Thursday, November 18, 2010

a cupcake for our cupcake

One more birthday post and you won't hear from me regarding cakes, candles, and chaos for another year. 

Our strategy is to celebrate each child's birthday on their actual birthday at home and try to make things as special for them as possible - 
Ella chose ice cream for her treat (she didn't believe she could turn four until she had blown out candles so we stuck her candle in her bowl of ice cream) and Dylan had birthday french toast - Daddy made breakfast for us before he had to leave for work.

These pictures are from the party at my parents' house last Saturday night. The kids love spending time with their cousins and they were very excited for their birthday cupcakes! 
(courtesy of Costco, of course)

Mady experienced her first cupcake and LOVED it. This baby knows how to eat. Before we could finish singing or blow our her candle for her, she was already digging in. She ate, and ate, and ate: two cupcakes total plus the part of Ella's cupcake that she stole when Ella wasn't looking. Sneaky baby.

It's hard to believe she's one already!

The rest of the birthday gang.

clean sweep

I have been in an organizing/de-cluttering sort of mood the past few days. Kind of like nesting only without the pregnancy (it is a relief to me that this phenomenon still happens even when you're not expecting - during my last, LAST nesting period a little over a year ago I wondered how I would ever get anything done again). Our friends just moved, my mom's been working on her house, and I've been reading about it over here...a perfect storm, I guess you could say.

My main focus has been the unfinished basement. We are not pack-rats, but things were getting bad down there. Can't-walk-through-the-room, sign-us-up-for-Hoarders bad. I wish I had taken a Before picture but just trust me when I say it wasn't good.

My strategy:
  • Clear out all the little boy clothes to a couple of adorable little guys in my life. It can be a little emotional sorting through the baby Dilly clothes but I pushed through. I have one tiny bin of toddler stuff left but I am pretty much cleared out.
  • Organize my garage sale pile. I'm not generally a garage sale type gal, but I had one here last spring with some friends and we had a lot of fun people-watching, negotiating, and eating, so I'm game for doing another one this year. Plus I made almost $400 and got rid of a bunch of stuff I have yet to miss.
  • Craigslist, Craigslist, Craigslist. I love Craigslist. With minimal effort this week I have cleared out several medium-ish items that were just taking up space. Some people may find the whole thing creepy but I have met several quite nice people through the years. For example, this week I sold our baby swing to a couple with 6 and 8 year old boys who are expecting their first baby girl soon, and I met a nice young girl who works days doing environmental work (cleaning up the Kalamazoo oil spill right now) who was happy to take three bar stools and a spice rack off my hands.
  • Donate to people who might actually need it. We have a Love INC drop-off site nearby - I brought a load of stuff over there (including our old computer and printer that was taking up a lot of space) and brought a couple bags of clothes (for the Have It/Need It? room) and some good-condition nursery toys to our church (side note: I went through my pantry last week and loaded up a bag of stuff I just won't get to using in time to send with Dylan to school for a food-drive - if you think about it for a minute, you can usually find the right place for your still-in-good-shape stuff).
  • Sort out the luggage closet. We have more luggage than one family has any right to. My parents love to give us luggage for gifts - the kids will each receive six pieces during the early years of their lives, four duffle bags in various sizes plus two rolling duffles, all in matching colors, complete with their intials (gotta love my mom for that!). The beauty of this gift is that if you give kids luggage, it implies that you expect them to go places, and how cool is that? The downside is a very disorganized pile of bags in the basement. Anyway, everything is now contained. Viola.
  • Say good-bye to ugly gift wrap. I'm somewhat of a gift-wrap-aholic. This week I sorted through it all, tossed the beat-up, unattractive stuff, and separated the Christmas from the every day stuff.
  • Label!! So...I recently acquired a label maker. I realize this makes me a dork. I don't care. It's magic.
The After:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Oh, Madelyn Mae. Where to begin?

Our baby, our brown-eyed girl - our baby princess
Little Peanut. Scootcher. Tunky-Tot. Mady Pady.

And I'll admit, sometimes we also call her 
Slime-Knocker, Gooberstein, Fuzz Head, and Stinky Buns.

With this little one, we have made an extra effort from day one to cherish every snuggle, every stage, every milestone - we have held her more than our other babies, let her stay up later than the others, and it is hard for her do much wrong in this house, even as far as Big Brother and Big Sister are concerned. 

In short, we all adore her.

And you wonder how youngest children end up the way they do.

(Note: this is only Year One - 
we will try to instill a little character in her as she grows.)

She loves
her doggy
her mommy
her da-da
her thumb
those two bigger little humans we have running around the house
and a nice, warm bottle at the end of a long day.

She is the perfect ending to the amazing family God has blessed us with: 
she is the tie breaker, the grand finale, the baby.

Oh, how we love her. Happy 1st birthday, Pumpkin.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We call him Little Man but he's not seeming quite so little to us these days. Sometimes I catch him out of the corner of my eye and I see the teenager he's going to be, the grown-up man.

Six years old.

Hard to believe.  

There is something about your first-born, your first baby. He's the one that made us a Mommy and a Daddy. We expect so much out of him - we always comment that if he was the baby of the family we would let so much more slide. But he's our oldest, so we expect a lot...the burden of being the first-born (oldest children grow up to be presidents and astronauts - he'll thank us later). But sometimes it's good to remember that's he still little. Just six.

Dylan is our deep-thinking, 
All boy. 
He loves his Daddy - his best friend. 
Looks after his two little sisters. 
And still has time to give his Mommy hugs when she asks for them. 
He's not perfect, but we know who he is - we can see who God created to him be.

 And those brown eyes. Enough to melt his Mommy's heart, every time.

We love you, Dylan Matthew. 
We are so thankful that you are our first-born, our first baby. 
God has great things planned for you.

photos by Mindy Leigh :)

Friday, November 12, 2010


Four years ago, we were waiting for Ella - I was induced so we knew she was coming, although we didn't know that she was a she. We knew if we had a baby girl, we would name her Ella but we had no idea what was about to hit us!

From the moment she came crashing into this world (screaming her head off, complicated delivery and all) she has kept us on our toes. I remember Matt coming back to the hospital the next morning after she was born (both of our heads still reeling, "we have a girl"), looking at me and saying, "but I have to give her away" - the next 20+ years flashing before our eyes.

We are four years into it and she is a wonder.

She is spunky, 
funny (in her words: 'larious),
clumsy (in a graceful sort of way),
a little nuts, 
tender-hearted (you should see her with her twins, Sally and Emily), 
tomboy-ish (she has to keep up with big brother), 
and one of the prettiest princesses you will ever meet.

Oh, and have I mentioned her blonde hair and blue eyes??

Happy 4th birthday, Ella Jeanne.
We are so glad God sent you to live in our family.
You are a blessing and a joy.

photos by Mindy Leigh :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

whoopie pies

I made some whoopie pies today in honor of Matt's birthday - he's not a big fan of cake and even if he was, we eat enough cake during birthday season to last us for a while. This was my first time making the pies and I have to pass along the recipe because they are really good. I got the recipe from my friend Theresa (who will be thrilled to be mentioned in a recipe post)...who got it from her friend, Rachel Ray. Enjoy!


  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
  • 1-2/3 cups flour
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop 12 generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.
Other Tips:
  • It's important that the eggs be at room temperature.
  • Use an ice cream scoop with a clicker like they say - I filled mine about 3/4 full otherwise they turn out really big.
  • Parchment paper is important. It's in the baking aisle.
  • I had to bake mine a few minutes longer than the 10 minutes they say.
  • I doubled the recipe. Makes 12-14 pies if you double, 6-7 if you don't (twice as many cookie halves before you put them together...kind of confusing).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like...

...birthday season! It's that time of year again...a warm-up to Christmas...everyone's a year older! (except Mommy)...complete and utter chaos! OK, it's fun too and we get a lot of birthday-ing out of our system in one fell swoop. I know, I know...try not to be jealous that you didn't consider this route when planning your families.

We kicked off the festivities tonight at Matt's parents' house. Mady is the proud new owner of a Bitty Baby (that she laughs very nervously around), Ella has a new princess dress, a play birthday cake, and (wait for it) a Barbie toilet that really flushes (plus Barbie and Kelly), and let's just say that Dylan will be spending his entire day tomorrow trying out his new Nerf gun and target.
It was a great night and just the beginning. I'm very happy to be the Mommy of an almost 6 year old, almost 4 year old, and almost 1 year old (and I think Matt has a birthday in there somewhere too!)
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