Sunday, January 31, 2010

More snow

We have enjoyed another snow day today...we actually have blue skies so it felt good to be outside. Our primary activity has been sledding. Avery would sled over and over and over again - we have to make her stop long enough for Griffin to get a turn! Griffin spent his morning collecting "ice" to put into his bucket. Unfortunately, the snow is not wet enough to stick together so we haven't been able to make a snowman - avery keeps asking if its "sticky enough now?"

watching some big boys sled down the sidewalk

Griffin's "ice"

dual sledding

enjoying some hot chocolate!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let it snow!!!

Avery has been asking when it was going to snow this winter and she finally got her wish! It started snowing not long before the kids went to bed last night...and they awoke this morning to about 6 inches of snow! We bundled up and played outside for a while this morning and then came in for some hot chocolate! Brent has had the fire burning all day so that has added to the "cozy snow day" atmosphere! I'm sure we'll be back out there this afternoon so I'll post more pics later...

avery's snow angel (not sure why its sideways)

daddy and sissy sledding on our cardboard boxes!

our neighbor Mr John brought over his real sled for us to borrow...his kids are grown and gone so he was glad to let us use it!

Griffy was trying to figure this stuff out!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

Today we had our first parent-teacher conferences for both Avery and Griffin. I felt fairly confident that Avery behaves at school and is pretty on target for her age. On the other hand, I was not at all sure how Griffin behaves in a structured environment or if he is "age appropriate." (I've learned that being a boy and being a second child both impact this - and I only have Avery to compare to...) Both children did an individual assessment with their teachers with age-appropriate testing.

For Avery, they tested things like knowing colors, shapes, sizes; ability to stack blocks in a tower, match pictures of like-items, and how high they could count. Avery was able to count to 14 before confusing her numbers and could repeat making a pattern of up to 4 (like repeat a pattern of 4 beads over and over.) She is fairly proficient in doing puzzles. She could only recognize about 1/2 of the letters in the alphabet - which surprised me - but I think she actually knows more of them than that. She holds a pen/marker/crayon correctly and is working hard at staying in the lines. Her biggest "arts and craft" challenge has been using scissors correctly! We are currently working on that at home! Her teachers said she was very observant and could instantly recognize who was missing from school that day. They said she stays in dress up clothes most of the day at school - they have even purchased a few more pairs of fairy wings because Avery wears them so much! They are impressed by her vivid imagination and creativity and said that she plays very well with the other kids.

For Griffin, they tested gross motor (hopping, climbing stairs, running, etc) and fine motor (puzzles, crayons, beads, etc.). He has no problem with the gross motor (go figure!) and seems to be ahead of the game with fine motor. He is very meticulous with his drawing - he could draw a circle and a straight line when asked - and is very particular with crafts - not messy, uses the right amount of glue, and wants everything in a particular place. They said that even though Griffin cannot say the names of all the colors and shapes, he will hand you the "orange triangle" or "blue block" when asked so apparently he knows what they are. To my surprise, both of his teachers said that Griffin sits perfectly still for circle time and that he has a long attention span when involved in an activity! (I thought school was going to be really hard for him since he is so active and rarely slows down...) But apparently, he sits and does what he's supposed to without needing much encouragement to do so. They also said that he is very social and that he actually helps other kids (ie: points out where a puzzle piece goes) without taking over. He seems to have a thing for baby dolls now too - they said he will carry 1-2 around and sing to them, cuddle them, and be really nurturing!

I dropped Avery and Griffin off at Kim's this morning so that she could watch them while I met with their teachers and then I stayed and watched her 2 while she went to Katelyn's conference. We decided to order pizza afterwards and just make a morning out of it! The girls had fun playing together and I got some good time in with Griffin.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brent's Masterpiece

These are the antlers from the buck Brent shot over Christmas...he ordered a mounting kit online and then worked on it all day today. It turned out great! Now if I could only convince Avery that it is NOT going to hang above her bed!!

Our little...

our little...princesses??? This drives Brent crazy but little Griffin just doesn't know any better yet! A little brother will do him good!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pasta with Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta

So I can't remember if I've posted this recipe before...and I didn't see it listed when I glanced through old forgive me if this is a repeat! If its not, you're gonna love this one!

Pasta with Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 12oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and finely chopped (you find them in the section with pickles)
6 oz Grilled chicken breast strips (I use about 1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded)
8 oz bow-tie pasta
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook and stir garlic in 2 TBSP olive oil in skillet on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add peppers, chicken, and remaining oil. Cook 2 minutes until heated through. Toss veggie mixture with hot pasta and feta cheese. Sprinkle with parsley.

A Break in the Winter Weather

We have had about 2 straight weeks of cold weather - the temperature not really getting out of the 30' over the past few days, we've enjoyed a little break from the winter weather. After running errands this morning, the kids and I went to a church playground near our house to burn off a little energy. We took a picnic lunch and then played until nap time. The kids have been a little stir crazy and bored and I've been running out of inside activities so this outing was enjoyed by all!

he's really concentrating here!

would you expect her to have anything other than a princess bucket?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Princess

Avery and Mommy got to have a special outing on Monday while Daddy and Griffin had some "manly bonding!" We went with our friends, Mrs Kim and Katelyn to the movie theatre. We saw "The Princess and the Frog." I wouldn't necessarily recommend the movie - very scary and full of voodoo and magic - but Katelyn and Avery dressed up in their princess costumes and had a blast. They seemed to enjoy the movie and then went down to the front of the theatre to dance when the credits and music came on. And of course, Avery ate up the attention she got from everyone for being "such a pretty princess!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cookie Monsters

Brent doesn't have to work tomorrow so we are enjoying a long, relaxing weekend. After dinner tonight, I made chocolate chip cookies as a little treat to celebrate.

A little later this evening, I left Brent and Griffin playing in the den and Avery eating a cookie at the kitchen table...I was just running up stairs to get my pajamas on...when I returned downstairs, both kids were huddled on their knees in the corner of the kitchen. As I got closer, I realized that each of them had BOTH hand in the Tupperware of cookies and chocolate all over their faces! No telling how many cookies they devoured in those few minutes...

They were smiling ear to ear and very proud of themselves! We couldn't help but laugh and take a few pictures. Who was is that said, " Just let them be kids!" ?

Monday, January 11, 2010


As of today, Griffin has been pacifier free for a whole week!!! WHOO-HOO! Over the past week he had about 3 episodes of crying when I put him down to bed, but overall he did really well. And there was NO night-waking, which is what I was dreading most. On the flip side, he has decided to climb out of the crib a little more frequently!! We are planning on moving him to a toddler bed the first of march, so I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trash Can

When our children are whining or fussy, we tell them that we are "going to throw them in the trash can." Not sure where the phrase originated from it has become a commonly heard household threat.

Griffy thinks this is really funny and loves when Brent pretends to throw him in the trashcan. I worked on Saturday and Brent had the kids - and this is what they were up to...while the cat's away, the mice will play!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

Brent got me a cookbook for Christmas - "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" - its a cookbook written by the lady who spent 2007 writing the blog 365 Days of slow cooking. Anyway, I love my crock pot - it seems to be the best and least stressful means of getting a hot meal on the table! I'll post some of the recipes as I try them out.

Pasta Fagioli
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes with their juice
16.5 oz jar pasta sauce
4 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 TBSP Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup dried pasta (I used bowtie because I had a little left from another recipe)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Dump everything in except the pasta. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high 4 hours. Stir in dry pasta about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with Parmesan.

I served this yesterday with drop biscuits - and it was perfect for a winter day! Next time I will leave the Tabasco out and let people add it to their own dishes because it was a little spicy for the kids. Also, it makes a lot so I am going to freeze it for another meal!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Arts and Crafts

Knowing that we were going to be in "close corridors" with lots of people and potentially really cold weather, we knew that we would need some "organized activities" to do with the kids. That being said, Aunt Anna planned several craft activities for the kids to do. Aunt Hannah and Uncle Pooks were great sports and wonderful assistants! Here they are decorating Christmas trees with foam stickers....

Addie's was loaded down!


During the day on Christmas Eve we all piled in the trailer and had a hayride. We bundled up and wrapped up in quilts, and Big Daddy drove us around Shady Dale. We sang every Christmas carol ever written - we even had songbooks printed out! It was really cold but we enjoyed it. Both of our kids asked for another hayride every day we were there...

After the hayride, we had a weenie roast and made smores! YUM!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Santa (secretly known as Big Daddy) made a surprise visit to the cabin on Christmas Eve. Most of the kids were thrilled, a few were terrified! Santa brought a bag a presents and each child got to sit on his lap (or as close as we could con them into getting) while opening their gift. Their reactions (both the excitement and the terror) were hysterical to see. I'm including a picture of each of the grandchildren for you to see....

Patrick, 5 years old

Avery, 3 1/2 years

Aeneas, 2 1/2 years old

Addison, 2 1/2 years old

Greenlee, 2 years old

Griffin, 2 years old
Kale, 11 weeks old

Saeran, 8 weeks old

Away in a Manger

In the McBrayer household, Christmas Eve has almost always held more significance and tradition than Christmas Day has. Growing up, we never attended a Christmas Eve service at church - instead, we had our own "worship service" where each of us participated in some form or fashion...we read/wrote poems, sang songs, played Christmas songs on the piano, read through Luke 2, etc. As long as I can remember, we've had fondue (cheese, oil, or chocolate) and sparkling grape juice for dinner. And then we spend hours opening gifts - one person at a time, taking turns starting with the youngest.

This was the first year that our children were able to participate in the festivities. All of the grandchildren acted out the Christmas story as Uncle Dooney read through it. It was pretty priceless to see. Avery really got into her role as Mary - she plays shy but really likes the spot-light. And Griffin made a precious king! This year the kids didn't participate in fondue - hot oil and Griffin don't mix - so they had an early dinner of macaroni and jello jigglers! Avery, Addie, Greenlee and Patrick did stay up long enough to have their first chocolate fondue.

the whole crew in action
Kale (as baby Jesus) and an adoring King

Patrick (as Joseph) and Avery (as Mary)

Aeneas (a shepherd), Avery, Patrick, and our little angels Greenlee and Addie

enjoying chocolate fondue