New Things Happening

Hey there, everyone. I am sorry for the long absence, but I just haven’t felt like I had much to say for awhile. I had a great birthday last month, probably the best birthday I’ve ever had (or at least the best in a very long time.) I felt very loved that day, which was very nice. This summer has been a lot of unexpected, nothing bad, just different for us. I have some plans to update you on things going on in my life right now. Here’s a sneak peek at some future blog posts:

1. Healthy eating and a new workout, that I love, PiYo.
2. My summer reading list
3. Proverbs challenge that I’m participating in with some friends on facebook.
4. Real life bible study with friends. This one’s almost over.
5. Getting ready for back to school
6. Gymnastics thoughts
7. Vacation

So, I’ve got some things in the works and maybe you’ll see a new post later this weekend. Tomorrow morning, Taylor will be in the parade and we aren’t really a parade family, so hopefully that will be short and sweet. We have a wedding to go to in the afternoon and I’m excited about the chance to dress up and enjoy someone’s big day. Maybe I can write in the evening or on Sunday afternoon, and get this blog back on track! Have a happy Independence Day weekend!

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The Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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I made these cute and so yummy cupcakes for our Sunday School party and Easter day dessert last weekend. I must share the recipe since everyone who tried one thought they were the best! I started off with this recipe from Zoe Bakes, which she got from the Essential Baker cookbook.

Cupcakes:
1 pound grated carrots
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I bet coconut oil would be great too!)
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
handful of pecan pieces (chopped small)
1 small (8 oz?) can ofcrushed pineapple

Prepare muffin tins with papers (about 60 mini or 48 regular cupcakes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate the carrots as finely as you want them. I used the fine side of a cheese grater. Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Add the finely chopped carrots, pineapple, and pecan pieces. Scoop batter into the cupcake papers (fill 3/4 full). Bake cupcakes for about 18-25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting from Essential Baker:

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Squeeze in some juice from the lemon and orange, mmm, tasty!

Mix all ingredients together

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Forget the Frock a.k.a Easter 2014

I started shopping for Easter dresses for Taylor and I months before Easter, and ordered shirts for the boys too. Then, I found out about Forget the Frock and decided to return the original shirts for the boys and save our dresses for later occasions. What is Forget the Frock, you ask? You can read more about it here, but the skinny is: buy shirts supporting some sort of a charity (it was begun to help orphans) and wear those instead of buying fancy frocks for Easter.

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We chose to get our shirts from feedingtheorphans.org which is the original organization that was supported when the forget the frock movement was started in 2011. I am so glad that we decided to do this this year. While I love pretty dresses, helping hungry orphans is much more important and I still think we managed to look pretty cute. Taylor and I wore matching shirts, and the boys had matching shirts.

Several people from our church participated in this and wore shirts from several different organizations. It was really great to see so many participating, and I hope next year even more will!

Hope you had a happy Easter. We hunted way too many eggs (the ones at Kody’s parents’ house even had money!) and had our yummy meal with Kody’s parents like we do every year. It was a nice time of family, friends, celebrating our risen savior and helping those in need.

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Becoming a grown-up

Everyday, it seems like I have to come more and more to terms with the fact that Kristopher is not really a child anymore. Technically, he is, but he acts and has to act more like a grown-up with each new day. Really, that’s the goal, though. We want him to be grown-up. We want him to be able to live and thrive in this world, while he follows Christ. So, of course, as he gets older he is going to learn new skills and imitate those around him.

The latest “big guy” thing he has done is this:

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Yes, that is a chainsaw in my twelve year old’s hands. Grandaddy thought it would be a good day to teach him a little about it and supervise using it. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to send him out to cut down trees by himself anytime soon. I think it is good for him to get to learn and help with the work we do. He has gotten a bit better at helping without being asked lately as well. I really appreciate that of him and try to let him know, so he’ll keep doing it.

Recently, he went on a one day mission trip to Memphis with the youth group at our church. He didn’t want to go, but I told him he needed to because we don’t just do the fun things. Surprise, he had a great time on the trip and he helped at a homeless shelter and a new church while he did. Sometimes he just needs a little push to see that doing grown-up things that don’t sound as fun, can be rewarding and fun anyway.

I am thankful for all the people who pour into my son as he is growing. Family and friends who love him (and my other children) make life a little better for him and for me too. :) Yes, this growing up thing is hard. Hard for him, hard for his momma, but it will happen. I want it to happen well.

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Happy 3rd Birthday to my Baby!

Kyler is 3 today, but he will always be my baby since he’s my last. Love his sweet blonde curls and his beautiful smile which he shares freely. He is always so sweet and snuggly.

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Calling All Superheroes

This is “party year” for the kids, so they each get to have a birthday party. Next year will be “not a party year” This may not be how we always do birthday stuff, but for now it is working. :) I had no idea what we were going to do, nor had I even thought about Kyler’s birthday yet, when I received an email from Shutterfly (early in March) for 10 free cards. I didn’t think I really needed any free cards at this time, but I decided to look at their site anyway, just in case. Well, close to the beginning of my browsing, I found adorable superhero birthday invitations. I knew they would be perfect since Kyler and his little friends are really into the superheroes right now. So, the invitations forced me to go ahead and pick a date and make a rough party plan.

I decided we’d have a cookout like we had for his first birthday. Let me tell you, a cookout is the way to go for birthday parties! No game planning or having to keep everyone occupied the whole time. Just lay out some bubbles and sidewalk chalk, have a bunch of food, run around the yard and play on the swing set, eat cake and open presents. The parents get to talk, the kids have fun. Everybody’s happy! If all my kids would agree to a cookout and the birthday weather cooperated that’s what we’d have for all of them! Here are some pictures from Kyler’s party and a few more details.

DSCN1283 DSCN1284 - Copy The party table. Superhero mask favors, candy capsules filled with m&m’s, superhero pictures to color, gifts.

DSCN1286 The bubble table.

DSCN1287 It was a little windy! The banner I found can be purchased here. I cut it to use in two places.

DSCN1288 Superhero cupcakes with fondant cupcake toppers. I made this Vanilla cake recipe with this frosting and used this fondant recipe. I made several colors of fondant and then rolled it out and cut the shapes for the toppers mostly by hand. I printed a small picture for the spider, bat, and superman logos and then cut around with a skinny knife.

DSCN1289 I just made 15 cupcakes since the toppers were so much work. For the adults, I poured the rest of the cake batter into pans and made a plain circle cake. I did do 1 1/2 times the batter on the cake recipe to get the 15 cupcakes plus 1 cake yield. The cake recipe was pretty perfect. I will definitely make it again. Ice cream cups can be found here.

DSCN1292 As I was finishing up party preparations, my boy looked like he might fall asleep. He never did take a nap though, and made it through the party and was up even later playing with his new toys. I couldn’t believe it!

DSCN1312 The majority of the food. We had hotdogs, baked beans, macaroni & cheese (homemade, of course), fruit salad, fresh veggies, cheetos, and pretzels.

DSCN1316 BBQ for the grown ups!

DSCN1315 Drink filling station. I had plain old plastic cups for the grown-ups, but for the kids, I got cute little plastic milk bottles from this etsy store. I love the look of the pretty little glass bottles with paper straws, but for 3 year olds, plastic is the way to go. :) I thought I had paper straws, but my kids used them all up! So we made do with plastic ones.

DSCN1318 Super captain birthday batman. Still looking sleepy, but hanging in there!

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DSCN1335 Opening gifts – he got some of the coveted “sand.”

DSCN1353 After the party with Mommy & Daddy. Happy birthday, KyKy.

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Super Masks

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This weekend will be Kyler’s birthday and party, so I have been busily planning for it. We decided to do a superhero theme (but not one in particular), since he loves to play with and pretend to be superheroes. He likes them all, so we will try to include several in the party decor and food.

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For a party plaything and then favor, I decided to make these cute superhero masks that I pinned quite a while ago. They are so cute and were easy to make. The most difficult one was Spiderman because you have to sew all those web lines on the mask. I guess if you don’t like to sew, you could make these with a permanent marker (for any lines) and hot glue to attach them together. I followed this tutorial to make them and used her templates.

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As you can see, the masks are super cute on little boys! While I was working on them, Kyler asked if they were for him. I told him that we were going to let his friends pick one to have at his party and then he could keep the rest. He started telling me which ones he thought his friends would choose. It was very cute, but he was wrong about the ones that they picked…

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