Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Ma's Apple Pie and Etc.

I was blessed with a mommy date with my boo, Julie. We went to one of our fave places, The Root Cafe. We both ordered The Root Benny which is two poached eggs served over bed of seasonal greens with Falling Sky ham and topped with our own hollandaise. It was divine. I made my own version at home and lurved it. I sauteed greens from Kellogg Valley Farms in bacon grease (don't hate), topped them with mozzarella cheese, green onions (also from KVF), cherry tomatoes and a poached farm fresh egg. So easy, so filling and so good. And, Julia Child taught me how to poach eggs. 

Friday night, my man and I had a dinner date at home. My man loves bread. I didn't have much time and I found this recipe for quick, no fail, french bread. Try it, y'all!! Takes a teensy bit more than an hour. Another thing my man loves is apple pie. His favorite apple pie is my mom's recipe so I made it for him tonight.

I remember my mom making this apple for my dad when I was a kid. My parents are divorced and they aren't exactly besties. Nonetheless, I have good memories of my mom making this pie for my dad. And, my dad and step-mom got me the wonderful pie plate for Christmas. And, my ma's recipe for all you peops who love to cook up something good, straight out of the old school Mt.Carmel Baptist Church Cookbook. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Picnic Birthday Party for my Five Year Olds

 Everyone loves to get dressed up for a party, including big brother right? We started the celebration off  in the backyard with the bubble machine and my niece, Livi. 

 We read a quick little birthday book. 
We did a super fun and simple craft. I do believe that Brook and Vivi are happiest while doing crafts.
 Each child had his or her own picnic basket filled with fruit, ham and cheese roll ups, popcorn, a juice box and some fun party favors. 

 The weather was beautiful and the girls loved sitting on the quilt, eating their lunches and checking out all their new goodies. 

 The girls requested lemon cake with strawberry (i.e. PINK) icing. 

 And, a party's not a party unless you crank up the kindermusic and dance!! 

 We were showered with lots of wonderful, fun gifts. 
 Justin and I gave the girls these Hello Kitty bags filled with play lip gloss, fake nails, etc. They have been wanting these for about a year. Oh, the joy on their faces while holding those bags!

 We finished up the party by eating every last bit of fruit and enjoying the beautiful day. 
I absolutely loved this party. We kept it simple and really tried to do things we knew the girls would enjoy. While I had grandiose, pinterest-esque visions of table decor and other awesome yet time consuming things, none of that happened. What happened was a mama of four little ones loving her girls and giving them the time of their little lives at home with their cousins and brothers. And it rocked.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Girls Are 5!

Since my girls were born, I have sworn that for their fifth birthday, I was going to go all out and throw a big party to celebrate the fact that my man and I made it through the first five years with twins. It was going to be a party for me! I mean, I'd have earned it by five years, right?!

The first two years of their lives were a blur of sleepless nights, double diapers, and living life with our toddler son who struggled almost constantly with stomach pain and reflux. There was great joy in those first two years. Vivian and Brooklyn were extremely laid back and flexible little babes. I was able to enjoy an extended nursing relationship with both of them and I bonded so deeply and easily with each of them. I enjoyed them very, very much. I would hold and rock them and tears would come to my eyes because I was so happy to have these girls. I could sit and stare at them for hours. I loved just sitting in the floor and watching them crawl and play and just generally be adorable.
First Birthday, V with headband over her eyes.

Then, they turned two. We walked through a very dark, very painful crisis in our extended family that began about a month before their birthday. I nearly lost my mind. I was depressed. My easy babes had turned into normal two year olds who were throwing fits and testing limits. In addition to these new behaviors, they began to feed off of one another. For example, I'd say no to one girl, and the other girl immediately did what I'd just told sister not to do. Then, I'd relive that scenario 100 times daily. And, the fighting. Oh, the fighting. In the midst of parenting toddler twins and a five year old,  I also had to cope with  years of painful memories and emotions that had been opened due to the above mentioned crisis. I prayed, I cried and I was basically too discombobulated to admit that I was depressed. 

Second birthday, B crying, V laughing.
Their third year was very similar to the second year. I was still struggling and I was drowning in toddler tantrums and mommy guilt. I walked around in a cloud of guilt believing this lie: I am a bad mother who has difficult children who are difficult because I am a horrible person who hates herself about 75% of the time. Is that a load of crap or what? Either way, it's where I was on the inside much of the time. 

Third birthday, V on right.

I have to say their fourth birthday was a vast improvement over the previous two. The girls definitely wore me out often that year, but I did not feel overwhelmed and snowed under as frequently. I also finally began to work through the mommy guilt that was entrapping me. It's a mercy that the Lord brought me to a better place during that time because we had our first foster son for six months, sold our old house, bought our new house and completely renovated our new house while living with family members or in a one bedroom apartment. Granted, we still struggled. But I began to see the guilt for what it is and see the lies for what they are. 

Fourth birthday

And now my girls are five. Five whole years old. Mothers of toddlers, I have an announcement to make: it gets easier. My girls are still full of energy and often rambunctious, but there has resurfaced this desire to please, a desire to help...or maybe it's a desire to avoid punishment. Either way, this stage is much more calm. I rarely feel overwhelmed which is a true miracle. I spent about two years feeling overwhelmed every single day when dealing with my girls. We all still have our moments, but overall life is more smooth. 
Fifth birthday, B on right. 

When their fifth birthday rolled around, it just didn't seem necessary to throw a party to celebrate the victory of making it five years with my girls. I just wanted the day to be about them. We had a party. It was small. The girls had a blast. I loved every minute. I took them to Purple Cow for dinner while my man kept the boys. Us three girls sat on the same side of the booth. We ate, we talked and we sat as close to one another as humanly possible. I watched them eating their chicken strips and mac and cheese. I smiled at the way they spooned each little bite of applesauce into their mouths. I mostly just loved them. Their birthday this year was not about the immense relief I feel at the thought of getting through these first five years with twins. It was about the fact that I got to do these first five years with them. Every smile, every tear, every middle of the night interruption...I was able to do all that. I am a blessed woman. And, I might even post a few pics of the partay that actually did happen and not the one I planned in my head.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Granola Bar Cookies

I came up with the recipe I am sharing about three weeks.  My boo, Julie and my Ma both tried them and were instantly hooked. Most importantly, my hubby lurves them. I was going for a granola bar alternative that was simple and makes a lot at one time. Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Granola Bar Cookies
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, muscavado, or sucanat
6 eggs
2 cups peanut butter (natural or regular)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups regular oats (not minute oats, gluten free oats work great too)
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped

Cream butter or oil in mixer, gradually add sugar and honey beating well, add eggs till blended well, add peanut butter, vanilla , soda, and salt. Stir in oats, chips, raisins, coconut, pecans, mix well. Drop in 2 tablespoonfuls per cookie on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes till lightly golden. Cool for about 3 minutes on cookie sheets and then transfer to cooling racks. Makes 48 cookies. 
A few tips: these are even better if the dough has been chilled for an hour more. Julie used an ice cream scoop to dole out her cookies. These could definitely be made with quite a bit less sugar, but I would not skimp on the honey. These are also yummy with craisins. Coconut oil makes a thinner cookie if the dough is not chilled.