Happy Birthday Max!

Happy Birthday Max!
Wishing you a year full of reaching new heights!
We are so lucky to call you husband and father.
You fill our lives with joy and love.
You are our provider, protector, supporter, motivator and the rock of our family.
I pray this next year of 38 is great.
Love you.

Drop Everything And Read

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
 Dr. Seuss has been such a big part of our kids reading journey, I love celebrating this day.  We always start out with Green Eggs and Ham.  This year Max made green creamed eggs so we could pull some cream out for Hank and he could have green cream and ham!
 Amazon delivered a little something for my Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3 and Thing 4.
At school the kids participated in DEAR, drop everything and read, for Read Across America Day.  We decided to have DEAR tonight and all snuggled as we read our new books.  Oh The Places You Will Go!

Whoomp There It Is

Hank participated in the school talent show this year.  The mom of the twins on the team put together the cutest Harlem Globetrotters impersonation by 6 year olds.  Hank had so much fun playing ball this season with his buddies and loved hoopin it up for the talent show!
 The twins' big brother was the star and made it all happen!
After the big show we celebrated National Fondue Day.
Pretty sweet night.

Spartan Family

On February 7th we all competed in the Spartan Race! Here we are all clean and nice before the race.
The kids had a chance to practice the rope climb.  Hank shimmied up it 3 times like it was nothing.  Many of the very strong men watching just shook their heads.
The race was 4.8 miles with 26 obstacles.  Some of the obstacles were climbing a 20 foot high rope that sat in waist high muddy water, monkey bars, spear throwing, memorization test, pulling sandbags, carrying 50 pound buckets of rocks, many wall climbs, and mud pits.
I placed 983/4269 racers and of 171 out of 1543 females and 32nd out of 259 in my age group with a time of 1:38.
But I was most happy that I beat my first Spartan race by 2 minutes.  
Since Max had to hang back with me, he didn't do as well as last year when he ran it alone.
He was 981/4269 and 810 out of 2720 males, and 140th out of 514 in his age group. 
 He was my helper when I didn't think I could do it.  I can only imagine how great he would have done if he didn't have to carry me along the way too.
Although, he said he would take a slower time to race with me any day.  It really is fun to encourage each other along the way and see what your body is capable of.
I love my Spartan man!

This year the kids did the Spartan Kids race too!  Hailey and Karlie ran the 1 mile loop and Hank and Kaitlin ran the 0.5 mile loop.
It's not everyday that your parents want you to roll around in the mud.
 Hailey went belly first into the mud crawl while Karlie tied to stay on her hands and knees.
 Teammates to the end.  They grabbed hands to run to the finish line!
 I was so proud of them for being willing to try it but my heart lit up knowing that Karlie kept encouraging Hailey after she hurt her knee and that they stayed together.  Strong and beautiful sisters.
Next up were Kaitlin and Hank!
 Their course only had one mud pit.
Much to our surprise, Hank was the most timid jumping in.
Poor Max got a double work out as he followed both pairs throughout their race to cheer them on. These two were in a neck to neck race to see who could win!
 But they finished together just like the big girls!
 Hank especially LOVED the medal he earned. :)  He wanted to wear it to school on Monday. Next year they want to do the 1 mile race!
 We were all pretty dirty, so off the the hose station to get cleaned up.
 I am very proud of my Spartan Family!
We are already talking about next year!!

Mardi Gras

Yesterday we celebrated Fat Tuesday in style!
We had Jambalaya for dinner and I made a King Cake.  Each year I try a new Eggless recipe, however, I think we found a keeper.  This Cinnamon Bundt Cake is amazing.  We donned our masks to cut into the cake.  There is always much excitement and anticipation over who will get the baby!  Kaitlin got the baby the second year in a row!  It was a fun night of indulging in food, wine, and cake!  We are going to each try giving up something, to remind us each time we want it, what our Lord gave up for us.  Hank and Karlie are giving up Pop Tarts.  This morning Hank asked me how many more days until Easter.  LOL  Max, Kaitlin, Hailey, and I are giving up our most favorite chip, Salt and Vinegar.  This is going to be really hard for me.  Chips are right up there with wine and coffee.  One thing I know we can't give up is making life a party!

Cinnamon Bundt Cake
3 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Soda
2 cups Water
2/3 cup Canola Oil
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Caramel Extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil pan.
Stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Thoroughly mix the water, oil, vinegar, and extracts. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes (until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before cutting a small square out of the bottom and placing the plastic baby in the hole.  Then replace the piece you removed and transfer to a serving platter.
For a King Cake I frosted with a powder sugar icing and then sprinkled purple, green and gold sprinkles.  Add chocolate gold coins to the center and garnish with beads and coins.

A Day of Love

It was so fun to have Valentine's Day fall on a Saturday this year.  That meant I got an entire day to love on my Valentines!
 The dollar store is my new favorite place shop!  Balloons for a buck!  Bags for a buck!  Little goodies for a buck!
 I found this hot pink boys under armour shirt on clearance at Marshalls.  It was part of the NFL's breast cancer merchandise.  Hank and his best buddy had decided that boys can wear pink too.  He was so excited.  Of course I had to get one for his buddy too.  They are planning to wear them on Monday.
 Karlie and Hank made us a giant card full of sweet nothings.
 Karlie was invited to a sleepover at her best friend's house and she declined.  I was wondering if they were having a spat or something because she usually jumps at the opportunity.  As I began to inquire, she said she didn't want to be gone on Valentine's Day.  Up to that point I didn't have much planned but our usual crab dinner.  However, since I knew she had high hopes for the day, I couldn't disappoint!
 After Hank's basketball game we had heart pancakes for breakfast.
 Kaitlin wanted to make the cupcakes.  She did a perfect job!
 I helped with the frosting just a bit.
 We spent the afternoon playing outside and soaking in the hot tub.  The kids put together a performance for us and brought us popcorn and drinks.  It was a lovely afternoon.
Dinner was our traditional crab, pasta and salad.  The kids love getting dressed up for a fancy dinner. :)
For our dinner and a movie nothing would do but The Princess Bride.  I cherished this day because they were all so into it and just loved being together as a family.  Recently I was looking back at pictures from when they were little kids and babies and realized how fast it is just flying by.  In a few short years Hailey will be off to college and our little clan won't be the same.  It makes days like yesterday all the more special knowing how precious and limited they are.

My Valentine

You are special.  What we have is special.
As Valentine's Days come and go there is one thing that never changes no matter where we are living, who we are with, or what we are doing...  Our love.  When we were in high school people noticed it.  When we were in college people noticed it.  When we become friends with people they notice it.  The kids notice it.  It can't be hidden.  It is too strong and too true.  Baby, I was meant for you.  I thank God we found each other so early and that you will be my life long Valentine.  XOXO

S'more Valentine's Day Sweets

Hank's basketball team had their team party last night and we made S'mores treat bags to give out.
I saw this on Pinterest for Valentine's Day goodie bags.
 It was so easy and so cute!  We just put four graham crackers on the bottom, then we added Dove milk and dark chocolate hearts, and then a handful of heart shaped marshmallows.  Tie it with a cute ribbon and add your note!
 Hank's note said, "I wish I had S'more teammates like you!"
Two of my five sweethearts.  I couldn't love them S'more!

Mayo Brothers Leadership and Legacy

Part of National Junior Honor Society is doing a research project on a given topic.  This year the topic was Leadership and Legacy.  Hailey has been working all year on her project.  She decided the Mayo Brothers were a perfect example of people who demonstrated leadership and legacy.  She read numerous books about the life of Charlie and William Mayo.
Their research can be presented in a variety of ways.  Hailey decided to do a poster presentation with artifacts.  Max has numerous medical items that were handed down through the generations of doctors in his family.  He has a microscope very similar to the one the Mayo Brother's Father mortgaged his house for in the late 1800s.  It took the family 10 years to pay off the loan for the microscope.  But, as he told his wife, their father knew back then that the advancement in medicine was going to come through science and the investment was worth it.  

Hailey drew portraits of the brothers in addition to her report.  The judges loved her presentation and wanted her to present at the regional competition.  However, Hailey had put in a lot of time and effort and didn't want to give up another Saturday to enter the regional competition.  We are so proud of her!  We learned a lot about the Mayo Brothers through her research.

Green Girl Gets Glasses

Reading nearly 3 million words in 6 months appears to come with a price...
Karlie was having trouble seeing the board at school so we took a trip to the eye doctor.  Sure enough she is near sighted and needed glasses.  She picked out some really cool Puma glasses that have a bright green stripe down the side.  Sometimes when people get glasses it takes some adjusting to, but Karlie jumped right in and looks so cute with them.  Our little Irish girl will always have her lucky green with her now. :)