Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free Zoo Days

Our local zoo is free for city residents in October and November which is good for my kids, because I am not a fan at all of our zoo so I would have a really hard time to spend a lot of money for us to go. I love the zoo I grew up with and the zoo in the city we just moved from, in fact we lived 3 minutes away if that and went often!! So it was quite a downer to move to this zoo where the exhibits are really lame and everything is spread super far apart!

This is their newest exhibit so it's pretty cool - the panda bear. He loves to play in the water and does endless dives and back dives into the water. It seems like he really enjoys to put on a show.

When we went with our cousin Dade and Grandma we did the all you can ride pass for the train, carousal and tram (again, it's so spread out that you have to ride the train and tram to be able to see the zoo with out causing yourself a heart attack, and even then...).

We got to feed the Lorikeets. Carter got very nervous and decided he did not like that bird on him.

Hayden thought they were pretty cool when I was holding and feed them.

Grandma on the train with the grandkids. It was quite the big deal to be the one to sit by Grandma.

Then we went back yesterday because on the weekends in October they do a Halloween Hoot and Howl. This year it was Pirate themed. (Sawyer, we wish you could have been there with us, it would have been much more entertaining!)

Cat in the Hat was there. Hayden did NOT want to get to close to him. As long as she was on Matt's further away leg she put up with the Cat for a minute, but you can see in her face she's not a huge fan. I am guessing, she will not be sitting on Santa's lap this year. :)

They got to ride around on John Deere tractors.

They made their way through a rope course.

We went on a hay ride. Carter wanted to be Mr. Independent and sit in his own corner by himself.

Hayden on hayride.

Then we made our way to the Haunted Valley where the kids got to walk the plank

and dig through treasure.

Unlike those pesky pirates, Hayden LOVED walking the plank.

Carter sent off a few cannon balls.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Freezer Meal Group October Recipes

For those who commented that they'd like to know what we made for our freezer meals, here are the recipes that I sent out to our group. Hope you can get some good ideas from them!

Chicken and Biscuits by Carrie
Pam @
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups cubed frozen hashbrowns
12 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
10.75 ounces cream of chicken soup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can refrigerated biscuits

In a bowl, mix chicken, potatoes, veggies, soup, and seasonings. Place in deep 8×8 baking dish. Arrange biscuits on top of casserole. Bake covered with foil at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until biscuits are cooked and golden brown.
Freezing Directions:
In a bowl, mix chicken, potatoes, veggies, soup, and seasonings. Place in deep 8×8 baking dish. Arrange biscuits on top of casserole. Cover with foil, label, and freeze. To serve: Do NOT thaw. Bake covered with foil at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until biscuits are cooked and golden brown.
Servings: 6

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs & Cascone’s Sauce
by Charity
6 lb Ground Beef 4 lb Sweet & Spicy Pork Sausage
30 Mozzarella Sticks (or 2 lb mozzarella) 6 Cups dry bread crumbs
1 ½ Cup Milk 8 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbs Minced Garlic (18 cloves) 1 ½ Tbs Salt
4 tsp Pepper ½ Cup Minced Onion

1. Remove string cheese from wrappers and cut into 8 equal pieces. Or cut 1 lb mozzarella into 120 cubes. Place in a large bowl and freeze until it’s time to form meatballs.
2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
3. Using your hands, thoroughly combine beef, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Shape into 1 inch meatballs around each piece of frozen mozzarella. Seal meatballs well to keep cheese from oozing out.
4. Place meatballs close together on lightly greased rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Once meatballs have cooled divide evenly among 10 Gallon Zipploc Freezer bags and add a jar of Cascone’s Sauce. Seal and freeze.

To Cook One Entrée:
1. Completely thaw one entrée in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Pour meatballs and sauce into an ungreased baking dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through.
4. Cook spaghetti to desired texture and serve sauce over spaghetti.

Or place in crockpot and cook until heated thru.

Chicken and Rice Soup
by Bree
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 2 garlic cloves, minced
· 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
· 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
· 4 fresh thyme sprigs
· 1 bay leaf
· 2 quarts chicken stock or broth
· 1 cup of water
· 1 cup long grain white rice
· 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
· salt and black pepper
Place a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and water- bring the liquid to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low until the rice is tender-about 30 minutes. Serve hot, or cool and freeze for up to 3 months.

Reheating Directions:
Thaw soup in the refrigerator overnight. Pour contents of freezer bag into a soup pot and heat until warm on the stove. You can also pour contents into a microwave safe bowl and warm in the microwave. Serve with a side salad and dinner rolls to make it a complete meal.

Baked Ziti
1/2 lb of hamburger
1 package of Ziti noodles (6-7 cups)
1 tsp of Italian season
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan shredded cheese
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
2 cups of mozzarella cheese

Cook Ziti noodles and drain water. Add Italian seasons to hamburger. Brown meat and drain grease. Mix together spaghetti sauce, ricotta and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Add cooked hamburger and noodles in bowl. Stir together and pour into a 9x12 baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.


Chicken Enchiladas
by Ashley

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 can green diced chilis
1 onion
1 large can green or red enchilada sauce
Shredded cheese
Corn tortillas

Cook and shred chicken. Simmer with green chilis. Heat corn tortillas. Fill tortillas with chicken, onion and cheese. Top with green sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Freezing instructions: prepare enchiladas as above except do not put green sauce on top as enchiladas will become mushy. Freeze sauce in quart size freezer bag.

Reheating instructions: warm sauce and cover enchiladas. Place cheese on top if desired. Bake as directed above.

We like to serve this meal with Spanish rice and beans.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup
By Amber

(This recipe will make enough for 2 families.)
Yummy with breadsticks!

1 (16 oz) pkg frozen broccoli
6 carrots, sliced
4 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cubes butter or margarine
1 ½ cups flour
10 cups water
10-12 chicken bouillon cubes (I used 10)
1 (16oz) container Cheez Whiz or Velveeta Cheese (I used Velveeta)

Steam vegetables until almost tender (I boiled the veggies). In a separate bowl, microwave butter or margarine until melted. Stir in flour and whisk together. Then add to boiling water and stir. Add drained vegetable to soup. Add velveeta cheese. Stir until melted. (I preferred putting cheese in first so that I could make sure and get cheese mixed in nice and smooth before I put in veggies.) If freezing cool, then put in a freezer bag. Lay flat in freezer. To reheat after freezing, thaw and then heat through on stove top or crockpot.

The Chili recipe by Amanda and Cream Cheese Chx by Paula were handed out that night. If you need those recipes please contact myself or the cook to get those recipes. Thanks to all who participated!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freezer Meal Group

I haven't wanted to do much to get ready for this baby that's growing inside of me. I don't know if I'm in denial that I am about to have 3, or that I just don't want to interrupt the groove of life that we are in, or that I just keep thinking there really isn't that much that needs to be done so why do anything now? What I am feeling a need to do is to prepare for some of the everyday challenges of having 3 kids and a needy infant such as feeding my family. Those that know me, know that I am obsessive about dinner. I have to be prepared and I have to have it done in a timely manner at an appropriate eating time. It is just something that I feel strongly about and need to do to have peace of mind. So after hearing my sister-in-law Jen talk about a freezer meal group that she does, I thought what a great way to stock up my freezer for after the baby. And one thing I have always felt strongly about is that if you want something to get done then get in there and do it yourself: so I started a freezer meal group amongst some of my friends.

This was my first and only run thus far. It was a lot of work and I learned a lot! From the time I started pulling things out at 10am to washing the last dish at 4pm, I was on my feet and worked just about the entire time (I would stop briefly to help with my kids needs such as lunch, etc). My pregnancy body was pretty worn out! Not knowing, I chose a meal, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, that took more time than others would. But it turned out really yummy.

I made quite the mess and used just about every pot I own including one from my Mother-in-Law, but after our exchange and receiving a bunch of meals out in my freezer that will be so easy to get out, thaw, reheat and serve I really think it was SOOO worth it!! And my next meal I have planned to do 10 of will be so much easier to put together. By the way, we are doing this monthly with 10 people in our group, which means we come with 10 of the same meal and leave with 10 different meals.

My bags of soup, done and ready to go in the freezer! What an accomplishment!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

A couple weeks ago we went to a local pumpkin patch. We went to this same one last year on a Saturday when it was super busy and cost $10/pp. This year I wised up and learned that on Tuesday or Wed. evenings you can go for free. Free is so much better!! And the pumpkin patch is right on Matt's route home from work on Tuesdays so we packed a "dinner" and he met us there so we could all have free fun together.

They got to feed goats, chickens, and pigs.

If you look closely their faces are COVERED in dirt!! They got down and dirty!

Hayden looks so scared, but big brother was so nice to help her get over her fear and push her down the slide. :) He may have gone down with her, can't remember.

Cowboy Carter catching him a cow.

The kids going down a huge slide:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Matt's Half Marathon

October 15th, 2011

Right before the race started

This past Saturday, Matt ran a half marathon. He has a goal of running another marathon, but he knows right now it is just not the time (aka there's not time to train). But he was able to somewhat train for this half - though he really didn't do any steady training. He was really nervous because a couple weeks before the half he started having some BAD knee problems. He talked to some of his orthopedic friends and we said lots of prayers and his knee did amazingly well for his race.
Matt's Mom and Dad were sweet enough to come out and help the kids and I support Matt while he ran. Hayden was all about cuddling up to Grandpa and it was really sweet.

We were able to cheer Matt on at about mile 8 and he was looking really good:

This was right before Matt crossed the finish line. He started cramping up pretty bad and I felt for him! His face says it all. But as soon as he crossed the line, he just seemed happy and good to go. But that's Matt for ya.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

August Catch-Up

Carter skied again.

We had the luck of going to this awesome gym for a birthday party. It was so fun! And Hayden looked adorable eating her cupcake, well adorable to some and ridiculous to others like our buddy sitting next to her.

Hayden is obsessed with baby car seats these days. Just go ahead and help yourself there Hayden.

The most exciting thing to happen to us in August was the addition of cousin Ellway.

He is so fun to have around and is turning into quite the chunker!

The most frustrating thing to happen in August has to do with Direct TV. Matt finally has gotten the big screen he's been dreaming of and with that we called Direct TV to upgrade to HDTV. Well, they had to put on a new satellite and the tech guy drilled right through our wires. So we had to have a bunch of people come in to fix the problem and when all was said and done in order to be up to code, these ugly plates you see have to be a permanent fixture to our home. SO FRUSTRATING!!

So in order to cover them up we had to buy this clock. I like it there and it helps to balance out the enormous tv on the other side of the mantel that I wasn't too excited about. Direct TV says they are going to pay for all this so hopefully they follow through on their end. Still waiting to see the $$.

Hayden loves her some broccoli!!

She is also very much into shoes, especially her play shoes:

Hayden is so cute when she does peek-a-boo and I wanted to get it on camera. But as soon as the camera is turned on she won't do anything I want her to do.

The next two videos give you a taste of what it's like to live in our home:

Hayden doing Wheels on the Bus:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Finishing up July

Yes, we are at the beginning of October and once again (if not always) I am a few months behind. So I am going to try to play catch-up here for a bit and include the pictures I've missed.

Around here, summer is pretty much all about water play. If you are outside you have to be in water or else you'll never make it. So above Carter is at some really fun fountains that blow up really high that the kids can run around in.

We spent more time out on the boat.

I am still playing with Hayden's hair and seeing what we can do with it. I go through stretches where I get really creative and then times like this week where her hair is exactly the same every day, a little bit pulled back with a bow. Thank heavens she has little curls to her hair that makes it look cute no matter what I do.

She loves to look at herself in the mirror and be told she's cute.

One day Hayden and Carter were being really cute together and Carter pulled her up on his lap and said, "Mom, take our picture." I was more than happy to oblige.

Hayden loves to watch Baby Signing Time. Here she is sitting up at the counter watching while I made dinner. This face is during the time where they talk about getting hurt and singing the song about bad days.

The whole time she was watching I just couldn't get over her cute facial expressions and how sweet she looked.

Carter once again got his hands on my camera.

Towards the end of July we went bowling for playgroup. We had a great time. For some reason every picture I took was blurry so this is the best one I could come up with.

I know I posted these on facebook, but I don't believe they ever made it to the blog. This was during Hayden's reign of terror. She earned the nick name Curious George because she got into EVERYTHING. And it wasn't out of mischief it was purely curiosity.

Anyway, I went up this particular morning to take a shower. I left a full box of cereal and crackers on the counter. When I came down, this mess is what I found. I had no idea she could climb up the bar stools.
This girl can be CRAZY!! Luckily, her disastrous behavior has slowed down, but I am just waiting for her to grow another couple inches and for her to figure out she can reach a whole new level of things.

This is Hayden's way of slip n' sliding. Usually, she does the worm all the way down. And yes she's in her t shirt. She had just woken up from her nap and I knew we weren't going to be out too much longer, but there is nothing that can come in between her and slip n' sliding - she LOVES IT!!

Now it's Carter's turn:

Our neighborhood Rock N Roll band. These cute kids live just a couple doors down.