2012 in Review

2012 was a relatively calm year for us- we didn't earn any degrees, didn't have a baby, and didn't even move.  But it was definitely a great year for our family.  We loved having lots of visits from my family in the Spring, camping for a few days in the summer, a fun-filled trip to Utah, a day at Disneyland, Thanksgiving with the whole Martinez clan, a wedding, and a wonderful holiday trip to Virginia.  We also had lots of fun with our Sacramento friends, we're so lucky to have them all.

Bryan's greatest accomplishments of 2012:
Remodeling our bathroom
Passing his P.E. exam and becoming a certified engineer
Lots of biking and running

Rachel's greatest accomplishments of 2012:
Making an advent calendar, quiet book, and a few skirts for Jilly
Reading 45 books
Taking on an extra child 2 days a week, which has been a great experience

Jilly's greatest accomplishments of 2012
Growing hair
Learning to talk, sing, color, and jump
Being the cutest two-year-old around

What we're looking forward to in 2013:
a new baby!
Bryan's 30th birthday
potty training (I'm determined to have a few diaper-free months)
a marathon (I'll give you one guess who in our family is planning on this)
moving into a big girl bed
new season of Downton Abbey
lots of fun with family and friends

Happy New Year Y'all!


Books of 2012

 My goal was to read 50 books this year.  I didn’t make it, mostly because once my body started growing a baby full time sleep took precedence over everything.  But I still read some really great books and some not so great books.  You can read about my first 25 books here.

26. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart.  I really, really loved this book.  It’s Jane Eyre meets Rebecca which, as you can imagine, is a most wonderful combination.

27. Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen. Excellent Book. It was the same format as Devil in the White City (which I read last year), but I liked this one better because it was a little less gruesome (only one murder as opposed to many.) Erik Larson is definitely not an author for the faint of heart, but I love all the historical details in addition to the fascinating (true) story in his books. This book also takes place in London in the early 20th Century (think Downton Abbey) which delighted me.

28. These is my Words by Nancy E Turner.  I can’t believe it took me so long to pick up this book because I’d heard great reviews about it for years.  It’s the amazing story of Sarah Prine, a pioneer woman living in Arizona. I seriously don’t think I wouldn’t have lasted a day back then, but I guess if I didn’t know 2012 life then maybe I could have just dealt with it.

29. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. I loved this sweet romance.  I couldn’t put it down and was so sad when it was over that I almost started it right over again.

30.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I just read this last year and wasn’t thinking that I was going to read it again this year, but when I happened upon the audio book read by Jim Dale I couldn’t resist.  It was fantastic. 

31. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  Amazing.  I just barely squeezed this one in before seeing the movie yesterday.  Both the movie and the book are wonderful.  Yes, the book doesn't have the added emotion that the music brings to the movie, but it fills in the details that make the story complete.  Please do yourself a favor and see/read it.

32. Daughters in my Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society. I read this book last year as well, it's a wonderful summary of our church's women's organization, the Relief Society.  Made me grateful to be a part of it.

33. Seven Miracles that Saved America by Chris Stewart.  The first chapter about Columbus kind of drags, but I found the rest of the book fascinating.  But, I’m also a history nerd.

34, 35, 36. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins.  I really enjoyed this series; I thought Gregor made an excellent hero.  The last book (Code of Claw) was definitely my favorite. 

37. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I hadn't really ever read a book like this; it was so, so sad to read from the viewpoint of a teenager with cancer. I cried, a lot. I thought it was well-written and a sweet story, and I love how witty the characters were.

38, 39. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley.  Flavia is an eleven year amateur detective and chemist.  She is delightful, and I thoroughly enjoyed both these books but then I just couldn’t get through the third book.  Maybe it’s because I read all three in a row and I just needed a break.  I’ll have to get back to A Red Herring Without Mustard.

40. I’ve got your number by Sophie Kinsella.  I really loved the story, it was both heartwarming and hilarious.  Sophie Kinsella comes up with the most ridiculous but addictive characters.  Beware: heavy on the language.

41. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I read this in high school, but enjoyed it so much more this time when I was reading by choice.  It’s just a great book.

42. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It took a little while for me to get into this book, but then I enjoyed it. Dystopian novels aren't my favorite genre, and this one didn't really make sense to me (which I realize is the point, since there are more books in the series, but I would have liked a little more explanation at the end.) To me it was good, not great.

43. One Summer by David Baldacci.  The only other Baldacci novel I’ve read is Wish You Well (which I loved.)  It’s kind of fascinating to me that he can write in such a variety of genres so I wanted to see what this book was like.  Apparently he decided to simply copy a Nicholas Sparks novel.  It seriously had every component- coastal Carolina, family dealing with trauma, budding romance, and a group of rowdy troublemakers.  It was good, but not amazing at all. 

44. The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne. A cute and fun Christmas book.  Quite cheesy and predictable, but isn’t that what Christmas books are supposed to be?

45. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner.  Bryan and I listened to this on the way to Disneyland.  I may or may not have slept a little bit (read: I probably missed a good 1/4 of the book) so it just didn’t make sense to me and I still wasn’t getting the answers I wanted so I gave up.  I grudgingly finished this book, but never did finish the series.  (It sounds like this is a trend with me- I never make it to the 3rd book)


A Wedding

Last weekend we added a cute new sister to the Martinez family.  It was so fun to celebrate Chad and Kylie's lovely winter wedding.  I quickly learned that two year olds and weddings don't mix so well- no nap and being asked a few too many times to smile for a picture made for a grouchy girl. Thus I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I would have liked, but it was still a wonderful day.

The cute couple coming out of the temple
Dancing with Uncle Chad
we love beautiful Auntie Kylie
Thanks to the new addition, girls outnumber boys for the first time in the Martinez family.  Our baby will either tip the scales even further in our favor, or set us back to even.  I'm feeling a lot of pressure (as if I have anything to do with it.)


Oh Christmas Tree

My friend Tiffany posted a comparison of her son last Christmas and this Christmas so I decided to look back at our old Christmas pictures and I love what I found.

2010- not even a month old
2011- bald baby
2012- when did my baby become a little girl?!?!


Peace on Earth

I've been really struggling with last week's shootings in Connecticut.  As a teacher, I've gone over and over in my mind what I would have done to protect my children.  I've hoped that I would be brave and have a clear mind to know what to do.  As a mother, I can barely even think about the prospect of losing my child in such a horrific way.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering, and I've been sure to squeeze my Jilly extra tight over the last few days.  

I've always loved "I heard the bells on Christmas Day," but the lyrics seem extra special this year.

"And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;  
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.'"

image via


Why I love watching other people's children

I feel like a lot of children come and go at our house.  We have Freddy two days a week, we invite friends over to play, and since every single one of my friends had a baby this year (I'm really not exaggerating at all) we have watched kids during doctor's appointments, etc.  Within one week very recently we had ten different children come to our house (on different days, thank goodness!)  I love our revolving door of children, and here's why:

1. I love that Jilly's my little buddy, but we spend a lot of time together and both definitely enjoy a distraction in the form of another child(ren) for her to play with every once in a while.

2.  When people ask me to watch their children it gives me a confidence boost.  They must not think I'm too terrible of a person if they're willing to let me be responsible for their kids for a few hours.

3.  It is very reassuring to know that if I needed someone to watch Jilly I have people who I've helped in the past that I know would be willing to help me.

4.  I don't necessarily hang out a lot with friends anymore because we're all busy taking care of families and homes.  But, we can visit during a playdate, or chat as we drop off/pick up children and it's so fun to catch up and have a few minutes of adult conversation.

5. It's good for Jilly to learn to share and take turns because she's sure going to need those skills in the next few months.

6.  I love when the extra kids leave and it's just Jilly and me again how peaceful, quiet, and easy my life seems. :)


Five on Friday: Baby Edition

Thanks for your kind baby wishes!  Here are the details thus far-

1.  Our due date is May 20th.  We have family members with birthdays on May 16th, 18th, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, and 31st.  I would really love for this baby to have his/her own birthday but that may not happen.

2.  We talk about the baby with Jilly, but I'm not sure she really gets it.  She looooves babies, so hopefully she'll cope with the big change pretty well.

3.  Since I had a girl before, my brain just automatically assumes I will have a girl again.  I call the baby "she" and "her" all the time, not because I really think it's a girl but because I keep forgetting that boy babies do exist.  Bryan, on the other hand, exclusively calls the baby "he" and "him" in hopes that use of these pronouns will produce desired results.  In reality, we'll both be thrilled with no matter what comes our way.  I'll be 20 weeks right around New Year's and traveling (again) so we'll find out sometime later in January what we're having.

4.  I felt yucky mid September through mid November.  Sleep was my very best friend and meal preparation was basically nonexistent (unless you count cereal, ramen, pancakes, and the occasional BLT.)  Jilly, and especially Bryan, were saints during this time.  Glad to be back in full swing.

5.  This pregnancy has wreaked havoc on my emotions.  I cry daily, and about everything.  I've cried during almost every single movie, tv show, book, news report, blog post, article, etc. that I've seen in the past few months.  I think the ultimate was when I cried reading chick fil a stories.  Seriously, I am embarrassing to myself.


merry & bright

I really, really wish we could send each of you a Christmas card, but we just can't.  So I hope this will suffice.  Merry Christmas Friends!


Pumpkin Recipe #5

There is no picture for this recipe because frankly it doesn't look very pretty.  I love dump cake because it is equally delicious as it is easy.  All you do is layer your favorite pie filling on the bottom, sprinkle a dry yellow cake mix all over the top, then cover with some melted butter and bake.  Easy peasy.  Cherry dump cake is my favorite and pumpkin is now a close second.

Pumpkin dump cake is a little more complicated since it requires a few more ingredients added to the can of pumpkin.  But, still, it's definitely one of the easiest and most delicious desserts around.

Pumpkin Dump Cake
To a 15 oz can of pumpkin add:
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spread this mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan, cover with a dry yellow cake mix, and pour 1 1/2 sticks of melted butter on top.  Cook at 350 for about 45 minutes (til the top is a little bit brown.)  Must be eaten warm and with some vanilla ice cream.  


Friday Five: Christmas Edition

We've been trying to do as many Christmas activities as possible before we leave on our trip.  Not that we'll stop celebrating when we go, but these are our only chances to celebrate in our home with our little family.  These are some of our favorite things we've done:

1.  Jilly is all about the "wights" this year.  We love to spend the last little bit before bedtime driving around looking at lights while listening to Josh Groban's Christmas album.  Sometimes we even take along some popcorn and hot chocolate.

2.  I've filled our advent calendar with a variety of little gifts, treats, and activities.  We've done this activity, these puppets- which were a huge hit, this memory game, decorated a gingerbread house, and made a Christmas necklace from a kit I got in the dollar spot at JoAnns.)  But Bryan's favorite has definitely been a new bottle of tapatio (his favorite hot sauce.)

3.  I love the idea of unwrapping a Christmas book each night, but I just haven't been good at it this year.  I didn't get to the library in time to get enough books for every day, and I keep forgetting to give the ones I do have to Jilly.  However, when I do remember it is so so exciting for Jilly to legally open a present (there have been many illegally unwrapped gifts this year) and read a book.  Next year I really want to be better.

4.  One night Jilly asked to watch a Princess movie.  Bryan and I wanted to watch a Christmas movie so we found a 1950's version of Rudolph on netflix and told her it was a princess movie (umm, yeah, we're good parents.)  Now she asks for the "princess movie" (Rudolph) all the time.  Haha

5.  There is a cul-de-sac right by us where every house does amazing lights.  It's in their HOA that they have to set up a cool lights display (funny, huh.)  You park at the top of the cul-de-sac and walk around to see all the houses.  This was our third year going, but the first year that Jilly really paid attention to what was happening and she LOVED it. We'll be going back at least once or twice in the next week.

image via


Quiet Book

Some girls in my ward said they wanted to make quiet books and since I'm in charge of all our RS Activities, and since I had participated in a swap two years ago I decided to take the project on.  I quickly learned that I had not thanked Emily nearly enough for all the work she did in organizing my original swap (thanks Emily!!)  Since we had so many people participate, and many people that wanted to make 2 books, we ended up making 2 different books with 10 pages each.  The people that wanted 1 book made 10 pages and the people that wanted 2 books made 20 pages.  This turned the logistics of the project into one of those brain teaser puzzles we used to do in elementary school and at times it was too much for my brain to handle.  But it was a lot of fun and the end product is amazing.

I don't have all the pages but here are the ones I did end up with-

Fireman's Jacket- we have a few firemen in our ward so this is a fun one.  The jacket unzips then there is a little heart that you can snap on and off- so cute.
Tic Tac Toe- I LOVE the teal/red color combo and can envision many games between Bryan and Jilly (once she learns how to play tic tac toe)  
Button-on Flowers- One of Jilly's favorites in my original book.  
 Lace up shoe- This woman gave her husband lots of credit for punching all the grommets.  
 Stoplight- In the pocket there are green, yellow, and red circles to match to the page.  This is in my original book and Jilly loves to match the colors
 Puzzle- seriously, these people are amazing
Mailbox- I love the cute little foam letters she added 
 Paint Palette- The paint colors have velcro and can be taken on and off, and I love the addition of the paintbrush
 Teddy Bear- another duplicate from my original book, I love how cute and friendly he looks
 Mittens- Kids can slide their little hands into the fleece mittens
 Fishbowl- this is a favorite from my original book and the first page Jilly wanted to play with when I brought the new book home (she was too quick to let me hide it for Christmas, hopefully she'll forget about it)
As you can see, I still have some work ahead of me putting the whole book together, but I'm so excited for it to be done and under the Christmas tree!


Grandma's Chocolate Pie

For Thanksgiving this year one of my responsibilities was chocolate pie.  I was pretty excited about this because my grandma's chocolate pie is amazing, but also nervous because it was my first time ever making it on my own.   They weren't quite as good as my grandma's or my mom's, but no one in Bryan's family knew the difference so they worked quite nicely.

1 8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 beaten egg yolks, and 2 whites
1 6 oz package chocolate chips, melted (I added a handful more because I like them chocolatey)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cup chopped nuts (my grandma always makes one with nuts and one without, but since I was in charge this time we just had two pies without nuts)
graham cracker crust

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in egg yolks.  Add melted chocolate chips.  Beat 2 egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Fold into chocolate mixture. Beat 1 cup heavy cream.  Fold into mixture. Add chopped nuts.  Will freeze nicely (I made them on Monday and stuck them in the freezer til Thanksgiving dinner.)


Weekend Accomplishments

This weekend it rained and rained and rained and rained.  Except for going to church and a little drive to look at Christmas lights, I have not left my house since Friday at 4pm.  But, we have gotten a lot done:

I learned how to sew bias tape (still need a lot of practice, but I can do it.)

Bryan the plumber fixed our clogged sink

Jilly undecorated the bottom half of our Christmas tree

We watched our friends' two cute boys (they watched Jilly a couple weeks ago so we could go out so it was our turn to babysit)

I made Tootz's White Chili (we were all licking our bowls)

We decorated a Gingerbread House (and by we I mean Bryan decorated and Jilly and I ate candy)

We mailed our Christmas cards

Bryan and I both worked on some different church assignments

I scrubbed the refrigerator

We each took at least 2 naps

Bryan worked in the garage

I painted my nails Christmas red

And, perhaps most impressive and terrifying- Jilly learned to get out of her crib.  At 5:45 on Friday morning I woke up to her yelling "Mommy, mommy!"  When I got into the hall I realized her voice was not coming from her bedroom but from downstairs.  Jillian was just sitting on the couch in the dark living room, and when I got down she said, "lights lights!" and pointed at the Christmas tree for me to turn the lights on.  Thankfully she hasn't repeated the trick yet.


all is calm, all is bright

My cousin-in-law, Shauntel recently opened a super fabulous etsy shop.  She designs holiday cards, printables, and baby announcements.  Right now if you order a Christmas card you get a free printable as well.  And, that is how I got this printable that I am loving this year.

Thanks to a combination of some big church responsibilities, home responsibilities, and the fact that we are leaving for our month long sabbatical to Utah/Virginia in less than two weeks I'm a little overwhelmed right now.  My head is spinning with lists of things I must. not. forget.  More than any other year I've needed to remember "all is calm, all is bright."  I'm trying really hard to make my life calm and bright this season.  Calm in that I'm giving up things that just don't need to be done (and frankly, can't get done.)  Bright in that I am still remembering and enjoying the things that matter most.

For example, I love beautifully wrapped gifts.  I love pretty paper, handmade cards, and big bows.  Well, this year at the store Jilly begged for Dora Christmas wrapping paper.  And who am I to deprive her of a little Christmas joy?  So this year our presents will be wrapped in Dora paper.  I cringe a little bit every time I think about it, but I love how excited Jillian is.
For the past few days I've been picking a talk each day to read from past First Presidency Christmas Devotionals.  This one has been my favorite so far.  Instead of stressing about decorations and presents and foods I'd love to make, I've been thinking of ways to teach Jilly about Christmas and do fun things together as a family to celebrate.  Hopefully this will be calm and bright Christmas to remember.


Pumpkin Recipe #4

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
This recipe is from Our Best Bites- go here to see excellent pictures of the baking process instead of pictures of my little sicky loving on a piece of bread.

2 cups all purpose flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I just did 3 cups of all purpose)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup white sugar
6 ounce container vanilla yogurt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (plus a few extra for the top of loaves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 9x5 loaf pans with nonstick spray and set aside.  Combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk gently to combine and set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl combine brown sugar and white sugar and whisk to combine, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar.  Add yogurt, eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix together, being careful to not over mix.  When combined, gently stir in chocolate chips.   Divide batter between loaf pans and sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips on top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs attached.  All ovens are different, I would set your timer for about 45 minutes and keep an eye on it after that.  Don’t overbake!
Let cool for 10 minutes and then run a sharp knife around edge of pan and remove loaves from pan.



This year I thought it would be really fun to do a Turkey Trot.  We found one near Oakley (Bryan's parents' home) and convinced the whole family to run that morning.  I was really excited (and a bit nervous since everyone had been training hard and I had been eating ice cream...oops.)

We had to leave the house at 6:30am.  Jilly had a rough night so I was going on 4 hours of sleep, and I slept through my alarm so the morning of the race was very chaotic.  We had driven to Oakley the previous night, and I left my running shoes in the car so there was one less thing to remember in the morning.  

We got to Walnut Creek (where the race was) and I ran to the back of the car to grab my shoes.  Not there.  I frantically searched the car and then asked Bryan if he had seen my shoes.  Bryan, being very thoughtful and helpful, had taken my running shoes into the house for me the night before.  It was so, so dumb of me to not make sure my shoes were in the car before we left the house.  So there I was at the race in just my socks.  

It was 7:10, the race started at 8:00, and my phone said it would take 37 minutes to get to Oakley.  I jumped in the car and raced back to the house.  There wasn't a lot of traffic and it was a beautiful day and I kept thinking "I've got this."  Bryan called as I walked into the house and wasn't extremely optimistic about my chances.  So I headed back feeling very dumb and deflated.  

As I got off the exit in Walnut Creek I noticed the clock said 7:58.  I called Bryan.  As we were talking I heard "5,4,3,2,1, GO!"  The race had started, but he said that he would wait for me at the starting line.  I parked at the first spot I found and ran a half mile to the starting line and joined up with Bryan.  We were some of the very last people to cross the starting line.  

Because of all the adrenaline I actually did pretty well.  We had to weave (with the stroller) through all the walkers which was very gratifying- we were passing people left and right.  Bryan ran the 5K portion with me then I was done and he kept going to do the 10K.  He could have gotten a much better time without me, but was so nice to stick with his loser wife.  We all had a lot of fun that morning.

The rest of Thanksgiving weekend was fun and less chaotic, thank goodness.  We ate a delicious feast, saw Breaking Dawn Part 2 (girls), biked (boys), shopped, watched the crazy cousins play, got ready for Chad's upcoming wedding, and saw the lights at the Oakland Temple.  Bryan and I drove home late Saturday night and listened in the car to Jim Dale narrating The Christmas Carol- the very best way to ring in the Christmas season.  



This is what our thankful tree looks like now.  It has been so fun to have a place to constantly see and remember our blessings.  As much as I love this tree, it is disappearing the second Bryan allows me to get out Christmas decorations. :)

Here is what ended up on our tree-
our family
great friends
cell phones
I didn't get mauled by a bear (Bryan had a scary bear experience this month)
the right to vote
my handsome husband
having a garage
Rachel's cooking (I paid Lisa to add that)
November birthdays
Bryan's job
Yo Gabba Gabba (one member of our family is much more grateful for this than the other two)
a house
nephews and nieces
everything I have
paci and blankie
full suspension bicycles
colored leaves
Happy Thanksgiving!!



Sorry for dark and blurry pictures, most of these were taken with my phone at the spur of the moment.

One night I hid myself in the craft room to get some work done.  I took a break to check on Bryan and Jilly and found them inside her new birthday tent munching on popcorn and watching Angelina Ballerina.  I was a little bit jealous.

I somehow convinced Bryan to go shopping with me.  Luckily he found one of these huge, terribly obnoxious carts and he and Jilly were in heaven.
 Jilly's friend Kylie came over and while here her cute little ponytail fell out.  I fixed it for her then asked Jilly if she'd like a ponytail as well.  She agreed, and it made my day.
Bryan works with two other guys who also have kids that turned 2 this month.  We had a little birthday party for them and this was the best picture we could get of Jilly, Kylie, and Dev.
For her birthday, Jilly got an easel with a white board.  One day I was talking on the phone and turned around to see this masterpiece Jilly had created on the wall.  Luckily, the dry erase marker came off perfectly with a magic eraser.
Jilly and I have a new morning tradition of drinking a cup of hot cocoa together.  I love hearing her ask for her "toto."
I have to choose my words very carefully in the morning.  If I say "let's get dressed" Jillian gets so excited to put on her favorite dress.  If I oblige, she spins around in the mirror admiring herself.  If I don't oblige, there are many, many tears.  I'm learning to say "let's put our clothes on" instead.


Baby Soup

No, this is not a soup made of babies, but that would be delicious too, wouldn't it? (Kidding, promise.) When Jilly was born my mom made a double batch of this soup and left it in our freezer. We had it many, many times over the next month and never got sick of it. Every time I eat this soup I think of my sweet tiny baby and how amazing my mom was/is. Now it is my go-to meal when taking dinner to a family with a new baby. To me, this soup is comfort food at its very best.

Midwestern Chowder

4 chicken breasts - boil in water - then cut up
2 cups of the water the chicken cooked in                               
2 cups diced potatoes

1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery (confession- I never add celery)
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup margarine                                                                         
1/4 cup flour                                                                             
2 cups milk                                                                                    
10 oz mild cheddar cheese, grated                                  
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper2 cups creamed corn                                                                    

Combine potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, salt, pepper and water.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Do not drain.  Make a cream sauce with margarine, milk and flour.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Combine sauce and vegetables.  Stir in chicken and creamed corn.  Heat through, but do not boil.


Birthday Week :: the bike

Ever since before there was a Jilly Bryan has been looking forward to her first bike.  He really wanted to get her a balance bike (one with no pedals.)  The idea is that kids get used to balancing on a bike from a young age and then never have to use training wheels.  The only problem was that every time we went to try out bikes Jilly went straight for a bike that A. was pink or B. had streamers on the handlebars or C. all of the above.  She refused to go near any other bike.  

At this point we didn't give up but decided that this was definitely going to be something she'd have to grow to love.  So instead of paying full price we started looking on Craigslist.  Finally, the week before her birthday we found one and drove out to look at it.  It was lime green, but it had a bell on it that she loved so we bought it.  

A few days later Bryan was talking to one of his friends about the bike.  His friend, Jeff, said that he could powder coat the bike and even already had some pink paint.  So Bryan took the bike apart, stripped off the green paint, and took the bike to Jeff to work his magic.  On her birthday morning we gave Jilly a shiny pink balance bike.
She still is very hesitant to ride it, but she loves to ring the bell and she loves to show people her new bike.  I'm sure one day soon she'll be going off jumps with Bryan.


Birthday Week :: birthday outfit

I've been wanting to make Jilly a ruffle skirt for a long time and I figured her birthday was the perfect occasion.  I followed this tutorial and it went pretty well.  I do wish that I had made the ruffle pieces a little longer so they would be more ruffly, and a serger would have made my life much easier.  But, the skirt looks cute on her, and she loved frolicking through the bushes at Bryan's office during our birthday picnic. 


I also made her a "Birthday Girl" button inspired by this one.  I cut 2 strips of gold paper about 1.5 inches wide and 11 inches long then accordian folded them.  I hot glued both ends together to make a circle.  Next I pressed down in the middle and smooshed it under my scriptures for 20 minutes to flatten it out a bit.  Last I put a dollop of hot glue in the center and held it together for a few minutes til it stuck.  (I hope my ugly, chipping nail polish doesn't make you as ill as it makes me!)
Then I just printed out Birthday Girl on card stock, cut it into a circle, and glued it on front of the gold sunburst.  I also hot glued a safety pin on the back.  Jilly didn't wear the button all day, but she did wear it to Chick fil A so everyone would know she was the birthday girl.


Birthday Week :: chick fil a

If you know me, you know it was not difficult at all for me to decide where to go on Jilly's birthday- Chick fil A.  We invited some friends to go with us and luckily it turned out to be Family Night there.  Aside from the enormous cow that was trying to be friendly but in reality scared the dickens out of our children (Jilly was literally trembling and clinging to Bryan's neck) the kids had a lot of fun.  There was a woman painting faces, another doing balloon animals, and of course the play place was very popular.  I made Minnie Mouse cupcakes and thought it was funny that Jilly just wanted to pick off the cookie ears (exactly what I wanted to do too.)


happy birthday

Dear two-year-old Jillian Kate,
 I love that you're my best girl.  When you see something cool, you tell me all about it.  When you get hurt, you want me to kiss your owie a thousand times.  I will always want to hear about what you think is cool and always always will kiss all owies.
You are such a happy girl.  You love to sing, dance, color, read books, and play with bubbles in the bath.  Whenever one of your friends comes over you get so so so excited when you see them through the window.  We love to hear your laugh and see your big smile.
 But you can also be devious.  You love to sneak your paci out of your bed and run away the second we take off your diaper.  You know when you're doing something you shouldn't and you get the sneakiest smile on your face.
I love exploring the world with you because everything is so new and exciting.  You make me stop to smell every flower, touch every leaf, chase every squirrel, and listen to every bird.  You beg to go "ou-side" all day long.
 You make us so, so, so happy.  Every night after we put you to bed your daddy and I talk about the funny and cute things you did that day.  You complete our lives in a perfect way and we couldn't possibly love you any more.
Happy Birthday Jilly girl!!