Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need




A long time ago, I posted my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Or what I thought was the right recipe. Turns out I was wrong.

You see, back in 29 Palms, I discovered the best chocolate chunk cookie recipe on the back of the Baker's brand chocolate chunks. The problem was that once we moved from there, I had a hard time finding the same brand. I searched online and found a recipe labeled "Bakers" and went with it. They were good too but once I rediscovered this recipe, there is no way I can ever go back.

Now I have an empty chocolate chunk bag in with the rest of my recipes so I'll never lose it again.

And I am going to share it with you now. Consider this your Christmas Present!

Baker's Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1 3/4 C Flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup butter s0ftened (just leave it out on the counter for awhile until it is at room temp!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 package Bakers chocolate chunks (chocolate chips work too but the chunks are better!)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix flour, baking soda and salt until well blended. Beat butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate. Drop in heaping tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes (the recipe says 11-12 minutes but I have made these MANY times and 8 minutes is perfect!) Cool completely.

I'm telling you...I make these cookies a lot so here are a few of the tips I've learned in the process.

-I line the cookie sheets with foil. I think that might be why they cook a little faster, not sure. But, they don't burn and it makes it really easy to clean the cookie sheets.

-When I had to be off dairy I found a great substitute for butter (heavens knows I wasn't able to give these babies up). I used coconut oil. It can be used as a replacement for butter and actually adds a little coconut flavor. It needs to be softened in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Apparently it's healthy too!

-Last week I needed cookies for two different occasions and decided to go ahead and make a double batter cook half and then make the "balls" of dough for the other batch. I froze them on the cookie sheet and then put them in a plastic bag. The next day when I was ready to make the cookies I just popped them on the sheet and baked them for a few minutes longer. Fresh baked cookies in no time!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Even without snow on the ground, we are all ready to go for Christmas next week..

Our Christmas curtains have been switched into place!

The nativity scene has been set up...
And we got a package yesterday with lots of presents to place under the tree and this beautiful Christmas quilt. (I'm a luck girl!)

And today at school Elyse made this gingerbread house (does it remind you of Madonna?!)


And I've even ordered our Christmas cards!

Are you all ready for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

13 things about our 13 month old

Now that Madelyn is a year old, I'm not sure how often I'll post her updates, but she has been up to a lot lately so I thought I would share:

1. She is talking, both with words and her hands. She very clearly (well to me) says: mama, bear, bye-bye, hi, thank you, baby, uh-oh and dada. With her hands (by signing) she says eat, more, water, book, hat, all done, and pick me up.

2. She loves to sit and read a book. In the picture above, she randomly signed book to Dennis, he grabbed this one and they sat and enjoyed it together in the middle of the kitchen!

3. She throws some tantrums! If she doesn't want me to set her down, she will lay down on the floor in protest or bang her head! We are ignoring it and it has gotten better.

4. She love to try and play with the big kids (especially when coloring is involved!)


5. She loves other babies too! In this picture a friend came over to visit when Madelyn was napping and she was so excited to come downstairs and see another baby!

6. Madelyn is a very "tactile" child. She loves to cuddle and will sit for minutes (a long time for a one year old!) if Dennis is kissing her back.

7. I think we can officially say she is a walker! Madelyn will pull herself up on a person or a piece of furniture and walk across the room to another person or piece of furniture. She still won't let go of a hand if she has to walk more than a few feet. I think she can do it, just needs the confidence to do it on her own!


8. Madelyn loves her sister! Lately they have had a lot of fun cracking each other up. They crawl and chase each other up and down the hall or tickle each other.

9. She can point to her nose and her hair.

10. We are down to one nursing session a day. She is actually drinking her "toddler soy formula" and I am thrilled. We will probably wean-her in the next few weeks. (I'm looking forward to my cheesy lasagna and hot fudge sundae!)

11. This girl is a little clown! Once she does something that makes us laugh she will do it again and again and laugh right along with us.

12. Everyone on our street says she's the happiest baby that ever was but they only see her when she is walking around holding my hand...a favorite thing to do!

13. She loves to sing songs...favorites are Twinkle Twinkle, Wheels on the Bus and Slippery Fish.

Cinderella Goes to the Ball!


One of my favorite things about being married to a Marine is the Birthday Ball.

The Marine Corps is big on tradition and throws a big birthday party for itself every November 10.

We haven't been to the ball since before Elyse was born (4 years ago!) so it was a big treat to be able to get dressed up and go out with just my hubbie!

Our good friend here watched the girls for us (thanks Jenny!)

We enjoyed the 45 minute drive, just some quiet time to talk (without passing any snacks to the back seat).

The ball was fun. We started in an officer's cocktail hour where I was able to meet some of the people Dennis works with. Then we moved into the banquet hall for the main event. There was a ceremony (which included the passing of a piece of cake from the oldest Marine to the youngest Marine) and a guest speaker. We ate a yummy dinner and the dance music started!

Although we didn't join in on much of the dancing, it was fun to see some of the "moves" of the younger Marines on the dance floor. (Made us realize we are past our prime).

We left shortly after the music started and made our way home (after waiting 20 minutes to get out of the parking garage!)

It was a great night, if for no other reason than to spend some time one-on-one with my prince!

My neighbor is a great photographer and was nice enough to snap a few shots of us before we left.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halloween






I just realized I never posted pictures from Halloween so here we go!

This year we had a pumpkin....


and a little pink scary monster (we thought about making Madelyn a black cat but I just couldn't resist putting this costume on her. It is one of my favorite costumes ever!!)



Here is E in the same thing a mere two years ago...



This year, we went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood with our friends the Pellerins. Elyse loved getting the candy and told me the other day she wants it to be the end of October again so we can have another Halloween. Madelyn loved walking all over the place.

A fun Halloween! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Trade-off

Dennis and I have had a few days in the past few months of feeling sorry for ourselves. Sorry that we don't have more time to just sit and relax or to go out to a long dinner together or to work on a project or play video games. Two little girls keep us too busy to do those things we want to do.

But in a conversation one night about this very topic, Dennis said something to me that clicked. It's a trade-0ff. We are willing to pay so much money for something new from the store, and while we don't have that money anymore, the new thing is worth giving up the money.

And the same is true with these little girls. We have decided they are worth giving up a bit of freedom to do whatever we want. The joy these girls bring into our lives certainly beats a night out at the movies.

So while we might not have the cleanest house or the opportunity to travel the country, we are blessed with a wonderful family. When I feel frustrated or selfish, I remember that they are worth it.

I still have my feelings of frustration but remembering the trade off has really helped me to keep perspective this past week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Madelyn at ONE!


Happy Birthday to our Big Girl!

Madelyn is such a fun baby. In the past month she has really started to communicate with us. She signs a bit, "more", "water", "food" and her favorite food, "grape." She says a few words including "mama" "dada" and her most frequent word, "bear!" We finally figured out that when she says "GooK" and points at something she is saying "look" and she says that one all the time!

Speaking of "bear", she loves her teddy bears. She has two favorites and one has to go everywhere she does. She hugs and cuddles it. When I go to get her from her bed in the morning, she usually is standing up. As soon as she sees me she yells, "BEAR" and bends down to pick up one of her bears before coming to me. In the car she has started playing a game of throwing the bear onto the seat and yelling "bear" until someone passes her bear back to her.

Perhaps the reasons she likes her bear so much is because she loves to cuddle. Unlike her big sister, this girl will cuddle any time of day. She lays on me a bit before I put her to bed and a lot of the time when carrying her around the house she will lay her head down on my shoulder. (love that!!).

She is a happy girl. When we go down the street to visit the neighbors, people comment on how happy she always is. Most of that is because she LOVES to be around other people. She likes to watch kids and dogs run around.

This girl would be happy ALL the time if we were willing to constantly hold her hand and walk her around the house. She hasn't yet learned to walk on her own but that doesn't stop her from grabbing one of our hands whenever she can and cruising around the house. The easiest way to get her to cry is to try and take a break during one of our walking exercises. The scary thing lately is that when I put her down and she is mad she kind of bangs her head against the floor. No good.


Some teeth have finally come through! Two little ones are coming through on the bottom, preceded by some really crabby days. Hopefully some more are coming soon.

At the Dr.'s office we found out that this baby is tall and thin (about 75% for height and 23% for weight). My new goal is to put some meat on these little bones! I've added oil to her veggies and a touch of peanut butter to her morning oatmeal. We're working on getting her to take "toddler formula" to give her everything she needs after nursing is done (allergic to dairy so no regular milk for her).

She loves music and does the hand motions to twinkle, twinkle and Slippery Fish She loves putting stuff into containers. She loves coloring (and usually knows to stay on the paper).

What a great little baby we have! We love you Miss Madelyn!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Elyse at THREE!!






Our little baby girl turned three this month. It's amazing how time flies. Just three years ago she was this little thing and now check her out!


Our three year old Elyse is quite a hoot. I feel like I am getting a bit of a glimpse into the person she is going to be. I always just sort of assumed that because she is my daughter and because we kind of look alike that we would have similar personalities. Turns out that is not the case (and is a lot of fun!)

Unlike her mama who was a total goody goody and a people pleaser at three (who? me?) Elyse is a bit of a toddler rebel (but does it in her own charming way). Here is an example. We have started "mommy and me" preschool. We start with circle time and sing "The 7 Days in the Week" song. Elyse knows perfectly well how many days in the week there are but on day one decided to sing "There is one day, there is one day, there is one day in the week..." She knew she was being funny and no one really minded that she wasn't following along. She also decided she didn't want to stand up for the pledge or run around the track for the train song. She didn't yell or scream, just decided to do what she wants to do (and I kind of respect that actually).

Her imagination is growing and I often find her up in her room reenacting some of the things we do on a daily basis. She loves to play store and restaurant and gather food for us.

Potty training is still is going pretty well. We keep her in underpants all day long now and she does great. Just in case anyone is dying to know, pooping on the potty is not quite there yet, although she did go tonight and laughed that it looked like a banana! (I know you wanted to know that!)

She likes to color and draw and has actually started drawing some recognizable things. Check out this octopus she drew the other day. She even made sure there are eight legs!

Elyse is a bit of a scardy cat. She covers her ears with her hands anytime there is music that is slightly loud or when the fish burps at the end of the "Slippery Fish" song at school. She certainly does not like dressed up characters like the ones at lego land.


I still love shopping with Elyse and we have fun conversations as we walk together.

She asks fun questions and is interested in things like the moon's travel to China each night.

Her diet is limited. Mac and Cheese still the number one choice. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with fruit are usually the breakfast selection. Vegetables are something to be avoided except for the occasional pea (and the spinach that mom sneaks into her mac and cheese!) She wants to pick the restaurant when we go out to eat and always picks Panera (her St. Louis roots shining through!)

Elyse and Dennis are really growing closer. She RUNS to him each day when he comes home from work. She is excited to tell him about her day and gets excited when she finds out it is Saturday and Pappy doesn't have to work today. They still enjoy their weekly breakfast dates to McDonalds. He was in the field last week and she told me one night, "I miss Pappy because I like having our family all together."

I think Elyse might end up being a big of an introvert. While she likes playing with her friends, she doesn't mind playing by herself. Sometimes when kids are playing down the street and I ask if she wants to join in, she doesn't always want to (while I am dying to go get some adult interaction and conversation!)

She will approach kids at the park and ask their names (really cute). She loves to ride the swing especially the "Uno, dos, tres" swing where we give her three big pushes, counting in Spanish.

Lately, she thinks Madelyn is HILARIOUS especially when she says funny "words" when I ask her a question. She is very helpful and nice with her (most of the time) and will bring Madelyn her bear or a toy. She has even started hugging and kissing Madelyn (again, when she is in the right mood).

At night we continue our nightly ritual of Dennis putting her to bed and then I take over to "tellmeastoryfromwheniwasababyandcovermeup." When I ask her what story she wants to hear she replies, "One I HAVEN'T heard before from when I was a baby." I'm doing my best to keep them original but I'm really reaching for stories at this point. Then when I cover her up we have to do "Snug as a bug in a rug" and a bunch of other silly snug things from our day.

She loves school and doing projects and singing the songs. If asked to pick a song, she usually picks The Wheels on the Bus.
Two wasn't too terrible for us but the power struggles and temper tantrums we did have are lessening. Elyse is usually a kid who can be reasoned with (as long as she has had a good rest and has a full tummy).

She likes to watch Dora the Explorer and has started answering Dora's questions.

Her eyes are still blue and her hair curly.

We love this girl. She is fun and I can truly say that I LIKE her (and by that I mean I really enjoy her company!)

Welcome to three big girl!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday Previews

It's been a big week for the Katolin girls. They each had a birthday and a visit from nana and grandpa. We've been busy. I'll do their updates soon. In the meantime, here are some birthday pics!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Aquarium

Today we used our Legoland passes to check out the aquarium there. We had a blast. It's on the smaller side but that was perfect for us after spending some time in the Legoland park. Both girls LOVED watching the fish. Here are a few pics.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogger??

I know I haven't been blogging much. It's both because life has been crazy and because I don't feel like I have much to say. But here are a few pics and some stuff that's going on in our lives.

Madelyn still isn't walking on her own but can pull up on everything and cruise around.

Tomorrow is Dennis's official "Change of Command" ceremony. That means he's the boss of a company of Marines. He's already been doing the job for awhile but like everything in the Marine Corps there is a ceremony involved. He will be handed the "guide on", a flag with a "C" for Charlie Company on it. He has really wanted to do this for a long time and he is already doing an awesome job. I am really proud. I'll be juggling the two girls at the ceremony tomorrow but I'll do my best to get a good shot!

Elyse has started up "Mommy and Me" preschool again. We go for an hour two times a week. I think I enjoy it as much as she does! It's helped me notice some "nonconformist" qualities in our little girl. She doesn't misbehave but does not always follow the crowd (do we have anyone else in our family like that???) For example, during the "There are Seven Days" (as in a week) song E sang "There is One Day" and held up one finger the whole time. Actually, I think it was pretty funny..



And maybe Dennis and I will be the only ones that find this funny. I was watching TV one night and heard him crack up in the bathroom. I came in to find this toilet face. It made us laugh. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Madelyn at 11 months!



I can't believe it! This year has flown by. One year ago I was a very large lady looking forward to meet my baby girl. I knew she would be cute, but really, her cuteness is unbelievable!


Let's see, Madelyn is up to a lot this month. As I mentioned before, she LOVES to walk, walk, walk (holding our hands of course). We wear out long before she does. Crawling is OK but it is nothing compared to being fully upright. If I am holding her, she often tries to wiggle down out of my arms and searches for my hands to grab and start walking.

She is still a dancer and will move and grove when she hears tunes. She has some new dance moves including a little arm swing and a little booty shake.

Madelyn loves making new friends. Whenever we see people out they always comment on how happy she is. And she certainly is a happy baby but she is happiest when out and about, being held by one of us and getting to see new faces. She waves constantly at random strangers in restaurants even if they are not giving her the time of day.


We think this girl might be a performer. I might have mentioned this before, but any time she does something new or exciting, she checks to make sure everyone is watching her and does it with a big smile on her face.

Her eating has expanded. She now enjoys cheerios, pieces of bread, fruits, cereal, and baby food in the jars. She found Elyse's sippy cup with juice the other day on the floor and picked it up and went to town. We still have just a gummy smile...I'm really starting to wonder when those teeth are going to poke through (on a side note, a friend told me she heard from her dentist that the longer the teeth take to show up, the healthier they will be!)


Madelyn loves to play and explore. She finds the tiniest little innsy weensy crumbs on the floor and tries to put them in her mouth. I feel like I am constantly watching her to make sure she doesn't put something in her mouth (but interestingly she doesn't put toys in her mouth as much as the average baby does).

In the last few days, I have started to transition her down to just one nap. I'm not sure that she would be ready on her own, but her morning nap just consisted of a snooze in the car or in the stroller and our fall schedule doesn't really give us time for a morning nap for her (we're girls on the go!) . She seems to be adjusting just fine and taking a long nap in the afternoon (and sleeping in a bit later in the morning...happy for me!)

Madelyn's hair is growing and growing. Dennis told me today that he is going to give her bangs. I am totally opposed and told him we just need to get through the awkward stage (every woman who has ever grown out bangs understands, right?) Her hair does get in the way sometimes (often) as evidenced by the pic below.
Madelyn is a beautiful happy snugly little babe and we are so thrilled to have her part of the Katolin family.