Monday, July 7, 2014

dear bella.

dear bella,

why are you getting so big?  i feel as though in the last month you've turned into a completely different girl.  you look so much older to me.  you are just so beautiful and i am so so proud of the girl you are.

about a month ago, daddy and i went on a camping trip with auntie and uncle brian to celebrate our anniversaries.  i found a special little "mommy and me" book that i thought would be so fun for you and i to get to fill out together.  it's full of questions about me, and questions about you.  one of the questions was: "when mama was growing up, she wanted to be a ______" which i filled in with "princess" because that's what i always said i wanted to be when i was your age.  the next question was "when i grow up, i want to be a _______" after a little thought you said "i want to be a doctor first and then a princess."  sounds like you have a plan!

in fact, in true doctor style, the last time i brought emmy to the dr for her check up, you were copying everything her pediatrician did.  emmy was freaking out a bit, and you stood, with your hand on the dr. ann's knee and said "it's okay, ems!  dr ann and i will take good care of you!"  you're so sweet.

a little while later, one evening daddy and i were rocking on the front porch.  we had been out there for quite a while, rocking and talking.  all of a sudden we heard a sneeze from the open living room window.  i went in to find you, laying on the couch.  so, i carried you outside and you rocked with us for a bit.  here is a conversation we had:

me: so bel, what do you want to be when you grow up?  a doctor?
you: no, i want to be a mama.
me: you do?!  how many babies do you want to have?
you: i want to have five babies.  i love the number five!
me: oh wow.  you're going to be one busy mama.
you: i sure will!  i'm going to cook for them and go to the grocery store and all those things.

gah!  you're SO cute!  i love having talks with you and watching the way your little mind works.  you're going to be a fantastic mother someday, sweet girl, if that's in god's plan for you.

you have always had super long hair; even from the minute we first laid eyes on you!  i decided a few months ago that i wanted you to keep growing it so you would have enough to donate to locks for love.  a  few weeks ago we went to the salon... you'd only been once before and it made you a little bit nervous.  this time, you LOVED it!  you were super pumped to get a shampoo, and halfway through your haircut you had kicked your shoes off and swung your little legs over the side of the chair, admiring yourself in the mirror :)  i was a little nervous you'd cry once you saw how much hair was being cut but you just sat staring at your reflection with a huge smile on your face.  we had talked for some time about how you had so much hair and that some little kids didn't have any because they were sick.  you were pretty excited to give yours away to another little girl, and you loved your new do!  i have to say; you look absolutely beautiful, my girl!

you love snuggling.  that's your most popular request; especially in the morning when you first wake up, or at night when you're going to bed.  i never want to forget the sight of you and your messy hair, squinty eyes from sleepiness coming into our room first thing in the morning.  you wake up the minute your feet hit the floor and can't wait to come snuggle in bed with daddy and i.  at night, i always check on you before i go to bed.  you'll be fast asleep but when i kiss you, you'll automatically smile.  it's the sweetest thing in the whole wide world.  i just love you so much my heart hurts!

you absolutely love playing by yourself; you'll play with your dolls, barbies and castle for hours and hours i think if you could.  this is a vast improvement from a couple of years ago, my little miss social butterfly!  i love watching you play so much.  you also just love other kids.  you make friends wherever you go; no matter how old they are, if they're boys or girls... the other day we went to the park and you kept talking to some little girls there, and there was a baby named elizabeth.  i had forgotten all about it, and a few days later you were telling someone all about your new friend named elizabeth that you met at the park!  you amaze me!

you have also made so much improvement in the area of eating... oh my word.  you eat salad now, and asparagus and one night this spring we had fiddleheads and you were eating them by the handfuls!  you are completely obsessed with apples and seriously eat one every single day.  you love going out with mama and daddy to check our garden and see what new vegetables are growing!  and we went strawberry picking last weekend and i think you ate at least three quarts on your own; you just sat in the field and ate, and ate, and ate... your favorite food by far is ice cream; you absolutely love it!  there's a new frozen yogurt place in town that is your favorite and you get cotton candy flavored yogurt every time we go there!  now, everytime you see something light-blue you say it's the color of cotton candy!  you're kind of obsessed :)

i'm kind of having a hard time with you growing up.  i asked you the other day if you could just stay this little forever and ever.  exasperated you said "but MOOOM! then i wouldn't get to go to school!" you're pretty pumped about it, and that makes me very glad.

you're making us laugh a lot.  the other day we were on our way out of town so we stopped at tim horton's to get daddy and i some iced coffees.  there was an employee out back taking out the trash and you kept saying "what is that tim horton doing?!"  it was pretty funny.  you act so old for your age sometimes (okay... ALL the time) it gives us a good chuckle.

we went up to uncle byron's camp for the fourth of july this last weekend and you had so much fun.  you got to play with your cousins, have a giant sleepover and swim to your little heart's content!  you have no fear of the water (mama needs to get you into swimming lessons!!) and you paddled around quite a bit on a little round tube with jude.  you guys are such little buddies its so cute watching you play.

you are such a joy to watch, bella grace.  you're growing and changing all the time and i'm so proud of you.  i feel so blessed to be your mom, and so excited to see what's in store for you!  hugs and kisses, little girl.

i love you to the moon and back (and back and back),

Monday, June 16, 2014

multitude monday.


909.  walking through the grass in my bare feet.
910.  my girls giggling as they run and play.
911.  front porch rocking with my favorite guy.
912.  lights strung along our deck, twinkling as the sun goes down.
913.  cutting fresh roses to fill vases around the house.
914.  long talks with my growing girl.  hearing what she has to say is one of the things i love most.
915.  sunkissed cheeks.
916.  emmy in shorts.  those chubby legs; can't get enough.
917.  chinese takeout and tv on the couch.
918.  the smell of a grill.
919.  family walks through the neighborhood.
920.  time with friends and family.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

what's for breakfast this morning {gluten free strawberry shortcake muffins}.

i love a good muffin.

over the last few months, we've been cutting back on gluten so i have really enjoyed finding some yummy gluten free recipes and being creative in the kitchen!  i stumbled across this one the other day when the girls were wanting breakfast and i hadn't made a trip to the grocery store in a while.  we planted a few strawberry plants in our garden this year, so i've had strawberries on the brain and i thought "i want to try making strawberry muffins!"  so after a google search, i realized that not only did these muffins sound delish and we happened to have all the ingredients in our pantry, but they were also gluten free.  


these are really pretty tasty and there are lots of options to change it up in terms of fillings or toppings.  i normally can't think straight in the morning until at least nine o'clock so i forgot the little fact that my children are super weird about cooked fruit.  they go NUTS for blueberries, but won't eat blueberry muffins or blueberry pancakes.  i think they're a little bit crazy ;)  so instead, i scooped some strawberry-less batter for them and topped their muffins with a few chocolate chips.  they loved that idea.

here's the recipe:

gluten free strawberry shortcake muffins

* 2 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
* 1 c. lowfat greek yogurt
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 c. sweetener of your choice
* 1 1/2 t. baking powder
* 1/2 t. baking soda
* 1 1/2 c. strawberries, diced

- put all ingredients except strawberries in a blender or food processor and pulse til smooth.
- transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in strawberries.
- scoop into a muffin pan (if you use liners, make sure they're foil!  paper ones apparently stick) and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

these are perfect for on the go breakfasts too! unlike other gluten free baked goods i've tried, they keep pretty well for a few days.  i've been enjoying them on my work days which can usually pose a challenge in finding quick and healthy breakfast options!  so glad i found this recipe.  

happy baking!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

a frozen fourth.

a couple of weeks ago, my sweet first born turned four.  FOUR YEARS OLD.  i still can't believe it.  it feels like just yesterday i waddled into the hospital on a dark, warm morning in may, stomach churning with nerves and excitement about getting to meet my baby.  nothing will ever compare to the moment i held her for the first time; studied her full head of crazy black hair, squinty eyes and rosebud lips.  it seems surreal that she is growing up.  and so fast.

in typical bella fashion, she has been talking about her birthday since january.  this happens every year.  my nephew jude's birthday is right after the new year, so we have months of bella excitedly chattering about her birthday, as if it's right around the corner.  too funny.  she settled on a "frozen" theme (obviously) right away.

my rule of thumb for our girls is that they each get a big birthday bash for their first and second birthdays, and then it's a much simpler, party-in-a-bag, family only affair for a few years.  after a wild scramble to find anything frozen, we ended up finally scoring some anna and elsa loot.  it all came together and i'd say little girl was super happy with her frozen fourth.

i made some ice cream cupcakes with olaf cupcake toppers... these little guys were making me crazy.  so much so that i only made four; one for each kiddo, because i couldn't handle the madness any longer.  

per the birthday girl's request, i made an elsa cake which left a little to be desired.  i couldn't find an elsa barbie ANYWHERE, so i improvised.  i found a blonde barbie with a turquoise tanktop, braided her hair painted her arms in royal icing, and then dipped them in sugar to create "sleeves".  it was quite the process.  but bella loved it.  which was made apparent by the swipe of frosting (right on the front of the dress) left by a certain little finger when she peeked at it before the party.

we ate cake and ice cream with our family...

opened up presents and played with new toys...

we ordered pizza for supper and the kids watched "the little mermaid" in our bed with a huge bowl of popcorn...

it was pretty much the perfect day for our little princess.  complete with a few more sneaks of frosting before being whisked away to bed...

bella woke up on the morning of her birthday with a few requests: mickey mouse pancakes for breakfast WITH a candle (which she wanted daddy to make, but he was at work), popovers for supper, an anna cake (yeah riiiiiight) and milkshakes from mcdonalds for her birthday treat (absolutely NO idea where she came up with that).  so cute.  we spent the day playing at auntie's with jude and lu, and then meme came over for dinner.  we met auntie, uncle brian, jude and lucy at mcdonald's after dinner for milkshakes and sundaes.  which come to think of it, has kind of been our little birthday tradition with the girls, it just cracked us up that bella even remembered and requested it out of the blue.  it was a great little birthday and i managed to survive even though my baby girl is growing up way too fast.

my sweet bel, you are such a light to our lives.  you are so kind hearted and tender and the epitome of sweetness.  you are spirited and passionate and fun and wild and free.  i hope you always know how MUCH you are loved.  so excited to see what god has in store for you, and to continue to watch you grow.  i LOVE getting to be your mama; you bless me every single day with your sweet smile and thoughtful heart.  happy fourth birthday, precious girl!  we thank god for you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

a birds & bunnies birthday party.

last week, my baby turned two.


i still can't believe it.  i've been very emotional about this birthday for some reason.  the other day, i was cleaning out her room and organizing her clothes and i sat in the rocking chair in her room and bawled for about twenty minutes.  i'm having a hard time realizing that she isn't my "baby" any more.  she's a toddler.  a full of spirit, always on the go, independent little girl.

for the past couple of months i've been trying to figure out what theme i would do for this big girl's birthday bash.  my rule of thumb has been that each of my girls get a bigger birthday party for their first and second birthdays, and then i pull out the party-in-a-bag from walmart with cake and ice cream and family-only parties for the next couple of years.  birthday parties can be just too much.  but, i love to indulge my creative side for a couple of years anyway and do something cute and fun.  so, this year i went for two of my emmy em's favorites: birds & bunnies for this colorful, springy party.  and the decorations will also double as next years easter decor.  score.

one of my best friends from high school gave emmy a bunny lovey when she was just a baby.  since then, she has never been without it!  she sleeps with that sweet little bunny every single nap and night... and more often than not, we are turning the house upside down in a mad dash before we can put her to sleep to find where she put the thing.  she LOVES bunnies.  she also loves birds; she's constantly pointing them out to me when they're in our yard, so i decided it would be cute to do this spring theme, especially since her birthday was so close to easter this year.  i didn't spend a whole lot of time planning it and found myself up the night before working on last minute decor, but it was fun and cute which fits our birthday girl to a t.

- white eyelet tablecloth
- crate&barrel vase we got as a wedding gift filled with fake cherry blossoms and pussywillows that i had used almost four (!!) years ago for bella's first birthday and bring them out every spring

- crackers&cheese
- a layered tortellini salad with pesto dressing
- bunny cupcakes
- birds nests
- carrot cake
- annie's bunny crackers in mason jars and coral colored pails

i decorated our hutch with china teacups that were my grandparents, some white vases and the girls easter egg tree (without the easter eggs!).  i also made this banner out of drop cloth, ribbon and pretty fabric i had on hand.  i used a bunny shaped cookie cutter for the bunnies and made my own template for the birds to trace and cut.

i made food cards out of pink gingham cardstock and decorated some of them with fabric flowers or ties.  i like labeling food at a party to help guests know what it is that they're putting on their plates!

pretty pink drink, plates and utensil station... it's not pictured here but friends of ours brought a beautiful pitcher of "watermelon water" that they make from pureeing watermelon and ice... so yummy and pretty!

this carrot cake was to die for, if i do say so myself.  we are big "pioneer woman" fans in this house, and her recipe for this cake did not disappoint.  i decorated it with two kabob skewers and ribbon tied with fabric scraps for a touch of whimsy and color

this layered tortellini salad was pretty and delicious (wish i would've gotten a non-condensationized photo of it!) especially displayed in my beautiful trifle bowl (thank you, pampered chef).

my mom made these cute little birds nests with chow mein noodles, marshmallow and mini cadbury eggs.  so cute!

my mom also helped me create these little bunny cupcakes with sugar cookie ears and chocolate bits for eyes.  they were a little time consuming but emmy loved them.  i think she ate three of them, i lost count.

the birthday girl!  

family shot.

cousins & cupcakes!

for my sweet girl...

make a wish!

the rain held off so the kiddos could play outside for a bit...

shooting hoops with emmy's new basketball set!  bampy would be so proud.

sweetest pic of the whole day.  love these two so much!

loving her (one of many) new babies :)  this girl is SO obsessed with baby dolls!

it was a wonderful party with lots of sweet family and friends to help us celebrate our special girl!  she is such a gift to our family and brings laughter and sunshine everywhere she goes... we love you, emmy faith!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

dear emmy.

dear emmy,

you are seriously a hoot.  i can't think of a better way to describe you; you always have us laughing.  i absolutely LOVE your sense of humor... even at this young age, you have a knack for being hilarious.  i just love watching you and your facial expressions, and how you take in life so lightheartedly.  thanks for helping me laugh more.  i have so much joy in my life because i get to be your mama (or mum-mum as you've been calling me for months now.  i kind of love it).

you have a way of capturing people's hearts.  you are adorable and loveable and just so fun.  i dropped you off at the church nursery this last sunday and a worker immediately came and got you.  "oh, i'm so glad she's here today, we just love her she's the sweetest thing!"  that was just music to my ears.  speaking of church, you're kind of obsessed.  almost every day your eyes get big and wide and you excitedly ask me if we're going to church.  it's so cute.  you get most excited about the "go-fish" that they feed you for snack... this last week you told me about it several times ;)

easter was so fun with you this year!  you were so into it all.  despite our best efforts to teach you why our family celebrates easter, you were so much more excited about bunnies and candy.  every time we'd ask you why we celebrate easter your eyes would get HUGE and you'd shriek "e-sa bunny!!!!!"  we'd say "noooo... why do we celebrate easter, emmy?" again, your eyes would get huge and you'd excitedly whisper "e-sa egggggs!" again, "no, emmy... why do we celebrate easter?!" again: "treeeeeeats!!!!"  we couldn't help but laugh.

you are into EVERYTHING and are like a little tornado leaving your path of destruction through our house!  sometimes i want to pull my hair out.  you go through my purse a hundred times a day and run off with my credit cards and receipts.  you also love to antagonize.  you'll run up to bella and grab a toy and then run for the hills.  or wreck my laundry piles and book it so fast i can barely catch you.  i think you have a future in sprinting.

you've been so funny in the mornings.  you'll be sound asleep and we'll hear not even a peep from your room until all of a sudden we jolt awake to you squawking from your crib "DADDY!!  EMMY WAKE!!!!" and when that doesn't work "MUM-MUM COME GET EMMY!!!!!" and then you'll immediately start calling for bella.  it's so cute how much you love her.  you're getting pretty spoiled by her these days... lately, she's taken to bringing you breakfast in bed the minute she hears you waking up!  rice cakes and apples are her usual choice... what a luxurious life you lead!

you are quite a performer.  singing and dancing are two of your absolute favorite things in the whole world.  we were in texas a couple months ago for a good friend's wedding.  bella was a flower girl, but you had no intention of letting her steal the show.  during the reception, your favorite song came on: "roar" by katy perry.  you were out in the hall when the music started and i could see our little head bobbing as you ran to the dance floor.  you immediately started dancing and singing all the words... you were so cute that everyone on the dance floor turned and formed a circle around you.  i stood by, thinking immediately you would get shy and stop, but this only encouraged you.  you sang and danced your signature sway and got SO into it; facial expressions, hands in the air and everything.  until the song was over.  the rest of the night everyone was asking who "that cute little girl was that sang katy perry."  no joke, it was one of my favorite moments of my life.  you were just as adorable as can be; such a perfect reflection of your little personality.

praying before dinner is another one of your favorite things.  but your version is pretty abbreviated.  you get so excited and want everyone to hold hands.  the minute daddy starts praying you yell "AMEN!" and beam with pride.  it's so cute.  the other night you wanted to pray before bed, so you said "dear jesus, thank you for this day... and then just kept repeating family member's names over and over... there was no stopping you.  it was so cute.

you are OBSESSED with helping us cook in the kitchen.  every saturday morning daddy makes a big breakfast, usually pancakes.  you drag one of our dining room chairs into the kitchen and stand on it and proudly proclaim over and over again for the next twenty minutes "mum-mum, i help daddy" and you want to do everything yourself.  and good gracious are you independent; i think even more so than your big sister.  in fact, i think you have more first born traits than bella... you are a HUGE boss; we affectionately call you "bossy flossy" because you are always telling her what to do!  anytime i correct bella or give her directions, you turn to her and repeat it in your best bossy voice and always add an "OKAAAAAYYY?" at the end.  it's hilarious.  but i've found myself having to tell you a lot lately: "emmy, mind your own business!"

you can be pretty timid at times around people you don't know.  bella's been taking gymnastics for almost a year now, and the other moms think you are the quietest thing because all you do is sit in my lap and watch.  you're just now starting to warm up to them, and i tell them over and over that you really are NOT quiet!  but you definitely have your shy moments.  i happen to love that you sit quietly in my lap like that.  i don't want it to ever stop!

favorites of yours right now?  pizza (we had it last night for dinner and you ate 3 pieces; no joke), cooking shows (you LOVE watching the food network with me), books, anything "frozen" (you know all the words to all of those songs, too), necklaces (you had about seven on today at one time), sophia the first (or "fia" as you call her), barney (ughhh), chocolate everything...

i love you so much it hurts my insides.  you are turning two this weekend and it makes me want to cry.  i can't believe my little baby is growing up so fast.  i am soaking in every last bit of your babyishness: your chubby thighs and wrists and dimpled hands, your chatter and funny conversations as you are piecing things together, your giggle and the way you lay your head on my shoulder and suck your thumb.  you are such a gift and i'm so blessed to be your mum-mum.

love you to the moon and back (and back and back),

Saturday, April 19, 2014

resurrection cake.

i love traditions.

i know i've written about this before, but i grew up in a family that was ALL about them.  and i loved it.  now it's so important to me to build traditions of our own with the girls... it's such a special part of childhood and family life in general.

naturally, holidays are the perfect time to develop these traditions and sweet family moments.  however, in my best efforts, i find a few things that are difficult in the task to do so: number one, our girls are still small and while doing special things is super fun, it can also make me want to poke my eyes out.  seriously.  and sometimes--well, most of the time--things don't go the way i have imagined in this idealistic brain of mine.  number two, it's an ongoing task for nick&i to try to teach our girls the reasons why our family celebrates holidays like christmas and easter.  for us, easter is far more than bunnies and eggs... but to them right now, cute fluffy animals, pretty decorated eggs and easter candy are what's most exciting.  so we are constantly trying to find ways to teach them more and more about our faith and our savior's love for us.  which can be a huge challenge.  ever tried to explain death and resurrection to a two and four year old?  geesh.

so while scrolling the internet one day, i found a few different ideas for "resurrection cakes", and i thought they were so cute, and a great (and delicious!) way for teaching the girls more about easter.

here's what we did...

resurrection cake

materials needed (besides recipe ingredients):
* cardboard
* tinfoil
* coconut
* green food coloring
* candy eggs
* oreos
* chocolate sticks
* glue
* biscuit cutter

- preheat oven to 350.
- we used this chocolate cake recipe from the pioneer woman, but we halved it.
- grease and dust a pampered chef batter bowl with cocoa.  fill bowl with batter and bake for 1 hr, or until knife is clean when inserted into cake.  allow to cool.
- wrap a good sized piece of cardboard with tin foil.
- take several oreo cookies and remove the white filling.  finely crush the chocolate wafer parts in a ziploc bag.
- in a mixing bowl, mix a bag of shredded coconut with a few drops of green food coloring until coconut is evenly colored.
- once cake is cooled, take a biscuit cutter and carve out a portion of the cake to be the "stone".
- we used this super yummy chocolate buttercream frosting recipe from mel's kitchen cafe; highly recommend.
- using a spreader, frost cake and "stone".  dust cake with some of the oreo crumbs to resemble dirt; save a good portion for later.
- add coconut "grass" to cover the tinfoil, leaving a section by the opening of the tomb uncovered.  add a few pastel colored egg candies; i used reeses peanut butter eggs just because they're my fav and we had them on hand for filling the girls easter eggs tomorrow.
- fill the tomb opening section with the rest of your oreo cookie crumbs for "dirt".
- cut a few chocolate sticks to make three crosses.  glue together.  when glue has dried, top cake with crosses.

voila!  this is going to be one of our new family traditions.  the girls loved it; they helped me mix it up and bake it this morning, and then they were so excited to wake up from their naps and see the decorated cake!


happy easter everyone!  i can still hear my dad's booming voice excitedly say: HE IS RISEN; HE IS RISEN INDEED!

so grateful.