Monday, August 27, 2012

Catching up

I had no clue that quitting my job would actually make my life more busy.  I am IN LOVE with my new job as the full time caregiver and mother to Miriam and Lydia, but boy do we stay busy?! I hardly ever get a chance to get on the computer, much less blog.  But being that our summer is about over, and as of last week I started a new job (I'll be teaching Spanish one day/week at Miriam's preschool), I have a few resolutions to tackle before school starts next Thursday.  So today, I've uploaded some photos from the past few weeks, and even blogged a bit.  Here's what you'll find:

I have loved blogging, even in the early days after momma passed away, and hope to keep with it a bit more as school gets underway.  Just last fall, I only had like 7500 page hits. Now I'm 484 away from 20,000!!  (Some people set goals to have like a bagillion views - and some people start small :)).

I wonder how long it will take to get there? 

Ghent girls updates

We have had quite the end of summer this month! I knew after the busyness of July I wanted to sit, stay, rest, and have fun (if that was at all possible!). So we've done a mirage of events to enjoy the last bit of summer.  The girls continue to grow so fast too!! Enjoy a little recap of our August fun!
We went to the Velodrome to watch the women's bike racing one weekend.  Miriam had a blast, mainly because she got to ride on a "schooo bus" to get from the parking lot to the event. 

We've had many a pj days this month just enjoying the house and our yard.  Miriam is LOVING her little sister and trying to get her attention any time she can. She loves reading to her and playing with her (and her toys!).  One of the best feelings I have is seeing the reaction on Lydia's face with Miriam addresses her, smiles, and talks to her. 

Yet again, I still can't take a picture with Miriam looking at the camera and smiling.  But anyway, she's still adorable!

We were in Georgia for our nephew, Will's birthday.  Apparently we've been holding Miriam back as this was her first attempt at watermelon on the rine.  Obviously, she enjoyed it.

We took a trip to Trader Joes (the day before we started potty training) and they gave Miriam some stickers at the check out counter.  She was so polite and said "Thank you" without prompting, so the cashier gave her this plant.  She is obsessed with it even still!

With so much success on the potty training end (we are now out of diapers except for during "sleepy times"), she deserved a little reward.  This was the night we bought her some more undies. I don't know what she was more excited about: the panties, or her yogurt!

What would the end of summer fun be without Weeze? 

We've done lots of art work.  This day we painted with our finger tips and our feet so we could make our cousin Jack a card for his birthday.

Breanna (Jeremy's cousin) came to visit with us a few days before she moved into to her college dorm.  Miriam loves playing with her (and everything that belongs to her).

Then we went to the Children's Museum with some friends and actually enjoyed it this time.  Miriam was really impressed with the dress up closet and wanted to be a pirate (until I went "Argh") and then doned the princess dress.  Bad hair day, eh?

We met up with Miriam's preschool teacher from last year and her three kids and headed to Golden Corral to eat our weight in the salad bar, chicken fingers, and the chocolate wonderfall!! I don't know what it is, but I crave the buffet style meal every once in six months or so, and this one didn't disappoint.  We even got cotton candy and Becka used her talents to score all four kids a stuffed animal from the crane machine!!

We visited the county museum one Sunday afternoon before nap (because it's free to the public then).  I knew she'd be entranced by the mammoth of an elephant at the end of the exhibit hall. Jeremy and I both grew up visiting these same exhibits, and even had a teacher in high school who basically killed all of them for the display.  Miriam loves animals, but is somewhat terrified of them, so these almost-look-real-but-don't-move beings are perfect for her liking!

On our last week of summer, we headed to Baxters Bunch for a little playtime.  Since it's hard for me to join in on the fun with little Lydia, we asked a church friend (Miriam's favorite future babysitter) to come along and play.  They had a BLAST and were both thoroughly exhausted by the time we got home (mission accomplished!)

Lydia, well, hasn't been doing much, other than being cute.

More proof.

Another piece of evidence...

And just in case you didn't believe me...

I rest my case.  You may notice that in some of the photos she's wearing bibs. The teething demon has struck us (since about mid-July) and has totally reeked havoc on our sleep and lifestyle.  Lydia's clothes don't stay dry, her hands are always laden with slobber, and she seems to be in a somewhat state of pain 85% of the nights.  But soon, and very soon, hopefully, we'll see a tooth pop out. She is 2 weeks shy of 7 months and we still haven't started solids yet (woohoo) but I have a feeling that it will be time soon. So, in between my baking frenzies, I'll be peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes, steaming all of the veggies, and breaking out the cube freezer trays again for operation homemade baby food.  Now that I know how it works, it shouldn't take any time to get done. 

Bulletin boards: a confession

In college, while I was burning the night candles reading the 500+ pages of Don Quixote in a foreign language, I laughed at my fellow classmates who were education majors and were complaining about putting together die cuts and cute shapes for their classrooms during their internships.  I mean, really, how hard can a bulletin board be?! It's time I issue an apology to each and every one of you.  Your cute, creative, fun "busy work" really was meaningful and time consuming.  And to me, it's been stressful!!

The past few days I've worried myself sick over a stinking bulletin board.  I am excited to be teaching Spanish to the cute preschoolers at Miriam's school each week, and I have my own "classroom" that doubles with the church as a Children's Church room.  There's not a whole lot of potential and room for me to do much, other than the bulletin board, so I had to get to working.  However, I'm in an environment where almost all of the other teachers are certified and are certainly more skilled and competent at what they do than where I am.  I have taught children before and I've taught Spanish, but not necessarily the two together. 
This is pretty much what it looked like when I got into the room last week (minus the blue paper - I forgot to take a real initial photo).  Eek - what was I to do?!

So I've been working hard at night and on the weekends to put my teacher skills and creative juices together.  Today was BB-day (bulletin board day).  I went in with my vision and actually had an outcome worth being proud about.  Without having taking the Bulletin 101 course at EC I think I'll manage to pass on this one. 

So at the beginning of each class, we'll say our hellos (top left corner) and at the end our goodbyes (I also need to at buenas noches) - Not sure how I like the black doesn't really look like it fits in but it will do. Then, as we talk about colors, we'll point out the yellow sun, blue sky, pink flowers, green grass, stars/moon, and white clouds so we learn colors and other vocabulary.  Decent? It will work! I've got another board to work on - my "que esta en mi caja" board (what's inside my box?).  I hope the kids will be as excited about it as I am!!

Reese Cup, Raspberry Lemonade and Gluten Free

As much as I haven't been busy, I've been just as busy in the kitchen during nap and late at night finishing up several dozen orders over the past 6 weeks. It's gross to think about the pounds (and pounds) of butter, sugar, flour and eggs I have gone through to make sweet tooths happy!  I've done everything to just plain ol' vanilla, to creamsicle and purple (for a psuedo clemson party), to my new fave-Reese cup (both regular and GLUTEN FREE!!), and Raspberry Lemonade. I've had so much fun trying new recipes and of course indulging in a cupcake or two myself. Here are a few pics and recipe links to the ones I've really enjoyed:

Our friends are chocolate fans. We are chocolate fans.  So I took my favorite chocolate cake and frosting recipe and found a good addition in the peanut butter filling from this cupcake recipe and created a wonderful masterpiece. This is way more worth wasting your calories than a reese cup - even if it is shaped like a tree or an egg!
Reese Cupcakes (PB filling with cookie on top)
I filled most of them with PB gooeyness!
And some I topped with the delectable filling

Beautiful Raspberry Lemonade

 When I started on this cupcake journey back in the spring, I had found ideas for a pink lemonade cake in a Southern Living magazine.  I stored it away, saving it for a summer treat. Well, now that summer is almost over, I got the craving and went in search of ingredients, but decided to try a Raspberry cake instead.  Who knew finding raspberry lemonade concentrate would be so flipping hard?! After visiting 4 grocery stores, I found the welches brand at good ol HT.  Came home and immediately made this batch.  It only made 10 cupcakes, but could easily be doubled and no need to buy another can of concentrate.

probably the most perfect looking cupcake to date!
Then, I got word from Jeremy's boss at work (who is a super health nut and competitive athlete) that he wanted me to try my hand at some gluten free cupcakes to mimic the Reese cup ones I had made a few weeks prior.  So I did a bit of research, since I've never made anything gluten free, found a few recipes, and went on my search for ingredients.  I basically learned all you have to do is replace the flour and tweak the measurements of other ingredients, but when you use gluten free flour substitutes, you've got to add Xanthan gum to help everything stay together.  But when I found it at each of the 4 stores I went to (when I was searching for the lemonade concentrate), the price only got higher and higher. So I settled for an 8 oz bag of it for $13.  It does seem like a lot of money, but in the scheme of things, a little goes a long way. So from that 8 oz bag, I only used 1 TEASPOON!!!  Which is like pennies of the whole cost of the bag.  I'm hoping that J's boss really likes these and wants more, so I don't have a bag of that expensive gum lying around!
Cooling in the pan
When I mixed everything together, it was super thick - unlike my perfect chocolate cake recipe - I guess thanks to the xanthan gum.  I think I may have overfilled the cupcakes because they came out as tall as they are deep. The picture above does no justice as to how risen they really were.  Who knew gluten free had so much rising potential?!

Peanut butter filling- check!
 So I proceeded with the next step: peanut butter filling.  Thankfully, he didn't ask for gluten AND peanut free, or else this would have been a major bust!!! I had to try out the filling just to make sure it didn't taste gluten free :)
They may not tasty as heavenly, but they still look good and are chocolate!
 And the dense heavy cute finished product.  I sent Jeremy off to work this morning with 23 (it made 2 dozen but we had to make sure that they didn't taste like poop!) and have been anxious all day to hear whether or not he liked them.

I have more orders coming up this weekend for a cowgirl party.  Hoping to make chocolate and strawberry cakes topped with their respective frostings then a candy cowboy boot! Yay for fun and baking!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Today was one of those days.  Filled with all sorts of emotions and thoughts I just didn't know how to handle myself.  Today I woke up and realized that my first baby is not just 2 anymore...she's 2 and 1 month. And my baby...yeah, she celebrated her half birthday today.  And me, well, I'm exactly one month away from turning 30.  Now, I realize that most of my friends have already reached this milestone and have taken it with pride.  However, I have had more and more moments of waking up, looking in the mirror, and thinking to myself "I have two children and will be 30 this year" and for some reason that thought turns my stomach.  I don't know if I'm in denial or what, but it's just reality hitting hard this year. (If I'm having a hard time with this one...what does that mean for the other milestone years?!)  But, in order to make it into as much fun as possible, I'm trying to dream big for the celebration - thinking even silly as a trip to Carowinds to unless my inner child or a crazy bike party ride in the city with a group of friends.  Whatever we do, I'll be sure to document my turn of another century decade (although some days I feel that old)!

In other news, the girls and I have been busy learning, playing, laughing, and even wailing together!
Miriam can now officially count from 1-10 without prompting.  She's also almost 2 weeks into potty training and doing EXCEPTIONALLY well from my standards (only about 5 accidents overall), growing her vocabulary by leaps and bounds each day, learning to sing all of the words and pitches to some of out favorite children's songs and church hymns, and learning to love her baby sister.
Lydia is developing right on target and can now hold her head up fully to play and is reaching for toys that are in front of her.  She still nurses 5 times a day and usually takes 2 small naps in the morning, and a great afternoon nap from 3-5 or 5:30, then sleeps from 9-8.  She's finding her voice, and loves to smile, especially at her sister.
My heart just melts every time I see Miriam interact with Lydia.  How I long to see their relationship grow in these next months and years and they both continue to grow up!!