Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful Tree Complete

We put the final leaves on our Thankful Tree tonight. We missed a day here and there but for the most part we put leaves on our tree every night. Caleb was quick to remind me if I forgot. I'm really glad we did this activity with the boys. It was so much fun to hear the things they were thankful for each day. Caleb gave his thanks a lot of thought, Benjamin would usually say "Mommy" or "Legos"...we had to help him think of other things to be thankful for.

Here are some of the things Caleb was thankful for this past month:
Relief cream (this was after I rubbed ointment on a small scratch on his arm)
Today (I love that he was thankful for "today")
Tomorrow (yep, he's thankful for "tomorrow" too)
Banana Cake (it was pretty good cake)
The Advent Box (we start that tomorrow)

Here are some of the things Benjamin was thankful for this past month:

Bike (he is convinced he is getting one for his birthday/Christmas...he's right)
Pumpkin Plant
Toy Dr. Kit
Birthday (which hasn't happened yet, it's on December 21)

I definitely think this will be something we do every year. It's refreshing to reflect on your day and give thought to the things that you are thankful for. We must have a lot to be thankful for because our tree was full of leaves by the end of the month.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spina Bifida Christmas Card Exchange

I think most of you already know about this (via facebook), but I thought it would be fun to do a SB Christmas card exchange. Even though I will likely never meet most of you, I love the idea of getting a ton of Christmas cards from my online SB family. So, if you want to participate leave a comment with your address and email (comments will be private, I will be the only one to see them). I have been working on the rapidly growing list and I want to send it out to everyone by December 1st. The list has gotten pretty long so I will likely make groups of 20-25 families each, that way participants don't have to mail 75 cards...unless they want to. I think this is going to be a lot of fun. Leave a comment is you want to join in, make sure you include your email so I can send you the list once it is ready.

Oh, and this is my 700th blog post! Wow! And my blog turned 6 years old last week! Pretty cool :)

Just for fun here is the first blog post I ever made.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Creamy Tomato Soup recipe

This is not a cooking blog and I don't often share recipes, but I HAVE to share this. It is so yummy! I love my slow cooker, I use it all the time. This is a great slow cooker cook book:

I've made quite a few recipes from this cook book and they are all fantastic. I will tell you that this is not a "dump it and cook it" slow cooker book. Every recipe requires effort, some recipes more than others. There are many "easy prep" recipes that require less than 10 minutes of prep. If you don't mind a little work beforehand, this is a great slow cooker book.

Now for my favorite recipe from the book: Creamy Tomato Soup (page 26)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved (you'll use it later)
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dry sherry 
Pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it SPICY!)

How to make it:
Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the drained tomatoes, onion, brown sugar, tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the tomatoes are dry and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for one minute. Add one cup of broth, mix it it and then transfer to slow cooker. Stir remaining 2 cups of broth along with reserved tomato juice (from drained tomatoes), and the 2 bay leaves into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low, 4-6 hours.

Once done, discard bay leaves. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Stir in cream, sherry, and cayenne pepper. (Warning: A little bit of cayenne goes a long way! So be careful. We like it with a little kick so we put a little more cayenne) Season with salt and pepper if needed.

We always make grilled cheese sandwiches with ours. Yummy, yummy!

Seriously, this is the best recipe. It is so good. So good. Yummy! Make it right now. You'll thank me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge

Between our weekend at SB family camp and our overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge, I feel like all I have done the past few days is: laundry, pack, unpack, more laundry, pack again, unpack again, and then more laundry. Whew! I'm tired.

Grandpa Joel gave us an overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge as an early Christmas present. This is our second time to take the boys and they were pretty excited to be going back.

The boys thought our room was pretty cool. They had their own little room with a t.v. and bunk beds!

Benjamin was not at all interested in the top bunk, he prefers to be close to the ground.

Caleb made his way to the top bunk.

This photo cracks me up.

After we got settled in our room, we took the boys out to eat.

Playing some tic-tac-toe while we waited for our food.

Trying some of daddy's noodles.

 Before turning in for the night, we stopped by the arcade.

I've decided that I must have a giant touch t.v. that I can play "Fruit Ninja" on.

Both boys love a good racing game.

After breakfast this morning, we hit up the water park.
I think he's excited.

Love this photo.

Benjamin was trying to stop the water from shooting up.

He played at the fountains forever.

It is so funny that Caleb had no problem going down the zip line at 100 miles an hour, and yet he was hesitant to go down this 2 foot slide!! Silly boy.

And that concludes our stay at the Great Wolf Lodge. The boys had a blast. Mom and dad are tired. The end.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SB Family Camp 2012

This past weekend was our favorite weekend of the year...Spina Bifida Family Camp! We have been going to Family Camp since Caleb was 2 years old, this was our 6th year. It gets better and better every single year. As Caleb has gotten older he enjoys it more and more. He was so excited about going this year. We all were. Prepare yourself for a lot of pictures.

Glenn actually designed the t-shirts for camp this year. They came out really cute. 

Family Camp is at Camp John Marc. CJM is specifically designed for a variety of special needs camps. It is an amazing place. Once Caleb turns 8 we are no longer eligible for Family Camp. At that point he is old enough to go to a week long SB camp during the summer. Without mommy and daddy. So, this was our second to last year we can go to camp as a family.
We saw these guys right as we were driving up to our cabin.

Caleb and Bryce joking around at dinner on Friday night.

There is a big get-together on Friday night. It allows all the families time to visit and play games. My favorite part of camp is seeing all the families and the kids. I feel like I have watched so many of these kids grow up. It's amazing to see how far they have come and I love seeing the new faces of all the younger kiddos coming to camp for the very first time.
Benjamin playing with the stacking cups, only he made a train out of them. He played with these same cups last year at camp.

Getting some snuggle time with my boys on the giant bean bag chair.

Benjamin at the bean bag toss.

I was pretty impressed with Benjamin's building abilities. He had a pretty decent tower going.

After breakfast on Saturday morning we have a scavenger hunt. There are a list of clues that take you all over the camp.
Caleb and I being silly in the costume room.

Silly with daddy.
(Benjamin refused to put on any costumes...he was being stubborn)

Silly boy.

Next was this.
The Challenge Course. Also known as "The Ropes Course"

The climbing wall. You have to tackle this bad boy before you can do the zip line.

Giving the thumbs up before it was his turn.
I'm not going to lie, I had my doubts that Caleb would really go through with this. He's not crazy about heights and this was really, really high. Luckily we were scheduled on the ropes course at the same time as several of his SB buddies, they were all there supporting each other.
Working his way up the climbing wall.

Benjamin chillin' while we waited for Bubba to make it to the top.

Whew, he made it.
(this is where I thought Caleb could potentially freak out and refuse to zip line down)

Let's watch and find out what happened

I couldn't believe it! I was so proud of him. There is no way I would have done that at only 7 years old.

I think he had fun.
Seriously so proud of that kid.

After some extreme sports, it was time to settle down with some pottery.

 And cooking class (Caleb's favorite)

He is excited to try the dessert nachos he made.

Benjamin with a mouth full of sugary goodness.
The boys were allowed to eat all kinds of junk over the weekend. They were loving it.

Our last activity for Saturday was fishing.

Caleb and his buddy Nathan.


Benjamin's big catch of the day.

Benjamin quote after touching the fish: "It feels wet."

Caleb racing down a giant hill at break-neck speed.

Benjamin moving leaves around.

 A camp favorite is s'mores and songs at the campfire.

Sunday morning is very relaxed, with just breakfast and visiting time.
Our dining hall.

All of the families gather after breakfast to visit and say their goodbyes.

On our way out we stopped by the chapel to take a few photos.

(again Benjamin was being stubborn and wouldn't get in the photo)

Oh, there's Benjamin. I don't think that smile is genuine though, it looks a little forced.

Pictures in front of the Camp John Marc sign.

I love this photo of Caleb with his arms crossed. He was made at me because I wouldn't let him hold a giant rock while we took the picture.

It was an exhausting but incredibly fun weekend. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful SB family. It is so fun to see all the kids each year. And what a blessing for them to get an entire weekend of being around other kids that are just like them. It's wonderful.

Should you want to see photos from the previous years...

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