Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Noteworthy Happenings for the Week

When did miss Charlotte turn into a big girl? I must have missed it, or witnessed it and didn't realize it! At her 18 month check-up right before we left for Thanksgiving, I recall telling her doctor that she could say about 6 words, other than momma and dadda. By the time we made it home from our Thanksgiving vacation, she had added quite a few more - words like "thank you", "buckle", and "up".
Her word of the week this week is "helper". When frosting my dad's cake she had climbed up on a stool to watch and grabbed a spatula sitting nearby and said "helper." I squirted a little bit of frosting on to her spatula for her to eat. When she was done, she vigorously waved it at me and said "helper" again. The process continued until I was done. She'll also say it when someone needs to pass her the M&M's she can't reach... Let me just say this too - It is *adorable* hearing her say "thank you" because just about any time you hand her something, she'll say it, except it sounds more like "tank ew". Other words she's mastered this week include shoe and NOW - as in- Hunter and JP, clean up your toys, NOW! Cue Charlotte - NOW!

She's also working on perfecting her tantrums. Up until the other night, only Perry, Grandma, and I had witnessed one of her melt downs. I had a hard time controlling my laughter the other night when I took my phone back from Charlotte's possession, only to have her get violently angry. The looks coming from Aunt Kim and Papa Craig's faces were priceless. She's really good at throwing her arms and body around, plus screaming a combination of "mine" and "no"...One of these days I might be lucky enough to film it...

Hunter and JP have been busy preparing for Christmas. They both want green helicopters with remote controls...JP wants it because Hunter wants it. The other night at the table, we were all talking about Skippy the elf and the things he does...
P - I bet Skippy eats his dinner at the North Pole.
H - You don't even know that.
M - I do. Santa and I are in close contact. As a matter of fact, he told me they were out of green helicopters.
J - Ahh man....Maybe they still have red ones!?
M - *face palm*

I was really hoping they'd ask for something that was a little more age appropriate but helicopters just won't work in our house...I've been trying to plant the seed of a new bike in JP's head but it's not working...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy *Surprise* Birthday to My Dad!

Yesterday my dad turned 60 so the day before our family held a surprise party for him.
 His cake was supposed to be a surprise too but he just happened to be upstairs when I arrived...go figure! The plan was to have him hang out downstairs in the basement with the guys and watch football. All of his party guests arrived and stayed upstairs and waited for him to come upstairs at half time (which took longer than expected!).
 Meanwhile I had fun watching Casey steal candy... He knows how to get what he wants!
 Nanny however wasn't impressed with him after he rubbed his chocolate-cover hands on her *new* "nanny-only" chair...one more excuse for me to make sure the downstairs door stayed closed!
 I did get a little Dylan time too! He's a sweetheart! I think I only heard him cry once? And it was the cutest thing ever!
 When halftime finally came around, he headed upstairs for "sandwiches" and found two of his brothers and their families, along with a cousin and an few family friends. 
 He was excited to see one of his college buddies there too! 
It goes without say that this golfer loved his cake too!
 As soon as JP got down from the table, Casey hopped on up to finished what JP left.
 And the sweets kicked in right away!
 Isn't he so sweet?!
My cousin Ryan and his wife Tara stopped by for a while too with their little princess, and Charlotte loved her! JP did too - he made her a crown and bracelets,which she later nibbled on! I think it's safe to say my dad was truly surprised and blessed to have so many people there to celebrate turning the big 6-0! Thanks to all who came! It was great to see everyone and talk to everyone! I'm still trying to figure out his card trick too...

Santa Fun with Hunter, Charlotte, and Casey

 Since Aunt Kile was in town, we spent a little sister time together by taking the kids to see Santa at Caras Nursery. I hadn't been there before, but the inside and outside were beautiful!
 Casey braved Santa alone and did pretty good! He didn't cry! Charlotte wanted nothing to do with him. She started crying just looking at him from a distance. 
 Needless to say, she did okay sitting on my lap next to him. Hunter had no interest in talking to Santa or being near him either. (JP stayed home with dad to work on one of Hunter's Christmas presents in the garage!)
 As soon as we all climbed out of the sleigh, Hunter climbed in. Kile and I were both a little surprised. He wants a green helicopter with a remote control....JP does too...
 After pictures with Santa, we went to the back of the green house and stood in line to ride the "reindeer". Charlotte was ready to go, but when I attempted to set her on the "reindeer" she screamed like she was dying...
Casey didn't scream, but he also made it very clear he didnt' want to go either. Charlotte was more interested in peaking at her new cousin, Dylan, in his infant carrier.
Hunter had a good time, even though it was raining out!

When he got home, he was so excited to tell JP what he got to do! "I got to ride a reindeer! But it was really just a pony!" Nothing gets past him...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Highlights From Our Trip To Wyoming

We just (yesterday night) arrived home from our family vacation to Wyoming. Everyone had such a wonderful time, but I'm glad to be home! The one thing I HATED about Wyoming was the wind. I've always hate the wind, but can you blame me? We had a fire place in the basement that clanked every time the wind blew when I was really little, and we had a trampoline come through our window too...
 With that said, the drive there was not fun for me. With the interstate running North and South and the wind blowing from west to east, it made for some challenging driving conditions. Not long after Perry gave me the driver seat in Casper, the winds picked up a lot and we kept our eyes on this cloud formation for quite a while. Very unsettling. So was the semi-truck in the ditch. I was driving battling wind gusts at 65mph+. Perry offered to pull over and take over driving again, but there was no way I was getting out. And to think the first few tumble weeds I saw made me nostalgic for the Hi-Line...
 Isn't she so sweet?! We finally moved the car seats around so all three of them were in the middle row. So nice to be able to reach all them from the front seat!
When we arrived Saturday afternoon, the boys had fun bonding with little Stevie. Hunter is so good with babies! You can read about our Sunday adventure on the Polar Express here. And about the birthday cake Erin and I created for Hunter here all day on Monday. 
One of the gifts we gave to Hunter was a baseball glove and baseballs. Perry made good of the promise of playing catch in the morning. They both had a lot of fun! I'm sure everyone enjoyed watching them.
I know Stevie did! But I think he wanted to be out there more than he wanted to be inside...
 Later Tuesday morning we headed to Denver to see the zoo, which I blogged about here. After leaving the zoo on our way to a suburb of Denver to visit one of Perry's uncles, I was able to catch this picture of the sun setting over Denver. So pretty!
 On our way through Wyoming, we spotted a few of these landmarks along the way. One was a dinosaur, one was a cowboy on a horse, and then this one of a buffalo. There may have been more. I pointed this one out to the boys. They got excited until we drove past...JP explained in disappointment, "That's not a buffalo! That's just a sign buffalo!" Other memorable phrases:
M - Jim, you need to calm yourself down.
H - Yeah Jim, calm down!
J - NE-VA!! Hahaha!
For some reason "ne-va" was said a lot on this trip by both kids, but mostly JP, and it cracked me up every time! 
After leaving Uncle Bob and Aunt Joyce's house, Hunter barely made it out of town before passing out. He hardly ever sleeps in the car, but we he does, Perry and I rejoice!
 The roads became really iffy on the way back from the zoo Tuesday night, so by morning the kids had enough snow for a sledding. Stevie LOVED it! I'm sure Charlotte would have enjoyed it too...if she hadn't napped for 4 hours! With no real nap the day before, she was EXHAUSTED!
Perry and Cameron built the kids a little hill to go sledding on. It was almost gone by Thursday... 
 After sledding, the boys came in to warm their toes by the fire. We forgot to bring snow boots and snow pants for them, so they were a little chilly. But troopers none-the-less!
 How I wish we had a fire place!
 They later decided to warm their bums by the fire when shortly after Sissy sat down. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this picture of the three of them. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
 While the turkey was cooking on Wednesday, (Yes, Wednesday, we celebrated a day early so we could have an extra day to eat the left overs before we left) Erin and I went to JoAnn's to buy her fabric and a sewing machine. On Thursday I taught her the basics of sewing and she left with a bag. The real test will her be doing another one on her own. ;)
Charlotte in her Thanksgiving dress. I love her shoes! But I loved watching her danced in her dress more! We left Cameron and Erin's house Friday morning after breakfast. Perry drove first and was pulled over 2 hours into our trip back while the boys were playing Roadside Bingo. Even though he came away with nothing but a verbal warning, the boys were excited because "YES! We we get to mark off the police car!!" We planned on staying in Billings at the Big Horn Resort, which had a HUGE water park, but after checking the weather a hundred times, I decided we need to just drive the whole way home. It took us a total of 12 hours. Way too long to do in a day with kids, but we did it. It became a little challenging once it got dark out because Charli hates the dark...But we made it before the snow storm today!

The BEST Cherry Cheesecake

I don't know how else to say this, but you've been missing out if you haven't had my mom's Cherry Cheesecake yet. Seriously. I requested this for my 21st birthday in lieu of a "real" cake, and it's the first cheesecake Perry will actually eat, rather gobble up. And to think he tried to pass on it...
This dessert is not only a traditional item in the Patrick family, but has made it's way into the Dustin family as well! I made a double recipe for Thanksgiving, and it was gone within 24 hours. That's some serious goodness! Does pumpkin pie even go that fast?!

I don't have it memorized quite yet, so I thought I'd add this recipe to my blog because it's the one recipe I ALWAYS need when I'm out of my kitchen. Enjoy! And then come back and tell me how you like it!

Cherry Cheesecake

1 1/2 graham cracker packages
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbs melted buttter

1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 14oz can sweeten condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling

1. For the crust you can either buy a pre-made graham cracker crust, or make your own. To make your own, crush the graham cracker leaving no large pieces. I put mine in a bowl and use the bottom of a cup to crush them.
2. When they're crushed, add the sugar and melted butter.
3. Press into a a 9 in pie pan, or 9 in square pan using wax paper.
4. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese with mixer until it's fluffy.
5. Add the sweeten condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla and mix until combined.
6. Pour on top of the crust.
7. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
8. Spread cherry pie filling on top before serving.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Visit to the Denver Zoo

 On Tuesday we went to the Denver Zoo. This is the second zoo I've been to and I loved it just as much as the zoo we went to in Seattle, except this time we had two little babies with us, which made it extra fun! Charlotte brought her leopard print leggings specifically to wear at the zoo. :)
 As soon as we walked in, we saw the lions followed by a few other animals that I don't know what they were technically called. It was so fun to see Hunter and JP's excitement at all the animals!
 After leaving one indoor exhibit, we found a peacock wandering around. There were a few of them, maybe 4? just roaming free. That was super cool! 
 The animal JP really wanted to see was the giraffe. By far my favorite too! 
 JP didn't want his picture taken with them, nor did Hunter, so this is the best I could do...
 Next we went to see the sea lions and the seals. Charlotte was delighted by both exhibits!
 This is why I'm not in many pictures...because I look like this. 
 The indoor tropical reef was so much fun! Dad, Grandma, and JP were separated from the rest of us, so they were able to watch a snake devour a mouse. I'm glad I wasn't there to see that... I was busy enough following Hunter around and trying to let Charlotte see the exhibits too.  
 Cousin Stevie was so cute when he saw this massive turtle! Clapping his hands and squealing!
 Charlotte liked all the fish and tried catching a few. She even tried climbing into a few of the tanks. :)
 Hunter was equally as hard as JP to get a picture of, but I was happy get this one!
 I've probably said it a hundred times, but Hunter is the sweetest kid - especially when it comes to babies. He hauled Charlotte around like this for a while, lifting her up to see the snakes. 

 Perry really enjoyed the tropical reef too. Probably because of the snake thing. I enjoyed it too...until I realized after lunch what happened when we were inside...
 For whatever reason, we weren't allowed to bring our strollers into the tropical reef, nor could we bring our food. I completely forgot there were M&M's in a sealed bag in the *new* bag I just made for Charli. After we came out, I picked up the bag and saw M&M's in her seat and then I remembered they were in there, but I thought Grandma might have sneaked (snuck?) her a few. At lunch I was digging in the bag for her bib and felt a bunch of M&M pieces at the bottom of the bag, followed by a discovery of a hole... What I've gathered is that &@*% peacock nibbled at my bag until he got to the M&M's. Since we practically had the zoo to ourselves, there wasn't anyone to fend of the peacocks while we were inside... 
While on a bathroom break, Hunter was running with his hands in his pocket and tripped. Landed right on his face and ended up with a little road burn on his forehead and a scuffed up nose. Didn't cry too much!
 After lunch we bundled back up and walked out into the wind to find the monkeys and the gorillas. 
This was JP's face after leaving the penguins when he realized I was watching him through my camera...He's so animated!
Before we left the zoo, I insisted we see the elephants. I also insisted that Perry and I get a few pictures taken of the two of us. Really I wanted a family pictures, but the boys weren't cooperating...Go figure. 

Aren't we silly? Hahaha! On the way out zoo we ran into the peacocks again and one started squawking at me and walking/running towards me. Pretty sure he was the one that tore my bag apart... After the zoo we drove across Denver to see Grandma's brother Bob and his family. It was so nice to finally meet Aunt Joyce and some more of the family! 

The drive home was a little tense as there was a winter storm warming but we made it back alright! The wind here is ridiculous! I was white-knuckle driving on the way to Cheyenne from Casper with 60+ mph wind gusts on our way here. Perry offered to drive, but there was no way I was going to pull over and get out of the car...So far we've seen 3 semi-trucks tripped over in the ditch. I am SO glad I don't live here!