27 January 2013

Our Week - 1/21/13 - 1/27/13

Madden is doing so many new things so quickly!  This age is SO fun!  This week Madden held a phone up to his ear and said "HELLO".  He has also been saying "Thank You" when we hand him something.  Of course it comes out more like "eh ooh", but he's saying it intentionally and we can understand him :)

Mariah has become very picky about the socks she wears.  She really only wants to wear the couple pairs of Hello Kitty socks she got for Christmas.  Which often results in me washing those two pairs a couple times a week.  OK I admit, she sometimes wears the same pair two days in a row.

I am busy with work.  Tis the season!  But I like being busy!

Mike officially has a running addiction.  He spent way too much money on running gear this week - but hey, it's a good addiction! :)

 Preface: I tend to call Madden "Buddy" - it's his little nickname that just kind of stuck.

The other day I accidentally called Mariah "Buddy".

She looked at me with a very angry face and said:

"NO!  Don't call me that!  I'm RIAH!!!"

Painters tape and a blank canvas!
Note: Hello Kitty socks :) 

Let the painting begin!

Artist hard at work!

Finished product!

The start of the gallery wall above Mariah's bed :)

Just watching shows on the ipad.  Totally normal activity for a 13 month old!

24 January 2013

Nutella-Swirled Banana Nut Muffins

Mike and I have this dream that we should open a restaurant.

It's something that will likely never happen, and in all honestly I don't know if we REALLY want it to (it would be A LOT of work!!), but we like to joke about it every now and then.
We have really taken interest in cooking/grilling/baking the last few years.

I never knew it could be so enjoyable to cook meals at home.  I find myself actually preferring a meal at home to going out (well, maybe that has something to do with the fact that a one year old and a two year old at a resturant makes for an interesting dining experience? :)

Mike is definitely the cooker and grill master, while I am the baker.  We like to compliment one another's skills every now and then and when we make something really good we say to one another...


And well, these muffins…. They could TOTALLY be on that hypothetical menu!

Nutella-Swirled Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from The Novice Chef
Yield: 24 muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In mixing bowl, combine banana, sugar, brown sugar.  Beat in egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.  Slowly add the dry ingredients until no lumps.  Stir in walnuts.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  Top each muffin with about 1 tsp of nutella and use a toothpick to swirl into the muffin batter.

Bake muffins for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

20 January 2013

Our Week - 1/14/13 - 1/20/13

Madden is just showing off with his walking skills now.  He goes from one place to the next with complete confidence.  This week he learned how to stand up on his own in the middle of a room and then take off walking!

Mariah's food allergies are improving drastically!  Months ago, a bite of ice cream would cause a rash all over her face.  But this week she successfully ate not only ice cream but even drank a glass of chocolate milk!  (Although she doesn't like to call it "milk", she prefers "hot chocolate" - but who cares what you call it... she had milk with no reactions!)

Mike & I celebrated his upcoming birthday (January 22nd) with a night out - dinner and an Iowa basketball game.  We had such a great evening and the hawks won, too!!! :)  

We are continuing our training for the half marathon in April.  I also started a Zumba class this week (on Thursday nights).  It's something different that gets me out of the house for an hour or so.  I like it so far!

Mariah has become quite the backseat driver.  Many times this week you could hear shout:

"STOP Mom, red light!"

"Go Dad, it's green!  GO DAD GO!!!!!"


On Saturday we dropped Madden off for a fun couple hours at Grandma & Grandpa house and Mike, Mariah and I headed to the bowling alley.

We got Mariah all set up with bumpers and an 8 lb ball.  Of course she is a bit to young to understand how bowling works, but she had fun letting us help her roll the ball down the lane.

Mike and I had fun, too.  I hadn't touched a bowling ball in 4 years so I was NERVOUS.  I let muscle memory take over and it went better than I expected (although much work is needed on my spare shooting... of course!).  Makes me itch to join a league sometime in the near future :)

"I can carry the ball all by myself!"

The ball return is the most exciting thing in the whole bowling alley

Taking a break from bowling for a bite of her candy necklace

Her form is a "work-in-progress"

No interest in watching the ball hit the pins :)

The glove and candy necklace were essential pieces to her bowling attire :)

Enjoyed the warm weather on Saturday

Got a chance to take Mariah's Christmas present for a spin around the court!

"When is it my turn to drive, Mom!  This girl is crazy!"

17 January 2013

Diet Book and Double Vanilla Brownies

So it all started when I was searching for free books for my kindle app.  I was searching through Amazon's list, choosing romance novels, silly short stories and even a cute little kid book about an owl (for Mariah, of course).

Then I came across a diet book.

Being it is January (everyone is on an "eat healthy" kick right?) and it was FREE I decided to download it.

I didn’t really think I would read it.  I've never read a diet book before. So as I was laying in bed a few nights later I began looking through all the books I had newly downloaded into my Kindle app. I came back to this diet book and thought, oh what the heck, I'll read the first page or two.  Little did I know 10 minutes went by and I couldn’t put it down.  In a few short pages I was pretty sure my life would be changed forever. What is this book you ask?

It's called The Eden Diet by Dr. Rita Hancock.

But its not really like any other diet I've tried.  It doesn’t tell me what to eat, I don’t have to write anything down and I don't have to go to meetings.  I've tried many diets that included all of the above requirements… and although they have worked for me in the short term, they arent necessarily the lifestyle change I needed to keep off the weight I had lost.

I wont give it all away (because if you are interested in reading the book you will get a much better understanding), but the key to this diet is:

Eat only when you feel true hunger and eat just enough to satisfy you!

That means those brownies I wanted to make?  I can actually have one!  And not feel guilty!

Because I will wait until my stomach tells me its hungry and only eat a small serving.

After trying this for the last week I noticed that I don’t have the cravings that I typically have on another diet that limited my options to "no sweets" or only fat free/diet snacks.  And also?  I feel a whole lot better after eating ONE cookie than I ever did after a dozen!

So... about those brownies...

Double Vanilla Brownies
Adapted from Betty Crocker  


1/2 cup butter
1 bag (10 oz) white vanilla baking chips
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 13 x 9 inch pan (I actually used my beloved brownie pan!).  In a 2 qt. saucepan heat butter and baking chips over low heat, stirring often to let the chips melt slowly.  Remove from heat and cool.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended.  Spread evenly into pan.

3. Bake for 30-35 mins (about 25 minutes in the brownie pan) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool before serving.

I baked them, let them cool and when I felt hungry I cut one in half and enjoyed it!

My new favorite word as I make my way towards a healthier me:  MODERATION

13 January 2013

Our Week - 1/7/13 - 1/13/13

  • Madden started taking A LOT more steps this week.  He's really stable standing, but has been a little hesitant to move his feet.  This weekend he really started going!!  So fun and exciting.
  • Mariah practiced coloring in the lines this week - it may or may not have consisted of her drawing lots of lines across the paper.  It's a work in progress.
  • Mike and I began training for a half marathon - our plan is to run the race in St. Louis in April!  It feels good to be training for something again.  And Mike it super ambitious to make his first race a HALF!!!

While in the car:  
Mariah: "Hey Madden, look at my finger, i hurt it"
Me: "How did you hurt it?"
Mariah: "No mom, I'm talking to Madden!"

Putting her to bed at night lately she wants to "tell us a funny story.
The story always goes like this:
"One time, there was a ladybug down the street and a giant dinosaur came and bited her!" The End.  (I'm waiting for the funny part... :)

Birthday Parties!

We had two parties to go to this weekend.

The first was for Caleb - he celebrated his 2nd birthday with a super cute Sesame Street party.  We all had a great time watching him blow out his candle and open his presents.  The balloons were quite the entertainment for all the kids, as well! :)

Birthday boy getting his ELMO cupcake!

Opening presents

Mariah, being her crazy self :)

Madden checking out Caleb's new toys

Hunter and Mariah talking about their slinkys :)

The second party was for Kiera - celebrating her 1st birthday at Jungle Bungle.  The kids had a blast playing around - I haven't been there in ages!  Mariah even convinced Mike and I to go down the HUGE slide - the steepest, scariest slide I've EVER been down.  No joke, I will have nightmares about it.

Mariah in the play area
Kids playing

Birthday girl with her cake!
She's not sure what to think of it :)
The kids had a great time - Mike and I, on the other hand, were exhausted!  Thankfully we had Sunday to recover :)

I call this Madden's SCRUNCHY FACE.  He does it a lot :)

11 January 2013

Healthy Chicken Nuggets and Fries

Kids love chicken nuggets and fries - it's pretty much a fact.  

If I ever ask Mariah what she wants for dinner the answer is always the same: 

"Chicken & Nuggets!" "Oh, and fries too, Mom!"

With all those images a while back with the "pink slime" I try my best to avoid fast food unless we are desperate.  We buy the freezer chicken nuggets sometimes, too, but that has been through all sorts of processing as well.

We randomly bought Corn Flakes last week at the grocery store, and as I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner the other night it clicked - Corn Flake Crusted Chicken!  I remember making that a time or two when I was younger, and it was always good!

Corn Flake Crusted Chicken Nuggets
Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 Skinless uncooked chicken breasts, cut into strips or cubes
1 Large Egg
2 Cups Crushed Corn Flakes
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/4 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season chicken strips with salt or pepper.
2. In a bowl, whisk egg with 1 TBSP water - set aside
3. In a large bowl mix corn flakes, oil and cayenne pepper
4. Work one strip at a time - dip in egg mixture and then roll in corn flake mixture to coat
5. Set strips on rimmed baking sheet with space between each piece
6. Bake 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

I've never seen two kids enjoy chicken more!  They gobbled these down quicker than I could cut them!    And I feel much better knowing what went into these "nuggets"!

Now for the fries.

Sweet potato fries are usually my go-to for a healthier take on the regular potato fry.  But I wanted something a little different.

I searched through the fridge and spotted a huge bag of carrots.  Hmmm.... carrot fries?  Could this work?  I did a quick search and what did I find - carrot fries are a real thing!

Carrot Fries

Large Carrots
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Begin by washing the carrots thoroughly and pat dry.  You can peel the carrots if you prefer, but I leave the peel on because it has the most flavor.  Cut into fry shapes, keeping them as close to the same size as possible (so they cook evenly).  Once cut, toss the carrots in a bowl and pour olive oil to coat.  Add salt according to your preference.

Line a baking sheet with foil laying fries flat and not overlapping.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip fries with spatula and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

This was another winner at our house! These fries were addicting.

They of course didn't TASTE like fries - they tasted like REALLY good carrots and the fry shape tricked the kids into eating them.

Such a fun way to give kids (and adults!) what they want, yet the peace of mind that they aren't eating processed who-knows-what! :)

06 January 2013

Our Week - 12/31/12 - 1/6/13

So... what happened this week around here?
  • Madden said his first word - CRACKER!  This kid likes food... a lot! :)  He also started taking a few steps on his own - he's going to be walking any day now I think!
  • Mariah decided she hates bed time - she insists that the door should remain wide open and the light should be on.  With this situation we often find her running down the hall way and whispering down the stairs that she "needs water", "has to go potty" or "needs a new stuffed animal to sleep with".  Oh two year olds :)
  • Mike bowled a 279 in league this week - not too shabby after taking two years off!
  • I went back to work full time after 9 months of working 32 hour weeks (blah) and FINALLY got my butt off the couch and started running again after a month-long hiatus

  • This week on the way to day care she told me that she was going to buy two houses - one for her and one for Madden - using her piggy bank money.  Then she thought about it for a minute and said... "No, my house wouldn't fit in my piggy bank!"
  • We usually give Mariah a dollar to put in the collection basket at church on Sunday.  Today we gave her two dollars and she proceeded to put one in her pocket and said "One for Jesus, one for me!"

Family Museum

We met up with one of my co-workers and her family.  The kids had a blast checking out all the new exhibits!  Here are a few pictures from our fun afternoon:

Mariah insisted on wearing this giraffe costume and dancing :)

New indoor water play area!  So fun!

Bridge with windows in the floor to watch the fishies

Madden in the driver's seat

Playing with trains!

Watching the pennies go round and round

Little musician in the making!

Moral of the story: Get TWO doughnuts! :)