Monday, August 22, 2011

Crik or Creek?

I guess it depends on whether or not you live up a holler or a hollow. Good 'ol Mountain Momma will mess up your speech. 

We have done a lot of traveling this summer (state-side), and as everyone knows, it can be a bit expensive to haul four people all over the place. Honestly though, I wouldn't have it any other way. David and I have both agreed we'd rather travel and create experiences with our children rather than have a large mortgage. Some people can do both. Maybe some day, but for now, I'll take my four-seater Altima, modest home, and Target clothes to pay for a few more gas miles and plane tickets.

However, what this means is that when we are home, I must find cheap entertainment. I found the neatest little spot in Coonskin park where we can just pull over the car and play in the stream. It's ankle deep and filled with all sorts of creatures that completely intrigue Parker and Graham. I have such fond childhood memories of playing in the creek on vacations to our Christmas tree farm in North Carolina and also building "dams" behind my late great-grandmother's apartment in Indiana. Yes, I was a bit of a tom-boy. I had an older brother so I didn't have a chance enjoying Barbie dolls. (I still don't understand why you'd want them other than to cut and style their hair.)

We've gone twice to this little location. Don't worry, Graham isn't wearing a dress. His already-to-big play shorts stretched out when they got wet. We're ghetto like that.
"Air-ane!" Another bonus of this place is that because it's right next to the airport, planes fly directly overhead every few minutes. Graham is slightly obsessed with airplanes.
 Parker doesn't share as much affection for the noisy passersby.
 Get out and enjoy this beautiful world...and find a local creek. It's hours of free entertainment. Cha-ching!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blueberry Cupcakes

This is a delicious muffin or cupcake recipe. Once again, Martha was the genius behind it. She recommended pairing the cupcake with whipped cream and berries, but I prefer using a cream cheese frosting. I'm sure either option is equally heaven.

You will need: 
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries plus more for garnish (I choose to do a little more than 2 cups in the batter)

What you'll do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk flours, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is mixed in well. 
  3. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk and beating to combined after each.
  5. Fold in blueberries by hand.
  6. Fill each paper muffin liner 3/4 full and bake 25 minutes for standard size and 12-15 minutes for mini.
*My mother-in-law took Graham to a West Virginia blueberry farm to pick the berries I used in this batch. They were so sweet!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

He's Two

Baby Graham,

What a ride it has been with you. From our scary birth story here, to your persistent and opinionated personality during the second year of life, Daddy, Parker and I have been so blessed to have you as an addition to our family. You are hysterical. How did I manage getting two little comedians? You and Parker can be exhausting at times because you compete for the most attention and funniest move. When not trying to be funny, you're either diving into an adventure (aka trouble), wallering on me, or crying. You kind of cry a lot for a two year old, though I've seen much improvement in the past few months. I think your more fluent use of words is helping lower your frustration level. Yay for language. You also love to sing. Loudly. You have quite an extensive list of favorite songs you use to wake me up in the morning. 
 -Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
-Country Roads
-No more Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
-Happy Birthday
-Dinosaur Train
-Sleepy Town
Sometimes you just make up your own lyrics. My little song bird, I love you more than words can express. We're going to have so much fun this year. 

(It's not often that either of us get to hold Graham when he's sleeping, so when it happens, it's super special. Recently, Graham woke up early from a nap and David held him on the couch for a little while. He fell back asleep and I grabbed the camera. )

Friday, August 12, 2011

Choo Choo!

Best Birthday Weekend EVER. (Thus, longest post ever.) 

It all started when I went to pick up Heidi from the airport on Friday morning. She and Lincoln flew in for my boy's combined birthday celebration. Parker and Graham LOVE watching the airplanes fly on and off the runway, so instead of going inside, we waited at the fence for our guests. Gotta love small airports. We watched Heidi get off the plane with Lincoln. We started yelling and waving at her. Then I noticed a guy get off behind her and he seemed to be helping her. I thought, "That guy looks familiar. That guy looks really familiar. That guy is my DAD!!!!" I started doing the ugly cry because I was so surprised and happy. 

When you live away from your parents, you have to not think about how hard it is to experience everyday life without them close by. It's been difficult, especially after having children. I cope well, but when they show up to something that you really wish they could be there for, the emotion of how truly important it is comes welling up from within. My mom and grandma soon made it off the plane as well and I was so thankful for another visit with them. Everyone was in on the surprise but me. They played me like a fool. My dad lied through his teeth about not being able to come when I begged him the week before and my mom deceitfully sent me a check in the mail to "help" with the party knowing good and well she would be there. Sneaky little people they are. I just love being surprised, so thank you everyone who was in on the sneak-the-family-in plot.

I was exhausted when the weekend was over because I had stayed up past 1:00 am every night chatting with my bestie and running around like an banchee trying to finish last minute projects. I was proud of myself this particular occasion. Instead of stressing out like crazy, I ditched some plans and projects so that I could better enjoy the moment. Things weren't decorated exactly like I had planned, but I also wasn't a psycho tyrant mother. I'm maturing ;) The only thing that caused some distress for me was the stinking forecast. It hadn't rained in weeks and hasn't rained since. The day of the party? 60% chance and it down poured. All day. Until right before the party. The sun came out and I was singing the Hallelujah chorus. I didn't want to cram 40ish people into my modestly sized home and thank the Lord I didn't have to. It was hot and muggy, outside didn't get gussied up for the party, and my yard was a mud pit, but we still got to go outside. Yay! I'll take what I can get. I didn't have any true panic attacks and I didn't kick anyone out of my house. Success! In fact, I smiled so much the whole weekend that my face hurt on Monday.

 I love making memories and I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who helped make this one very special for our family. Now for the explosion of pictures!

Pom Pom love!
Pom Pom love. I had a finger cramp after making these. Seriously.

I just love Pinterest for all of its wonderful ideas. My life would not be the same without hot glue, but my fingers would not be burnt and stuck together either. Oh well. The hardships of crafting.

Thank you, Momma, for making all the sandwiches for me!

Zucchini spice cake pops with cream cheese frosting. Wish I had one of these right now.

Oh the things you can do with scrap fabric!

Parker requested chocolate cake this year. I paired it with white chocolate buttercream and fondant decor.

I put candy in the balloons and the kids got throw darts to find it. Big hit.

Somebody stole some chocolate cake...caught!

Jenn and baby Matt Cecilia. Gorgeous gals.
Aunt Heidi made the boys dinosaur tails. Oh my gosh. Cutest things ever. They haven't taken them off since the party.
A dinosaur hat from Aunt Sarah completed his outfit.

The two most sarcastic people I know. That's why I like them so much.

 No words necessary. Les, thank for crashing the party. It meant a lot to me ;)

My mommas and great friend were such a help. They cleaned my whole kitchen before the party was even over. Love you guys...thank you so much!

As Parker would say, "It was traintastic!" Oh, boys.