Halloween!

This Halloween was one of my favorite with the boys. They got SO into it! Trick or treating was super enjoyable because the boys are finally at an age where they can walk on their own and go up to houses without our help. (We stood on the sidewalk sipping our adult beverages reminding them to say thank you.) We also got the benefit of having my mom nearby so she was able to participate in Nolan’s Trunk or Treat event at his school and hang out on Halloween night.

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Our not-so-elaborately decorated trunk. We’ll step it up next year! (Maybe.)

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We loved spending the morning at Nolan’s school on Halloween. Little stinker.

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Spoiler alert: the boys have already been talking about their costumes for next year. Nolan wants to be a, wait for it, mosquito.

‘Tis the Season!

We’re loving the Christmas season around here. The Smiths are the type of people who listen to Christmas carols a little too much, decorate way too early, and head to the mall in the peak of crowds. We love spoiling our kids this time of year, but we’ve made a conscious effort to teach our boys the joy of giving. I’m not gonna lie-it’s a little tricky when so much focus is given towards, “what are you going to ask Santa for?” and “how many days until you get to open your presents?” Our hope is that they will learn that giving and doing for others can bring as much enjoyment as receiving gifts some day. After all, there’s nothing quite like putting a smile on someone’s face to make your heart happy.

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Like this charitable act. “Put your heads in those things so mommy and daddy can get a good laugh!”

 

Since the boys are only 2 and 4, it takes a little creativity to think of ways to get them involved in the act of giving or doing for others. Here’s some of the ways we tried to get them in the “giving” spirit this year…

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We donated money to the Salvation Army red kettles.

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We made cards and artwork for our friends who donated money to our St. Jude fundraiser for sick children.

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They delivered cards to all the kids in their class.

 

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They picked out and purchased a toy for the Toys for Tots bin.

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They each went shopping for a Christmas present for their brother. (Dollar Store finds- gotta love ’em!)

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They went shopping for presents for Albert and Gato.

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We made cards for the mailman and trash collectors.

 

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The mailman’s surprise.

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The trash collector’s gift and card.

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We brought a small gift for each of their teachers. (Contemplated the ol’ alcoholic gift for Nolan’s teacher. Bless her patient heart.)

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They gave a small treat to each of their classmates.

And probably the biggest sacrifice this Christmas season was cleaning out their old “baby toys” and donating them to a local ministry thrift shop. This was the toughest part for Nolan- he insisted that those were HIS toys. He had a hard time letting go (but was more willing once he realized that made more room for new toys!) We also gave away all of their clothes that they outgrew recently and donated food to a food bank- thankfully that was done with a more generous heart. It was so touching to hear Brady’s thoughts about how much he cared that other children might not have all of the things that he has. Kids can be amazingly empathetic.

I hope this is the start of raising children who have a love of doing things for others. While I still fully intend on taking part in all the sparkly, indulgent, over-the-top Christmas traditions, maybe, just maybe, it will be done with a charitable mindset that rubs off on our kids!

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! Our day was spent cooking, lounging, eating, drinking, golfing, watching football, and spending time with family.

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Now that we’re all fat and happy, I thought I’d take a moment to recap some of the things (big & small) that I’m most thankful for. After all, reflecting on your blessings is the key to happiness! (I’m not sure if I stole that from a decorative pillow or something, but you can quote me on that either way.)

In no particular order, here’s what I’m thankful for…

Our kids. (ok, I put them first for a reason.) They’re bright, healthy, funny, crazy boys. They epitomize all that is good and innocent in the world.  To know them, is to know true love. Simply put, they make me happy when skies are gray.

My hubby. He’s exactly what you’d want in a husband- perfectly imperfect. He never lets me down and I feel like I’m a better person when I’m with him. He loves me through and through and you can’t ask for much more than that from someone you’re sharing your life with.

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My parents. They always support my decisions and love me unconditionally. And now, they are the best grandparents to my kiddos.

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Extended family. While I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, I was blessed to be raised in a family where there was always lots of love (and food!) every time we got together. My Grandma Dot loved big family get togethers and around the holidays I am missing her more than ever, but I am so grateful for the memories and traditions that she created for us.

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Fur babies. Albert and Gato make life so much more interesting. Yes, they cause me a lot of headaches and laundry, but they also bring us joy in the form of excited, jumping up and down barking, and late night purring and snuggles.

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Chick Lit and Girly T.V. shows. As much as I love having my hubby around, I’m not going to lie, I kinda enjoy nights when he’s out of town and I get to catch up on episodes of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. And, I certainly couldn’t live without books. Shout out to anyone else who owns a book light that they attach to the top of their books!

Music. Country, classic rock, R&B, pop, Christmas music…you name it. We do not go a day without jamming out. Between dance parties with my kids, to listening to Pandora while I read, I’m so grateful for it.

Friends. I’m so lucky to have met my best friends in college. They know all my crazy stories, have seen me at my best/worst, and still love me. I’m also grateful for all the friends we’ve met over the last couple years as we’ve moved from state to state. Every place we’ve been, we’ve been so blessed to find people who have made us feel at home.

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Wine. Not sure if that really needs an explanation, but, it’s tasty and I think life is better with it. The same goes for alfredo sauce, doughnuts, birthday cake, fresh picked strawberries, champagne, and tacos.

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Faith. I’m grateful for the comfort of knowing my future is in God’s hands and that all of my blessings come from Him.

The University of Florida. It was my home for 4 years and still feels like it every time I go back. It’s where I got my college degree, where I “grew up”, where I found my best friends, and where I met my husband. Going there was most certainly the best, most life changing thing I ever did. (I should also add that I’m super thankful for college football!)

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These are a few of my favorite things! While every day is not perfect, there are certainly blessings all around us each day if we take the time to look for them.

We hope everyone had a blessed day that was full of the 3 F’s- Family, Food, and Football. HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y’ALL!

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day- Kids Cook Monday

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We love to celebrate any and all holidays around here. An excuse to give a gift, decorate, or make a special meal- and we’re on it! For Kids Cook Monday we decided to start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some green food. Last year we attempted green smoothies and, while they were delicious, they weren’t, um, green. This year we were determined to have GREEN smoothies. And we got our wish! We also made some cute little shamrock quesadillas to go with our smoothies.

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Green Smoothie Ingredients

1 banana
2 kiwis
1 bag frozen peaches
1 container flavored Greek yogurt
about 1/2 cup of Orange Juice
about 3/4 bag of spinach leaves

Brady enjoyed helping me pick out green ingredients for our smoothie at the grocery store. He even chose key lime yogurt because of the green container. He was also excited to try kiwi- which he described as green strawberries with lots of seeds. Sounds about right to me.

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We tossed everything in the blender (tasting each item along the way.)

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Nolan did the honors of pushing the blender buttons. He’s come a long way from being terrified of it and running away screaming.

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Here’s how our smoothie turned out. Super green!!! This batch made enough for me and the boys to each have a very big glass. Nolan finished his and then asked to finish mine. That’s a big deal because he is not an easy kid to get healthy food into.

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And because we couldn’t just eat smoothies for dinner, we made some fun cheese quesadillas using Spinach wraps and a shamrock cookie cutter.

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These took just a few minutes to cut the shapes out and cook up in a pan.

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Helpful hint: these were much easier to cut out when warmed up for about 15 seconds.

We served them with some bright green guacamole and felt super festive!

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Not exactly an Irish tradition, but tasty and GREEN!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Oh, and because I can’t leave well enough alone, here’s Brady’s lunch for school tomorrow!!!

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Turkey spinach wrap, green apple with peanut butter, and cucumbers and hummus. Wonder if he’ll notice the color scheme?

Dr. Seuss Day- Kids Cook Monday

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! On March 2, people across the country come together to celebrate “Read Across America Day” in honor of Dr. Seuss. This is a day to not only recognize one of our most amazing authors, but also a great opportunity to for teachers, students, parents and children to come together to read and take part in literacy related activities. I always loved celebrating this day with my students when I was teaching, and now it is a day I look forward to enjoying with my own kiddos as a stay at home mom.

This year Dr. Seuss’s birthday falls on a Monday, so we made some tasty treats for “Kids Cook Monday” to go along with some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books.

We started by reading the most classic Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat. It’s funny. It’s silly. And, it’s always a crowd pleaser. We made some easy little fruit kabobs to go along with our lunch and story.

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Then we read my favorite Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hatches the Egg. It’s the sweetest story about an elephant who promises to take care of an egg and goes through terrible circumstances but never leaves the egg. I just adore Horton’s selflessness and love. I always loved reading this book to my first graders and will never forget reading it to my Brady when he was just a tiny baby. Seriously, my favorite.

We made these cute little haystacks that look like a bird’s nest with blueberries to represent the egg that Horton was protecting. These are the easiest and tastiest treats.

Nest and Egg Ingredients

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1 cup Butterscotch Chips
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
2 cups Chow Mein Noodles
1 cup of blueberries

Here’s how we made our nests…

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Melt the peanut butter and butterscotch chips together in the microwave. (About 1 minute)

 

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Stir the mixture until smooth.

 

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Add the chow Mein noodles.

 

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Stir until all the chow mein is coated with the peanut butter mixture.

 

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Scoop spoonfuls of the chow mein mixture onto a greased cookie sheet.

 

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Add blueberries to the tops and put into the refrigerator for at least a half hour.

While the nests are cooling and hardening in the fridge, let your littlest helper lick the bowl.

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These little guys are sweet, salty, crunchy and the blueberries are surprisingly necessary!

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If you don’t have many Dr. Seuss books at your house, or you can’t make it to the library to check some out, look on Youtube for some awesome readings of some of his most popular books. This is one of my favorites too!

Hope you and your little one get to spend some time in the kitchen and with a great Dr. Seuss book!

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If you would like any more information about “Read Across America Day” or ideas for celebrating Dr. Seuss, check out this website!

http://www.seussville.com/parents/

Chomps and Kisses!

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It’s almost Valentine’s Day and we’re totally that family that buys into the whole “Hallmark Holiday” event. Yes, it’s cheesy and you should just show your love all year round, but what’s it hurt to have a little fun and go over the top with mushy stuff every now and then?!

As a wife I don’t expect expensive gifts or fancy dinners- in fact I really just like hanging out around the house and indulging in desserts and champagne. (Don’t get me wrong, flowers are appreciated too!)

As a mom, I just like having a fun day to look forward to with my little guys. We decorate the house, make fun food, give little gifts. Again, why not?!!

On top of our family celebrations, Brady also has a Valentine’s Day party at his pre-school. This year when I asked him what kind of card he wanted to give his little friends, he said, “Um. An alligator card.”

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Well who could say no to this little face?!

 

Hmm…the Gator fan in me loved this response. The mom in me was like, “Do they sell those? Oh gosh, what is Pinterest going to suggest I spend hours making?” So, to make it easy (on me) I had my handy hubby come up with a quick Alligator card design. After he designed it (and made all the changes I requested) all I had to do was print, cut them out with “fancy” scissors, and glue some Hershey Kisses on them. I helped Brady write his name on them, and we were done!

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I thought I’d share what we came up with in case anyone needs a last minute, quick Valentine for their little one. Just click on the link below the image. There are 2 cards per sheet.

Valentine 2015

Valentine 2015

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Just write your little one’s name on the card, throw some Kisses on it, and you’re good to go. Take that, Pinterest!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Feel free to go over the top and make it a cheesy and memorable day with your loved ones!

Happy, Healthy, Heart Pizzas! {Kids Cook Monday}

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Happy National Pizza Day! With love being in the air and all (Valentine’s Day right around the corner!) we decided to make heart shaped pizzas today.

Recently I read a study that talked about how much pizza the average kid eats and how bad it is for them. **Insert guilty mom face** Depending on what kind you eat, it can be high in fat, sodium, and empty carbs. No, we do not eat pizza all the time (maybe once or twice a month) but we do enjoy it around here- especially Nolan. Plus, it’s just so darn easy to order and have delivered! Well, even though I still stand by delivery pizza as an every once in a while treat, it’s always nice if you can “healthify” something you enjoy by making it at home now and then.

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Healthy, Happy, Heart Pizza Ingredents

 

We made our Heart Pizzas with a store bought whole wheat dough, but there are tons of great homemade whole wheat dough recipes like this one –  Ultimate No-Knead Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

We rolled out our dough on our counter top that we (washed) and dusted with flour. Once we pressed the dough out flat, we began to cut out our heart shape with a cookie cutter.

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We topped our pizzas with our favorite jarred marinara sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese.

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Brady picked his favorite veggies to top the pizzas. (I tried to get him to pick a red pepper for a pretty Valentine Day color, but he insisted on orange.) Here he is munching on his veggies!

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We chopped them into shapes that we could use for making happy faces on our hearts.

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Then we decorated our happy hearts!

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We baked our hearts for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

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These came out so cute and definitely satisfied a pizza craving for my boys. It was a fun way to kick off Valentines Day or just an overall love of pizza.

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Happy National Pizza Day! And Happy Valentine’s Day!