Saturday, October 30, 2010

Epworth Trunk or Treat

The church where the kids go to school had their fall festival / trunk or treat this afternoon. Brent was out of town so I surprised the kids and took them when they woke up from naps. (I hadn't mentioned it to them earlier in case I was too worn out to take them or in case they napped really long...) Avery was really excited because she remembers Halloween from last year but Griffin didn't get excited until the word CANDY was mentioned!!! He definitely inherited my sweet tooth!

spiderman and cinderella

in griffin's words, "this is Bwyce - he's my best fwiend."

Griffin loved his costume. He pointed to the puffy part and told me "here's my bones!" I told them they aren't bones, they are his he flexed for everyone he saw!

here are some of our friends that we met there...
Katie, Avery, Kaylee, G, Bryce

It was very much like an old-school fall festival - bean bag toss, cake walk, bounce house, "fishing game," face painting, etc. The kids enjoyed their time and I was thrilled to have them occupied all afternoon!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Parade

Avery's class at school had a Halloween Parade today. Everyone dressed up and they paraded through the church and school. Avery is such a ham - she played shy for about 2 seconds and then did the "beauty queen wave" the rest of the time!

After the parade, the parents followed the kids back to their classroom where they performed about 5 pumpkin / Halloween themed songs. The kids had made popcorn and pumpkin muffins for the party.
of course, there were 3 Cinderellas!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ruby Mining in the Mountains

One of the "great traditions" of our yearly trip to the Great Smoky Mountains is ruby mining.
All of us absolutely loved doing this when we were little. What kid doesn't like playing in the mud??? And we would get so excited when we found rubies, arrowheads, quartz, gold, and all sorts of "precious gems" in our buckets! I even remember my friend Lauren and I going door to door to the different cabins trying to sell our goods! This was the first year in a while that we went ruby mining - we took all the little kids and they loved it!
just getting started

searching for some precious gems

dirt + water = griffin heaven

pure joy!

look at this rock!

Mountains 2010

This weekend was the 47th annual McBrayer Family mountain trip. Can't believe we've been doing this for so long. I have only "missed" once in my 32 years! Now that's tradition! Each of us have so many memories of Nantahala Village and the times spent there with family. Its impossible not to reminisce or get a little nostalgic every year when we're there. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family and am thrilled that now my kids and husband get to experience it too.

These guys were great little play mates. (Addie, Avery, Griffin). Here we are in Cherokee enjoying a treat from the fudge/candy shop. Cherokee is full of treasures (AKA - JUNK!) - but the kids loved picking out a treat. Avery got a necklace and some really cheap plastic musical instruments and Griffin picked some magnetic rocks. I had a whole collection of Indian dolls and precious moments dolls that I bought in Cherokee as a little girl, as well as rings, jewelry, and taffy!

my littlest Indian boy

Growing up, there was a fire tower here that we used to climb up and hang out on. I remember having picnics and playing cards up here as a little girl. Several years ago, they tore the tower down and built a playground near it. Great spot to play with amazing views.

Nina and Graham

Griffin was in absolute Heaven because we spent so much time outside. He collected pocketfuls of rocks, acorns, and berries. And he perfected his tricycle riding abilities! He loved getting dirty and just being a boy.

Love this shot of Miss Avery Brooke. What a sweet girl!

Every year we have a group that goes on a horseback ride through the mountains. I always rode when I was little but then took a few years off! I did go on the ride on Brent's first trip to the Nantahala - just to make sure he got the full experience! But until this year, I hadn't gone again - Brent normally takes Avery. But Griffin is finally old enough and able to sit long enough so both mommy and daddy went horseback riding this year. The kids really loved it.

Uncle Hoot and Griffin got to be big buds - always "putting their dukes up", rough housing and chasing each other. Here is a shot of Uncle Hoot entertaining Graham too. He had Graham laughing!

Here are Nina and Big Daddy and 6 out of 10 grandchildren! (Nina holding Saeran (peytons), Big Daddy holding Graham and Kale (prestons) , Addison (peytons) in the flower shirt, and you know A and G!)

Ruby mining pictures to come...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Green Acres Farm

Avery's preschool class had a field trip today - we went to Green Acres Farm in Cary.
The kids enjoyed seeing some cows and hearing the real "moo" sound. We took a bumpy hayride around some fields.

Kaylee, Avery, Maddox

checkin' out the cows

Then we spent about 30 minutes wandering through a massive corn maze - good thing Ms. Jenn knew which way was out! The kids payed more attention to collecting ears of corn than to the maze itself! After the corn maze, we had a yummy snack and then some play time. There was a big sandbox, 2 inflatable jump houses, a swing set, a "milkable cow," a huge tower of hay bales to climb on, and lots of tractors to play on.

exploring the tractor

my little trooper - oh so tire!mommy and sissy

This is Garrison - Avery's first "boyfriend!" In her words, he is her boyfriend "because I sit by him at lunch and we play together a lot!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Soup Season

Okay, so I am a very seasonal cooker...salads, pastas, and lighter meals during the summer...and lots of soups, stews, and crock pot dishes during the winter...I must admit that I am so excited for the cooler weather so that I can start serving up soup!! Here are a few of the soup recipes that we have eaten regularly for a few years now...

Southwestern Chicken Soup

1 12oz jar salsa Verde
3 cups cooked chicken pieces (rotisserie or leftovers work well)
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
2 green onions, chopped
Sour cream and tortilla chips if desired

Empty the salsa into a large saucepan. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat and then add chicken, beans, broth, cumin. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Top each bowl with green onions, sour cream, and chips.

I serve this with cornbread. I also add an additional can of beans to make it heartier.

Beef and Barley Soup

1 lb beef tenderloin roast ( I use whatever meat is on sale that week) cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cups chopped carrot
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 TBSP minced garlic
6 cups beef stock/broth
½ cup tomato puree (or whatever tom. product you have on hand – puree, sauce, etc )
¼ dry red wine
1 tsp crushed thyme
Salt/pepper to taste
1 cup quick cooking barley
Fresh parsley and basil if desired

In a 4 quart pan, brown half of the meat in hot oil over medium high heat. Remove meat from pan. Add remaining meat, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook and stir until meat is brown and onion is tender. Return all meat to pan.

Stir in beef stock, tomato puree, wine, thyme, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in barley. Reduce heat. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until meat/veggies are tender. Stir in parsley and basil.

The wine in this gives lots of flavor and its very filling.

Hamburger Soup

1 ½ lbs ground beef
2 large potatoes, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
Salt/pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder to taste
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 carrots, sliced
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup
3 cups water
Beef bouillon (a cube)

Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook until evenly browned. Drain and set aside.

Place potatoes in a layer to cover the bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle celery over potatoes. Cover with ground beef. Add remaining veggies and seasonings. Mix together the soup, water, and bouillon and pour over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I may have posted this one before...not sure....but its really good and manly!!

I love to try some of your favorite soup recipes as well!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I finally broke down...

...and started Graham on rice cereal!! If you know me, you know that I HATE spoon feeding baby food. Its gross. Its messy. And its time consuming. And once you start, you spend several months doing it multiple times a day. But Graham is already 5 1/2 months, so I thought I better get started. (and hopefully the extra calories will help improve our nighttime sleeping...)

After the first bite came oozing out of his mouth ever-so-slowly, I was reminded of why I was just now starting this!!

Overall, I think he did pretty well with his first "solids." He seemed to like it once he got use to the texture. Up next, maybe some pears?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday afternoon we went to Ganyard Hills Farms ( with the medical alliance (our playgroup friends). This was our first trip out there and it was well worth it. We played hard for 2 hours and could have stayed much longer! We had beautiful, cool fall weather so it was perfect for pumpkin pickin'!

There were a lot of activities for the kids. Avery's favorite was this huge "corn box" - I guess its the equivalent of a sandbox for farm kids! She filled her shirt, her socks, buried herself in it...loved every minute of it!!

mommy and her big kids!
avery and katelyn burying themselves in corn!
We also went on a hayride around the farm and saw the corn fields, cotton fields, and the pumpkin patch.

love this pic of griffin - he is always such the observer.

Here is a "cow"that the kids got to milk! It was filled with water so it seemed pretty life-like for the kids. They were pretty baffled when I told them that is where their milk comes from!
big G milkin' the cow

griffin was actually very concerned that he couldn't get out of this maze...never mind the fact that I was 5 feet away and that he could have crawled over the side!

my littlest man!

Both of the kids loved these big slides...really they were just huge, plastic drainage pipes held up by bales of hay! It was a bumpy ride down...
avery's turn!

griffin's turn!

This was Griffin's favorite thing. Not sure what its even called - but you put in an ear of corn and crank it and all the kernels come off....


Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Cutie Pies

Today was a low-key day and the kids and I enjoyed some down-time and the fall weather. We enjoyed slow morning at home (including pumpkin bread and coffee), a walk to the neighborhood playground, lunch, and afternoon naps for everyone (mommy included!).
I had a "moment" today when I was watching the kids and realized how big everyone looked. Sometimes I just sit back and wonder where the last 4 years have gone...sometimes the day itself seems unending, filled with all the little monotonous tasks of motherhood...and sometimes the day disappears before I know it even began. So I just wanted to document how each of my precious children look, so I can remember it forever!
Avery Brooke, 4 years and 4 months old

Griffin Patrick, 2 years and 11 months old

Graham Charles, 5 1/2 months old