Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Best Easter Weekend

I hope everybody had a terrific Easter weekend! I've mentioned here before that Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of the meaning behind it. It is a day that we can celebrate our risen Savior's triumph over sin and death and rejoice in the fact that we have the hope of living with him someday because of his great sacrifice.

A few years ago we started the tradition of hosting both sides of our family for Easter Sunday at our house. Most holidays are spent splitting time with both families (which is fine, that's just how it is), but I love the idea of having one holiday where we can have both sides over to our house and have one big celebration.

Also I love hosting people in our home and I don't get the opportunity to do so very ofen. We didn't do this last year for some reason (I don't remember why) but I'm glad we got to host this year and I hope it is a tradition that continues on in years to come.
Who says you can't use paper plates for Easter? I found these at Michaels - they're pretty and they make clean up SO much easier!

I couldn't decide what to do for lunch and then it hit me...I'll do Easter brunch! I LOVE brunch! And it was so much easier than doing a huge dinner.

We got up and went to early church service and Sunday school class and we were home by 11:00. Since I have gotten in the habit of waking up at 5:30 each day, I've found that it's much easier to get everybody up and ready in  time to be at early service by 8:15. We have come to make this our routine and I enjoy getting home earlier and having more of the day to relax.

*Sidenote: On this particular Sunday, we somehow got the girls up, let them open their Easter baskets, got them ready, ate breakfast, took a picture of them together in their dresses, and made it to church 10 minutes early. This never happens and I have no idea how we did it!

As soon as we got home we began preparing our brunch. We ended up having way to much food!

On the menu was:
Country ham
Bacon
Sausage casserole
Hashbrown casserole
Lemon sweet rolls
Biscuits
Fruit
Carrot cupcakes
Chocolate cake
These carrot cupcakes from Whimsical September were so good!

Our moms helped out with the casseroles and my sister-in-law Lindsey brought some fruit, so that took a couple of things off my plate (thank you for that!)

I want to talk a minute about the lemon sweet rolls. I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and knew I needed to make them for Easter brunch. Not much screams Spring more than lemon. I knew that I would not have time to prepare them the morning of, so I wanted to make them the day before. They are made with dry active yeast and something was telling me in my gut to do a little more research on how to store them over night. I found out that if I had stored them (unbaked) in the refrigerator that the cold would have messed up the rising process and they wouldn't rise like they should. It also said that it could leave a sour, alcohol-like taste, and nobody wants that!

I found that the best thing to do was to "par bake" them, which means you bake it just enough to stop the yeast from working, but don't bake them all the way. You want to bake them until the bottoms are starting to brown, but the tops are still white. Then the next day you pop them back in the oven to let them brown up and get warm. I started with 10 minutes and kept adding more time until the bottoms started to brown. I think it ended up being about 18 minutes. I let them cool in the pan, covered them, and stored them in the fridge overnight.

Then as soon as we got home from church, I pulled them out of the fridge, preheated the oven, and baked them until they were brown on top. It ended up taking about 20 minutes for them to brown up, but I think had I let them sit out for longer and get closer to room temperature, it wouldn't have taken as long. I was very worried at how they would turn out since this was my first time making anything like this, but they turned out perfect! I wish I had snapped a picture of them, but I didn't think about it.

If you follow my Instagram, you know that Audrey is a stinker when it comes to smiling for pictures. Well, today we bribed her with Pez to get her to smile and it surprisingly worked. There was also somebody behind the camera making silly faces, which made her laugh (#youdowhatyougottado).

After lunch the girls got to open a few presents from their grandparents and aunt and uncle, then we went to play outside. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I'm very thankful for the time to just relax outside with family and watch the girls play. They hunted Easter eggs, blew bubbles, played with chalk, and ate candy and cupcakes.

Raley got this pretty Elsa dress from Gigi and she wanted to wear it, but it's a little long and I was so paranoid that she was going to step on it and rip it while running around in the yard!
I love these little bunny ear clips
Around 3:00 the girls were getting quite cranky so we knew it was nap time. Everyone left and we put them down for a late nap. While they were napping, David and I sat down and watched The Passion of the Christ. Neither one of us had seen it in years, but we wanted to watch it on Easter, to help us stay in the right mindset and remember what it was that Christ did for us. If you haven't seen it, it's not an easy movie to watch, but it's worth seeing. You don't realize how brutal his crucifixion and the hours leading up to it were until you watch something like this. It is gut-wrenching, but not in a gory scary movie kind of way. These events really happened and he endured all of it for every single one of us!

After the girls got up from their naps, we just took it easy the rest of the day, had lots of play time and watched Wreck It Ralph. David and I were still so stuffed from lunch that we didn't even eat dinner. We made the girls PB&J's for dinner and called it a night.

For me, this is my ideal Easter. We get to spend time with family (although we were missing a few), sit outside in the Spring air, do lots of playing, and worship our Lord and God. I am just so thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to worship where and how we want to and that we have an opportunity to place emphasis on the events that happened during the Passover so many years ago.


How about you? What is your ideal Easter? Do you have any Easter traditions? Have you ever seen The Passion of the Christ? How do you feel about it?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Sweet and Simple Spring Break

I'm a little late posting since spring break was over a week ago, but I'm missing it already. We kept it simple and low-key with some quick morning outings and lots of time just playing. I was able to get a glimpse of what our summer break will look like, and I know it's going to be a good one!

This time with our girls is going so so fast. I am thankful that I still have one year left with Raley before she heads off to Kindergarten, but I know that next August will be here before we know it, so I'm trying to soak up all these simple joys while I can. I know that the little things won't make them this happy for much longer and I also know that once this time is gone I'm going to miss it like crazy, no matter how difficult some days are. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. Each day I try to remind myself of this and make a conscious effort to not let this time slip through my fingers or else it will be gone before I realize it.

Anyway, back to spring break! It was a little chilly at the beginning of the week. We had hopes of going to the Huntsville Botanical Garden (or the "beautiful garden" as Raley calls it) or to Harmony Park Safari (the drive-thru zoo in Huntsville) but it was just to chilly. We ended up improvising and having a great time doing a few activities we don't typically do. 

Monday was our "be lazy and stay home all day" day. While I typically like getting out for a couple hours most days, I'm more than happy to have a stay-at-home-day every now and then. I feel like there has to be a good balance - if we stay home all the time, we all get stir crazy; if we are going out somewhere every day, we get tired (and we'll end up spending too much money). Our goal for this Summer is to have a good mix of staying home and getting out.

We spent Monday cuddling and watching movies, playing with Play-Doh, blowing bubbles outside, and just playing with toys in the play room. 
I love morning cuddles so much! 
It was a beautiful day but it was in the 40's and they asked to go outside...
 so we threw on some coats and went outside!

On Tuesday, Mom and I took the girls to Earlyworks Children's Museum. We've been here a couple of times and we always have fun so I thought I'd just glance at how much their memberships are. It turns out if you pay to go 3 times a year, a family membership is basically covered, so we decided to just go ahead and get a membership. I'm excited to be able to use this as a way to get out of the house during the summer when it's either raining or super hot. We will definitely plan to get our money's worth by visiting more than 3 times this year!
Raley loves that they have little Colonial style dress up clothes. Its so stinking cute!
Their favorite part is the big stuffed dogs

They sat here and listened to the talking tree tell the same story like 4 times
Tuesday evening we met David's parents at Big Bob Gibson's for Gigi's birthday dinner. 
Audrey's "cheese"! 😂 She cracks me up

On Wednesday we decided to go to story time at the Madison Public Library. The girls are constantly asking to go since they opened their new building. We enjoy story time because they get to be around other kids, listen to stories, sing songs and learn and then play for a little while when it's over. [And my favorite part - it's FREE!] Afterward, we met some friends at McDonald's for lunch and to let the kids play in their new play area.
The teacher showed them the sign for yellow - Raley recognized the Y then turned to Audrey and signed "My name is R-A-L-E-Y." I love that she is so interested in sign language and I'm constantly amazed at how well kids retain these sorts of things. I guess that's why they say kids learn a foreign language easier than adults do.


I had to work Thursday so they played at Mimi's house all day. On Friday the temps were up in the 60's and the weather was absolutely perfect, so we took the opportunity to get outside and play. We played at Palmer Park for a little while and they had a blast. Watching them run around, smiling and laughing on a playground is one of my favorite things. To me it's the epitome of being a kid. 
Do you remember when you were so small that swinging on your belly was the most fun thing in the world?

Audrey likes to run up and hug these rocking things, climb up, rock 2 or 3 times, then hop down and run to the next one.

After the park we made a run to Kroger to grab a few things. They love to ride in the "car cart" at Kroger, but often times I have to get on to them because they are leaning or pushing on each other, making the other mad. But this time Raley let Audrey lay in her lap and it was just too sweet to not snap a picture! They can drive each other crazy, but they really do adore each other. I hope that feeling never goes away. <3

When we got home, we had a little bit of time before they needed to lay down for a nap so I let them help me bake some Easter M&M cookies. (Notice Audrey is just pouring M&Ms on the pan and Raley is actually placing them into the cookies 😂)

Saturday was St. Patrick's Day so I decided to take the girls to the Botanical Garden for an event they were having. I had to search through their closets to find basically the only thing they own with green in it (we don't wear alot of green around here apparently). It was a fun event, but the ground was still a little soggy from rain the night before and I didn't prepare for that! Had I known they'd be walking around in mud I would have put them in different shoes. Oh well, I know better for next year!

They got to hunt for shamrocks, make crafts and drink green punch. We ended up heading to the children's garden after the event and they sat and watched the turtles in the pond for a long time. They aren't usually that interested in turtles, but today they were. Audrey kept saying "Hey turtle. What you doin? You sittin on a wock?" The girl cracks me up with the things that she says. Her little voice is just too sweet.
Why are turtles so entertaining? It's not just the kids...I enjoy watching them too.
So that's our spring break. It was fun to just have that time off together, doing simple things that make them happy. I guess, since it's actually here, I will finally say that I'm ready for Spring. I've been wishing those cooler days would stick around a little longer, but spring break definitely had me looking forward warmer weather and summer break.

What is your favorite thing to do with your children on breaks?

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Monday, March 5, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Word Search - Printable

Hey yall! March is here, which means St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. Today I've got a fun little activity from Education.com that you can download, print and enjoy with your little ones. What a fun way to help them recognize letters and words!

Luck will be on your side as you use your spelling skills to find those fun St. Patrick's Day words. Like this spelling activity? Head over to Education.com for more learning printables like this. 



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