cookies to his classmates… 

…and he delivered boxes of homemade fudge to his teachers, the office staff and security personnel!

This homemade fudge is to die for!  I just so happened to have the Food Network Channel on one lazy Saturday afternoon while Ben napped and Jude played on the floor next to me.  The show Dessert First with Anne Thornton came on and she was making her Fabulous Fudge recipe.  I grabbed a pen and jotted it down while she cooked.  Here it is…you should tuck this one away for next Christmas…it’s yummy and so so so simple!


1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk chocolate chips

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pinch of salt

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts


In sauce pan combine sweetened condensed milk, milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir to make sure condensed milk coats chocolate chips. Stir in pinch of salt. Put on stove and heat stirring frequently. When melted remove from heat. Add vanilla and walnuts. Stir to coat walnuts. Pour into foil lined pan and smooth out. Let fudge come to room temperature then put in refrigerator for three hours. Remove from pan, cut and serve.  Enjoy!


Filed under Ben, Food, Friends, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

My Heart REVS For You!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ben’s preschool class celebrated Valentine’s Day last Thursday by exchanging cards and small goodie bags.  This year we opted for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts.  We took our inspiration from a car show that Jake and Ben stumbled upon while out running errands one Saturday afternoon.  Jake just so happened to snap some cute shots of Ben standing by various cars and trucks and I thought they’d make great Valentine’s Day cards!  So, I let Ben pick out three of his favorite photos, we printed them, glued them to colored card stock and then wrote some catchy little Valentine’s Day phrases on them. 

Here are the photos and phrases we used… 

“My heart REVS for you!”

“Have a MONSTER sized Valentine’s Day!”

“Glad you DROVE into my life, Valentine!”

A special card just for his teachers…

“You make life SWEET!”  (This is a photo from Ben’s Christmas party in December.  That’s his teacher Mrs. H on the left and the assistant Mrs. B on the right.  We absolutely LOVE them both!  They are really REALLY wonderful!)

Ben decorated the back of each card with Valentine’s stickers and we attached each one to a bag of homemade chocolate dipped pretzels with heart sprinkles.

Ben had so much fun acting as the “sprinkler”.  His philosophy…some for me, some for you.  Each time he sprinkled a chocolate covered pretzel, he sprinkled his mouth!  I got the pretzel inspiration from my sister-in-law.  She made these for Christmas and Ben loved them!  Thanks, Candice!

The finished products!  Ben was really excited to hand these out to his friends!


Filed under Ben, Co-op preschool, Food, Hobbies, Holiday, Orlando, Projects

Happy 14th Birthday, Kayla!

Today is my niece’s 14th birthday.  I can’t even believe that I just typed “14”!!  I remember when she was Jude’s age!  I also remember the first time I heard her laugh (Mom, Jill, Julie and I were driving home from Branson, MO, with Kayla in her car seat…her laugh was so cute and contagious, we all began laughing!)  I’m pretty sure from the day she was born she loved all things girlie.  From the moment she could walk (and probably before then) she loved high heel shoes referring to them as “klop klop shoes” every time she’d ask to wear a pair!  One Christmas she even put on a fashion show for us by modeling all the clothes she’d received as gifts.  Now as she’s getting older I find myself asking her for fashion advice!  Oh, and did I mention this girl can shop…but she’s thrifty, she can make her money go a long way!  It’s very impressive!  She’s very creative too and is quite the little artist!  And as you can see from the picture above, Kayla loves to have fun!  That’s her along with Hunter and Jude…they gave themselves Rudolf noses over Christmas…aren’t they just the cutest reindeer you’ve ever seen!   

Happy 14th Birthday, Kayla!  One of the coolest things I love about you…you’re a God’s girl!  It is awesome to talk to you about your love for God and about going to church!  You have no idea how encouraging it is to talk to you about your friends and school too…you, my dear, are one smart chica and I’m so proud of you for making good decisions!  You are truly beautiful on the inside and out!  May this be your best year ever!  We love you!

p.s.  You should come and stay with us in Florida this summer!  We’d love to have you!  🙂 


Filed under Birthdays, Family

Jude…8 Months


I realize that today actually marks 10 months for Jude and clearly I’m way behind on my blogging, but there are just a couple of highlights from Month 8 that I wanted to share.  Here they are…

Jude’s first haircut!  I never would have dreamed of cutting Ben’s hair when he was this age.  It really wasn’t until around eight months that Ben’s hair started to grow.  However, with Jude it’s a different story.  I love this picture because you can see just what I’m talking about.  See that little tuft of hair hanging over his left ear.  He was in need of a trim.  So while we were all together in Branson over Christmas, Omi grabbed her scissors and did just that…she trimmed the hair over his ears and in the back along his neck. 

Here’s the chaos that was actually going on around Jude during the haircut.  We sat him on top of the kitchen table while Omi trimmed his hair, Jake steadied his head and I kept him from toppling over.  Jude was quite the trouper!   To keep him from getting upset we let him play with a wrapped gift box and sang to him.  Whew!  I’m pretty sure all of our arms were burning after that, but in the end Jude was one sharp-looking little guy!  Thanks, Omi!

Another first…a ride in the swing!  Before flying home from our family Christmas vacation in Branson we stayed with Tim, Candice and Laci for a few days.  They have two great little swings out back and Jude loved every second he got to ride!  Take a look for yourself…


Filed under Jude, Orlando

“That’s Naughty, Jude!”

The day after Thanksgiving we surprised Ben and Jude with a special package.  Inside the package Ben found a scout elf sent to us by Santa Claus himself straight from the North Pole.  Thankfully our scout elf came with an instruction manual.  Here are a few things we learned:  The scout elf acts as Santa’s eyes and ears observing children and sending “naughty and nice” reports back to him during the Christmas season.  The elf was under orders not to speak to the boys and the boys had to follow one simple rule…they were not allowed to touch the elf or his Christmas magic might disappear.  Our elf was in hibernation in his box until we adopted him.  As soon as we opened the box and gave him a name he received his Christmas magic.  What is his name?  Well, we let Ben name him.  When we asked Ben what we should call the elf he, without any hesitation, exclaimed, “Frickie!”  And there you have it…a new Christmas family tradition began.

So each night after the boys would go to bed, Jake and I would find a new place for Frickie to reside for the next day.  And every morning Ben would wake up and hunt around the house until he found him.  Can you find him in the picture above?  Oh, yes, there he is…observing meal times from the light fixture!  On this particular afternoon the boys were sitting at the table while I finished making lunch when I heard Ben in typical bossy big brother fashion shout, “Nu uh!  That’s naughty, Jude!  You can’t thow your sippy cup from the table.  Santa won’t bring you any presents!”  I had a good laugh there in the kitchen and over lunch I explained to Ben that Jude wasn’t quite old enough to know any better.  We really enjoyed having Frickie in our home this Christmas season (he even traveled to Arkansas with us), but for now he’s “hibernating” in our attic until next year!

p.s.  Want to know more about scout elves?  Check out

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Filed under Ben, Holiday, Jude, Orlando

Ho, Ho, Ho! Happy Birthday!

SPOILER ALERT:  If you have young children that still believe in Santa and can read, stop them from reading any further!!!  🙂

Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, David!  Can you find him in the picture?  (Hint:  He’s the one with the long white beard!) 

He was quite the good sport over Christmas and agreed to dress up like Santa.  My family (all 18 of us) gathered in a beautiful home in Branson, MO, for the Christmas holiday.  Sometime during the early morning hours on Christmas day while the kids were preoccupied with opening stockings and presents, David slipped away to adorn himself in Santa’s finest.  Not long after that we heard a knock at the door and all of the adults chimed in almost simultaneously, “Who could that be?”  The kids were beyond excited (and some a little star struck) to see Santa standing there in their living room!  There were handshakes and hugs, questions about who was naughty and nice and words of gratitude for all the nice presents Santa delivered the night before.  Finally it was time for Santa to say goodbye.  And then it was asked, by Hunter I think, “Santa, Can I see the reindeer?”  Hmm.  We hadn’t anticipated that question.  And then all the adults began to speak up saying things like… “the reindeer are resting, yes, resting…they are down the road at the 7-11…getting some snacks and…resting before the long journey back to the North Pole.”  And with that the kids seemed satisfied and bid Santa farewell.  It was at that moment that I realized that all of the kids (minus Kayla) really did believe in Santa!  So cute! 

Thanks, David, for making family events so much fun!  We hope you have a wonderful day!!  We love you lots!        

Here’s a question for those of you that weren’t at this Christmas gathering…What accessory is missing from Santa’s costume?


Filed under Arkansas, Birthdays, Family, Holiday

An Important Health Message From Dr. Ben*

Meet Dr. Ben…

Today concluded a two-week stent involving community helpers at Ben’s preschool.  Last week involved visits from local fire fighters and police officers and this week involved visitors from the medical community.  A dental hygienist visited Ben’s class today.  His teacher reported to me that the hygienist taught the kids the correct way to brush their teeth by demonstrating on a friendly alligator that just so happened to have very large  teeth.  Apparently, the hygienist also talked to them about the importance of good nutrition and the effects a poor diet can have on their teeth as reported to me by Ben. 

[Walking down the hallway leaving Ben’s preschool classroom.  Stuff Ben’s unusually full backpack in basket of stroller while pushing Jude, dodging parent and toddler traffic and occasionally calling out verbal commands to ensure Ben is walking not running.]  

Ben:  Mommy, Do you eat pizza and coke?  [Calling out over his shoulder as he walks a few steps ahead]

Me:  Yes.

Ben:  That’s bad for your teeth.

Me:  Oh?  What is good for my teeth?

Ben:  Milk.

[Load both boys back in the vehicle, drive 25 minutes home and unload both boys from vehicle.  Set them up with lots of fun toys to play with while finally eating lunch.  Finish lunch and sit down to play with boys for a few minutes before nap time routine begins.]

Ben:  [Leans in close and wrinkles his nose while attempting to smell my breath]  Mommy, Are you chewing gum? 

Me:  No, I just finished my lunch.

Ben:  Your candy lunch?

Me:  [Stifling a laugh]  No, I just ate a cookie after lunch.  Would you like one?  

Ben:  Yes, please.

Me:  Are cookies good for your teeth?

Ben:  Yes!


An interview later that same day with Dr. Ben…

Who knew that milk AND sausage are both good for one’s teeth!?!  But beware of the bad popcorn-soda and milk-soda!


I thought this whole dental hygiene lesson from Ben was very timely.  It just so happens that I had a dentist appointment yesterday for my first cleaning of the year.  And as luck would have it…I have a cavity!!  😦  I was really surprised!  The last time I had a cavity was about six or seven years ago.  Ugh!  Maybe Ben’s on to something…maybe all that pizza and coke I enjoy really is the culprit!   

*Dr. Ben is not a real doctor.  He is two.  Statements contained in this message have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.  Please consult your health care provider before beginning a new diet routine.


Filed under Ben, Co-op preschool, Orlando

A Train, The Tree and Thanksgiving with Oma

At the end of November, Oma Leah flew in to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us!  Since we live on opposite ends of the country, it is always a special treat to be together…especially for the holidays!  Since Jake had to work some while she was here, we made a trip to the mall one afternoon to meet him for lunch and let Ben take a train ride around the first level of the mall with Oma!  (Are you seeing a blog pattern here…Ben and trains!!  Anytime we step foot in the mall Ben will stop, put his hand to his ear and say, “Can you hear that, Mommy?  It’s the train!”)

As we made out the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner the two desserts on the top of the list were pumpkin pie (my favorite) and pecan pie (Jake’s favorite).  Oma made a delicious pumpkin pie “from a recipe in her head.”  A bit of this, a pinch of that and a sprinkle of something else and viola…pumpkin pie goodness.  I’m always impressed when someone can just throw together a recipe from scratch because I’m a follow the recipe exactly kind of girl.  Jake definitely inherited his momma’s fantastic cooking skills because he cooks just like her and everything always turns out a-mazing!  Thank you for my pie, Oma!  I enjoyed. every. bite!  (And, yes, I did share!)  She also had planned to make the pecan pie, but before she had a chance to get it started our nice neighbors (Emerson and Mindy) from down the street pulled up to our front door towing their two boys (Drake and Walker) in a wagon and delivered a pecan pie!  It was a huge pecan pie (pretty sure it would have fed a small country) and it was de-lish.  We were thankful for their thoughtfulness!   

We thought it would also be fun to come up with a dessert Ben could do (almost) all on his own.  What better than chocolate covered marshmallows with sprinkles (of course…he requests sprinkles on everything) on a stick!  We made these for the first time earlier in the year at our Halloween playgroup party so I thought we’d give it another try at home.  It was just as fun and just as yummy the second time around.  We used Wilton Candy Melts (in fall colors) and melted them in glass bowls in the microwave.  To dip them we improvised and used toothpicks since I was out of lollipop sticks.  Once we put all the marshmallows (you can also use brownies cut in small squares, but marshmallows are easier for kids) on toothpicks, we let Ben dip them in chocolate and then the sprinkles.  We set them aside to let the chocolate harden and in no time at all they were ready to eat!  (Another fun tip…if you use the lollipop sticks, once the chocolate hardens you can put them in cellophane bags and tie them with ribbon.  They make great little treats to hand out to friends!)  Super fun, super easy!

On Thanksgiving morning we all worked together to make monkey bread!  You can get the recipe here.  In my opinion this is the best monkey bread recipe ever!!  Thanks for sharing, Sarah!   Once again, I was too caught up in eating to stop and take a picture of the finished product, but you can see pictures of the awesomeness on her blog!  It really does turn out that beautiful!  It’s also another really fun and easy way to get your kids involved in cooking.  Ben loved coating the biscuits in cinnamon sugar by shaking the ziplock bag.  We had no problem devouring the sugary, buttery goodness!  Hmm, once again another post all about food that is making me hungry and I haven’t even gotten to the main course yet!!  

Another team effort…Thanksgiving dinner!  I’ll admit I was a little anxious thinking about how it would all come together.  It’s not too often that we host Thanksgiving at our house.  Minus me dropping a glass jar of baby food that broke into a million teeny tiny pieces in the pantry right as we were putting dinner on the table, everything really did turn out wonderful!  On the menu…fried turkey.  I have to give credit where credit is due and the turkey was all Jake.  “She’s a beaut, Jake!”  The bird not only looked amazing but tasted even better!!  The rest of the menu…mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, bacon wrapped green beans, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, whole cranberry sauce, rolls and sweet tea.  And as an extra special treat we sipped on sparkling grape juice.  Sparkling grape juice was always a family tradition around our house during the holidays.  It was cute to watch Ben’s eyes get big as he’d take a drink, swallow and then turn to me with a big grin on his face and say, “It’s bubbly!”

Not only was this Thanksgiving extra special because we had Oma to share it with, but it was also Jude’s first Thanksgiving!  While he couldn’t fully participate in eating all of the delectable offerings, he did enjoy some potatoes (both sweet and mashed), green beans and fruit!  And after that savory meal, we were all ready to go into hibernation for the evening!  


Without missing a beat, we were all up the following morning ready, willing and able to perform the duty of finding the perfect Christmas Tree.  Of course there was no one more ready and willing to help out than Ben! 

I had to post this picture because every time I look at it I am reminded that even though we’ve lived in Florida for five years (yes, five!), I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea of  warm weather during the holidays.  Nothing says Christmas like t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops!!

Another first for Jude…picking out a Christmas Tree!  And after searching, selecting, shaking and scrutinizing (i.e. checking for holes, fullness, and height), we found the one.  And in Clark Griswold fashion we tied it to the top of our vehicle and headed for home.  

Oma, we are so thankful for you!!  Thank you for coming to visit…we loved having you here!


Filed under Ben, Family, Food, Holiday, Jude, Orlando