Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Talking to Sophia

There are no words that can describe this little munchkin. Her voice, the way she says "I love you"...these are things I want to remember. She doesn't let me video her for long, but what I get always makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Emma got an awesome bubble kit for her birthday and that is the only thing the girls want to do. Sophia woke up from her nap yesterday and the first words she said to me were "I play bubbles now!"

I'm pretty sure that more bubble solution ends up on the ground than into actual bubbles, but that's all part of the fun.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Emma's Birthday Party

We had Emma's birthday party this weekend, even though her birthday was two weeks ago. It's the birthday celebration that never ends!

We had her party at a local gym. This was the first party where she invited friends from school and she was so excited!  The location was great and they made everything so easy. Here are some highlights from her party.

This was her favorite thing. She ran as fast as she could and then ended with a roll.
Cupcakes fit for a princess made by Auntie Kimi.

It was such a great day celebrating with friends and family! Emma and Sophia had the time of their lives and passed out once we got home (so did Andy and I!).

My sweet girl continues to amaze me each and every day. It's hard to believe she's four!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Trip to Dollywood

We spent Saturday at Dollywood and it was a great way to spend a gorgeous spring day! My father-in-law's company was having a friends and family day and the girls were so excited to spend the day with their Mimi, Papa, and Aunt Nicole.

Emma had so much fun trying out the games and rides. Sophia was pretty much glued to my side and did not want to try anything that made her venture too far away. We managed to get her on a few things though, and she loved it all.

Trips with the girls are getting easier and much more enjoyable now that they're getting older.  It is so much fun to see the excitement in their little faces as they take on this big ol' world!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Emma Turns Four!

So, I have a four-year old. Let that sink in for a minute.

This past Tuesday we celebrated Emma's birthday. I left work early on Monday to take cookies to her class. She was so proud of the birthday crown her teacher gave her. It was so fun to see her play with her friends at school.

There were lots of surprises in store for her birthday morning. Andy and I decorated the house and her door with balloons and we barricaded her door with crepe paper so she had to bust out of her room. She requested chocolate chip pancakes for her birthday breakfast and made them extra special for her.

After breakfast, the girls and I headed to the zoo for a day of fun. The weather was beautiful and we all had a great time!

When we got home home from the zoo, the girls took a long nap before dinner. We were planning on going to Wasabi, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. All week long, Emma had been talking about seeing the flames, onion volcanoes, and catching rice balls in her mouth. Our chef didn't disappoint. The girls were enthralled the entire time.


Once we got home, it was time for cake and presents. Andy was so excited to give her the special present he picked out for her. He has been dying to get her a tennis racket and he's looking forward to having a little tennis buddy.


I hope you had a great birthday! Each year, you continue to amaze me with how much you've grown. You are such a special little girl and you brighten the lives of everyone you know. Mommy, Daddy, and Sophia love you so much! We are all so proud of you!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mmm, Mmm Monday-Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

I have to give a shout out to my awesome friend, Stephanie. One, for being one of the coolest people on the planet and for sharing this recipe, which has become a staple in our menu rotation.  We eat a lot of chicken, and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it, because chicken breast is pretty boring, you know?

She promised that adults and kids would gobble it up and she was right (she usually is ;))! This is super easy to make and SO good. Just typing this recipe makes me want to whip up a batch because they're that good.

 Here's what you'll need: 2 pounds of chicken breasts cut into strips, 1 cup pecan pieces, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of Emeril's Essence Seasoning.

 In a food processor, combine the pecans, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon of seasoning. Pulse for a minute until well combined.

Beat two eggs with the olive oil and remaining Essence. Set up your assembly line to dredge the chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then the breading mixture. Place the strips on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I like to coat the strips in a Ziploc bag and line the pan with foil to make cleanup a little easier.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the chicken is cooked through. We love ours with Emeril's honey mustard sauce.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons creole mustard (we use Dijon), 2 tablespoons honey, pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne (or to taste). Even our girls like the honey mustard sauce!

Reviews from the Peanut Gallery:

Me: 5 out of 5 stars. I am not a fan of plain chicken breast, but I live in a world of folks that only like chicken breast. This is a great way to please all of us. The chicken is so tender, juicy and flavorful, especially with the sauce. I'd love to try it in a spinach salad, but there's never any leftovers for me to try it out!

Andy: 5 out of 5 stars. He loves the pecan crust because it keeps the chicken tenders very moist. However, he threatened to lower his score because he had NO idea the honey mustard sauce included mayonnaise. He never would have eaten it because he loathes mayonnaise. I'm sneaky like that. ;)

Emma: "It's delicious and good too!"

Sophia: "Yum, yum!"

Emeril's Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Recipe via the fabulous Mrs. Jones ;)

2 pounds chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into strips
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup bread crumb
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of Emeril's Essence Seasoning

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine the pecans, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon of seasoning. Pulse for a minute until well combined. Beat two eggs with the olive oil and remaining Essence. Set up your assembly line to dredge the chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then the breading mixture. Place the strips on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the chicken is cooked through.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons creole mustard
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with chicken tenders.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Beautiful Weekend

Spring has finally sprung in East Tennessee! We could not have asked for better weather this weekend! Everyone seems happier now that they can get outside and enjoy the fresh air, including our girls.

On Saturday, we headed downtown to Market Square, where lots of great activities take place. This weekend, the Dogwood Arts Festival was holding their "Chalk Walk" and one of the amazing art teachers at my school had a square to design. Some of the kids came out to help with the square and Ms. Q was sweet enough to let my own budding artist participate.

We had a great time walking around, seeing the great artwork and the crowds of visitors. Of course, we had to stop for some delicious ice cream from Cruze Farm. I had the Salty Carmel and it was SO good.

On Sunday, we headed to church and I was really nervous because Sophia didn't do very well in the nursery the last time. I had talked to her about it all morning, telling her that she was going to go to "Church School" and that Mommy and Daddy would be back, and won't she have fun? She seemed pretty excited until we walked into the nursery and then BAM! She started screaming, crying, and refused to leave my side. The wonderful, sweet lady that runs the daycare picked her up and showed her some fun things to play with, but it broke my heart! I never know how to handle that...I know she needs to learn to be away from me and socialize with the other kids, but how do I leave a crying kid? Andy went to check on her during the service and found that they had rocked her to comfort her and she ended up falling asleep. After the service, she was so happy to see me and started to cry again. I really hope she starts to enjoy the nursery. What in the world will she do when she starts preschool???

The rest of the afternoon was less traumatizing. We went to lunch, ran errands, and then came back and napped for almost three hours. All of us. I fell asleep upstairs and when I came downstairs, I expected everyone to be awake. Instead I found this:

Emma was still sleeping too, so we had a lazy dinner and then headed to the grocery store. We sure do live it up around here! :)

I'm glad we had a nice, relaxing weekend, because this week is going to be pretty busy. A certain little girl is turning FOUR on Tuesday!!!