Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shop 'Til You Drop...or Freeze

One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends is to go to Canton, TX to shop. If you've never been, you need to try it. Once a month, the Canton flea market opens for the weekend with all kinds of goodies to be found. Flea market really doesn't do it justice, because we find good stuff there, not just junk. Anyway, J agreed to give me a kid-free day yesterday, so my sweet friend Sharon & I bundled up as only true Canton loyalists do & headed east.
We absolutely froze our hineys off, but we had such a great time & it wasn't crowded at all. Shocker! Speaking of hineys, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing & had tears in my eyes when we happened upon this booth. Sharon had been telling me about seeing students wearing leggings that were made to look like jeans, but I had no idea what she was talking about. The reality was way better than anything I could have pictured, so I had to document it. If you currently own a pair of these, please don't take offense, but they're just not for me.
I didn't end up with any of the things I actually went in search of but still managed to find plenty of great stuff. Sharon went with no particular agenda & ended up with quite a load, but they were all such great deals!
Thanks, sweet friend, for a great day! There's no one I'd rather risk frostbite with!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yummy to My Tummy: Sugar Cookies & Icing

Since I've made cookies for a lot of showers & events, I often get asked for the yummy recipe. I take absolutely no credit for how delicious they are since all of my recipes are obtained from other people, but I'm happy to share! This week, I decided to make some snowflake cookies in honor of the reappearance of winter weather here in DFW. These will probably be the only snowflakes we see at our house. Happy baking!
Favorite Sugar Cookies
(This recipe was given to me by my friend Renae at my recipe shower when we got married & is my favorite that I've ever tasted. The only thing I've modified is the amount of flour since 3 cups just left mine too crumbly.)

1 C butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter & sugar; add egg & vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate one hour, then roll out & cut into shapes. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Royal Icing
(There are many variations of this icing out there, but I like this one that I found with a random Google search one time. To achieve the smooth surface shown for the snowflakes, thin the icing with small amounts of milk, then dip the cookies face down into the icing.)

3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
assorted food coloring

Beat egg whites & cream of tartar with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy; gradually add sugar, mixing well. Beat 5-7 minutes. Tint with desired colors.

Anna's Icing
(This cake icing is my pick when I cover the cookies with a star tip design. It's also great for piping or spreading. My sweet friend Anna is the cookie queen & was generous enough to share this recipe & then teach me how to use it. Be sure to keep it cold so your stars will hold their form.)

2 lb bag powdered sugar
3/4 C shortening
2/3 C whole milk
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp imitation butter flavoring
dash of salt
assorted food coloring

Mix all ingredients several minutes with an electric mixer. Tint with desired colors.

I'm in (laundry) heaven!

Right before J & I got married, we bought this washer & dryer. Nothing fancy, but they worked quite well for several years. Over the past year & a half, I think the burden of twin-generated laundry just got to them. Actually the dryer was fine, but the washer sounded as if it was preparing for lift-off into space every time it went through a spin cycle. For the last month or so, it even added a lovely high-pitched squeal. We didn't pay that much for them to begin with, so the cost of repairs seemed counter intuitive. Needless to say, it was time for an upgrade.
These babies are my new pride & joy! Okay, maybe that's a stretch. I still probably wouldn't pick doing laundry over lots of other fun things, but these do make the prospect way more appealing. They even play nice little songs for me when they're done instead of that annoying buzzer. What more could a girl want?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everything's Better With a Backpack

Especially when that thing is skipping the last half of your nap to hang out with Mommy, like Mal did yesterday.
Such a stinker!

Bad Hair Day

Yesterday's ponytail
no bath last night because we had small group
one night of sleep
(zoom in if you can't see it - it's worth it)
Jake doesn't have near as much hair to mess up, although his does have some crazy, fuzzy curls in the back.
A funny Jake story: Last night, I was finishing up the dinner dishes with both kids hovering around my legs when I got a faint whiff of something unpleasant. J was working on something in the office, so I hollered over the kids' racket to ask if he could take care of the dirty diaper. He said he could, so I looked at the twins & said, "If you pooped your pants, go see your Daddy." Jake immediately took off running for Daddy & was indeed the poopy one. It's so funny how much they understand even though they can't always communicate back to us. J was very proud that he got him to say "poo poo" as they were walking upstairs to change it. Hmm...we may regret that one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Different Strokes

As the kids continue to get older & develop their distinct personalities, I am struck by just how different they can be at times. There are, of course, many similarities, too, but it's just funny how two kids from the same gene pool, same environment, even the same womb at the same time, can differ so greatly.

Mallory often cracks me up with her analytical side. While her brother dives into a situation head first, she sits back & studies it first. It's not at all that she's shy - I'm pretty sure she won't ever know that word. She just likes to size things up a bit & can give you a pretty intimidating hard stare if you're the thing she's sizing up.
Mal is also quite happy most of the time to play on her own. Both of my kids are probably a little better at this than some of their peers because their "without Mommy" play time is shared with their twin, but Jake seems to engage Mallory more than she does him. Mal can sit forever reading books to herself in her little gibberish language or working on something. Jake prefers to play with whatever Mal is interested in or try to get her excited about what he wants to do.
There are physical differences, too. J & I have joked that Mal is our snotty one, Jake our coughing one. Jake is our puker, Mal our bleeder.

(These three shots were my attempt at getting a good picture of the two of them together last week. You see how that turned out.)

One thing about their play habits that has intrigued me lately is the inherent differences between boys & girls. They each play with both boy & girl toys since we have an equal supply of both kinds, but Mal, for instance, loves to "take care" of her babies more than Jake does. He'll carry a doll around for a few seconds, drop it & then move on to the next thing. Mallory cuddles them & talks to them, rocks & kisses them.

Similarly, Jake loves all things boyish, from climbing to making growling sounds to knocking things over.Speaking of carrying things around, Mallory has decided that anything with a strap that can be slung over her arm is, in fact, a purse. Even if it's Mommy's sports bra she pulled out of the laundry.
For all of their different little quirks, these two are the best of friends & love each other so much. They crack me up & drive me crazy on a daily basis, & I am so thankful for that!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Nap Edition

As of Friday, the Chamblee household made a major shift in our daily routine. We're down to one nap a day! I really hadn't planned to take away the morning nap yet. In fact, as recently as Tuesday evening, I was talking with friends about the fact that we weren't ready to take the plunge. But then I realized that the twins were going to be missing their morning nap, or getting a severely shortened version of it, three out of five days last week. I was telling J at dinner Thursday night all of the reasons why it might make sense, & he said, "Sounds like you have your answer then." Out of nowhere, my mommy hormones kicked in & I had a momentary tear-up, inspiring laughter & eye rolling from J. It's just that they grow up so fast!

They're at the age now where they're beginning to really enjoy play dates & fun outings, & it's just too hard to fit those in when you're taking two naps a day. We went to the Arboretum on Friday, & then Mal attended a baby shower with me on Saturday while Jake ran errands with Daddy. They've done surprisingly well so far, so I'm just going to attempt to fill most of our mornings with something out of the house, at least until the adjustment is complete.

If you have any suggestions for activities with toddlers, at home or out & about, I'm all ears!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Evolution of a Ball Pit

You may remember this shot or others like it from last July. The twins had just received this helicopter ball pit as an early birthday present. This was early in the ball pit's career, so it was still fully inflated with no defects.
Soon after setting it up, we filled it with 100 additional balls & its popularity grew exponentially.But then the problems started occurring. The twins seemed to enjoy biting it & playing rather roughly in it. We patch a hole here, duck taped a missing wing there & continued to play with the ball pit. Until the day of this pic. They managed to rip off the other wing & render the helicopter useless.
My solution? Employ the use of the inflatable pool hanging out in the closet. This, of course, didn't solve the biting issue. We've patched one hole, but it apparently has others & won't hold air in the top ring. Good thing it has two rings, because the lower one stays inflated & holds the balls in.

Playing with their friend Riley when he came to visit a few weeks ago.
Then while Nana was here caring for us sicklings last week, the twins found a new game. It is titled "Throw Every Single Ball Over The Gate & Then Dance in The Empty Pool." The ball pit has since been relocated to their big kid bedroom because there are no gates in there for them to throw the balls over. Toddlers certainly keep you on your toes!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One Last Christmas Post

We wrapped up our Christmas gatherings with a visit from Mimi & Pops. They arrived on New Year's Eve & were so sweet to stay home with the kids so that we could attend a party with our friends. We exchanged presents that afternoon before heading to our party.

Mal loves her new twin baby dolls & cradle. Jake actually loves them too, & she's usually nice enough to share.
Jake got a cool new dump truck & then promptly moved it aside in order to play with the box. Now that the box is gone, he loves to load things in & out of the truck.
"Helping" Pops get all those ridiculous little twisty ties off so the babies could come out of the box
The Elmo Live Encore that Jake received has provided lots of entertainment. That thing is cool to the point of almost creepy. He knows when he falls down & asks you to help him up!
Another very popular item around here has been the backpacks that Aunt Amy sent. Jake wore his that day for the duration of present opening. He says "Backpack!" in a very urgent tone whenever he sees it.
Mal tried hers on the right way & then preferred to sling it over one arm like a purse instead. That's my girly girl! These will be perfect for preschool in the fall!
Mimi & Mal having a heart to heart after a diaper change
I'm not sure how this originated, but Pops & Jake developed a great new game of tickling Jake's head with the fan pulls. He was cackling like crazy & kept requesting to do it again.
Thanks so much for coming to see us, Mimi & Pops! We can't wait to come to Atlanta in March!

Monday, January 11, 2010

To Nana's House We Go

I promise I'll be done with Christmas posts one of these days. Not yet, though!

On Christmas morning, after having our celebration at home, we loaded up & headed to Nana & Papa's house in Paris to celebrate with my family.

Jake & Mal spent lots of time taking the magnetic ornaments off of this little tree & redecorating it. Since the door was metal, they didn't need very good aim to get them to stick somewhere.

The Erwin family - Christmas '09
Uncle Kent reading to Mallory. He was quite taken with our little spitfire.
Jake & Mal riding side by side on their new rocking horses. These are so cute! They sing & the mouth even moves! (Thanks Greg for the recommendation!)
Jake checking out his new Elmo mailbox. This is a coveted toy in our house lately. I've had to break up several fights over it.
Mallory got a Baby Tickle Me Elmo that she loves to hug.
Cousin Brody with his new weapon. We persuaded him not to shoot it in the house while the babies were there.
Aunt Joni & sweet Aubrey
Mommy & her handsome boy
Mal liked to pull the tissue & ribbon back out of the boxes we'd already opened.
While we were there, we had the special treat of joining the Beckmons, our close family friends, for their family Christmas dinner. Jake & Mal are big fans of Morgan & Mackenzie, & I think the feeling is mutual.
These wooden puzzles have also been a big hit since we got home.
Many laps were run around this couch during our stay. What is it about running in a circle that's so entertaining?

If one child crawls on the floor like a puppy dog, the other will follow.
Sweet, sweet babies
Jake in his favorite rocking chair. Sometimes I can't get over just how handsome this kid is!
Fish face!
Our other special treat while we were in Paris was getting to see my cousin Debbie & her husband Bill. They live in Montana, so we don't get to see them often, but it's always a lot of fun when we do get together.Up next - Christmas with Mimi & Pops!