Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Half Birthday, Ella-Bella!

I took this video last night. This is the tail end, but it shows a little of the sweetness :)
The Husband was tickling Jack before bed, and every time Jack would cackle, Ella would start laughing, too. It was really sweet :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Simplicity

We had an incredibly sweet and simple Christmas morning as a family of four this year. We chose to only do stockings (although to be fair, the gift I got The Husband wouldn't fit in his stocking), and I really liked how the focus wasn't on a lot of gifts.  We ate breakfast (I fixed cinnamon roll waffles--thank you, Pinterest), sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, Jack had room time while I cleaned up the kitchen and The Husband organized things upstairs and in the garage, and then Jack dug into his stocking (The Husband and I exchanged gifts the night before). We gave him a toy truck, a dinosaur coloring book, a lacing game, and an ezpz placemat (parents of toddlers, check them out! They're awesome!). 

My parents came over Christmas afternoon, and they brought lots of goodies with them. The kitchen in the picture above was their gift to my niece 4 years ago. The Husband put it together for her before we were married. She's outgrown it now, and my sister's family generously passed it on to Jack and Ella. Jack LOVES it. He was already excellent at pretending to mix things up in bowls and "feed" us, so this is a really neat thing for him. The other great gift he received was a rug with roads and buildings on it from my parents. He enjoys playing with cars and trains, so this is perfect!  Today, Jack played in his room by himself for nearly an hour and a half during room time, and he mostly played with the kitchen and all of the accessories. I could hear him opening and closing the doors and babbling to himself while pretending to stir and eat.  I peaked under the door and snapped a few shots :). I also (later) took a few photos of him playing with the cars on the mat. 

My parents gifted Ella with a new car seat, and it's like a big comfy lazy boy recliner, haha! I love the progression of her smile :).  Gosh, I hope it fits in my car!  How on earth do people fit these giant car seats in their cars and still have room for a grown man to sit in the front?!

We finished the evening by eating yummy cheesy pinwheel crescent roll things my mom made and crockpot broccoli cheese soup that I had cooking on "low" all afternoon.  The children passed out shorty after my parents left. *Sigh*. :) And, The Husband and I snuggled on the couch and watched a funny movie until it was time for us to pass out, too. 

I adore the "4 things" idea for Christmas--something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read. Have you heard of it? Do any of you do that? We might do it for the kids only since The Husband and I typically buy ourselves things we need and/or wear, but maybe we can do the other two and continue the simplicity.  None of us need a whole lot, and really, we want them to know that Christmas isn't about all the stuff. Jack was thrilled with the gifts he received, but he's gotten the most joy out of sharing those things with us :). And, Ella? Well, she's just a joy period!

It was a lovely, mostly-quiet day.  It was sorta perfect. I hope yours was just as special.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I <3 Crockpot Meals

Oh, y'all. 
As a mommy to an 18 month old and an almost 6 month old, I feel I'm fairly busy. 
The days The Husband works afternoons-into-evenings are definitely the hardest for me. It's really nice to have help with dinners, baths, and bed-time routines. But, there are three days when I do those things on my own, and in order to preserve a small amount of my sanity, I make a crockpot meal for one of those nights (and we eat the leftovers the next night). Today, Monday, happens to be one of those days. I'm tired already thinking about tonight, haha!


One of my all-time favorite crockpot recipes came from this websitewhich I found on Pinterest.  I changed it up, and we all love it. This morning, The Husband saw I was getting out the ingredients before he headed to work, and he left with a grin on his face. (Side note - I'm not a huge fan of meat, but if you are, check out her recipe instead. Or use mine and add whatever meat you want!). 

So, here's my take on Spinach Tortellini. 

You'll need:

One bag of frozen or fresh spinach 
One bag of frozen or fresh tortellini
One or two blocks of cubed cream cheese - I use two
Half to one whole can (I chop up a bunch for Jack to munch on while I make it) of quartered medium black olives - drained
Two cans of Italian style diced tomatoes -
One box or 4 cans of vegetable broth
Put all of the ingredients in your (lined--makes clean-up soooo easy) crock pot on low for 5 to 6 hours.
I let everything cook for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, stir all the goodies well to get the cream cheese mixed in, and then continue cooking it for another hour. 
It's seriously a favorite around here, and it gets cooked once every two weeks. 

Let me know if you try it!  I'd love to hear if you liked it the way I fix it, or if you swapped/added items!