Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunshine's and Monkey's cakes

I am certainly no professional, but I do enjoy making and decorating their cakes.  Someday I hope they will look back and remember liking how Mom made them their own special cake.  They may share a family birthday party, but I make 2 cakes for them and try to make it however they would like.  They're little and still think my decorating skills are amazing, which I think is awesome.  Until they tell me they don't want a cake, I will continue to make and decorate their cakes (even if all they want is a cake with no frosting).

Monkey's Dinosaur cake.  The kids helped make foot prints all over the place.  These kind of cakes are soooo easy but everyone always thinks they are so cute.

Sunshine's birthday cake.  She wanted a grown up cake at the family party.  She was a little sad once it was done and she saw how cute Monkey's was.  She felt a little better once she remembered she was going to have silly cupcakes at her friend party.

Half of the cupcakes.  We had boys and girls and Sunshine wanted to make sure there were colors for everyone.  There were also 3 with no frosting and 2 saying happy birthday.

My favorite!

Sunshine's favorite, I think it's because it had eyebrows/eyeshadow or something.

Monkey's favorite.  He didn't give a reason except that it was orange and his favorite color is orange.  Sunshine made sure she kept it to the side for her brother to have later.

I got tired of decorating.  A pompom on a toothpick.  Easy-peasy.

Displayed on Wilton's cupcake stand.


Monday, February 11, 2013

I really am awesome

-because if I wasn't, could I make this?

First track - I realized once you got out of the loop, you couldn't get back in.  It's like it was telling my life story.

So then I made this:

But then this happened-
Reorganization: Courtesy of Bug

Our final track used all but one piece.

If you notice, the tracks are all nice and organized while Monkey and Sunshine are playing...

Seriously.  Thomas has been revived and is living happily on our family room floor.  We have at least 23 cars/engines, I'm pretty sure there are a couple more Thomases downstairs.  I mean really, if a track can't hold all of our cars, it's just not worthy.

And Emily is happy too!


Swiss steak

I'm not sure what an actual Swiss steak recipe is.  This isn't how my mom  used to make it, so as far as I know, it's not the norm.

1-2 lbs round steak
1 can condensed Campbells Golden Mushroom soup.
beef stock, I have used the condensed beef stock as well as the containers, you can control the thickness of the dish by using the condensed
1 medium can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion cut into medium pieces.
1 green bell pepper cut into thick strips
garlic powder
skinny egg noodles

Place the steak in a large pot with soup, beef stock, and 2 cans of water.  Add onions. Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, green peppers, season with pepper, garlic powder and salt.  Continue to simmer for another 30-40 minutes or until pepper is the consistency/crunchiness you prefer.

You can add more water to thin the broth or add cornstarch to thicken it.  This is a matter of preference.

Serve with skinny egg noodles


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthdays and their parties

I'm wondering if I'm in a minority in this subject.  I've mentioned it to other moms with children of different ages and it appears as though I am, indeed, a minority.  I also think I'm right.  I don't think I've written that before on here, but on this, I think I will.

Sunshine has friends and is asked to birthday parties.  Woohoo!  Who doesn't like going to a birthday party?!  Right now (and I know I am in the minority on this where I live) most parties are held at other places.  Be it Chuck E Cheese, a bounce town, the gymnastics club, or something through the local park district, it has been a couple of years (yes years) since Sunshine has been to a birthday party held at a friend's house.

That's fine, I can certainly see the draw in it.  No cleaning, minimal pick-up, not having to be solely responsible for entertaining, no children bouncing around your house/furniture/antique, breakable collections - the reasons are endless.  If you want to have it someplace else, go for it.

My problem isn't location (I'm not trying to be a reverse snob), my problem is that the kids never open the presents.  The first time it happened I was in absolute shock.  What?!  Why wouldn't they open presents?  Isn't that part of what going to the party is all about?  Cake.  Ice cream.  Presents.  Leave with a goodie bag of stuff.  Pretty basic.  I've heard multiple reasons too:  we rented the space and want to get their money's use, the place they rented has it timed down to the minute, the other children don't want to watch them open the presents, it isn't about the presents, children don't want to wait, kids don't know how to be gracious.  The number one reason, by far, is the price of the venue, with a tie of the venue time frame and not being about presents.

Really?  If it's not about presents, then you need to state this because I ask every birthday what the birthday boy/girl is interested in and what they would like.  A quick, "Johnny has many toys, thank you for the thoughtfulness, instead of..." or just "Please no gifts" on the card.

Sunshine was so disappointed the first time she didn't get to watch the birthday kid open the present she brought.  I was too, but I was more frustrated and surprised when I was told that it was normal.  Then a birthday party happened where I went to 3 stores to get the child a present I really thought would be a good gift.  When I went to pick Sunshine up, there they were, piled up, unopened.  I, understood her frustration and I was pissed.

How dare they!  I went to three stores to get your kid a present and you were more concerned about the venue.  This isn't a wedding, if you invited so many kids that you don't have time to open the gifts, maybe the appropriate phrase isn't so many kids but too many kids.

Kids are bored?  I beg to differ.  I had 10 kids and 10 gifts at Sunshine's party.  They were crammed around her wanting her to open her present first, next...  Were there some presents she didn't necessarily like?  Yes.  I mouthed to her to say "Thank you" as we had talked about prior and guess what, she said thank you.  How else will she learn to be gracious.

If the venue has a tight time frame, too bad.  Talk to them prior and tell them you need them to leave 20 minutes for present opening.  Tops.  Presents are opened fairly fast.  If there's not enough time, cake can go home on a plate covered in aluminum foil (just be prepared ahead of time).

So you know what?  The next birthday party, I may not be as excited about hunting down that perfect gift.  Why should I?  I know a lot of parents don't even bother bringing their kids with to pick out the gift, what's teaching them?  As parents aren't we supposed to be teaching our children the joy in giving, not just receiving?

Where is the joy if you're not involved in buying or watching?  A thank you note is nice, but not really personal.  I mean, are they going to say anything but they like the gift.  Seeing the joy on someone's face is so much better than reading a form letter written by a 7 year old.

For those with children whose birthdays are approaching, I hope you remember this.  As I said, I try not to be so opinionated but it's been bothering me for, well, that very first birthday party.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Monkey's birth story

When I was pregnant I  had a feeling he was a boy but questioned if the feeling was because I already had a girl.  Compared to my pregnancy with Sunshine, there weren't the many differences as some people claim.  Yes, I carried lower but I had already had a baby and my muscles were already stretched (a lot).  I had some heart burn but not as much, it was probably because he wasn't as high as Mary.  Yes, I craved pickles and other salty items but refused to admit my sudden newfound love of garlic pickles was anything more than mere coincidence, my Christmas stocking being filled with 2 jumbo jars of these salty spears from heaven was no different than a box of truffles.

My labor was much more exciting.  I thought I might be in labor early in the morning so we went in*.  No, I was only 1cm dilated so we went home.  Instead, I did what any woman who is 39 weeks pregnant and potentially in labor should do, I got up on a ladder and finished doing the finishing touches on nursery walls.  Later, the 3 of us watched a movie, I was writing down contractions, when I remembered, they didn't really hurt and I was really interested in watching the movie.

It was 6:30, I stood up and had a very strong contraction.  I looked at my sheet and realized they were at 3, 6, and 9 minutes apartment.  Remember when I said I forgot to write them down?  Yeah, I was missing those contractions.  It was a strong contraction and there was no mistaking or forgetting this one, we waited and sure enough, I had 2 more.  I decided to call the hospital, they seemed confused as to why I was calling asking about coming in when my contractions were only 3 minutes apart.

Needless to say we left.  Bundled Sunshine up to head over to the hospital.  The contractions never really slowed down and half way there my water broke.  This is one of those moments that I am grateful to Hubby and his paranoia and hoarding, he had placed one of those soaker pads you get from the hospital on the seat (this would be the extra soaker pad he saved from when I had Sunshine).

Fifteen minutes of chaos with poor Sunshine witnessing it all.  My parents arrived in time to shove her out of the room and for me to push out Monkey.  Two pushes and out he popped, blue and not breathing.  They got him going again and he was fine.  He came out weighing 7 lbs 12 oz and 19", 5 ounces more than Sunshine.  It was a whirlwind of a delivery and as soon as I was done, my adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to do it again.  I remember thinking, "Let's do that again!"  His delivery was probably the best, and I'd love to give birth again if I could have a delivery like his.

He was absolutely amazing and perfect and all those things that every mother says about their baby.

*If you think you are in labor, you probably aren't.