Thursday, January 21, 2010

Upside Down

Over the holidays our good friends, the Grahams, came for a visit! We always look forward to their visits, even though we only get to see them a couple times a year! This year was especially fun because we talked them into staying two nights, instead of just one! We manage to pack as much fun into three days and two nights as possible!

Our friendship with the Grahams started back on Summertree Court, the sweet little cul-de-sac I mention wistfully from time to time on this blog. Before we moved here, we lived on Summertree Court in Olathe for five years.

Oh how we loved that little street.

In almost every house there were babies and toddlers and stay at home mommies. The sidewalks overflowed with trikes, bikes, and sidewalk chalk. In the summertime we would set up little blow up pools and sprinklers and let the kids loose! In the winter we would walk over to each others houses, still in our pajamas, so the kids could play and the mommies could chat over coffee. Many mornings we would load up all our littles into their strollers and take long walks around the neighborhood. We had barbecues, block parties, play dates, and just so much fun. I think back on those years with such fond, happy memories. Eventually one by one, the families started to move away, and soon it was time for the Grahams to say good-bye.

What stinks about their move is that it happened just as our families were getting to know each other and hang out. We had lived just a few houses apart for a few years, but for whatever reason, just hadn't spent as much time with the Grahams as some of the other couples on the block. But Chris, Bethany, and little Huntler were the first to show up in our hospital room after Avery was born, and soon after Bethany and I were chatting away on the phone on a regular basis. Then, all too soon, it was time for them to leave. That last day we walked through their empty rooms together and reminisced about all the fun times spent there, and into the late evening we helped them load their things into a U-Haul truck and then watched through tear filled eyes as they drove down our street for the last time, headed for Arizona. . .

That was over three years ago now! Since then my BFF Bethany and I have spent more hours than I could ever count on the phone talking about everything imaginable. We moved here shortly after the Grahams moved out West and I think both of us were pretty lonely in our new homes at first. We filled many long, lonely afternoons with our chit-chat across all those miles about everything from party-planning and the latest celebrity gossip, to brain surgery and seizures.

Since that time and during their stays when they are back in Kansas our husbands and children have become great friends too! When they are here, we don't feel like we have to entertain them. They feel more like family than just friends. The kids play, (well, the husbands play too!) and Bethany and I talk for hours. This last trip, we even managed to sneak away from the house for a little while to do some quick after-Christmas shopping in the oh-so-exciting Flint Hills Mall (can you hear the sarcasm?)

As I've mentioned before Bethany is a talented photographer, but when we're hanging out she doesn't usually snap pictures, so as they were getting ready to head out the door at the end of this visit, I snapped a few quick pictures of Britton with the kiddos. Bethany's sweet little ones call him "Burt", although this time he was called "Britton" by Bethany's oldest. . . another sad reminder that they are growing up so fast. . . sigh.


Are they not some of the cutest little people you've ever seen? Huntler and Gentry wanted "Burt" to hold them upside down and me to take their pictures like that! Of course, Kaylen had to get in on the action!

I miss having my friend and her sweet family around. I miss pulling up extra chairs to our dinner table, the house extra full of little people politely requesting "choc-ate milk," and the daddies battling it away on the Wii until the wee hours of the morning!

I miss my friend.

And since the Grahams are thousands of miles away now, and our next visit isn't right around the corner, well, things have felt a little upside down around here!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kaylee likes it!

Am I the only one who has extremely pickey kiddos when it comes to mealtime? I'm guessing not. Avery- well let's not even go there. Miss Avery likes what she likes, and that's not much. And big sis, Kaylen is just about as bad. She is getting better at trying new foods, but not without considerable urging on our part. So when this cook book caught my eye, I was excited to give it a try.

Even though I've only had a chance to make a few of the yummy recipes inside, so far it has not dissappointed.


Tonight we tried Hot Ham and Cheese Turnovers. They were super easy and healthy too! They took less than thirty minutes from start to finish and include meat, dairy, vegetables, and grains! Woo hoo! Four food groups in one delish little sandwich!

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham or turkey breast (I cheated and bought the pre-diced ham in a package)
1 cup small broccolli florets (I chopped ours up in pretty small pieces)
3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 10 oz. package of refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon milk
(I also added one tbsp of light ranch dressing for extra flavor)

1. For filling, mix ham, broccoli, cheese, and ranch dressing in a medium bowl. Toss to mix.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil; lightly grease. Set aside.

3. On a lightly floured surface unroll pizza dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch square. Using a sharp knife (I used a pizza roller) cut into nine 4-inch squares. Spoon about 1/3 cup filling onto each square. Fold dough over filling. Press edges of dough together with fork to seal. Use the fork to prick holes in the top of each turnover to allow steam to escape. (Oops! I forgot to do this, but they turned out o.k.:) Place turnovers on baking sheet. Brush with milk. (Yeah, didn't do that either. . . )

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts per turnover:
141 calories
6 g fat
1 g fiber
8 g protein

I have been thinking a lot lately about how Britton's and my eating habits have such a huge impact on our girls. I want Kaylen (and Avery too. . .) to grow up eating a variety of foods, and eating to nourish her body, not because she's bored, sad, lonely or just in the mood for some McD's! I know that I need to change some of the bad eating habits I've formed in the last few stressful years, and when I think about how much I want for my girls to be healthy, I know that I need to set a better example.

So. The verdict is in!

Kaylee loved them! Broccoli and all. . .


Later this week we are going to try Smashed Potato Chicken Potpie! The recipe sounds scrumptious and the nutrition facts and daily values are great! Unlike the frozen store bought version of pot-pies! Have you ever read the label of one of those!? They should come with a warning! "Warning! Soooo not good for you!"

Here's to healthy eating in 2010!!

*Kaylen wants to be called "Kaylee"- go figure? We haven't decided if you spell that "Kaylee" or "Kayley"??

Saturday, January 16, 2010

sNOw Thank You!

I can't remember the last time we've had a winter with this much snow in Kansas! Kaylen started dreaming about and praying for a "White Christmas" as soon as she heard the song on the radio for the first time shortly after Thanksgiving. Then she added the not getting enough snow to her list of things she doesn't love about living here. For some reason in her memory we used to get "tons of snow" when we lived in Kansas City. I'm not sure if she remembers one or two decent snows that we got when she was little, but truthfully we haven't gotten this kind of snow in a long, long time!

We got over nine inches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it was hard to tell because in some places the drifts were over six foot high! Then the day after New Years we got a few more inches, and the first week of January week we added another four plus inches to our total! School was closed just two days after the kids went back after Christmas because of the bitter cold temperatures. The forcasted high for some of those days was ZERO! Needless to say it has been freezing!

Here is Kaylen testing the drifts in our backyard on Christmas Day:


Check out that snow drift! The fence behind the swingset is an eight foot privacy fence and the drift was almost all the way to the top!


Kaylen and Daddy tried to shovel our driveway so we could at least get our car out, but after an hour of shoveling Britton was exhausted and had only made it about five feet down the driveway!!


After our third snow I finally caved into Kaylen's pleading and bundled both girls up to go sledding. It was so funny to see Avery's reaction to the snow. She ran right over and stuck her hands in a drift and for a few (very brief) minutes she was fascinated!




But then she realized it was really, really cold and wet, and decided she didn't like it at. all. And it was all downhill from there.


We took the girls to a hill across the street, Avery cried and fussed the whole time, and on my second run down the hill I wiped out and BROKE my finger! It is finally feeling better, but I think my sledding days are officially over!

It's only mid-January but here's to hoping that our snow days are over until next year!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When my heart finds Christmas

I realize that it is January, and for most, Christmas 2009 is already becoming a 'distant' memory for most. I read several of my Facebook friends' updates the day after Christmas announcing that they already had their Christmas tree down and all the decorations packed away. How sad that so many just want to "get Christmas over with" and move on. Well, here it is January 6th and my tree is still up, as are all the decorations. The majority of the unbelievable amounts of toys, games, and clothes that the girls received have been put away and closets have been overhauled and reorganized. The leftover Christmas cookies and goodies have been thrown out. My wrapping paper and bows are neatly boxed up for next year, but still, I am in no hurry to be done with Christmas.

For many reasons I like to let Christmas linger. It is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I love the magical feel of the holiday season. Where hearts seems lighter and merry and children seem about to bubble over with anticipation. I love Christmas shopping, Christmas carols, baking Christmas cookies, reading Christmas stories, building Christmas traditions, and teaching my girls the true meaning of Christmas.

Which is the second reason why I am in no hurry to pack Christmas away and be done with it. I was raised Catholic and for our family Christmas didn't end until Epiphany which is the day that the wise men first visited Jesus. (Which is also where the "twelve days" of Christmas originated from- the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany- just a little Christmas trivia for you:) We celebrate the Epiphany Mass on January 6th or a Sunday close to it. My mom always left at least our nativity scene up until after Epiphany.

This Christmas our hearts and home overflowed with joy and we made so many precious memories that I don't want to forget. The rest of this post is an attempt to journal those memories so that when this Christmas does seem like a distant memory I can read my journal and help my heart find Christmas.

This Christmas was very different because of the great Christmas of 2009 Blizzard that rolled into town on Christmas Eve afternoon and changed travel plans for many people! This was the first Christmas in many, many years that we were not able to join my parents and my brother for Christmas Eve dinner. When I called my mom around two o'clock on Christmas Even afternoon to let her know that the roads were getting so bad that we didn't think we could make it over to their house and back safely, my heart just sank. As I said good-bye and "Merry Christmas" to my mom, a huge lump formed in my throat and my voice cracked. As soon as I hung up I sat on my bed and watched the snow blowing and swirling outside my window, though my tear filled eyes. And then the tears started to fall. . . I am a big girl, and I have my own family now, but I still love the traditions of my childhood, and couldn't imagine not spending Christmas with my parents and family.


But we did spend Christmas Eve alone and managed to have a wonderful time. Kaylen and I baked and decorated sugar cookies while listening to Christmas music. I let Kaylen do the majority of the decorating and so our cookies were heavily frosted, sugared and sprinkled. . . but Santa loved them! After dinner I let the girls open one present, their Christmas jammies. This year I chose flannel Nick and Nora jammies with vintage kitties playing with presents and ribbon! They were so adorable! We put Avery to bed and then went downstairs to watch A Christmas Story. Kaylen had never seen this movie and I'm not sure she truly loved it, but she did giggle at the leg lamp:)

On Christmas morning Kaylen was up at six, but we managed to hold her off for thirty minutes or so before we got up to open gifts. Avery slept until almost seven, and we started without her:) We thought she might sleep even later and Kaylen would have burst with excitement! Miss Avery doesn't really 'get' Christmas and we opened all her gifts for her. She was excited about the first present she opened and we probably could have just given her the one gift and she would have been happy!

Kaylen really made a hall this year! She got a new bike, a Wii, a daybed for her American Girl dolls and many, many other goodies! Avery was really excited about her Elmo microwave!


We spent Christmas day snuggled in as a family. We watched movies, played games on the Wii, and ate all the goodies we had stocked up on! We finally made it to my parents to celebrate with my brothers, newphew, and aunt the day after Christmas. My youngest niece called just as we were sitting down to lunch to announce that she was engaged!

The wintery scene outside our window as the sun came up Christmas morning, notice the snow in the bottom corner. . . love it!


When my heart finds this Christmas in my memory I will think of the sweet, sweet memories of being "snowed in" with my girls and their daddy. I will think of Kaylen's pure joy on Christmas morning when she saw all the goodies Santa tucked under the tree. I will think of the beautiful winter scene outside our window that kept us from celebrating Christmas in line with our traditions, but kept us home, celebrating Christmas together. And when my heart finds this Christmas, it will bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Avery!

Unbelievably our "baby" girl turns four today! It is hard to fathom that four years have passed since we brought home our 'little' ten pound bundle of joy on Christmas Eve. So much has happened in those four years. We could have never known on that blessed day how much our entire lives would change, for the better, because of this precious little girl. Avery has fought countless battles, overcome so many hurdles, and beaten odds stacked high against her. Avery fills our home with joy and laughter, keeps us constantly on our toes, and makes our lives complete. I can't begin to explain to you the love that I feel for her. Of course I love both of my girls more than life itself. . . but I love each one very differently. The love I feel for Avery is a fierce, protective love. It is all encompassing. It takes my breath away. I cry just thinking about the fact that God found me, just an ordinary girl, worthy to the mommy of such an extraordinary little girl.


I cry just thinking too, that my "baby" isn't a baby. She's four! She goes to school two half and three full days a week and continues to master one goal after another. While the drive to her school in the city is long, the progress Avery has made makes it worth each and every mile! She has all her teachers wrapped around her finger ;) and they celebrate her milestones right along with us! Just this last week she went potty on the big girl potty for the first time and had two dry days at school! Santa is going to put some big girl underwear in her stocking and we are going to give potty training a go! She is putting puzzles together, drinking from a big girl cup, matching pictures and objects, following simple directions, knows her nose, her head, her tummy and her toes. She can imitate a ton of letter sounds, and her favorite song to sing is the "alphabet sounds song." She is sleeping through the night in her big girl bed and helping me dress her in the morning. She can buckle (and unbuckle) her car seat. She dances and claps her hands to her favorite songs. She still loves "Moe Moe" (aka-Elmo), cows, and trains. She has discovered new love for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, carrying shoes, kitchen utensils, and Bath and Body Works lotion bottles around the house, and flushing the toilet:) She has also fallen in love with daddy's tool bench and tools this year. She has learned so much in such a short amount of time and we are so thankful that she continues to be seizure free almost every single day!

This weekend we celebrated her birthday with her Grandmas and Grandpas. As some of you know, I do love to plan a party! I love to pick a theme and sometimes go a bit overboard with decorations, party favors, and games. I had a grand idea in my head to use a "gingerbread/candy" theme for this birthday, but with Avery's birthday so close to Christmas I didn't get to do as much as I wanted with the theme. But you know what? The day was absolutely perfect.

In every single way.

For one very important reason. Avery. It wasn't the decorations, it wasn't the invitations, it wasn't my famous wrapped silverware (which were all cute-mind you:) It was the joy of one little girl and everyone in the room felt it. Avery's happiness decorated our home, her hugs and snuggles were the perfect party favors, and her giggles, peek-a-boos, and patty-cakes provided the joyful entertainment.

You can't plan that, you can't purchase that, and they are the. most. important. things.


Avery was full of joy from the moment she woke up until she crashed at the end of the day. She was so excited to see her Grandmas and Grandpas and gave big hugs to everyone and kept saying "Hiiieee!" "Hiiieee", "Yay!" "Yay!", and "Oh boy!" all afternoon! She was just so happy and excited. It was almost as if she knew that it was her special day and she loved it!!



For the past three years Avery's birthday's have been bittersweet for me. Each year for a different reason, but bittersweet none the less. We celebrated Avery's first birthday under a cloud of dread as her first brain surgery was scheduled just a few days after her birthday. I can only admit out loud now, after all these years, that many nights before her first birthday I rocked her to sleep and sobbed as silent tears fell on her sleeping face. As I sat and rocked her to sleep I allowed myself to wonder if Avery's first birthday would be her only birthday. I had this horrible fear that she wouldn't make it through the surgeries and we wouldn't get to bring her home. No mommy should ever have to contemplate these things. But contemplate I did and it was heartbreaking.

Her second birthday was interrupted by a blizzard and a nasty seizure that pretty much ruined the evening, and her third birthday was more of the same. Seizures and sadness. We tried to celebrate. We "faked it" for Kaylen's sake, and the faking hurt more than doing nothing at all. Just thinking about all of those days that were supposed to be joyous occasions, that we just managed to survive, makes me sad.

But here we are a year later, and what a difference a year makes, This year, finally, Avery was able to enjoy her birthday! And so we celebrated! We celebrated the miracle that this little girl is. We celebrate all that she has accomplished and all that she will accomplish. We gave thanks to our good and gracious God, that has blessed us beyond measure with the precious gift of our Avery Elizabeth.








Happy Birthday sweet Avery girl! Mommy loves you with a perfect love that knows no limits. Mommy will love you forever and ever to the ends of the earth. You my love, are truly amazing, and I am so very blessed to be your mommy.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like

Christmas! Welcome to our home! Christmas is less than a week away and I think everyone here in the Hart house is ready. Kaylen has been ready for a long, long time! November and December have been busy, busy months as usual, but we did manage to get our home decorated the weekend before Thanksgiving!

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE Christmastime. I especially love decorating every square inch of our home in preparation for the big day! Each room kind of has its own theme and I have lots of favorite Christmas decorations, but our family room, where we spend the most time, is probably my favorite room in the house. This is where we put our Christmas tree. The tree we have is a little big for this room. We bought it for our first home in Olathe. The great room in that house was open to the second floor and the ceilings were over twenty feet tall! So we bought a ten foot tree and it still looked tiny. It looks a little bigger in this house, but it works. This is what greets you as you walk in our front door. . .


I love our "fake" fireplace and mantel. It really is the heart of our home. We sit by the fire many, many nights reading stories to the girls or just sipping a cup of hot cocoa. (O.k., let's be real, or sipping a beer- in Britton's case!:)

And our "big" Christmas tree. . .


Here's a shot of the tree with the rest of the living room lights off.


Our stocking are hung by the chimney with care!


And these little ones are ready for Santa to come down our chimney (well, o.k., through our front door:)



Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 2, 2009

And we have a winner. . .

Well in true Hart fashion our weekend was full of drama and ups and downs. Sweet Kaylen missed out on her school's fall festival and all the fun that comes with Halloween because she came down with a nasty bug. She managed to put on her adorable pirate costume and trick-or-treat around our block, but she came home, checked out her candy and was asleep within fifteen minutes. She didn't go to school again today, but my trusty assistant Kaylen felt up to helping me draw a name for our little blog contest!



And the winner is. . . . .


Congratulations, Laura! It looks like you have gotten a fun head start on your Christmas shopping! Thanks for all of your comments, I hope you'll stop by again sometime:)