Monday, August 29, 2011

Meijer Day at Potter Park Zoo

FYI, I am more behind on blogging than I thought. I just spent an hour sorting through pictures on my computer... I will try to post maybe one a day for a few days or something awesome. Don't hold me to it though. Anyhow. When Win was just two weeks old, Potter Park Zoo had a day sponsored by Meijers, where it only cost $3 to get in. Woo hoo. Off we went. Win was a dream in his car seat the whole time, and Eleanor had a blast.

And, can I just say? After wandering amongst the "great unwashed" (pilots used to always call the passengers that) I came away feeling smarter and better looking than I normally feel. Yeah, there were some real winners there, but I'm not here to be mean. On to the pictures.

Eleanor wasn't too keen on the big mascots walking around.
Cute as always.
Posing like a monkey.
If a monkey looks forlorn, halo-lit and precious. This kind of thing melts me.
And here are some video snippets of E and the mandrill mascot. If you remember, we have reason to be wary of mandrills.

E and the donkeys. Funny girl.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Early August 2011

I am nice and behind on blogging again. Grrrr. Life has been busy, but nothing much has happened. Do you know what I mean? Days on end where the laundry is barely getting done, but you have no idea why. Yes, I have two kids now, and it's an ever changing adjustment, but still. What have I been doing? I think I am biding the time since my parents left until my sister in law Jenni comes. Did you know Jenni was coming?!?! I know! Get excited, because I am. Oh the treats I have planned, she wont know what hit her. P.S. By the way, I will get this excited for you to visit too, whoever you are. I will make you awesome treats for anyone that wants to buy a plane ticket to Michigan. Anyhow, here are a bunch of shots and tidbits from my parent's visit. They got to come out for Winston's blessing. I posted his blessing, but here are a bunch more from the visit.

Winston's blessing outfit, I'm kind of a snob (you all know that) about kids-wear. So I was more than kind of obsessed with getting him a perfect little church outfit to be blessed in. I didn't want all white, or girly or a lot of things. Luckily, I found the blazer for like $3 on Old Navy clearance ages ago, the shirt was there also for a few dollars and the tie was about 50¢ at a thrift store. Sadly, I could not find little khaki pants to save my life. Well, I could find them for $25 dollars, but I don't spend that much on my pants, so I'm sure not going to spend it on something he might wear once. In the end I found a pair for $15, it still kills me, but oh well. He looked darling.
Guy Smiley.
(P.S. My mom once told me that if I had been a boy they might have named me "Guy". Seriously mom? Thank heavens you had a girl.)
His whole outfit makes me laugh. Some people think that grown-up clothes on babies is a ridiculous idea, and they're right. But come on! How freaking cute is he? Little tie? Button up shirt that will never stay tucked in? It kills me!
One day my mom flagged down the Schwan truck to buy a bunch of ice cream bars. I love my mom. Eleanor has been enjoying them ever since. As usual, we barely have any pictures of our guests of honor. We tried to get one with my parents, Winston and Eleanor, but she had other plans.
A cute shot of our increasingly smiley baby. He's at such a sweet stage right now. I love when he coos back and forth with us.
Grandpa and Eleanor one morning. (Please excuse my craft area disaster behind them.) My parents introduced Eleanor to Slim Fast. For them, a sensible breakfast alternative, for Eleanor, CHOCOLATE DRINK! I actually feel ok about her having it on occasion. It beats mornings where her breakfast consists of licking a banana.
Cute parents on the blessing day with Win.
After 8 or so shots, this is the best "smile" E would give me.
Their necks must have hurt by the end of the trip.
Us again.
My mom and E holding W. Yes, it is as precarious as it looks. But look! He's smiling!
And now E is too.
One thing the Howell side loves is swimming. We decided to try out the local aquatic center in town. Guess who is not loving the idea?And guess who is?Her look of concern here is due to the kid-sized frog slide. We thought she would be going crazy over it, but nope. It took both grandparents, myself and about 80 attempts before she finally went down it. (It's about 3-4 feet down.) Once she did she loved it, of course, but by then it was time to go.
She loves swimming. It's downright criminal that I don't take her more often.
I tried to get W in the water, but what felt perfect to us was incredibly cold for him. He hollered bloody murder. I felt extra stupid as everyone within a three state area turned to look at the fool mom who was torturing her newborn. We got him out soon enough and didn't try that again. Maybe when he's 12.
The only downside to our water day was that in a hand off, I dropped my camera in the water. Nice. Oh well, it was almost 4 years old, and I've been contemplating getting a new one anyways. The lame part was getting all of the pictures onto my computer. I put the old card in another camera and loaded them ok, but my computer kept turning off during the upload. Add into that I also uploaded my parents pictures the same day with the same power problems on my computer, so I have duplicates and triplicates in a thousand different folders on I-photo. So annoying. That's part of what has kept me from blogging. I still have stuff to post from before my folks visit, but it might take me a few weeks to find those photos too. Any suggestions on a new awesome camera? But back to the visit.

One afternoon, Clayton took my parents to MSU to see the campus. Here is a nice picture of him in front of the Law sign. Egads, I need to step it up, I have nearly NO photos of Clayton's experience at school. Need to remedy that.
Eleanor enjoying some ice-cream. If one day, she ever fights her genetics and ends up pudgy, I will have ample evidence as to why. I love how long her cute tongue is.
My parents watched the kids so Clayton and I could go on a date. It was our 5 year anniversary while they were here! Another whole post I plan to do soon. We went to Maru for sushi and then to a movie. Such a needed date night!
As always, it ended all too soon. Eleanor thought so too and hopped in their rental car. She repeatedly asked about going to the airport. Whoops. We didn't remember to prepare her for that. Much like my parents, she loooooves going to the airport.
Soon we get to go pick up Jenni, and soon after that will be our visit to Utah in December! I am dreading the flight there, as I will be traveling with E & W all by myself while Clayton studies for his finals. I figure if I start preparing now, it wont be such a big deal. Can you believe that Winston will be the same age in December that Eleanor was when we moved to Michigan? It's going so fast!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Winston's Blessing Day

This past Sunday we were able to have Winston blessed at church. My parents were able to squeak in a quick visit and it was wonderful to have them there for the occasion. Here are a few pictures from the day.

The doting grandparents.
The sister who vacillated between stealing the show with her cuteness and giving us high doses of attitude. I'll take more cute, please.Our family of four. (Four!)
One with Eleanor actually smiling.And one with Winston's eyes open. And the gang outside the church. Quite a different picture from the ginormous group shots from Eleanor's blessing day. We were lucky to have every relative in a two state radius at her big day. Poor Winston, just as loved, but just from a bit farther away.

And here is a close up of the little angel. He's so stinking cute and we love him soooo much!
(P.S. I blurred the background of me as it was all distracting wrinkles and freckles.
It was taking away from his doll face.)

He turned 7 weeks old on his blessing day, August 7th 2011. He is cooing and smiling all the time now, and his little dimple kills me. His eyes are still blue, but I think they will probably change like Eleanor's did. Hers changed around 15-18 months, so we have a ways to go before we will be sure of his color, but I think they will be a darker brown than her hazel brown.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Cakity Cake Cake Cake!

Did you want to hear me talk about cakes a lot? Yes?! Then read on! No? Well, that's all we have here today.

If you've read my blog even twice, you probably know about my love affair with cakes. Frosting to be exact, but cake is my favorite vehicle for frosting. My all time favorite frosting is my dad's Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Second place would be my crappy version of it, then third place goes to the magical stuff called But-R-Creme from good old Sam's Club. It is so called due to there being no real butter in it. It's shortening based- which is brilliant as you don't even have to refrigerate the stuff! I may have just grossed out a bunch of you, but if you have no problems with shortening, like me, then let's celebrate! In case you are curious, Costco's cakes don't even come close to Sam's club. Now, did you know that you can buy the frosting directly from Sam's bakery? I bought a smallish bucket of it from them years ago when I made a cake for my niece Caitlin's bridal shower. And I recently purchased a 5 Gallon drum of it to make a wedding cake.

5 gallons drum? Wedding cake? Yep. Sometime in May I was asked to make a wedding cake for some people in our ward. Even though the wedding would take place just a few weeks after Winston's due date I quickly said "YES!", because if anyone is going to be playing bakery, I want it to be me. And the beauty of making someone a free wedding cake is that they can't be mad if it sucks. So all fun fun fun! But back to Sam's Club. The tedium of making wedding cakes is all the baking part. My awesome friend Kristy informed me that you could not only buy frosting there, but also ready-baked cakes that you can decorate yourself. Hello awesome! So the day before the wedding I went to Sam's club and bought a 5 gallon drum of white But-R-Creme and also a box of sheet cakes. The cakes were $18 and change for four sheet cakes and the bucket of frosting was, get this, $10.68. I asked the gal there a few times if that was right, but after clicking on her computer for about ten minutes I finally figured "Oh well. Ten bucks it is!" So for under $30 I had everything to make a big mamma-jamma wedding cake. If you want a 5 gallon drum and it costs more, sorry. Those are the breaks.

Now, I hadn't met the bridal couple, and I was kind of given carte blanche as to design so I thought it could be a perfect time to try out this idea that I had bookmarked months earlier.(P.S. Are you still bookmarking? that's sooo early 2011. Pinterest is totally where it's at. Let me know if you need an invite!) I had heard that the announcements were purple, so I made that my palette, but then I heard the bride loved cows and wanted a cow cake. Ummm, I just pretended to not hear that part, and in my defense, I only got that tidbit the day before I made it. I wanted pretty, so I stuck with my original plan, although I did make a tiny concession at the end.

So I got to cutting, filling, stacking and crumb-coating. Here is the beginning! The purples all read a touch blue in these photos because (like every project I do) it was night time and I am just using a regular camera instead of a dslr camera.
I may be the last person who blogs that doesn't have one.
Ummm, it's a little tilty at the top, but more frosting will help that. I wish I had lightened the third shade of purple as the contrast isn't strong enough. Alas.
Here she is! Would you believe that it used half of my bucket of frosting to make this bad boy?
And here it is with a clean board. I used a box I had gotten in the mail (*Hoarding always pays off! Thanks for the box, Allison H!) that I covered with poster-board and ribbon. I was really pleased, isn't it pretty?
Around 2:30 AM I was hot-gluing tulle and ribbon millinery to plastic cows. Why is it always crazy-town at that time of night? So that was my concession, cow wedding toppers. I left them off in case they didn't want to be represented by heifers. I was told they used them, so that was a relief. I would've felt bad if I offended anyone. But the bride really does love cows. The plastic cows I used had both horns and udders so I cut the horns off one and the udder off the other, is that right? Firths?
I had almost 2 whole cakes left over so I strong-armed my neighbor into letting me make her son's birthday cake. Here it is. Each letter represents a different sport.
Being a super-pushy kind of neighbor, I made her let me do his last year too. In trying to find the pictures I realized I had never blogged it. So here are the pictures from last year. He's into sports and balls if you can't tell. I loved the tennis ball I made, even though the fancy pants butter-cream I made tasted like eggs to me. Real butter-cream is cooked and I wanted to master it. No longer! Not when you can buy fake happiness in 5 gallon buckets. Sadly, his basketball turned out a touch more spaceship, saucer shaped.
Say that 3 times fast. No don't.But back to this year, look how sweet he is!
For a non-relative, I kind of love Grant more than most kids.
Luckily he likes me too.
Post Script- I have no idea if they even liked their wedding cake. I'll just assume that it was acceptable. And I am almost out of frosting. Gross, huh. I've given some away and made a few more projects and now have one container left. It makes me a bit nervous to be so low, but I also realize the need to remove this "staple" from my diet if I want to lose any baby weight. It does make really good cookie-cups, just like the ones they sell at Mrs. Fields stores. Which are awesome, in case you were wondering. P.S.#2- *Hoarding rarely pays off. The original statement was misleading. Don't end up on TLC for the wrong reasons. Also- I know I say "also" and use parenthesis about twenty times too many in this post. I blame baby sleeping schedules.

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