4/14/14

Drew and Kate's Mexican fiesta

This past weekend we hosted about 30 friends and family for Drew and Kate's joint Mexican fiesta.  The birthday boy and girl had an absolutely wonderful time playing with their friends and cousins, and crashed hard that evening.  This year I decided to do a joint party since their actual birthdays are just 22 days apart.  With Brendan's family being from out of town it makes it easier for them to travel just once.  

We started the party off with these invites from Etsy. 

After the house was decorated and the margaritas were mixed it was time to party!




I ordered shirts for both Drew and Kate from Right up your Ali.  Ali also did Kate's onesie last year and does such an awesome job I went back to her again this year.  She also made Kate's clip.  

Kate's tutu is from Kirra's Boutique on Etsy. 


The kids were so excited for their guests to arrive, they hung out by the front door for at least 25 minutes before the party started.  The kids were given mini sombreros, maracas and a cactus as favors.  


After the guests arrived the kids played pin the tail on the donkey and then broke the piñata. 



After games our guests enjoyed a taco and nacho bar along with margaritas and coronas.  After we ate it was time for presents and cake.  

Drew and Kate's highlight was their new bikes from my parents.  Drew does have a helmet, he just jumped on before I could run and get it.  Kate got a Radio Flyer pink trike that is perfect for her little legs and Drew's bike has his favorite characters from the movie Planes on it..  She can actually reach the pedals.  Both kids have enjoyed their bikes ever since and ask to ride them daily.  


Our local Hy-Vee grocery store made the cakes.  I showed the gal a picture I found and she just did her thing.  I was really happy how they turned out.  Drew requested "banilla cake" and Kate wanted chocolate.  




Overall the party was a huge success and the kids had a great time!  I would not hesitate doing another joint birthday party next year.  Please feel free to ask any questions.  


















2/13/14

No time for siesta, time for a FIESTA!!

Both Drew and Kate are having birthdays in the upcoming months and last year I was a crazy woman and had their parties in the same weekend on different days.  It was crazy and I was exhausted by the end of it.  My thought process last year was that I wanted Kate to have her own first birthday party. So we had two parties and the kids had a blast. I didn't get enough sleep and ate too much cake. 

This year I've decided to combine their  parties and make it one big fiesta!  We'll be hosting the party at our house and having a taco bar, margaritas, pin the tail on the donkey and of course a piñata.  I recently ordered a few of the decorations and when the arrived the kids went bananas.  You would have thought the party was tomorrow. 

I've found some adorable invites on Etsy and I've ordered some flags from Amazon, but I am stumped on a little favor for the kiddos. If you have a good idea, I am all ears.   

I am so excited for the kids to see some of the ideas Brendan and I have come up with to DIY for their party. Last year we made a big 3 and put Drew's pictures from the previous year on it.  This year we are planning to make a DOS and CUATRO for each of them and hang them someplace.  

Party planning is my absolutely favorite thing to do.  I am however happy to just plan one party instead of two in one weekend this year.  Stay tuned for more details of Drew and Kate's Fiesta!  

2/5/14

Iowa's Maid-Rites

Growing up, both Brendan and I frequented our local Maid-Rites.  We both love the delicious loose meat sandwiches and indulge in them far too often.  Maid-Rite is a long time Iowa staple that runs thick through our little town.  Their sandwiches are delicious, their cheese balls are to die for and the chocolate shakes amazing!  

Brendan told me that he found a recipe that was supposed to taste like Maid-Rites.  I was a little skeptical but thought we'd give it a try.  You first brown the meat and mix all ingredients together and then let everything marinate in the crockpot for a good five hours.  When we transferred the mixtured to the crockpot we added a bit more water.  The mixture will be soupy and we did have to drain the meat when scooping it up to dish it on the buns.  

The verdict: these taste exactly like the real thing!  They were AWESOME! The kids even ate them.  We will be making these again.  Now I just need to find some cheese balls I can make at home.  

The recipe:
2 tablespoons dried onion
1tablespoon warm water
3 lbs. ground beef
1 beef bouillon cube
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 cup water (this part didn't really make sense but we went with it)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar


We added cheese, ketchup and mustard to our Maid-Rites and served them on wheat buns.  We also had sautéed green beans and loaded baked potato salad. I highly recommend trying this for an easy week night or weekend meal.  

2/1/14

A typical day

I always find posts about family schedules pretty darn interesting so I thought I'd share an ordinary day   around our house.  Both Brendan and I work outside of the home.  I work part-time every morning and Brendan works full-time.  The kids go to an in-home day care five mornings a week with Drew attending preschool two of those mornings.  Drew is 3 years and 11 months old, and  Kate is 22 months old. 


Each morning my alarm goes off at 5:45AM.  I usually roll out of bed and jump in the shower.  There are those days that I lay there and have to decide which day it actually is.  After I shower I make my daily cup of coffee.  It's my "good morning" to myself and I love my Keurig machine and my A cup.  Brendan or one of the kids is usually stirring by 6:15AM and one of us gets Drew or Kate.  Drew still doesn't come out of his room on his own most of the time.  Once in a great while he'll come out on his own.  





Drew always, always, always asks for milk right away in the morning.  Then he likes to watch cartoons in our bed.  Kate on the other hand wants to eat right away.  Dry cereal is usually her "nack" in the morning or as we would all call it, a snack.  She also eats her dry cereal in our bed, so most nights Brendan and I usually sleep on cereal crumbs.


Once the kids are up and settled Brendan hops in the shower and gets ready in about 1/4 of the time it takes me to finish my routine.  I do my makeup and dry my hair.  Then I get the kids dressed for day care or Drew for school.  After Brendan's ready he takes the kids out to the kitchen and gets them Breakfast.  I finish getting ready and am usually running late by this point.  I run out to the kitchen and grab some dry cereal or fruit to take to work and say my goodbyes.  I rush out the door and am at work by 7:30am.  Brendan finishes up breakfast with the kids and gets them to daycare.  
(I have no idea why Kate is sitting in a regular chair this morning, the kids both have Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs and they work great for both kids.)



I work for the morning and I won't bore you with my work mumbo jumbo.  I love my job and the people I work with.  The education field is my passion and finding a job that allows me to work part-time and be at home with my children in the afternoon is absolutely amazing!  


My office is pretty large, it's actually the old principal's office.  I've tried to warm it up as much as possible, but we are in a school.  



After I'm done working I pick up the kiddos at daycare or school.  Then it's home for afternoon nap time.  Kate goes down first and naps from 12:30-3PM and Drew still naps most days from 12:45-3:30PM.   

While the kids are napping I eat lunch, pick up the tornado that is our house and get the laundry done, clean the house, meal plan or make our grocery list.  It just depends on the day.  Some days I eat lunch at 1:15PM and other days I find myself not eating until 2:30PM and wondering where the heck the afternoon went.  Kate usually wakes up first from her nap and she immediately wants to eat so we eat a snack together and then we go wake Drew up.  If I let him sleep past 3:30 he won't go to bed until 10PM that night.  Once both kiddos are up we either run errands or stay home and play.  The kids love being in our basement and on the days I tell them we need to go to the grocery store I have to bribe them with graham crackers in the cart while we shop.  Otherwise, it's meltdown city.  Soccer in the basement is so much more fun then grocery shopping with mom.  






Brendan gets home right around 5 o'clock and I usually start dinner shortly after he arrives.  He plays with the kids while I cook.  It's usually a little crazy around dinner time, Kate's hungry, Drew's ornery, Brendan's trying to talk to me about his day.  We've got our very own three ring circus going on.  Once dinner is ready things calm down for about 5 minutes.  We all eat and the kids take about 5 bites and say "all done".   Dinner is a constant battle right now.  Drew is super picky and refuses to eat hardly anything.  Kate is a bit better and eats more than Drew.  We are always having to tell Drew take 3 more bites.  One child always ends up in my lap or in tears over not liking dinner.  It's life right now. 

This evening we made Iowa Maid-Rites and they were AMAZING!!



After dinner it's bath time.  Both kids love the bath, except when there's bubbles, then Kate won't touch the bath with a ten foot pole.  After bath it's pj's and chill out time.  Drew usually wants to play with his cars and Kate likes to read books.  Kate then heads to bed around 7PM.  She gets a sippy cup of milk, a bit of rocking, teething brushing and then lays down in her crib and snuggles with her blankie and about 6 paci's.  


Drew usually stays pretty chill during the hour or so before bedtime.  Sometimes he and Brendan will go in the basement and play soccer.  This is Drew's new "thing", he's in love with soccer.  If they go and play in the basement and he's all riled up then I hand over bedtime duty to Brendan.  You rile him up, you settle him down.  I'm half kidding.  Drew heads to bed around 8PM, he also likes to drink a cup of milk while reading a couple of books.  He then brushes his teeth, goes potty and feeds his fish.  He's usually asleep by 8:30pm at the latest.   





After both kids are in bed Brendan and I pick up the house, finish the laundry and get things ready for the next day.  We try and sit down and spend some quality time chatting about our days and what the next day looks like.  Having an adult conversation with a one and three year old around is nearly impossible without being interrupted every five seconds.  So this is really our time to connect and enjoy each other.  

By 9:30 or 10:00pm we are headed to bed to watch the news.  We are super lame these days.   Over night Drew might get up to go potty once and Kate might fuss but for the most part our kids have been sleeping through the night for the past few months.  



Our next morning starts once again bright and early at 5:45AM.  Our life isn't one that may seem outlandishly exciting but we've seem to have found our groove as a family of four.  We have our days and nights where we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off but right now for the most part part we've been able to enjoy a decent amount of family time.  I know at one point in our lives we won't have that luxury, so I'm trying to soak it all in right now as much as possible.  Even though somedays I'm ready to pull my hair out by dinner time, these are the days we'll look back on and miss dearly. Even though life is crazy with a three and one year old, I count my blessings and thank God for the balance I've found with work and home life.  
 
  

1/21/14

Wooden growth chart

My mom has always been crafty.  When I was growing up she would always make our Valentines or May Day baskets.  She would sew my Halloween costumes and everyone would rave about her craftiness. My mom has always worked full-time as she had to work.  My parents divorced when I was three years old and she needed to support two young daughters.  My mom built her financial planning business and in 2009 retired to become a full-time grandma and hand over the business to the rest of our family.

Since retiring she has taken her love for crafting and creating to a whole new level.  First up was my brother's wedding where she planned a beautiful rehearsal dinner at the Pabst tasting room in Milwaukee.  She made every table covering, every centerpiece and place card for the evening.  Not to mention welcomed here grand children in the same year.

















Next up was my little sister's wedding this past October in Boston.
She made everything for the big day.  Seriously everything.
 After this event we dubbed her Martha Stewart.  




















When our family got together to celebrate Christmas this year she wrote each of us girls a note in our stockings telling us there was a present for us in the basement.  We all headed to the basement and there was a handmade gift for each of us.  For my little sister was two shelves made from pallets for her bathroom.  She made my sister-in-law jewelry holders on wood planks with doorknobs and for my older sister and I, wooden growth charts.  I was over the moon.  I've wanted one for our home for a long time but the ones I've looked at have always been so expensive.  This piece is beautiful and will be in our home forever.  I also love that when we move we can take it with us.  
We brought it home and decided to hang it in our entry way.  We measured each of our kiddos and thankfully Kate made it on the chart!  My mom used a 1x10 piece of wood and free hand painted the numbers.  

I hung a frame next to the growth chart with a picture of each of the kids when they were just babes and a current picture.  My thought is to keep changing the current picture of the children.  I love having pieces in our home that are handmade by people that we love.  I still look back at my grandma's pictures frames and Santa's or the hall tree my grandpa built and smile just knowing that a part of them is in our home. 


I'm so envious of the gift of craftiness my mom was blessed with.  I would love to be able to create and sew as she can.  I am bound to one day learn to at least sew on a button.  

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