Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raisin the Roof

 I love Tuesdays and I am a bit sad that this will mark the last of our 'usual' Tuesday routine.  Starting next week there's no story time in May and after that Noah will be out of school for the summer and then in September he'll be in school full time and won't get to be part of our 'usual' Tuesday.  Plus Kayla will be in school on Tuesday mornings so I'm thinking I may have to pick another favorite day of the week.  But if this marks 'the end' at least we had a great one :)

Happy National Raisin Day!  We managed to include raisins in every meal today much to the delight of my kiddos.  What kid doesn't like raisins?  OK, Shell, I know you don't like raisins.  I thought of you and you sifting through an entire box of granola just to get rid of the raisins a couple of times today.  But the Gatchel kiddos, they love raisins.  So after we started the morning off with some yummy 'polka dot twists' for breakfast, we tackled all kinds of raisins in Kid Kitchen.

You'll have to check out the pictures, but we made Raisin Oatmeal pizza, some Graham Slams and of course, you can't celebrate raisins without making 'ants on a log'  They did fabulous today and we were assisted by Nemo and Blue Lightning which of course made things even more interesting. We've already discussed that once summer is upon us we will be able to perhaps do more Kid Kitchen activities and they are both requesting some science experiments and craft projects as well. Guess this Mama needs to get her act in gear because there is no denying that a change is a-comin'.

We also had quite the conversation about nap time today.  My hard and fast rule has always been that you take a nap 'til you're in kindergarten.  I don't care if you actually sleep, but for at least a solid hour it is quiet relaxing in your room time to decompress a bit.  As Noah reminded me, though, once he goes to school he won't be taking a nap.  I agreed and said that we would be working on transitioning him to more 'quiet' time and less 'nap' time in the afternoon.  He continued to insist that he did not need a nap, he does not get tired and he shouldn't have to.  I told him to humor me for a while anyway.  Check out his picture below to see who won this argument...

We enjoyed the sunshine for a bit after dinner as Grant and I followed on foot (with Kayla riding on my shoulders) behind a biking Noah.  About .2 of a mile from home I asked Kayla if she'd mind walking the rest of the way.  When she protested I suggest we skip.  Which then turned into marching.  Which became galloping.  I was exhausted by the time we made it to the driveway, think I should have just continued to keep her on my shoulders :)

Grant's off getting a haircut (finally!) while I'm watching the Tigers beat up on the Twins again and getting some work done.  Going to meet up with my favorite married sister and her other half for dinner tomorrow night, can't wait!  Chocolate parfaits, too.  Until then...

Polka Dot twists

The kiddos picked my first 'bouquet' of the season this morning

 Love, pure and simple

 I adore them

 My extremely efficient little chef

 Our 'pizza' ready for the oven

 Noah mixing up the topping for the Graham Slams

 Putting the raisins and fruit on the Graham Slams

 Ants on a log!

 Putting the 'sauce' (rainbow chip frosting) on the pizza

 Adding the 'cheese' (coconut)

 All topped and ready to eat!

 Graham Slams

 This is my almost five year old who INSISTS he doesn't need a nap when I went in to get him up

Raisin chicken (This was a huge hit here at dinner time tonight!)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Big Shrimpin'

The kiddos had a fabulous time in Fremont over the weekend.  So much so that I will probably now spend the next 48 hours getting them back to 'normal'  As it is I cannot convince Kayla to put down the hat my Dad got her and Noah had a 20 minute meltdown this morning when I told him he could not take his Cecil Fielder baseball card with him to school.  ("But I've got to tell everyone that he's Prince's Dad, Mom!")

The only casualty of the weekend was Mikayla's shin that got a bit scraped up.  It was a four band aid scrape.  She's been pretty good about it and given that my Mom (bless her!) gave them baths yesterday morning we did not have to undertake that hurdle last night.  But that of course all changed tonight...

We had a super jam packed evening of dinner, a bike ride and then hurrying back here to get to Skype with the Kunkle family.  So busy that my sink was still full of dirty dishes when we got done skyping while Grant hustled Thing 1 and Thing 2 off to the bath.  So it is with me up to my elbow in suds and scampi remnants that I hear Mikayla screaming bloody murder.  I had just pulled the towel off my shoulder to go and see if I could be of some assistance when I naked tear-streaked  Mikayla comes tearing into the kitchen.

"I don't wanna take the band aids off, Mama"  Grant had managed to snag one of four while she was distracted on the potty hence the screaming and tears.  Doing my "Mom Thing" I managed to distract her enough to get the other three off with little more than a few whimpers.  Thinking I've got things under control I stick my hands back in the suds when the sobbing starts again.

"I don't want it to get wet, Mama!"  Really?  Grant looked at me like "OK great fixer, solve this one"

"If it stays dry will you go take a bath without any more tears?" *Sniffle sniffle nod sniffle sniffle*  So I do the only thing I can think of - I open the cupboard under the sink, pull out one of the plethora of plastic grocery bags that need to go off to the recycling station, put a hole in the bottom which I have Kayla stick her foot through and wrap it around the scrape. "Are you really going to do that?" Grant asks me.  Um, yes! Ta Da!  "Is that OK?"  Nodding my appeased three year old tears off down the hall to the bathroom.

"You know that is going to come off as soon as she gets in the bath, right?"  Grant asks me.  "Probably, but it's distracted her enough to get her in the tub.  Sometimes that is all it really takes" Consider that my Mom wisdom for the day.  Was it necessary to wrap Kayla's leg in a plastic bag? Nope, not at all.  But the extra 30 seconds it took me was totally worth the end of the melt-down.

Why am I sharing this?  Mostly for my own good.  I figure maybe if I take the time to write it out and pound it into my brain the next similar situation I will actually remember this lesson.  Lots of the time it is easier to just say in not so many words 'suck it up and deal' but maybe more often I'll remember the benefits of stopping and coming up with a way to 'fix' things.

On another note, happy National Shrimp Scampi Day.  Red Lobster officially has nothing on me today.  (I've never actually been to Red Lobster so maybe they do)  To go with the Scampi I made some of the cheddar biscuits the chain is famous for that my husbands and kiddos raved about after their trip to Illinois.

Raisin madness tomorrow in Kid Kitchen.  Until then...

Shrimp Scampi

Cheddar Bay Buiscuts

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How we Roll

 Grant and I have been enjoying having some 'us' time the past couple of days while the kiddos headed down to Fremont to spend the weekend with my parents.  He had gotten me Tigers tickets for my birthday and yesterday we got to go to the game!

In the meantime, there was all kind of fun.  We actually got to go to an actual movie theater and see a movie (gasp).  Saw "Oz The Great and Powerful" - loved loved loved it!  Thought it did a great job setting up the back story to the classic movie.  Then we (FINALLY) got to rent Les Mis. We've been talking about seeing it for months now so we were both super stoked.  Got to go to Coldstone - oh my goodness banana bread batter yogurt - my new addiction!  It was so good we had to go back again last night...

Saturday morning Grant volunteered to spend some time in the kitchen with me to make the blueberry pies for today (Happy National Blueberry Pie day!)  Only sans kiddos will you find us making pie, drinking beer and wearing monkey aprons at 11am on a Saturday morning.  I love my husband, he is the best sport ever.

The game was incredible.  The weather was beautiful, we were 20 rows back from the field on the third base side (almost directly behind third base) and the Tigers creamed the Braves for the second game in a row.  After the game we enjoyed the sunshine and walked over to explore Greektown for a bit.  No luck at the casino, but fun none the less.  We came back, grabbed some dinner and realized we still had to drop the movie off, so we rode our bikes to Kroger to do so and I found a $20 bill.  Hence the ice cream two nights in a row!!

We're off to get the kiddos here shortly and I will admit I miss them like crazy (there were so many kids at the game yesterday and I kept thinking how much fun my twosome would have.  Think there may be a Tigers game in the future here soon...) I have loved getting to spend some time with my better half, though.  (And he really is my other half - couldn't do any of what I do without him) Looking forward to hearing what kind of craziness went down in Fremont...

Shrimp Scampi tomorrow!  Until then...

He so makes me smile

 I feel like I should label this "Beer Kitchen" as opposed to "Kid Kitchen"

 Shells for our mini pies

 It honestly doesn't get much better than this

 AJ and Torii!! (My two faves)

 Austin Jackson in the throwback to the Negro League uniforms they were wearing


 Prince Fielder, just for Noah

 Can't think of anyone I'd rather have been there with

 Finishing the mini pies and making some pizzas

 Aren't they cute?  Grant did an awesome job!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zucchini Bakery

 Happy National Zucchini Bread Day!  Never one to do anything halfway (you're honestly surprised by that?!?!?!) I decided to see how many zucchini baked items we could make to celebrate today.  So we ended up with the zucchini bread I mentioned last night, zucchini pie for dinner and martian cookies for dessert.  What, ask you, are martian cookies?  Well cookies with zucchini of course!  And while that may sound unappetizing they are some of the most moist and flavorful cookies ever!  That may have something to do with the butterscotch and chocolate chips they are oozing with, but I worked in the zucchini for the health benefits ;)

Really busy around here this evening between watching the draft (go Lions!), catching Grey's Anatomy, getting things together to take the kiddos down to Ohio for the weekend and making up another batch of the yummy soft pretzels to celebrate National Pretzel Day tomorrow.

Keeping this short so I can get to all those things and more :)  Not sure if I'll be posting tomorrow or not, but I promise to have lots of pictures from the game on Saturday!  Until then...

Zucchini Raisin Bread

 Martian Cookies

Zucchini Pie

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pigs in need of Blankets

Yesterday the kiddos and I were playing outside without jackets.  Today I had to break out the hats and mittens again and I drove through snow the entire way home from Bowling Green.  Hey Mother Nature, in case you missed it the calendar says April 24th.  Not February 24th or even March 24th where I could deal with a bit of snow.  April.  I could deal with it being rain ('cause Lord knows we've had enough of that this month) because then I could expect lots of pretty flowers in May.  But the snow is pushing it.

This very well could be why the pigs need blankets.  Accordingly to Mikayla we had to put the pigs in the blankets to keep them warm and snuggly.  It's National Pigs in A Blanket day today, which both Noah and Mikayla found uproariously funny.  My explanation of why it was called pigs in a blanket only made them giggle more.  The fact that I made them "call" the pigs so we could make dinner officially pushed them over the edge.  We waited to make dinner 'til Grant got home so everyone could wrap up their own piggies.  Three days in a row of kitchen creations mean two very happy Gatchel kiddos.

They were in an even better mood due to the fact that we headed to Bowling Green today to have lunch with Grandma.  Noah is off of school today and Friday for conferences (I met with his teacher this morning to more rave reviews!  So proud of my little man!) so we decided to take a trip today to see Grandma for a bit.  Never one to miss an occasion, when I tucked him in last night Noah had asked if he could wear his "wedding clothes" on today's visit.  Sure, why not.  So I was accompanied by a spiffily dressed four year old and a three year old that insisted she needed to wear sparkly blue shoes with her Tinkerbell outfit.  They put their Mama to shame ;-)

Watching a bit of the game at the moment (we're up 7-4 with the bases loaded!) and I can't say that I'd rather be there.  I can only imagine that it is frigid at the ballpark.  If anyone wants to start saying prayers for much better weather on Saturday for Grant and me.  I'm a die hard fan and all but teeny tiny Kristi will not enjoy the game in freezing temperatures.  Zucchini bread tomorrow.  (It's in my bread machine as we speak - never it made it that way before so we'll see how that comes out)  Until then...

'Calling' the pigs before we wrapped them in their blankets

 Mikayla showing off her handiwork

 We wrapped piggies in crescent blankets and biscuit blankets

Noah and Grant preferred the crescents and Kayla liked the biscuits better

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Cheesy Cherries

 You can't say cheese if the camera doesn't work.  I'm three pictures into our usual Kid Kitchen madness when the camera dies.  To say I strongly and intensely dislike this new camera would be an understatement.

Lack of a camera would not keep us from celebrating National Cherry Cheesecake Day, though.  I was hard pressed to rationalize making an entire cheesecake for the four of us.  Would it get eaten?  Yes.  Was it really necessary when there are other options?  No.  Was it really the kind of project I wanted to tackle in Kid Kitchen?  Definitely not!

So we decided to make cherry cheesecake popsicles instead :)  Noah got to work his knife skills, Kayla got to play with the food processor and I wasn't pulling my hair out trying to create a rich smooth cheesecake with plenty of 'help'  A win all around!

But that wasn't quite enough.  April just happens to be National Pretzel month, and Friday is actually National Pretzel Day.  Since the kiddos are going to be off in Fremont for the weekend (Grant and I are going to the Tigers game for my birthday on Saturday!) I wanted to make sure we got in a good pretzel treat between now and then.  So in addition to the posicles we whipped up some buttery soft pretzel bites this morning, too.

These were great for the kiddos - we got to use the sifter again (working on those hand muscles!) and we had quite the discussion about yeast and what it does.  (As a bonus I had a box of matzoh in the cupboard to show them what happens when there's no yeast)  We also got to see the effects of baking soda on the pretzels and play with melted butter and the pastry brush.  Wish the dang camera had co-operated enough to show you all this.  I did pull the battery out and stick it on the charger hoping that was at least part of the problem and did manage to get a picture or two of the pretzels once they came out of the oven.  Grr, stupid camera.

Noah, Kayla and I of course went to the library this afternoon and had some ABC fun.  They each got to make necklaces with their names in beads and read a great book about ABC super heroes.  (I was all good until V was the Vomiting Volcano)  Dinner all together and then a quick walk in what is surely the beginning of the rain and cold (side note: this afternoon I had my weather.com homepage pulled up and it told me it was 71 here and 40 in Rockford.  I kind of wanted to cry) that's headed this way. We came back to enjoy our cherry cheesecake popsicles and hopefully catch the Tigers game but are bummed to find out it is currently in rain delay.  So the kiddos are in the tub and I'm off to the library to 'stock up'

Noah's conferences in the morning, headed to BG for lunch with my Mom and then Pigs in A Blanket tomorrow night (the kids think this is ridiculously funny).  Until then...

He wanted me to take a picture of him and his giraffe wearing sunglasses - I have no idea...

 And of course not to be outdone...

 Ready for some Kid Kitchen

 Chopping the cherries

 Our pretzel bites out of the oven

 Yum yum yum

Kayla shows off our take on cherry cheesecake

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jelly Bean Madness

Today may honestly be my favorite celebration so far.  I love jelly beans.  I adore jelly beans.  With what other food can you taste everything ranging from sizzling cinnamon to strawberry cheesecake?  From blackberries to caramel corn?  From birthday cake to cantaloupe?   From Dr. Pepper to kiwi?  And don't even get me started on all the other candies that now have their own lines of jelly beans; starburst, life savers, laffy taffy, nerds, sweet tarts - I have a really hard time deciding at Easter just which kind to have.  Jelly beans are AMAZING!

I knew we were going to have to find a fun way to celebrate today in a way that would let us try lots of different kinds of beans and let everyone have their favorite.  So yesterday, since Grant was home from work, we all piled into the car and headed to the candy store we had visited back in January.  When we were there before I had taken advantage of the ginormous Jelly Belly display that they had and hadn't been disappointed.  (Side note, jelly belly's are my personal favorite of all the jelly beans and may rival pretzel M&M's and red hots as my favorite candy ever).  Each of us got to make a small mixed bag of five different flavors to devour today.  In case you were interested, here's the run down:

Noah: Cantaloupe, A&W Root Beer, Blueberry, Island Punch and Sour Orange
Mikayla: Buttered Popcorn, Margarita, Berry Blue, Birthday Cake Remix and Lemon Drop
Grant: Orange Sherbet, Soda Pop Shoppe (Dr. Pepper, 7 Up, Orange Crush, Grape Crush, A&W Root Beer and A&W Cream Soda) Birthday Cake Remix, Cappuccino and Honey Drop
Kristi: Soda Pop Shoppe (see Grant), Cold Stone Mix (Birthday Cake Remix, Mint Mint Chocolate Chip, Apple Pie a la Mode, Chocolate Chocolate, Strawberry Blonde), Tropical Smoothie Mix (can't remember what all of these were, but they were yummy!), Candy Corn and Caramel Corn

We all have shared and traded today and when the votes were in, Noah liked A&W Root Beer and Island Punch the best, Kayla couldn't get enough of the buttered popcorn, Grant liked the Honey Drop and the Dr. Pepper and I would eat them all except the black ones!

I so adore jelly beans that our trip didn't seem like quite enough, though I should have probably quit while I was ahead.  Last week when I was researching this week's recipes I flagged 3 jelly bean recipes that I thought looked interesting.  I couldn't decide between jelly bean biscotti, jelly bean oatmeal cookies or jelly bean cookies so I asked Grant to take a look, pick his favorite and that's what we'd have.  He picked the jelly bean cookies.  Looking over the recipe a little closer I began to fear we might have another Skittle Cookie mess on our hands, but I had asked him what he wanted so I decided the kiddos and I would make them after I picked up Noah from school.

All I'm going to say about the cookies is that we had a ton of fun making them.  And they were tastier than the skittle cookies.  But after everyone had tasted one (Grant had two) the rest of them found their stick way into my trash can tonight.

After dinner we took our first bike ride of the season!  (Because let's face it, it'll probably be 20 degrees again tomorrow so we should take advantage of 60 while we can)  I love zipping around the neighborhood with my gang and there were a TON of people out enjoying the weather as well. Popsicles and ice cream when we got back (and we finished off Kayla's jelly beans, too!) and now we're wrapping up the night with baths before hitting the hay.

Strawberry cheesecake and Kid Kitchen tomorrow, really looking forward to it :)  Until then...

I had to name every single flavor for Noah before he had his choices (he is so my kid)

 Think we had enough to choose from?

 My two favorite beans with their bag of beans

 Before we made the cookies Noah sorted all the jelly beans out of the other Easter candy mix (Chalk up another pro for jelly bean day - using up Easter candy!)

 My favorite munchkins ready to make some cookies

 They are getting so good, pretty soon I won't even need to supervise Kid Kitchen

 Before mixing

 Ready for the oven

 They look beautiful ;-)

 Noah and Kayla post-lunch snacking on their beans

Ready for our bike ride