Friday, September 20, 2013

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

It always seems like as soon as fall is here people start thinking about Christmas. Forget Halloween or Thanksgiving, it's all about the shopping and gift-giving. In years past, my husband and I have done Christmas shopping in different ways. Sometimes (when the kids were too young to get it) there were just a few presents under the tree and we kept things simple. In more recent years we have wandered around the store trying to figure out what to put in the basket to make sure each kid was getting the same amount of stuff. Not a lot of thought went into the gifts and it was more about filling the space under the tree than anything else. But last year things changed. I read this blog post about how one family decided to change the way they did Christmas. I loved it. I wanted to do it. So Dave and I sat down and made a list, took some gifts back to the store and let the kids know that Christmas was going to be different. Instead of the pile of gifts under the tree everyone was going to get 4. Just 4 gifts. At first the kids were a little upset, but when we explained to them how we need to focus on what Christmas really was about and not so much on getting stuff they were okay. And they remember. Trevor keeps suggesting things he might want for his "read" gift this year or his "want" gift. The boys asked the other day if they needed to start making a list for their 4 gifts. Makes me happy that they are okay with getting just 4 things and that they don't mind when we keep it simple. I love that they don't expect to be showered with gifts or that they don't spend the whole year asking for things. We have made lots of mistakes as parents with our boys and have messed up a little here and there, but one of the things I think we did right was teaching our kids it's not all about them. They have never wanted for anything, but they also know they can't have whatever they want. So think about trying it this year. Before you start your shopping, maybe see if you can do the 4 gifts this year: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. It might mean for a smaller pile of presents under the tree, but they might be more thoughtful gifts, more meaningful. And just think of all the money you'll save :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I think in the 12 years I've been married I've made cinnamon rolls once, maybe twice. They never turn out very good. But I wanted some and so I decided to try again. I wanted them for breakfast this morning so I found a recipe you make the night before, put them in the fridge and in the morning you can bake them. Perfect. These came out so good. The dough was sticky so the rolls came out soft, the filling in the center was sweet and ooey-gooey and I had to top them with Cream Cheese Frosting. The kids gave them 11 out of 10 stars and we decided these were going to be our new "special occasion" breakfast. Or maybe just our "whenever we feel like cinnamon rolls" breakfast. Here's the recipe. It looks complicated, but they are easy! Make some tonight!

The dough:
1 package yeast or 1 tablespoon
1 cup warm milk (I just heat mine in the microwave)
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar

Mix in order given. Dough should be sticky, not too stiff like bread dough. Place in a greased bowl to rise about 1 hour. I usually turn my oven on to warm for a minute, turn it off and then put the dough in the oven covered with a damp cloth. When double in size roll on a floured surface into a large rectangle. Spread with 1/3 cup softened butter. In a small bowl mix 1 cup brown sugar with 2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon. Sprinkled over buttered dough. Starting at the long end, roll the dough tightly. Pinch the seam to secure. Cut into 12 rolls and place rolls in a 9x13 greased pan. The rolls should be touching (I did 8 in a 9x13 pan and then 4 in an 8x8 pan). Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight. In the morning, let the rolls sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (do not over bake - you want your rolls soft and gooey). Frost with Cream Cheese frosting while still warm.

Frosting - beat until smooth the following:
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our "summer" vacation

Two years ago we went to Lego Land during the summer for a day with some friends. It was a fun trip but because of the crowds we didn't get to do and see everything we wanted. The kids have been asking to go back since then and this year we got to go. We decided to wait until AFTER Labor Day to go to avoid the crowds and we went at the perfect time. We arrived on Friday afternoon and got into the park around one. The park closes at 5 so in the 4 hours we were there we were able to walk around the entire park, go on 12 rides (most of them 2 or 3 times) and still have time to look at EVERYTHING. Saturday was a bit more busy, but we still had plenty of time to go back on our favorite rides as well as visit the water park and spend a few hours there going on water slides and playing in the pool. Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
We got to stay at the Lego Land Hotel!
Our room was Pirate-themed. The boys got their own area to sleep, their own TV and got to search the hotel for numbers to open the combination on the treasure chest in the room. Inside the treasure chest were some fun toys to bring home.

Lots of fun Lego characters and tons of things to play with and do at the hotel. 
They wanted to go see the Star Wars stuff first
This Star Wars ship took 5.2 million Legos to build!
The boys wanted to pose with everything

Logan wanted to touch and see everything made out of Legos. He wanted to get ideas so he could come home and start building.
They could not resist stopping and playing some Lego video games