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!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Lego Cake for Hunter

Didn't he just turn 5?! Hunter is 6 already! I look at him and wonder where my baby went!

This year we are having Thanksgiving with my husband's brother's family in Cheyenne, WY. They've been living there for a good 5 years, and we've yet to visit them. Originally we planned to come down for their son's 1st birthday in August, but it just didn't work out. So we opted to head down that way for Thanksgiving and make a vacation out of it. We may as well since it's a 11.5 hour drive (at least) one way! 

Anyways as the dates would fall, Hunter's birthday was on a Friday this year, and since we wanted to be able to ride on the Polar Express, we had to leave on Friday to make it to town with enough time to not be rushed to get to the train on time. Since we left on Friday, we had a little birthday celebration with my family the night before by taking him to his favorite place to eat, Buffalo Wild Wings, and then opening a few presents. Some how between all the chaos of making sure everything was packed, I managed to make Hunter cupcakes for a snack at school on Friday. It was so much fun hanging out with his class for the last half hour of the day. Turns out Hunter is the 3rd oldest in his class! Because of all the scrambling around, I knew I wasn't going to have time to make a cake at home for his birthday so we agreed to make him one in Cheyenne. 

This year's theme was Legos. Easy enough! After arriving Saturday afternoon, and riding the train on Sunday, my sister-in-law, Erin, and I set out to make his cake on Monday. I didn't think it would take all day, but it did. The elevation of Cheyenne really through me for a loop with the frosting, which made frosting his cake a challenge... that's when I got out the wine to calm my nerves!

I had so much fun teaching Erin how to use fondant and was SO thankful she was there to help cut out the blocks!
 I normally don't bake in my glasses because they slip off my face when I look down (I'm blind problems) and they give me a headache when I wear them all day...hence the wine...
 Here's the final picture of the cake. It didn't turn out quite how I would have liked it, but Hunter loved it. It's a little hard to see with the white on white, but it's suppose to look like the Lego guy unrolled the fondant to see the Legos underneath. We should have make more Lego blocks, but everyone was getting antsy to eat it. 
 He wanted to decorate it with real Legos...
 JP liked it too. I think he was a little jealous, and more anxious for his birthday to come!
 After singing "Happy Birthday" Hunter opened up a few more presents. He was SO EXCITED at the coupons grandma gave him. One to go to the movie with her, one for bowling, and one for a weekend at the cabin with her. 
The kids finished the evening with Bible stories read by Grandma.