Spring is Here!

Finally! Spring is here! I honestly felt like we would never say goodbye to winter this year. I think it was dark and cold everyday for 5 months, which left me in desperate need of sunshine and bright colors. I don't know that I ever remember all of the shades of purple during the spring time that I've seen this year. Were my eyes closed in previous years? They must have been because the colors of spring were beautiful this year!

Along with every other person in our neighborhood, we decided to do some yardwork a couple weeks ago. Our yard was in pretty awful shape after the long winter.

That Saturday morning we woke up motivated and ready to work! After a trip to Home Depot and Menards, we returned home and got busy. We let Kya run around in the yard while we worked, and Noah did his best to slow down our progress help. We literally worked from sun up to sun down, trying to restore our yard to make it look beautiful again.

Can you tell his daddy dressed him? :)

Drum roll please...

New Impatiens planted at the front door instead of ivy along with a new hanging basket of flowers to brighten up the house.

A new lilac bush - we had one when I was little, and the scent brings back so many memories.

Daylilies along the fenceline (we bought some more bricks to finish the edging)

We planted some Hyacinths...

...and now they look like this!

I am really hopeful that I will be able to find the time to plant a vegetable garden in the next couple of weeks. It was something I wanted to do last year but ran out of time. I know the window for planting is getting smaller and smaller, so wish me luck! Hopefully you will see a blog on that topic in the near future.


Easter Weekend

I love Easter! When I was a little kid, I remember enjoying the Easter egg hunts the most. In fact, one year my dad hid real hard boiled eggs, and when we didn't find one, it stunk up the house for several days. Do you remember that, Dad? I don't remember celebrating Easter throughout junior high, high school, or college. We weren't regular church attenders, so maybe that's why, or maybe I'm just getting old, and my memory is fading.

Either way, I'm happy to have Noah because it brings back my favorite Easter egg hunt memories. More importantly, I love Easter because it's one of the times when I reflect most on Jesus' sacrifice for us - all of us - believers or unbelievers. I can't imagine where I would be today without the greatest gift of all.

When I found out that my dad and Danette were coming down to celebrate Easter weekend with us, I was thrilled! I love having them here, and they always bring their two pups, Jada and Luca. They are two of Kya's best friends (Max being her other BFF). It brings me so much joy to see her running around playing with other dogs. Seeing her so happy makes my heart ache for Layla, but I'm confident that we will see her again.

Mid-afternoon on Friday, Dad and Danette arrived, and we took Noah to House of Tokyo a couple hours later. Saturday we decided to join our friends Aaron and Jill, along with their two kids, at St. Barnabas for their Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately, I've never truly paid attention to where St. Barnabas was located, so we ended up at some other church nearby. It was POURING rain, so my entire family treaded through the downpour only to realize we were at the wrong place and needed to once again walk back through the rain to the car. OOPS!

...and I forgot the Easter egg basket to collect the eggs. Awesome!

Thank goodness Jill and Aaron came to the rescue with good directions and an extra basket! After finally arriving at St. Barnabas, we met up with our friends and introduced them to my dad and Danette. The kids ages 3 and under got to go first, so Noah and Jake quickly began collecting eggs around the gym. Noah was hilarious! Rather than go for the eggs in plain sight, he kept searching for the more well-hidden eggs. Guess all of those "practice" Easter egg hunts in our backyard and house paid off! Noah collected his 12 eggs and was excited to find candy, erasers, etc. inside. He enjoyed his first taste of candy and LOVED it! On our way out, there was an Easter bunny dressed up, so we grabbed a quick picture. In the past, Noah has been terrified of huge animals walking around, but he was enamored with this mouse bunny. Seriously, he kept calling it a mouse. Aren't boys supposed to be into bears, puppy dogs, bugs, dinosaurs, etc.? My son is obsessed with fish, mice, and birds. Oh well, we still were able to capture a really cute picture! Noah said "Buh-bye" to the bunny seventeen hundred times, bade farewell to our friends, and went back home.

Ryan left for church around 2 p.m. to prepare for our Saturday night service. Danette and I made Easter eggs with Noah for the first time. Then, Dad and Danette treated Noah and me to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Noah was more than happy with his "hyes" (i.e., fries), and I enjoyed some pizza. We brought dinner home from Ryan and just relaxed the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning we all went to church and heard an awesome message about how Easter is relevant to our lives today. By the way, you can listen to our messages HERE. I was so excited to hear that over 3,000 people came to Emmanuel that weekend! Isn't that awesome?! I'm excited not because we had high numbers, but I'm excited that over 3,000 heard a message that could potentially change their forevers. Now that is something to celebrate!

After church we went home to prepare for our Easter lunch. Ryan's parents were joining us, too, and I was so happy to prepare a meal for everyone. I ended up making stuffed mushrooms, a spiral sliced ham, Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes (which I made the night before and baked the day of), honey butter biscuits, Patty's Famous Salad, and Jello Poke cake. It was delicious! I honestly ate ham, mashed potatoes, and that salad for 5 days straight, two meals per day sometimes. Patty's recipe is delicious, so I want to post it here, too:

Patty's Famous Salad
Spring mix lettuce bags
Feta cheese crumbles
Green apples
Red onions (sliced thin)
NY style garlic bagle chips (green bag)
Poppy Seed dressing (kroger brand is the best)

I guarantee that you will love this salad! The feta and apples make it! Everyone else seemed to enjoy our lunch, too. We all spent time relaxing and had one more Easter egg hunt for Noah in our backyard. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Easter this year!
An Easter basket filled with Mickey Mouse goodies


Noah's First Teppanyaki Experience

A couple weekends ago, my dad and Danette joined us to celebrate Easter. For their first night in town, my dad suggested that we go to a local Teppanyaki restaurant called House of Tokyo. When I was growing up, one of my favorite places to eat was called Takaoka in Fort Wayne. I was excited to see Noah's expression while our chef did tricks with the eggs, shrimp tails, and onions and cut each piece of meat with a special flare.

Noah post-flame

Not taking his eyes off the chef

As soon as the chef arrived at our table, he put some type of liquid - oil maybe - across the grill and lit a HUGE flame. Seriously, it was HUGE!!! Noah would've jumped 12 feet in the air had he not been strapped into his high chair. For the rest of the dinner, he clung to Ryan as if his life depended on it. Not the reaction I was hoping for.

"I don't know about this, guys."
Thank goodness my dad ordered pineapple for dessert because it was our only bargaining chip to get Noah to eat any chicken for his dinner. The rest of the dinner went like this: "Noah, first chicken - then pineapple." Noah eats chicken. Noah eats pineapple. Noah shakes his head 'no' when we put more chicken in front of his mouth. I say, "Noah, first chicken - then pineapple." Noah eats chicken. Noah eats pineapple. REPEAT 15 times. Seriously, the things we do to get our kids to eat protein. What can I say? I was the same way. It was bread, cheese, noodles, and butter for me. At least Noah loves vegetables and fruit!

As if the pineapple wasn't exciting enough, House of Tokyo has a little bridge with fish swimming below. Noah has a slight obsession with "shishies" (i.e., fishies), though it isn't quite as strong as the one he has with "mouse." He ran up and down that bridge, looking at the fish swimming all over the place. It was a great way to start the weekend!


Oreo Delicious Goodness

A few weeks ago, some friends and I threw a baby shower for our friend, Dalia. Although I've known her for less than a year, she has quickly become one of my favorite people! We met last June while training for the Bourbon Chase. In fact, my most difficult day of training happened with Dalia running right beside me. We ran 5 miles in the morning and another 4 miles that evening, 12 hours later. It was insane but gave us just the confidence we needed to prepare for 3 legs of our 200 mile race across Kentucky.

In a lot of ways, meeting Dalia was like...well...meeting myself. :) Conversation always comes so easily, and she loves Noah, which makes it even more fun to spend time with her. It's like my cousin's wife, Angie, said to me one day, "The key to my heart is someone loving my kids" - or something like that. I'm paraphrasing here. The point is, Dalia is so sweet to Noah, and he absolutely loves her, too. Dalia is also married to a really great guy, Kevin. Getting together with Kevin and Dalia is like spending time with old friends. It's awesome!

Even more exciting is that Dalia and Kevin are expecting a little baby girl, and she's due to make her arrival sometime in May. Like I said before, some friends and I threw Dalia a shower and had a great time! The food was delicious - chicken salad croissants, chips and queso, sweet and sour meatballs, pinwheels, fresh fruit (with mango, of course!), cupcakes, and lots of chocolate candy. I also made Oreo Balls, decorated with brown and pink candy coating to match her nursery. You can see some pictures below of the Oreo Balls sitting on white plates, and the receipe is also included below.

 Oreo Balls

3-4 plastic trays shaped like reese cups (found at JoAnn Fabrics in baking isle)
1 package of Oreos
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 bag (color of your choice) Candy Melts (found at JoAnn Fabrics in baking isle)
1 bag Brown Candy Melts (found at JoAnn Fabrics in baking isle)

1. Place Oreos one row at a time into your food processor and chop until they turn into powder
2. Put Oreos and softened cream cheese into a large bowl blend together (your bare hands work best)
3. Roll Oreo mixture into 1 inch balls and place in a shallow glass dish without letting them touch - flash freeze for 15-30 minutes
4. Melt brown candy melts according to package directions
5. Fill Reese Cups 3/4 full with melted brown candy melts
6. Place frozen Oreo ball into Reese cups immediately before candy melts harden
7. Once the tray is completely full with Oreo balls on top of candy melts, place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes
8. Repeat steps 5-7 until all Oreo balls are inside Reese cups and are frozen
9. Take tray out and melt colored candy melts in a bowl
10. Dip Oreo-with-Reese cup into the colored candy melt until completely covered
11. Turn right-side-up and add M&Ms on top (with the logo hidden) and add sprinkles
12. Repeat until all are decorated


What to Write About First...

After taking a nice break from blogging, my mind is reeling with what to write about first. One of the funnier things that happened recently was Noah going "pee pee on the potty" for the first time! That's one of those phrases that you swear you'll never say before you have kids, and then sure enough, when your child is about 18 months to 2 years old, you say it on a daily basis. Oh well - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

So for the past few months, if Noah is getting ready for a nap but hasn't pooped yet, I'll ask him "Where are your poops, Noah?" (Yes, I said another one). He'll point to his belly, and then I'll say, "Ok, then push out your poop" (AHH! Another one!). Within about 3-5 minutes, Noah will go, and I'll change his diaper. If I don't draw his attention to it, he will wake up early from his nap with a dirty diaper, and I won't get my much-needed mommy time while he sleeps. It's really a win-win situation!

I decided that since he can basically poop on command in a diaper, why not try it in a toilet? On Saturday he hadn't gone to the bathroom before his nap, so I said, "Let's try to go pee-pee on the potty!" He got all excited - we always try before baths - and we went racing upstairs. I sat him on the toilet, and said, "Ok, Noah, push out your poops." He flexed his stomach muscles like usual, but this time, he started peeing!!! I was so excited that I started exclaiming, "You did it, Noah! You went pee-pee!!" He was so surprised that he stopped peeing, looked at me, looked back down, and then started peeing again. SUCCESS!!! I was screaming, "You did it, Noah! You did it! You went pee-pee!!!" His cheeks turned pink while he smiled ear to ear. As I turned around to grab some toilet paper, he stuck his finger in the toilet. CRAP. "No, no, Noah. That's yucky and dirty. We don't stick our fingers in the water." I dried off his finger and again told him that it was gross (his new favorite word), and before I could stop him, sure enough, he stuck his finger in his mouth for a quick taste. OOPS! Oh well, it was still an 85% success...right?
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