Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome, Baby Julianne!

My new niece was born last week on Monday, March 22 - the day after Caroline's birthday! She weighed in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. She was born after a long labor, during which a nurse finally discovered that she was breech, which was why labor was progressing so very slowly! Perhaps if she had been head down, she would have shared a birthday with her cousin Caroline!

I took the girls to help out their Aunt Crystal this past Monday. We went and helped a bit around the house and with food preparation, and we brought them some supplies like a basket of snacks and some diapers. Baby Julianne is so tiny and sweet, such a sleepy little newborn, but an excellent and vigorous nurser - at only a few days old, her weight was already back close to her birth weight... just 3 ounces shy of it, in fact!

So, this post is just a bunch of "Aww, how sweet!" photos of Caroline and Cecilia with their new little niece!

Most precious picture ever!

Welcome to the world, Julianne Elizabeth Nadolski!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recent Holy Day Celebrations

We had a few feast days recently and did some simple things to remember them... last Thursday was the Solemnity of the Annunciation (March 25, nine months before Jesus's birth is celebrated). I did the same thing as last year: printed off several images of the Annunciation for Caroline to cut out and glue into a collage. Cecilia colored on a picture of the Annunciation found here. Lots of coloring images available there... I bookmarked the master list for future use! In the afternoon, the girls helped me to plant marigold seeds in cups. They have started to grow already!

For lunch we had lily sandwiches, found here at Catholic Cuisine. The lily is one of many flowers associated with Mary... I think that this sandwich would work well for many saints, like St. Joseph, who is typically pictured holding lilies.

Caroline ate three or four of them!!

Cecilia liked them too, but not as much... her appetite has slowed down recently, it seems.

Then we celebrated Palm Sunday this past Sunday, the day after Caroline's party. Sometimes Palm Sunday is referred to as "Fig Sunday," because legend has it that Jesus ate figs after riding into Jerusalem. So, I made our favorite fig bar recipe, using up the last of the dried figs from last year. Our fig tree should be growing us some figs over this spring and summer!

Along with our dinner, we had heart of palm salad. I don't know how my children could dislike heart of palm - it has such a mild, bland flavor. But Chris and I ate it! It is just lettuce, strawberries, heart of palm, mandarin oranges, pecans, and poppy seed salad dressing. Yum! It is an easy way to incorporate palm into a meal!

We also thought about burning last year's palms, since we didn't on Ash Wednesday, but we didn't get around to that... maybe we'll do it sometime during Holy Week and put the ashes into our garden! We did get new palms at church and placed them behind a crucifix in our home.

Caroline's 5th Birthday!

Caroline turned five on March 21, and we had a party for her with family this past Saturday... I am now getting around to posting photos. She said she wanted a cat cake, and for it to have pink frosting. At first I thought I'd just make a cat head - round cake, make some cupcakes and cut into triangles for ears... but then I did a quick online search and found this easy pattern using two round cake layers.

Here's another picture... neither came out too well - one too light and the other too dark - so I posted them both.

Caroline got to lick the beaters after I had made the frosting. Her Gran made the cake for me the night before. It was a devil's food cake recipe from the King Arthur Whole Grains cookbook. The frosting was this strawberry frosting recipe that I have been using for a few years.

Here's the table, all set with cake, crackers and cheeseball, Coke, and Southern Comfort punch for the adults.

Caroline opened presents first. This one is from Mommy and Daddy.

I made her three little dolls - made very simply, so she could play with them outside. That way it won't matter if they get dirty. I thought it'd be fun for her to have some little figures that she could make live in trees and such...

Here she is holding up two of them. They are just little peg doll forms with pipe cleaner arms, wooden beads for hands, yarn for hair, and felt dresses that I stitched up the sides. The yarn and beads are attached using hot glue. Then I painted simple eyes and mouths on the faces.

Here Caroline opens a gift bag from Gran and Grandad. I told Uncle Tim he had to help her, because I knew there was a bike helmet inside... the bike helmet gift is a family joke (at Tim'sexpense) from childhood... sorry, Timmy! The bag also had some pajamas, card games, Snoopy magnets, and hair clips.

Gramma and Grampa brought Caroline this wooden doll cradle that my grandaddy made for me when I was little. They also brought the doll high chair he made, but it has come apart and needs repairs. The wrapped packages have matching spring dresses in them, one for each of the girls... Caroline loves for them to match.

Here she is wearing her helmet (which came with knee and elbow pads).

She also got this new backpack from Mommy and Daddy, made by my friend Jessi, and we gave her a new spout and lid for her water bottle... maybe this one will not get chewed up and broken!

Here she is by her cat cake!

Lighting the candles...

After blowing them out

Happy birthday, Caroline!! I can't believe how big you are getting - how tall and looking like a "big kid!" You are smart and funny and are a caring big sister. We love you a bunch!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things Friday

My brother and his wife had their first baby, Julianne, on Monday - yay!!! At one point, I was talking on the phone to my mom when they were still laboring in the hospital. Caroline wanted to talk to Gramma, so I gave her the phone and heard the following conversation:

Caroline: "Why hasn't Julianne been born yet?"
Gramma: "She's just not quite ready to come out yet."
Caroline: "Maybe she's shy."
Gramma: (amused) "Hmm, maybe."
Caroline: "Yeah... because she doesn't know anybody on the outside yet."

Another humorous thing Caroline said... she asked me "What was that green bottle that was on the table at our St. Patrick's Day party." "Sprite," I told her, and explained that it was sort of like Coke, and that she'd probably think it was "spicy." She said that at her Mother's Morning Out class they had served Sprite on St. Patrick's Day as well, and she tried a sip and didn't like it at all... then she said, "And some of the other kids liked it! Ivan and Myah, they even asked for more!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Pretzels (and St. Joseph!)

A couple weeks ago, before we went on our trip to Illinois, we made a different pretzel recipe, one for 100% whole wheat pretzels from the La Leche League Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook. It was much easier to roll out into ropes than the King Arthur recipe (and tasted almost as good), and so the pretzel-making was more kid-friendly, and the pretzels actually looked like pretzels are supposed to look... and they are even a bit healthier due to more whole wheat flour!

I couldn't resist posting the photo above because of the look on Cecilia's face!

Whole Grain Soft Pretzels
from Whole Foods for the Whole Family

1 T yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T honey
1 tsp salt
3 T oil
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 egg beaten w/ 1 T water for glaze

Dissolve yeast in water with honey in a bowl until bubbly. Stir in salt and oil and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth, then add wheat germ and remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. let rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled. Punch down and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll into 16-inch long ropes and form into pretzel shapes (or whatever shape you wish, as we did!). Place pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise 20 minutes, then lower them gently into a pot of boiling water and baking soda (8 cups water and 2 T baking soda) and allow to boil about a minute, 3 pretzels at a time, if you want them to have the characteristic chewy texture. Otherwise, just bake them without boiling. Brush the glaze onto each pretzel and sprinkle with coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, whatever. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

The much more discernible pretzel shape, unlike our last batch.

Caroline made some pretzel dough into "snakes" and said they were for St. Patrick, since is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland! So I followed her theme and made a bishop's crozier to honor St. Patrick as well.

Then Caroline made this cross pretzel. She was excited to make different meaningful shapes.

Mmmm, fresh out of the oven!

And the last photo I have to share is from St. Joseph's feast day last Friday: we made the mini St. Joseph's altar found here. It was fun and cute - Caroline enjoyed it a lot! It made a nice centerpiece along with the daffodils that finally bloomed in our yard and the new St. Joseph holy card given to us by our priest at our church's weekly dinner before Stations of the Cross:

I can't believe Lent is almost over! Time to start planning for Holy Week and Easter! maybe we'll get in one more batch of pretzels, too! ;)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Party!

We had a St. Patrick's Day party at our house this weekend! We invited several families from our church with young children as well as our deacon and pastor - unfortunately, most everyone got sick, and it was a busy weekend for the clergy at our church, so it ended up being just us and one family... so we also invited a couple of our neighbors at the last minute to come share some of the food we'd prepared!

We had shamrock mint cupcakes (seen above) with some slight alterations due to my misunderstanding the recipe (they still tasted great!), along with other snacks that had a green or Irish theme. We also celebrated St. Joseph's feast day (a solemnity), which was on Friday - but the food and decorations were definitely a St. Patrick's theme!

Veggie and cheese tray arranged to look like the Irish flag (idea stolen from here!)

Here's our table, with shamrock stickers all over the tablecloth courtesy of Caroline... there is guacamole in a bowl alongside a bowl of tortilla chips, and another bowl of green grapes!

These shamrock toasties were last on the table once they came out of the oven... yummy!

Katelyn, Caroline, and Brianna enjoy their snacks!

We did a craft with the kids a while later. I saw the idea of a shamrock kit from Oriental Trading - it had symbols for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be glued onto each leaf of a shamrock. So I put together something similar. I bought two colors of green cardstock and found a pattern for a shamrock and traced it onto the darker green cardstock. Then I drew a smaller heart and traced it onto the lighter green cardstock three times. The hearts were then glued onto the leaves of the shamrock to give it some dimension and visual appeal. Then I found this image of the Trinity and resized it and printed off several copies. I cut all this out and put them into individual baggies along with the Irish poem below and a piece of shamrock ribbon. Then all the kids had to do was glue it all together - which is good, because all of them were age 5 and under, so they didn't need something that required cutting and such.

Good St. Patrick traveled far to teach God's Holy Word.
And when he came to Erin's sod, a wondrous thing occurred.
He plucked a shamrock from the earth and held it in his
hand to symbolize the Trinity that all might understand.
The first leaf for the Father, the second for the Son,
the third for the Spirit, three of them in one.

Cecilia and Leah, the two year olds, needed some assistance, but the others were able to do most of it with just a little guidance.

I did call Chris over to help Caroline - she tends to be hesitant about doing some things herself.

Here she is holding up her completed shamrock - the poem is glued to the back. We also had some coloring sheets of St. Joseph out for anyone who wanted to do them.

And here are all the kids just before the party was over - my girls love when their friends come over for snacks and playing!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trip to Illinois!

We got to take a long weekend trip to Southern Illinois this past weekend. So, what is in Southern Illinois, you might ask? Well, nothing, really... but it was the halfway point between us and our friends who moved a year and a half ago. So we planned to meet there at a hotel with an indoor pool and just hang out together and let the kids have fun! Their sons, Matthew and Ryan, are about the same ages as our girls, and Caroline and Matthew were good friends... so they were excited to see each other again!

Here they are playing in the hotel lobby... crawling around and pretending to be snakes, I think. We didn't tell Caroline who we were visiting until we were about 20 minutes away from the hotel! We woke her up that morning by saying, "We're going on a little vacation as a birthday surprise!" So we got dressed and finished loading the van, and we were off! We left at 8:30 with bagels for breakfast in the van, since we'd be driving the whole way in one day. It wasn't a bad drive at all - about seven hours plus a few stops. We got there at almost 5:00 our time, 4:00 Central, and we took the girls swimming for a bit while we waited for the Zidariches to arrive. When they got there, Matthew looked through the window to the pool and commented that somebody was swimming - he didn't recognize us, and Kara and Kevin hadn't told him who they were going to see there, so he was taken by surprise too!

We went out to dinner at Bob Evans right near the hotel and then back to hotel - Cecilia crashed and slept until nearly 6 am without waking (unusual for her), she was so exhausted from a long day (my children do not nap in the car - weirdos, huh?). Caroline went to bed too - later than usual for us since we were on Central time - but Kevin took Matthew to swim for a bit before bed, since he hadn't gotten to go swimming yet!

In the morning, we were up, dressed, and in the breakfast area at 7:00 Central... first dibs on breakfast! They had waffle irons and scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits, along with the more typical continental breakfast items such as bagels, instant oatmeal, cereal, and yogurt.

Since it was supposed to rain all day and was actually only drizzling very slightly off and on that morning, we decided to do something outside while we had the chance. There is a nature preserve nearby, so we went there to walk on a trail and see what else we could find to do there.

Here are the kids all walking along the flat, paved trail (ie: little kid-friendly) that went to the pond by the visitors center. They got to run along and get some energy out!

Cecilia lagged behind a bit....

...but she didn't mind!

And here are all the kids by the pond - there was a floating dock that we walked out on. There was a cold wind blowing, so we didn't stay here too long!

Cecilia doesn't smile on command very often, ha ha... maybe if it is just me taking her photo, but not with anyone else. It's always a challenge to get her to smile at the photographer at Sears! ;)

Here is the visitors center. It turns out that they were having a monthly family program at 10:30, so we went in for that. It was about kestrels, a type of falcon. That makes it sound like it is a big bird... at least, I pictured a bigger bird when I heard the word "falcon." This one was quite small. It had been injured and had a wing that didn't heal well enough for it to be released back into the wild.

Here's Cecilia sitting with Chris while watching the lady hold the kestrel on her hand.

After the presentation and questions, the kids all got to do some kestrel-related crafts. Here they are, all lined up: Ryan, Cecilia, Caroline, and Matthew!

Caroline and Matthew worked on cutting out a square which they (uhh, the dads!) folded into one of those Chinese fortune teller thingies (that is what I call them anyway; I don't know what they are really called! Caroline called them "pinchy things.")... see a few pictures down for a picture of Matthew's after it was finished.

Ryan and Cecilia were happy to scribble with crayons.

The artist at work... she takes it seriously! She had one of her feet up on the back of the chair at one point while she worked. ;)

Here is Matthew's "pinchy thing," which has bird info typed on it.

Cecilia found another kestrel picture to color.

In the lobby area of the visitors center, there were displays (of course, my children walk in and announce, "Look, dead animals!!). There were skins of a raccoon, skunk, deer, and rabbit, along with stuffed and mounted "dead animals." Cecilia found some actual living animals: the fish, which she talked to for a bit as she watched them swim back and forth.

After lunch at McAllister's Deli, we headed back to the hotel for naps - we even convinced Caroline to take one since she'd been up late the night before and would likely be up late again. So, after Cecilia slept for nearly two hours and Caroline for one (and Mommy too! ;), we went down to the pool. Unfortunately, we discovered that it was packed with people... it had to be way more people than cars in the parking lot, and we noticed that somebody was holding the door to let people in (you had to have your room key to get into the room where the pool was). So we assumed that these were random people whose friends were staying at the hotel and had invited a bunch of non-guests of the hotel. Kara went to mention this issue to the front desk... it was just not a pleasant swimming environment, being so loud and so loaded that there was barely room to move around. The people at the front desk explained that they rented the pool out for parties for $75 per hour! How disappointing, when we chose that hotel due to the indoor pool in large part! And time-wise, it didn't work out for us to come back at another time. Luckily, the crowd left after awhile, and we did get a good half hour of swim time without fifty other people in there!

After swimming, we took showers and baths and then went - bowling!!! Aren't these kid-sized bowling lanes just so cute?? I had never seen anything like this before! And it was cheap - under $6 for both girls to bowl, shoes included (although they had none in Cecilia's size, so she just kept her boots on)!

Matthew did really well at sending the ball down the lane with lots of force! He ended up winning the game!

Cecilia takes a turn... good thing the lanes went very slightly downhill toward the pins, and they had bumpers, too... so even Cecilia knocked down some pins with the ball going about a quarter mile an hour! ;)

Watching the ball sloooowly make its way down the lane...

Caroline's turn... she tried it this way a few times, but she seemed to prefer squatting down and giving the ball a big shove.

Ryan claps after his ball knocks down some pins!

Cecilia chooses a ball... they were smaller than her head, ha ha!

Cecilia after pushing her ball onto the lane

And here are all four bowling champions! I think that Caroline came in 2nd, Ryan 3rd, and Cecilia 4th... in the order of their ages!

After bowling, we went to dinner at a pizza restaurant called Walt's. They are "famous" for their double-decker pizza... yum!!! It was delicious! We also had the "taco nachos," which are supposed to be a favorite there as well, but the pizza took the prize in my opinion!

It was late again, especially considering daylight saving time beginning the next morning... by the time the girls got to sleep, it was past 10:00, soon to be 11:00 to us! But it was worth it for the fun we all had and the time spent with friends! Then the grown-ups all sat out in the hall and played cards and eating cookies that were provided at the front desk - mmm! I ate way too many of those while we were there!

The next morning, we had breakfast downstairs again and headed right out to Mass since it was Sunday. There were several small towns all within about a 15 mile radius of the hotel, and each small community had a Catholic church, so we had lots of options. We picked the one that worked best for us time-wise, about 10 minutes up the interstate. The girls did surprisingly well even though they'd had lots of excitement and less sleep over the past two days! Cecilia had a meltdown at the very end of Mass, during the announcements... pretty good that she made it that long!

Back at the hotel, we packed up while the kids played around in the rooms... we had adjoining rooms, with a "secret passage" doorway between them, and the kids took turns hiding and finding each other (mostly Caroline and Matthew, although Ryan played a bit as well). One of the best hiding places was in a cabinet in the dresser, under the microwave shelf! They also hid behind the curtains, in the closets (who ever heard of closets with actual doors in a hotel room?), and Matthew hid on a chair underneath his mom's coat, all curled up - he was so still that nobody knew where he was!

Since it was rainy and cold and we knew the kids would be cooped up in the cars soon, we went over to the McDonald's to let them climb in the play area. This was one of the best play areas in a McDonald's that I have seen in quite a while. It had lots of tunnels and nets up high, two or three tube slides, and it was just really big - almost like an old Discovery Zone or Jump 'n' Gym place. Matthew and Caroline kept very busy, while Ryan puttered around at the bottom and Cecilia climbed up, got scared or fell or overwhelmed, and had to have Chris climb up and rescue her. She went back up and it happened again... and then she finally decided to stay down close to the bottom! She was just so tired (but of course, not enough to fall asleep in the van on our almost three hour drive to Nashville! ;).

Sorry for the bad lighting... here are Caroline and Matthew in one of the climbing parts. They were so sweaty by the time we left!

The adults were all still pretty full from breakfast, but the kids started getting hungry... Matthew and Ryan ate there in between playing, and we got some food to go and took it on the road for our lunch.

Just before we left, all four spent some time running around, being silly!

Happy, energetic children! They enjoyed spending time playing with their friends!

A few parting shots before we said our goodbyes and headed on our way... I think Ryan looks just adorable in this photo in his little overalls, doesn't he??

So we headed to Nashville to stay there overnight with Chris's parents so we could break up the long drive home... and the Zidariches headed off to drive a few hours and stop at another hotel on their way back home. What a fun time we all had - we will have to plan to do this again next year!