Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday Talk: Top 10 Parent Date Nights

 When my husband and I were dating in high school we did all kinds of fun things for date nights - movies, putt putt, long walks by the river, nights out with friends and anything we wanted.  Now that we're married and have a toddler, our date nights have had to get a makeover.  We still have date nights regularly, but they look different and almost always take place during nap time or after Olive goes to bed for the night.

Our Top 10 PARENT Date Nights:

1. Hire a Babysitter -- 
We placed an ad on care.com back in August and found several, local babysitters.  We've used them a handful of times to go to adult only gatherings and really enjoyed our nights out.  The going rate for sitters in our area is $8-10 an hour so we have to factor in a $30-40 amount for the sitter on those evenings.  We save this option for special occasions and extra fun things.  On rare occasions we will ask a family member to help us out with babysitting, but we don't have any family in our town so we've got to plan well in advance for that to work.

2. Special late night dessert --
My husband and I both love sweets so we always look forward to picking out a fun treat to share with just the two of us in the evenings.  Sometimes I'll make something and other times we will pick up a treat.  Last Friday night, we got something to bake together and made Monkey Bread together after Olive went to bed.  It's fun to be in the kitchen together.  Our favorite treats include: French Silk ice cream, brownies, cinnamon rolls, cookies, DIY Butterfinger blizzards, etc.

3. Go for a walk in the evenings --
We put Olive in her stroller and head out to walk for at least an hour.  She takes in all the sights and sounds and we catch up with each other.  We bring snacks and things for her and she's completely happy to ride along.  If we walk at the park, we'll often stop at the playground for some fun.

4. Swing through the drive through at Starbucks and go for a drive --
We strategically plan our coffee dates & a drive during Olive's nap time.  We'll pick up the coffee, snuggle Olive into her car seat and hit the road.  She falls asleep pretty quickly and we enjoy some "alone" time.  We did this last weekend and started scoping out neighborhoods, did some house hunting and explored our new city for 2 hours while she slept.

5. Read together --
We both enjoy reading so we will set aside time (usually in the evenings to read).  I'm currently reading Hands Free Life and Kevin is currently reading several psychology books for his classes he's teaching.  We debrief each other on what we're reading and just enjoy each others company.

6. Watch football together --
When we first got married I knew NOTHING about football.  I was the girl in high school who went to most games to visit with friends and could not tell my parents if we won or loss when I got home from the game.  Kevin made it his mission to teach me football our first several years of marriage.  I slowly but surely picked up all the details and I really LOVE watching football today.  I know the rules, understand the game and really love following college and NFL games.  Kevin is so proud of my football knowledge and we look forward to watching games together all week long.  I usually prepare some tasty football food to go along with the game so we're a good combo.  If you don't love football, find another fun hobby to do together :)

7. Get take out for a late dinner --
If my husband says he's in charge of dinner that either means he's getting take out or that he's grilling.  I'm happy with both options.  Last week he picked up Panda Express.  He memorizes my favorites so he can order without having to ask me every time.  I appreciate the thought he puts into taking over dinner and he likes surprising me.  Although, he knows I don't love surprises, so he'll often text me mid-day to say that he's in charge of dinner that night.  Early on in our marriage he'd surprise me last minute and be confused by my grumpy reaction since I'd already been prepping something for dinner.  We've both grown in our relationship. made some adjustments and we're better off for it.

8. Lunch dates --
We try to pick up Kevin for lunch or take him lunch a few times a month.  There are several tasty food options near campus so we plan a lunch date.  We've had picnics in his office, eaten at Jimmy Johns, delivered him a packed lunch from home and hope to have some lunches on campus this Fall.  It's a nice break in the day for all of us.

9. Family dates --
I know I said these dates were for the parents, but sometimes it's fun to do something out of the ordinary with the whole family. We had coupons for one of our favorite local spots so we decided to go and get burgers one night.  We planned ahead, ate a little earlier than we normally would on a date and had a great time.  The burgers were delicious and we had a fun outing all together.

10. Watch a TV show or movie together after the kids go to bed --
We DVR favorite shows, watch movies and have gone through TV series together.  We've watched Lost, Prison Break, Jericho, Married, etc.  Do you have a favorite series to recommend?  We don't have the same taste in movies.  He likes scarier movies than I do so we usually end up watching slightly scary, rom coms, comedies, natural disaster movies or mystery type movies.  He tries hard to find movies that we will both like.  I'm dying to see The Intern and a few other new movies when they come out as streaming options.  It's so much cheaper than going to the movies and you can wear your pjs :)

 What do you like to do for date nights?

 It's time to link up with my favorite ladies again for Tuesday Talk.
We had 141 people link up with us last week!!
Come link up your favorite post :)
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free ~  Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I mentioned these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins on the blog Friday 
and realized that I'd never shared this recipe with you!

I've shared plenty of pumpkin treats with you over the last 4 years:


I was first introduced to Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread when we lived in Utah.  Our local Great Harvest Bread Company made delicious PCCB and my students would often bring me loaves of it.  IT was so good that I had to find a recipe of my own.  I've been making this recipe every Fall for years.  It's great for a treat, to bring to a carry in or to just enjoy with you family.

 3 1/2 c flour (I mix half white flour and half wheat flour if I have it)
3 c sugar (I've substituted cinnamon apple sauce for sugar and oil for a healthier version)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 c oil
4 eggs beaten
2/3 c water
1-2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (save a handful to sprinkle on top of muffins before baking) 

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs and water together until well blended.
Stir in dry ingredients.
Add in chocolate chips.

Scoop muffins into a greased pan.

Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
If you want to make loaves of bread, just bake for 45-50 minutes.

I made my last batch and froze the majority of them.  I wrapped them in Saran Wrap 4 at a time and then sealed several sets in a gallon ziploc bag.  I've taken out the little packets over the last few weeks, let them thaw to room temp and we've really enjoyed them.  The adults and toddler in our house all find these muffins delicious.

Disclaimer: I only like FRESH baked goods and am really picked about not eating stale treats so I was really pleasantly surprised that these muffins taste so FRESH after being frozen.  It's been such a time saver and we've enjoyed muffins for several weeks instead of wolfing them all down at once.

I usually love to make these muffins in my favorite pumpkin pan,
but it's buried in storage so I opted to not dig it out this year.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin treat recipe that you love??
Leave me the link in the comments because I'd love to give it a try.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Best Parts

The first full week of October has been a nice one at my house.  We've stuck close to home, enjoyed the perfect weather and made some fun plans for the rest of the month.  I got out our Halloween decorations and the house feels super festive now.  

The best parts of my week were...

1. We had family photos last weekend with my family.  Everyone wore some combination of black, white, gray and mustard and looked so good.  I can't wait to see the poofs.  Olive did pretty well with the help of Smarties.  I love this tradition we do together every other year.  It was great to see everyone and share our baby #2 news!!

2. I picked up this Halloween banner kit at TJ Maxx for $6.  There were three banners in it and I can't wait to string them together and hang them in the house.   I also can't wait to make some candy corn shaped sugar cookies with this cute cookie cutter set.  I usually make pumpkins this time of year, but I think the candy corn will be fun for this year.  I think I'll make some for Kevin's co-workers, students and get to know some of our neighbors better with a cookie delivery.

3. I have been on the hunt for rain/snow boots for Olive for this Fall and Winter.  I didn't want to spend a bundle and Meijer came through.  I LOVE the look of the Hunter patent black boots, but couldn't justify the $60+ price tag for toddler boots.  So these $10 boots were a perfect compromise.  Olive loves them and wears them around the house all day.  Can't wait for some puddles to jump in and snow to play in :)  

4. I got out our Halloween decorations during nap time one day this week.  I don't have a ton, but I ended up with some fun things from all my years of teaching.  My cute students would often give me Halloween presents and I love pulling them out every year.  Olive woke up from her nap and said, "Oh goodness!  I just love these pumpkins!!"  Then proceeded to rearrange everything within her reach.   

5. I made my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip muffins as my first pumpkin treat of the season.  They were delicious.  I ended up freezing half of the batch because it made a lot.  I wrapped them in plastic wrap, put them in ziplocs and have been thawing a few at a time.  They were delicious and it was so convenient.  I'm definitely remembering this trick for the future.

Any fun plans for your weekend?  
Hope you have a great one :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

6 Ways We Shared Our Baby #2 News

We had so much fun announcing our baby #2 news to our family and friends this past week.  We'd been excitedly making plans for a while so it was fun to see it all play out.  I wanted to tell as many people in person as we could so I jam packed our weekend with plans.

Here's how we told...

Olive was the only one home the morning I took my pregnancy tests.  I took them and walked away for a few minutes.  I went in and saw the positives and then brought her in to tell her the good news.  We were both still in our pjs, Kevin was at work so we told the cats next.  Olive was running around yelling YAY and HAPPY, but I think she was clueless about the reason for all the excitement.  Then we started making a game plan for our day of how we were going to tell Kevin.

My husband:
We headed to the mall in the hopes of finding a cute Big Sister shirt and a tiny onesie to go with it.  We looked at several stores and finally found the perfect one.  We headed home, ate some lunch and then Olive went down for a nap. I was planning on Kevin being home at dinner time so I figured I had time to whip up another surprise - like cinnamon rolls for a bun in the oven or sugar cookies spelling out We're pregnant!  I decided on cinnamon rolls and then Kevin called and said he was on his way home at 2:00!!  I panicked.  His workshop ended early and he'd be home in 10 minutes.  I really wanted Olive to be in on the announcement so I was torn.  He got home and said he was exhausted and thought about taking a nap.  Perfect!  He napped and I changed Olive into her Big Sister outfit.  They were both awake and it was go time.  I sent Olive out in her new outfit and told Kevin I wanted him to see her new clothes.  He thought she looked adorable and then said, "Whoa - what???  Olive's going to be a big sister.  Way to go, Whit!"  It's true... Olive's going to be a big sister!  We all hugged and talked about the baby.  Then Olive got really sick that night and was sick all weekend.  We took turns taking care of her, but it was a quick jump back to reality of the demands of parenthood.

My sister:
Olive and I had some time to kill during the day on Friday so we baked our favorite cookies - chocolate chip.  We got into town in time to have dinner with friends and then I made plans to stop by my sister's house.  She was busy working on several projects so I assured her we would be quick.  Olive was tired so she stayed in the car with Kevin.  I ran in and said hellos, visited for a minute and then handed my sister a bag of cookies.  I said, "These are from the FOUR of us!" and gave her a package of four chocolate chip cookies.  She was excited and so were her oldest two kids.

My parents:
We were staying with my parents for the weekend and anxious waited for them to get home from their dinner group.  Olive was in her pjs and up later than usual.  Mimi & Papaw finally got home.  We visited for a few minutes and then I said I'd promised Olive they would read her one final bedtime story.  They all sat down, Olive on their laps and she was holding a book titled "I'm a Big Sister!"  So they get situated at turn the book over to read it.  They read the title and say WHAT!?!?  I assure them it's true and then give them some quick details.  Olive is slightly confused by all the commotion.  She picks up her book and hands it to Mimi since they'd forgotten they were supposed to be reading it to her.  My mom read it and I told my Dad I was due on his birthday with their grand baby #9.  They were pleasantly surprised and excited for us.

Our friends and other siblings:
We came out and told them Olive was going to be a Big Sister or texted them a picture of Olive in her new Big Sister outfit.  Everyone was really excited.  Olive even said, "I big sister!" for some people.

My in-laws:
We made plans to have dinner and watch the ND game with my in-laws.  We headed to their house last Saturday night.  Olive was wearing a hoodie to hide her Big Sister shirt because we wanted to make sure Kevin's parents were together when we told them.  Olive was excited to see them and their cats and was going to great lengths to tell them about a traumatic paci incident from that morning.  We were at Cracker Barrel, she dropped her paci in the parking lot, I didn't notice for a while, finally turned around to go and get it.  Only to have a car drive over it, smashing it into a million pieces right in front of her.  She's talked about it for DAYS.  Anyways, we take the hoodie off and she goes back to talk to her grandparents.  My MIL noticed it first and said "Is Olive going to be a big sister??"  Yes, it's true.  They were super excited for us and Olive moved on to play with her toys.

This was the way we told all of our friends & family on-line

We had a great time sharing our news with everyone this week.
Thank you for your well wishes and sweet words.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin Palooza

We took a little field trip to a local garden center last week to scope out some pumpkins.  I wanted some small ones for decorations and figured we could snap a few pictures while we were there.  Olive had a blast exploring the whole place - pumpkins, flowers, yard ornaments and fountains.  We were the only people there and the employees were very friendly.  We ended up with the perfect picture for our baby announcement, but I took several other cute pictures that I just had to share.

Olive picked out 4 mini pumpkins for our family and was SO excited to find striped ones.
She rearranged them, carried them around and we had some fun conversations about pumpkins.  She was confused about the bumpy ones, gave me the side eye when I suggested that the white ones were in fact pumpkins and had a great time.

Pumpkin hugger.

 Flower picker.

Mad Olive.

 Her reaction when I told her it was time to go home.
Oh no :(

 We had a great time at the Garden Center.
Olive carries her pumpkins all over the house.
$3 worth of pumpkins was worth the hours of entertainment :)