Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Cara, this recipe is for you! I found this recipe in 2003 and make it several times every fall. Its so good!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
15oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 TBSP ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease and flour 3 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Bake for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

I normally don't put nuts in ours. And this week, I forgot the chocolate chips and it was still really good. This recipe freezes well if you need to make it ahead of time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Party

Creighton, Avery, Griffin, Ellie

We hosted our Halloween party for our playgroup today. The party was complete with costumes, pumpkin painting, yummy snacks, and lots of time to play. We had coffee and pumpkin bread for the adults and pumpkin-shaped cupcakes for the kiddos. I also made orange flavored jello jigglers and put a black plastic spider on each piece - the kids thought that was pretty cool too!

Ellie - the butterfly - enjoying her snack

Bailey- as Stephanie from Noggin's Lazy Town - enjoying some jello
The party was BYOP - we had paints and let the kids have at it. they were all pretty meticulous in their painting. I even let Griffin paint and was amazed at how well he did. He worked hard on his pumpkin for 10 straight minutes before he started playing in the paint.
Avery - just getting started - her pumpkin now looks completely purple!

Griffin - as superman - beginning his painting

katelyn - very focused!
The party was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed the company! More fun (and pictures)to come tomorrow with treat-or-treating!


I just wanted to let you all know that I recently bought this book. I'm planning ahead because some time next April I will be needing to move into one of the places listed in this book.


We have decided to take the plunge and have more than the average 2.1 children that most American families have. We are really excited and a little nervous about moving into zone defense...I keep reminding myself that Griffin will be 2 1/2 when baby arrives - exactly 1 year older than Avery was when he was born! That has to be easier! Avery has been pretty insistent that she is getting another brother - and has reminded me several times that she does NOT want a sister!!!

Be praying for our sanity and the health of our newest family member in-the-making!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Its that time!

The most anticipated weekend of the year for the southern McBrayers is here - the annual mountain weekend! The tradition started over 40 years ago - we rent a house and some cabins in Nantahala Village in the mountains of western Carolina. There is lots of hiking, getting dirty, playing cards, riding horses, and buying some beloved junk in Cherokee NC. More than anything, its just precious time with family.

Every year when the first hint of fall hits the air, my mind immediately begins to think of the mountain weekend. Its funny that I am almost 32 and I still get so excited every year. I hope that our children will one day be able to remember and cherish these times as well.

Here are some pictures from the last 3 years in the pics to come on Monday!

2006 - Avery's first trip to Nantahala

2007 - 2 weeks before Griffin arrived!

2008 - Griffin's first trip to Nantahala

Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 hits the Parnell Household?

"It" may have found us. It crept in through a cute little creature call Griffin! One day last week, Griffin woke up from his nap and was really hoarse. It lasted until Sunday but he never seemed to really feel bad or anything. But then on Tuesday, he started running a high fever and is still febrile today. I took him to the doctor yesterday and she thinks its the flu and that he is about 1/2 way through it...(they aren't actually swabbing kids here for either flu because its been so rampant.) Today he is full of snot and has started coughing. YUCK! Avery has had a little cough all week but no fever and has acted like she feels fine. So we are holding our breath and praying that Brent and my immune systems can stand strong!

We are on "house-confinement" until Griffins fever goes away - so it can get a little old just hanging out here. I surprised the kids this morning and we hit the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru for breakfast. They were thrilled! Avery thought is was really cool that we all went somewhere in just our pajamas and socks!

The weather has been pretty cold and wet here for several days. We managed to get outside for about an hour before lunch and burn some energy. While the kids ate lunch, I made a blueberry coffee cake - Brent has to watch the kids tomorrow while I work a 12 hour shift - so I thought a little treat might take away the pain! Anyway, Avery is really into licking beaters and spatulas and introduced Griffin to the art of it today...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Duke Gardens

Play group today was at Duke Gardens. It kind of reminded of Birmingham's Botanical Gardens. I have many memories of spending Sunday afternoons there with a blanket spread out, a cup of O'Henry's coffee in hand, and several books scattered around me. I used to require "Merritt time" on a regular basis but I think I have somehow learned to do without it all together. Kinda sad, but true.

Anyway, I took the kids there this morning and met up with 3 other families. We spent most of time at the duck pond, climbing on the rocks and throwing goldfish to them. Avery was really observant today - she was constantly pointing out the different colors on each duck/goose (green head, blue on back, red beak, etc). Griffin just climbed around and jumped from rock to rock and made me nervous! He did end up with one soaking wet shoe and sock. (no surprise there!)

Feeding the ducks

Thank Goodness...

Its been quite a week but more manageable than I would have anticipated, largely due to some of our wonderful friends! After naps on Monday, the kids and I headed over to the Likes house to enjoy their yard and toys and their company and also to just get out of the hotel. The kids had a blast burning their energy and playing with friends. Whenever we leave their house, Avery informs me that she is " a little bit crabby and sad that we had to leave Carters house!" Christa also fixed us a delicious dinner to top our afternoon/evening off! And then on Wednesday, we spend the afternoon at both the Likes and the Zerdens - I did laundry and the kids played. Once again, we were served a delicious meal! What a blessing to have friends to share life with...

By Thursday afternoon, the Durham Police had located both Brents golf clubs and his GPS and they had arrested the 2 men who broke into his car! One of the guys had taken the clubs to Play it Again Sports - they sell used equipment like a consignment store - so the guys had to leave all of their contact info in order to get paid when the clubs sold...The store call the DPD and a few hours later, Brent went to pick his cubs up!

Its been a long week and I'm glad its almost over. Just one more night in the hotel. Brent drove by the house last night and said that the floors look great. Today they are doing touch up painting and by this evening, they should have all of our stuff moved back in. PRAISE THE LORD!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Life this Week

We are nearing the end of our house construction and repairs. This week, we are living in the Residence Inn while our hardwood floors are sanded, stained, and finished. What an adventure! We arrived Sunday afternoon with loads (and I do mean LOADS!) of stuff. The kids were so excited - they ran from room to room playing with all the TVs, telephones, sliding closet doors, etc. They thought it was sooo cool! Avery has been carrying around a little copy of the Book of Mormon that she found in a drawer - she says its her little Bible!

We have a 2 bedroom suite with a small living and kitchen space. The kids are sleeping in the same room for only the 2nd time ever. Night one went well. Everyone slept great. I was woken up Monday morning to the sound of our front door opening and closing - Griffin had climbed out of his pack-n-play and was playing with the door! Thankfully, we had locked the bar at the top of the door! Needless to say, we were all up at 6 AM and made it to the lobby for breakfast at 6:30!!!

Now, last night was a different story. Avery came into our room at 12:05 AM and said "my room is really loud - I need to sleep in your bed." I then noticed that the alarm clock in the kids room was going off with some weird chiming noise - guess they had pushed one to many buttons earlier in the day. Not quite 2 hours later, I heard griffin crying. When I opened their door, Avery announced that she had peed in the bed - ARGH! So we were all awake at 2 AM...and the Griffin decided to wake up 2 more times during the night for no apparent reason. Actually, he asked for a snack at 4:30 AM!

And then to top of the long night, when Brent was leaving for work this morning, he noticed that his car had been broken into...his GPS and his golf clubs were taken. Really? Is all this really happening???

On a positive note, at this very moment, I have 2 sleeping children, a crockpot of chili smelling delicious, and at least a little time to curl up with a book. (one good thing about a hotel - there is no housework to get done during naps!) Anyway, you can pray that our sanity holds up for the rest of the week and that the kids decide to sleep tonight!

I'm working on Brents computer and can't figure out how to move the pictures around (stupid macs) so here they are in no particular order.

the kids room

our living room

enjoying some "chicken-fil-a"

movie time

our kitchen

Friday, October 2, 2009

Airport Observation Deck

Playgroup today was at the airport observation deck. It was really cool and the kids loved it. They have a covered area where you can watch planes come and go and hear the pilots talking to the lookout people (can't remember what they are called!). There are also 2 "mini" runways where the kids can run or ride bikes. Ever since our trip to the beach, Griffin has been really into airplanes and is always on the lookout for them! We are having some great fall weather already so it was a perfect morning to be outside.

griffy watching in awe
avery driving (recklessly) down the runway

griffin mowing the runway

looking out from above