Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve!

I have never been a huge New Year's Eve party person, but I do enjoy a small get together with friends and family, which is exactly what we are hosting at our house tonight. I've been busy all morning cooking and getting food ready, which I actually love to do. I'm not exactly your every day Martha Stewart, but I love to do stuff like this.

On the menu ...
*Buffalo wings
*Pizza dippers
*Taco dip
*Fruit salsa and cinnamon chips
*Chocolate chunk cookies

Recipes ...

My ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds ground sirloin
20 round dill pickle slices
20 slices (2-inch square) white cheese, any type
20 soft dinner rolls, split and toasted
20 small lettuce leaves, any type, for serving
Condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, for serving

My directions:
1) Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small pan and season with salt and pepper.
2) Form 20 patties using 2 tablespoons ground sirloin or more if you have rolls that are a little bigger like me for each. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and coat patties with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Press a pickle slice into each patty (refrigerate for up to 2 hours).

3) Preheat broiler. Season patties with salt and pepper. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes. Top burgers with cheese during final 30 seconds.
4) Pace 1 burger on bottom half of each roll. Sandwich with top half of roll, and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Buffalo Wings

Buy pre-cooked, breaded buffalo wings. Heat them in the oven and toss in buffalo sauce from BW3. Serve with celery and blue cheese.

Pizza Dippers

Cook oven rising pepperoni pizza and slice into strips. Dip in ranch dressing and enjoy!

Taco Dip

This is my own recipe, but people seem to love it. So ... if it sounds weird, just know it tastes great. LOL.

*1 lb. ground beef
*Cream cheese
*Sour cream
*Taco Bell taco seasoning (yes, it has to be Taco Bell brand ... LOL)
*Shredded lettuce
*Shredded mexican cheese
*Tostitos Scoops

Mix some cream cheese, sour cream, tiny bit of milk and taco seasoning in bowl. For a regular size platter, you will not need to use the whole thing of cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning ... just use your judgment as to how much to add. I typically use more sour cream than cream cheese. Spread your mixture on a platter.

Brown ground beef and lay it on top of the sour cream mixture. Top with lettuce and shredded cheese. Serve with Tostitos Scoops for a scrumptous appetizer.

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

This is so delicious ... it tastes like fruit pie!

*2 kiwis, peeled and diced
*2 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored and diced
*8 ounces raspberries
*1 pound strawberries
*2 tablespoons white sugar
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor
*10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
*butter flavored cooking spray
*2 cups cinnamon sugar

1) In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.
Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Gotta have some chocolate!}

Just follow the recipe on the Nestle Chocolate Chunks bag, however instead of putting in a full cup of butter, I use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening. They are mighty delicious and everyone loves them!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our playdate with Sasha

Today we had a play date at the mall with Sasha and his family. If you followed our adoption blog, you will remember that we traveled with Sasha's family while we were in Russia. It was great to see them again and to see Sasha ... he seems to be doing great!

Based on the look on Nika's face, I think she remembers him!
So cute!

ENT, Take Two

Today the girls had their appointments with the ENT as a follow up to our last appointment from H E DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS. Payton's nose and ears have seemed clear, although she still had to have wax cleaned out of her ears under the microscope. All I have to say is I have one strong little girl on my hands. She fought, of course, and I could barely keep her on the table. She was thrusting her little hips up and sliding herself down the table, just like an old self defense pro. Little stinker! Oh, and we have got petechia again as a result of her crying. Grr.

Nika, on the other hand, now has fluid in her ears and will be started on an antibiotic since the one ear looked inflamed. Her nose has continued to be junky, so I asked that they do a nasal culture to see if anything funky is growing up there. So we have to wait for the results of that before we decide which antibiotic to put her on. She has been a little bit feverish over the past few days, so I know she has not been feeling that great. We also did another hearing test on her, which revealed mild hearing loss. The audiologist and the ENT want to get her ears and nose clear and try one more test before we revert to a sedated ABR. Fun stuff.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wii Fit

We bought a Wii last year for Christmas, but we hadn't bought a Wii Fit until this Christmas. I wasn't sure if I wanted it because I had heard from some people that it isn't worth it. However, I also heard from a number of other people that it is worth it, so we got one. I actually also got a tip that it might be good for Payton and Nika in the future, which I hadn't even thought about.

So on Christmas day, I fired up the Wii Fit and it told me my Wii Fit Age was 43. Grr. I guess I should mention that my actual age is 33. I figured out that it is all about your balance because today when I retested myself I was 33. Wow, I dropped 10 years in three days! LOL. Uh, no. Pretty much I just figured out how to work the balance portion of the thing.

Tonight I did my little Wii Fit exercises for an hour's worth of credit, which is how it works. Mason did the exercises with me ... umm, and perhaps better than me at times. Ha. Let's just say I hate push ups and side planks and Mason is really good at them. I'm not bitter at all. Nope, not bitter that my four year old can do them better than me.

Christmas toys in review

Of all the gifts we got this year, a few of them have left me saying, "Now that was worth the money!" I am the first one to admit that we have an over abundance of toys in our house, most of which I think are pretty much useless, but these are things I would definitely recommend for what it's worth ...
My mom bought these Fisher Price Snap 'n Style dolls for Payton and she loves them, not to mention they are so cute! They are great for my little two year old and they work her OT skills to no end. Sorry, my mind is on therapy 24/7 ... that is what I get for having two kids with special needs. Ha. Anyway, each doll comes with several snap accessories and there are outfits you can buy separate, like the snowboarding one that Payton got ... so cute! Oh, and there are dogs that you can buy too ... they have their own outfits and everything!
Addison got Elmo Live. Now, I was a little hesitant because we have bought all the other Elmos in years past and they are now sitting in the bottom of a toy box somewhere. Elmo Live, however, is different. He does so many things, the Elmo manufacturers are clearly getting smarter as the years go by. This Elmo actually cracks me up ... he is so smart, he even knows if you squeeze his nose and then he asks for it back. This is an interactive Elmo that is definitely worth it!
When Mason asked for the Power Ranger Jungle Fury Deluxe for Christmas, I couldn't quite understand what was so cool about it. Maybe because I'm a girl and Power Rangers never really did it for me. However, after playing with the one he got for Christmas, I will admit it is pretty intriguing, even though I have no idea how to transform it. It is battery operated, so the arms move. It also breaks down into three separate animals, one of which is a gorilla!
Addison got the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn: Shop and Learn Walker. Being that she is just beginning to trust herself walking, I wanted a walker for her that was stable and that wouldn't tip over. Well, this walker does just that. The legs are spread wide to prevent tipping, it makes music when you push it ... and she can shop while she is at it!Addison got this V-Tech KidiJamz Studio, although it has been a hit with all three kids ... err, I mean the entire family. LOL. It comes with a microphone and has several preset children's rhyme tunes that you can play.The Fisher Price Imaginext Batcave ... although it doesn't necessarily leave me saying that it was worth the money, Mason seems to think it is. He could spend hours playing with this thing ... which I guess makes it worth it in my eyes!

Okay, I saved the best for last. Kyle got me a Dyson ... a pink Dyson, to help support Breast Cancer, of course. I'm not really sure why it took us this long to get one, but if I would have known this thing was this cool, I would have bought one a long time ago. Seriously, the thing is awesome and worth every penny. It was pretty much disgusting to see what this thing sucked out of my rugs. My sister-in-law helped me take it out of the box and she was like a kid in a candy store. I let her take it for a test drive, just to be nice. Haha. She had bought a Roomba a few days before Christmas ... needless to say the Roomba is back at the store and she is in the market for a Dyson. It rocks my our world.

Oh, and I want to mention that at first I was a little upset my pink Dyson did not come with the turbine tool to clean the stairs. I even considered exchanging it for a better model that includes the turbine tool, however I got smart and instead of spending $100-$200 on a better model, I realized I could spend $70 on the turbine tool as a separate attachment ... yay! So I get the best of both worlds. ;)

I'm so sick of these words ...

"Leave your sister alone!"

Seriously ... is it only my household that has this problem? LOL. Oh, and just to clarify ... those words are being spoken by me to my four year old son, referencing his two year old biological sister. Does it ever end?! LOL.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sing it, girls!

Payton has always been a big fan of music and dancing. We have also learned that Nika is as well. For Christmas, the girls got a Barbie CD player/karaoke machine that has two microphones ... it is perfect for them! My sister, Kristie, had a jam session with them on Christmas day ... it was so cute! We have a CD that we got from Payton's teacher that has all the songs they listen to at school ... Payton loves it! Here is a little glimpse of their jam session ...

I love this picture ...

I took this picture of Payton when we were out takings shots for our Christmas card. I love it for several reasons ...

1) It shows her zest for life.

2) It shows her form when running. This is huge for her ... and me! She learned to walk at 17 months of age and has slowly been working her way up to running versus fast walking. Only in the past couple months has she really got the hang of full fledge running ... and it is so cute!

3) As Kyle would say, it shows her Farrah Faucet hair. ;)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

On Christmas morning, I awoke to find Mason sleeping in our bed ... clearly he had come in some time during the night. He sat up in bed and said, "Wake up! Santa was here!" I asked him how he knew that Santa had come and he said, "Because it is Christmas!" I thought maybe he had snuck downstairs earlier without me knowing it, but I don't think he had. He proceeded to wake up his sisters and I made the kids wait upstairs until I could get the video camera ready ... mean Mom, I know. I finally let the kids come downstairs and they went crazy. Every other word out of Mason's mouth was "awesome" ... "awesome" ... "awesome". LOL ... it cracks me up because I'm not sure when he got so old. {Note to self: next time you want to video tape a moment like the kids coming down the stairs on Christmas morning, make sure you know how to operate your camera so you can make sure you are actually taping. Grr.}

The kids opened their stockings first and played a little bit with their toys that Santa left out. Mason was going crazy and wanted to open all the gifts immediately ... in fact if every gift could have been opened within 2.2 seconds, he would have been a happy camper. Nika was a little confused by the excitement and just kind of crawled around looking at all the loot and playing with the wrapping paper. This year was especially fun with Payton, now that she is old enough to be really interested in her toys ... she was so cute.

Payton opening her stocking ...
Nika and her stocking ... LOL ... "What in the heck is that?!"
"Oooh look, I get a toy!""This is fun ... and I'm stinkin cute!"Mason and his stocking ...
Chicky opening her Snugglekins Nursery from Auntie Shawn, Uncle Brian and Cousin Ethan ... you think she likes it?More of Chicky opening the nursery ... this pic cracks me up ... she was so excited! LOL
The kids opening Disney ornaments from Grandpa and Grandma B ... or Mickey Mouse Grandpa and Grandma, as Mason refers to them {they live by Mickey Mouse} ...Nika opening her KidiJamz Studio ...
Nika loved this thing ... she eventually just laid on top of it. She has to hide it from her siblings, ya know! LOL
"Awesome! Just what I wanted!"
Payton ... I just love her reactions!
The girls Payton opening the karaoke/CD player ...
Just another cute face ... I'm not bias, am I?
Nika loving on her wrapping paper ... ;)"Awesome! Star Wars!"
Payton's new truck. LOL. Story behind it is that the kids constantly fight over the big trucks. They love to zoom them around the house, so Payton finally got one of her own and her brother got one to match. Where can I buy a pink one? Haha. Nika will get one too as soon as she realizes how fun it apparently is to play cars.
While we were opening our gifts, Auntie Shay, Uncle Jeremy and Cousin Jaxson came over. Jaxson looked so cute in his little Christmas jammies ...
Jaxson opening gifts from us ... happy boy!
Sing it, buddy!
I guess opening all those presents got Payton tuckered out. Here she is resting on some of the Melissa and Doug stuff that the kids got from the other Grandpa and Grandma B ...After awhile, Auntie Kristie, Uncle Casey and Grandma B {a whole other Grandma B ... LOL} joined us ... we had lots of toys to open and play with. Later on we cooked up a good dinner {ham, scalloped potatoes, 7-layer salad and rolls} ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Damn Dog

Last night my sister, Mason and I made more cut out cookies. Is that bad that the cookies we made last weekend are gone already? Oops. Anyway, I left the cookies out on the table last night so they could dry. However, they must have been invisible because this morning my dear husband left the dog out of her kennel while I was still upstairs with the kids. Needless to say, I came down to find the dog having a nice morning snack.

One of the cookies Mason and I had decorated was a gingerbread cut out ... we decorated it to look like him. It had short hair, shorts, a t-shirt and even a letter M on its chest. Well ... that was one of the cookies that the dog ate. Uh oh.

Fast forward a couple hours and Mason finally came downstairs from watching TV ...

Me: Bubs, I'm sorry but this morning Daddy left Zoe out of her kennel and she got on the table and ate some of our cookies.

Mason: {Has a semi-disgusted look on his face.}

Me: And one of the cookies she ate was the one we made to look like you.

Mason: Well that's okay, Mommy. Because Zoe likes me and she wanted the cookie. It's okay, good girl Zoe.

Me: {Speechless.} Alrighty then. {Lesson learned from child. Haha.}

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Things He Says

While decorating cookies ...
Mason: Mom, your cookies are really, really beautiful! You are decorating them beautiful!

While talking about the car that Kyle is getting ready to buy ...
Mason: This car is not for Chicky and Nika. It is just for me and Daddy, because we need some peace and quiet!

Referencing his two little sisters ...
Mason: I am the boss of the babies!

Talking back while in time out ...
Mason: You aren't the boss of me ... Daddy is!

Monday, December 22, 2008

They need our help ...

The Newbold Family lost their first angel with Down syndrome to leukemia. Thereafter, they felt led to adopt two children with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe, one of which is already home. The Newbold Family is now back in Eastern Europe trying to finalize the second child's adoption. However, they have hit a financial road block. Please click here to read more about their story.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Tis the Season

SENTIMENTAL WARNING. I'm really feeling the holiday spirit this year, more so than in past years. Don't get me wrong ... I have always loved Christmas, but this year we have been blessed in so many ways that it makes this time of year that much more special.

Our children top our list of blessings ... they each have grown so much over the past year and they make me so incredibly happy.

Mason has grown into such a little man. He is learning so much in preschool ... I love to see his little mind work. His compassion for his sisters is incredible ... he is the best big brother that two girls could have. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for him.

Payton has also grown so much this past year ... physically, emotionally, developmentally. Everything she does is so rewarding for us, only because we know she has to try extra hard to get things right. She loves being a mommy to her dolls ... I could watch her play with her dolls all day, it is so cute!

Addison is our Russian angel. Her smile melts my heart. She has only physically been with us for one month, however she has been growing in our hearts for seven months. She has accomplished so much since being home, she makes us so proud and the rewards are endless with her as well!

Next on our list of blessings is probably our community ... online and otherwise. We have received an incredible amount of support - emotionally and financially - over the past seven months while we pursued the adoption of Addison. I have always thought of myself as being a giving person, but after being on the receiving end, I have wanted to be on the giving end that much more. Giving to others to so rewarding and what better time than now, during the holiday season. It breaks my heart to see that so many people are being negatively impacted by our economy and I have been incredibly happy to help others during this time. I cannot save the world, but I can help put a smile on a child's face Christmas morning. Giving ... that is what Christmas is all about!

Now I am sort of getting side tracked, but I had to post this video that I pulled from Renee's blog. If this doesn't make you cry and thank God for your blessings, then I'm not sure what will.

Who killed the butler?!

"Hey Dad! We need a new butler because
Chicky broke Henry ... and I don't like
the way he is looking!"
For more stories about Henry our beloved butler, click here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reminder: $5 Challenge

Just want to remind everyone of the $5 Challenge I'm hosting for McKenna. The challenge is to see how much money we can raise by Christmas with $5 donations from anyone and everyone that has just $5 to spare. How? Use the chipin widget you see to the right. The cause? Help bring this beautiful little girl home where she belongs ...

Thank you to everyone who has already contributed ... you guys blow me away with your generosity! Tis' the season, right?!

My little supermodel