Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home is Where the Heart Is

My children are blessed. One of the things that I wanted more than anything when Robby and I began to plan for a family was a close extended family. He grew up with tons of cousins to play & conspire with. I grew up spending weekends and summers at my grandparents house sliding down the stairs, raiding the Avon closet, and walking to the neighborhood park/pool. These memories still have the ability to make us smile and laugh. We both wanted our own children to have these close relationships and cherished memories that we had been blessed with in our younger years.
If you had asked me two years ago, I would have told you that life was almost perfect. Our third, and final, little one was on his way. Auntie Missa was also expecting her 2nd little one. Bobby and Katie got to play and grow with their cousin,Peyton, daily. Katie and Peyton did everything together. They discovered baby dolls together. They had sleepovers together. They took baths together. They started pre-school together. The laughed, played, cried, argued, but most importantly loved together. They were so close sometimes they acted more like siblings than cousins. Every weekend, the Lofgren family would get together for a family dinner and share our lives.
Fate stepped in on August 6, 2009 and forever changed the dynamics of our family. We don't get to see Peyton and Reagan anymore. Bobby, Katie and Andy don't get to play with their cousins. They don't get to talk with their cousins. They don't get to share secrets with their cousins. They don't get to laugh and discover with their cousins. Robby and I can do nothing to fill this aching gap in our family. We can only hope that God and a judge will restore that which has been lost.

My children are blessed! They have 5 GREAT grandparents in their lives...yes, I said 5! They finally got to meet all of their great grandparents this October when we visited family in the mid-west. Great-grandpa Miller made them homemade banana ice cream. Great-grandma Joy took them to Walker Brothers for breakfast and sent them each a gift thanking them for their visit. Great-grandpa and grandma Goldsmith live in Green Valley. They absolutely loved meeting each of their great's and can't wait for a return trip to the mid-west.

Great-Grandpa and Grandma Miller

Great-Grandma Joy

My parents, Granny and Grandpa, moved to Kansas a few years ago. Due to the distance and a lack of funds, we don't get to see each other as often as we would like to. That doesn't stop anyone from cramming as much fun, laughter, and love into the visits we do have. Bobby and Katie love when Granny and Grandpa come to town! They tickle fight, sword fight, and play games until Granny or Grandpa are worn out. Then Granny shows me how to sew or cook something new; things that someday I hope to pass on to my own children. I'm so thankful that we have these special times together and look forward to future visits.
Tickle time with grandpa

Granny and Grandpa

Rob's parents, Nana and Boppa, live about 20 minutes away in NE Tucson. Bobby, Katie and Andy get to see Nana almost every day. She takes Bobby and Katie to school 3 days a week and watches Katie and Andy 5 days a week. Since economic times make it impossible for me to stay at home with my little ones, I get the next best thing...a grandmother who loves them every bit as much as I do. Nana spoils them rotten, but I guess that is what a grandma is for. (When
Bobby knocked Katie's teeth loose a few weeks ago, he told Katie not to worry because Nana would take her to Toys R Us if she lost a tooth. The voice of wisdom!) Boppa also helps take care of Andy and Katie on the days that he is home from work. Andy loves napping and chillin'
with Boppa. When they are not providing care for the children, they are planning special evenings and events for them. They have sleepovers, take them to Disney productions, go to the circus, the park, etc. Every year, we go to Apple Annie's in the fall. We spend every holiday together. We eat dinner together at least once a week. We go out for dinner for birthdays. They are such an important part of my children's development and I am thankful that they are able to spend so much quality time together. Bobby wrote this note to his Boppa on Thanksgiving:

Boppa is the best Grampa evr.
I love boppa.
Boppa is nise.
Boppa plays with me.
Boppa wochis moovese.
From: Bobby

Apple Annie's 2010

American Girl with Nana

Disney on Ice

My children are blessed! While I may long for the seasons of the mid-west, my children's hearts are here. Home is where the heart is!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cheesecake Heaven

I decided to experiment with my basic cheesecake recipe for Bobby's Friendship Feast and received positive feedback. So I thought I would share the recipe this week.

You can either make the graham cracker crust from scratch or you can use the Keebler Ready Crust. It is completely up to you. If you use the Keebler Ready Crust you will need 2 pie shells. If you make the crust from scratch you will need:

1 1/2 cups graham crumbs

5 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 Tbsp. sugar

Combine the above ingredients. Press into the bottom and 1/2 way up the sides an ungreased 8" springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Let crust cool before filling with cheesecake filling.

Cheesecake Filling

3- 8oz.pkgs. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

3 eggs

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Mix until smooth with an electric mixer. Add pumpkin eggs, and spice. Beat till smooth and creamy. Pour the filling into the crust. (If you use the ready crust, you will have enough filling for 2 cheesecakes.) Bake for 60-70 min. or until the top turns a golden color. Gently feel the center of the cheesecake to make sure that it is firm. Remove from oven and allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

**To prevent cracking, place a baking dish below the cheesecake with 1" of water. You may need to refill the water halfway through the cooking time.**

Before serving, edge the cheesecake with whipped topping and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Enjoy! My next experiment is going to be a holiday mint cheesecake using Andes mints. I'll let you know what my taste testers think!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm All Out of...Ideas

I'm all of ideas. The only thing running through my mind right now is, "I'm nearing the finish line! Only 3 more posts before I've completed the November blogging challenge." Some days have been easier than others to generate ideas for a post. Tonight is one of those nights where I am feeling uninspired.

My father-in-law is going in for a minor procedure in the morning. He is having a scope in one of his major arteries to ensure that there is no blockage. Although it is a rather simple procedure, there is always the fear that something might go wrong. Tonight has been filled with anxiety about tomorrow's upcoming events.

So I leave you with a picture of my littlest one finishing the race. Love the utter look of concentration on his face! :) Until tomorrow everyone...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cheese Gone Bad!

I like to try to get Christmas photos and cards out of the way long before the holiday rush begins. Robby and I picked out outfits for the children back in September. I'm one of those OCD moms who loves to coordinate her children's outfits. I don't know what I will do when they outgrow Gymboree. We had the clothes, we had the picture date, we got up early to get spruced up...so now all that was left was to show up and smile, right? WRONG!
Say what?!? I have to take pictures today?

Andy was not in a picture taking mood today. We arrived at the mall 10 minutes before our scheduled appointment ready to go. Andy wanted to walk around, so we took turns following him in and out of the store. The young photographer told us it was out turn and we all moved to the back room. We got situated and then she said, "Let's try a photo with everyone standing first. Mom and dad in the back facing each other. Kids in the front facing each other. Little one in the front by himself." Lets just say that did not work out. Every time we'd place Andy in front of his brother and sister, he'd run off. We tried this at least 6 times...and then he began to scream every time we'd pick him up and try to hold him for the photo. After several attempts to calm him down, we called it quits for today and re-scheduled.

The minute we walked out of Picture People the tears stopped...go figure! :)

Since our Christmas family photo had been a bust, we came home and decorated the house for the holidays. Threw a Garth Christmas CD and sprayed some cinnamon air freshener...it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

Christmas tree up and decorated...check!
Andy hanging his very first ornament on the tree

Bobby's new favorite ornament...it lights up and Darth and Luke talk!

Katie having fun putting her own ornaments on the tree. Her favorites this year...the evil queens from Disney!

Icicle lights hanging and programmed on a timer...check!

Countdown to Christmas angel hung on the wall...check!

Christmas photos finished and cards ordered...uncheck!

What's an OCD mom to do??? Smile and keep swimming! These moments remind me that I am not really in control! LOL! I can only hope next week's photo session is a success. ALL hints and helpful advice for getting a 19 month old to participate in the family photo session will be greatly appreciated!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bb is for Black Friday

I am one of "them". I wake up in the middle of the night to seek out the ultimate deals on Black Friday. I sleep over at my in-laws on Thanksgiving night and the girls head out bright and early to shop till we drop. Our routine over the years has become Kohls, then Target, then various other stores and sales. This year, we broke from tradition and went to Target first.

I don't know what made this year different, but Target seemed much more crowded than usual. I didn't feel like the deals were as good this year...regardless of my lackluster list, there were hundreds of people in front of us when we arrived to line up for the grand opening. Since I'm not after the major electronic deals, I usually don't have a hard time finding the items on my list. This year my list included: a $3 toaster for work, a new piggy bank for Katie, a computer chair for my father-in-law, Christmas pajamas for the little ones, and an Itunes gift card for the hubby. I gathered all of my items only to discover that the line wrapped halfway around the store and was quickly approaching an hour wait time. Thankfully, my mother-in-law accidently got in the electronics checkout line and we only had to wait about 20 minutes.

Next, we headed out to Kohl's. CRAZY!!! The line wrapped the entire way around the store and was running about 2 hours. My mother-in-law volunteered to get in line while I shopped. I found some cute Christmas tees for the kids and a few toys for my princess.
By the end of our Kohl's stint, I was beginning to reach my sleep deprivation limit. We ran to a few more stores for a quick item here and there...finally, I picked up the kids and came home. Can anyone say NAP TIME??? Unfortunately, my little ones had different plans.

So, without further ado, I am off to bed. I hope everyone's Black Friday experience was as fruitful as mine! Family Christmas pictures at Picture People tomorrow. (I'm sure that will be the theme of my next blog.) I love the beginning of the Christmas season!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I Am Thankful For...

Turkey Day 2010

It is a family tradition to stop what we are doing, take a moment, and to think about things that we are thankful for. These are just a few:

"Car! Vroom!" -Andy

"I am thankful for you!"- Katie

"I am thankful for God, Jesus, and my family."- Bobby

I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for the 3 beautiful children that God has given me. I am thankful for a wonderful husband who almost always gets me. I am thankful for my sister who is always there to listen. I am thankful for my family who helps take care of my little ones. I am truly blessed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sit, Ubu, Sit...Good boy!

This weekend at Bobby's baseball game, Katie and Andy came across a friendly dog. Katie nicely asked the owner if she could pet the dog. The owner was very kind and agreed to let them pet the dog. The owner asked the dog to sit and Andy politely obeyed! :)

Sit, Ubu, Sit!

Good boy!!!

It is these moments that I want to hold onto forever!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Sandwich?!?

Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cheescake, etc. (You get the idea. :) Last year I came across this recipe and decided to try it. I made it for my 2nd grade girls and they loved them. I made them for my family and they loved them. So here is the not-so-secret Land O Lakes recipe for all you pumpkin lovers.

Pumpkin Sandwich Cookie

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter softened

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons butter softened

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar


Powdered sugar


Heat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. 

Combine brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add pumpkin, milk, egg and vanilla; beat until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed. 

Drop batter by level measuring tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I use a Pampered Chef scoop for this.) Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned around edges. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely. 

Combine all filling ingredients except powdered sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar, beating well after each addition until creamy.

Spread 2 teaspoons filling onto bottom-side of 1 cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom-side down. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Sprinkle filled cookies with powdered sugar.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yard Sale Madness!

Until today, I was a yard sale virgin. Sure, I've been to my share or yard/garage sales searching for the ultimate find. I have never been the sales person type. If you ask me how much, I pause because I really don't know how much to ask for. I throw out a number in hopes that it sounds good. Also, for those who know me, I am not good at saying no. So, when the other person starts to negotiate I inevitably cave.

Me...feeling very uncomfortable about the upcoming sales event

I was SOOO not ready for the mad rush of people that would be at my house at 6:40 this morning...even though the sign clearly said 7. I dragged the folding table out onto the driveway and began to bring out the plethora of baby items that we would hopefully be selling today. The second I put the first item out, cars started pulling up. I was completely by myself outside trying to set everything up and all the sudden there were 10+ people asking how much, pulling items to the side so that no one else could buy them, and asking me to make change. I felt extremely overwhelmed and underprepared!

What the oncoming shoppers looked like to me at 6:45

It all worked out though. It is with a hint of sadness that I watch the highchair, bouncy seat, and other baby items disappear. It means no more little ones...the baby toys are being exchanged for the "big boy" toys. I'll miss those days, but I look forward to all of the adventures each stage has to offer. The definite upside is that I now have a little extra cash to spend on Black Friday!!!

How I feel now...
"Hakuna Matata"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pp is for Play-Date

Bobby and Katie are finally at that wonderful age where they are developing friendships. One of the things that is really important to me is that my children stay in the same area and have the opportunity to form a lifelong camaraderie with their friends. They've made some wonderful friends at Cottonwood and I can't wait to see how those friendships develop over the years.

Playing store together

We are now looking forward to their very first sleepover play-date in December. We will be hosting the event at our house. We'll plan a fun night for the munchkins and hopefully they'll all fall asleep on the living room floor. I'll keep you posted! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two for Tea, Please!

If you have a young daughter, you absolutely have to visit one of the American Girl stores and experience afternoon tea time. It is 100% a girly-girl event, complete with fine china, crystal glasses, and hors d'oeuvres.

Chris, Katie, Julie and me

While visiting family in Chicago, Katie, Chris and I made reservations for tea at the American Girl Chicago store. Katie brought Julie with her, one of her American Girl Bitty Twins. I had never been to the store before. It was one of the biggest stores I've even been in. (The fact that it was filled with just dolls and their accessories is a little scary!) Katie stopped every few feet to show me something that she wants Santa to bring her.

Katie absolutely LOVED taking her dollie to tea and talked about her tea time for weeks! They have a special seat for your doll and a miniature tea cup. The waitress was wonderful...she took pictures for us and brought Katie a special wishing cake. The dessert included a keepsake flower that Katie now keeps on her shelf in her room.

Waiting for our tea to arrive

Julie is a little thirsty

The adorable dessert plate

Katie making a special wish to celebrate her first visit to A.G.

We had an amazing time and I will definitely be taking Katie back before she outgrows the dollie faze. These times are so special and I am blessed to be able to share these moments with my little princess.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Righty or Lefty???

Let the great debate begin! Will he be a lefty like his brother???

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Through the Eyes of a First Grader

I was having a hard time deciding what to blog about tonight. Then, while cleaning out my oldest son's binder, inspiration found me. Bobby had computers yesterday. His assignment was to type what he knew about the pilgrims. Here are his reflections:


By Bobby Lofgren #14
The pilgrims dindint like the king of englind. The nate of amarukins wor huntrs. The pilgrims whent to the bathroom in a bukit. The last nate of amarukin was squontoe. Squonntoe hept the pilgrims. The pilgrims fownd corn.

And as my kindergartners would say, this is the story of the first Thanksgiving! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Butter Up!

I gave this recipe to my friend, Charlotte, a few months ago when she was looking for something new to cook. She said her family loved it! This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I would always ask my mom to make this when she asked ME what I wanted for dinner.

So, if you are in the mood for butter, make a big batch of honey chicken! I always make a double batch of sauce, since I like to pour the extra sauce on top of my rice. :) Hope you enjoy!

You will need:
*skinless chicken (any cuts, depending on your preference)
*1/3 cup butter
*1/3 cup honey
*2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon curry powder

Melt the butter in a pan. Add honey and mustard to the melted butter. Add salt and curry powder to the mixture. Pour sauce on top of cleaned, seasoned chicken pieces. Cook at 325 degrees for 75-90 minutes, basting ever 20 minutes. Serve over white rice.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

That Dreaded Noise

Parents and teachers alike shiver with fear when they begin to hear this dreaded noise. We can't run from it. We can't hide from it. It is everywhere. What has us so afraid??? That thick, rattling cough that we hear echoing through the walls of our classrooms and homes.

It is that time of year again. A few weeks ago, some of my kiddos at school began to cough. They would cough so hard I was scared they may cough up a lung. The cough rattles their poor little frames and consumes all of their energy. I begin the process of sanitizing my hands 100 times each day in hopes that I won't carry any of these germs home to my little ones.

Then, in the middle of the night, I hear it. There it is again. That thick, rattling cough...except now it is echoing on the baby monitor. Andy was the first. I could hear him coughing through the baby monitor. He falls back into a restless slumber; coughs racking his small body every hour. I start to worry and lose sleep...what if he has a fever? what if he wakes up? what if he wakes up his brother? what if he gags in his sleep on the flem? what if he gets an ear infection? Thankfully, this year, his cough cleared up relatively quickly and he is on the mend.

Katie quickly followed suit. She coughs all day long and I can hear the mucus building in her lungs. As we lay down to go to sleep, I can hear her heavy breathing as her little lungs work over-time. She doesn't seem to be bothered by it, but I continue to worry...what if she has trouble breathing? what if she gets an ear infection? what if I don't know she has an ear infection? what if her eardrum ruptures? (Katie has been known to have a double ear infection and not complain. She's a trooper with an incredibly high pain threshold!)

Bobby did not want to be left out. He coughs when he is tired...early in the morning or late at night. I watch his whole body shake as he works to clear his airways. He asks for pink medicine (Children's Advil) and is convinced that will make everything better. I check for a fever and explain why he can't have medicine. And I continue to worry...refer to all of the what if's above.

In an effort to stay healthy so that I can take care of everyone else, I begin to wash my hands repeatedly, consume large amounts of vitamin C, and cross my fingers. It works most years and I get by with minor maladies. Today I woke up feeling like a mac truck had run over me...sore throat and achy everywhere. Hopefully, this will be the worst of it for me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shopping Extravaganza!

4 years ago we began the tradition of a girls shopping day in Phoenix. We leave the husbands and the kids at home and shop till we drop! There are some great outlets north of Phoenix, where we always find some awesome deals and buy more stuff than we really should. (For instance, would you believe it if I told you that we spent over $200 at the Jockey outlet last year? Who spends that much on underwear and socks?) After the outlets we head towards the Fashion Square Mall, Chandler's main shopping strip, and Casa Grande on the way home. It's a full day of marathon shopping.

Nini called Bobby and Katie to let them know she
was talking to Santa. We took a picture to show them
the proof!

Courtney, Chris, Melissa and I would pile into a car together and head out early for a fast-paced day of shopping, shopping, and more shopping. By the end of the day, the trunk would barely close and you had to position yourself in your seat just right to make room for all of the bags inside the car.

Today is our 4th annual trip...I sure hope the car is ready to haul us and all our goodies home! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ff is for Family Fun

Last Friday, I was "Tt is for Tired". I thought I'd take another page from kindergarten and do "Ff is for Family Fun" this week! I've said it before and I'm sure that I will say it again (and again), but I LOVE my life. The past year has taught me a lot about life, friendship, and family...and if I've learned nothing else, I've learned to let the small things go and enjoy each precious moment.

Now don't get me wrong. There are still times when I want to lock myself in my bathroom for a single minute of alone time. My house is noisy, there are a thousand things on my "To Do List", and I drop into bed exhausted each night...but the love, laughter, and light that make my house a home make it work it!

So this week is all about having fun. These are some of the things that make me laugh till I cry!


"You've got to pucker your lips like dis."


...love like there's no tomorrow
live for every moment,
laugh at least a little every day

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Special Thanks

My grandpa fought many years ago in WWII. I don't remember most of the stories he told me when I was little, but I still remember him talking about his experiences in the war. My mom took him to see Saving Private Ryan when it came out to the theaters...I know it was difficult to see those things and remember those days on the big screen for him. I'm sure it was even more difficult to fight the fight and return to a "normal" life after the war was over.

Most days we don't even stop to think about all of the marvelous freedoms we enjoy. Today, I thought about those things. A simple thank you doesn't seem like enough, but it is all I have to give. Thank you grandpa! The fight you fought years ago allows me to live the life I live today. YOU are my hero!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: R&R

We've all had those days that leave us feeling like this:

Get some much deserved rest!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can I have a snack...please???

You only have to be at my house for 30 seconds and you'll most likely hear the words, "Can I have a snack please?" From the moment my little ones wake up until the moment their heads hit the pillow at night, our house is infested with the munchies.

Enjoying our nanners

Katie is the worst offender. Her stomach is a bottomless pit! She eats and eats and eats and eats. I don't know where all the food she consumes goes. She may be tiny, but she can eat with the best of them.
"Who could say no to me???"

I've been warned by my husband that the "big eating" days are yet to come. He reminds me every time we go out to eat that it won't be long before Bobby is eating half a pizza by himself. I can't imagine how worn out our pantry door will become then. I have a feeling I am just beginning to understand the phrase "eating me out of house and home".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did someone say Chipotle?

I am going try to post a recipe every Monday this month. Tonight was fajita night at the Lofgren house. I must thank the people at Chipotle for making an addict out of my 18 month old son. The minute we sit down at the table, Andy is reaching for the burrito bowl and shoveling their yummy rice and beans into his mouth as fast as he can. (This is not an exaggeration! I will have to take pictures at our next visit and post them.) Most of it ends up on his face and shirt...but watch out! You could lose a finger if you get between him and his Chipotle.
The newest recipe that I absolutely LOVE is a knock-off recipe of their lime and cilantro rice. Since due to budget and time constraints we can't head off to Chipotle each week, I make modified burrito bowls at home. I've made them a few times and I think I finally have the recipe down. So here's what you will need:

Basmati rice (This is a long grained rice. You can find it at your local grocery store.)
Lime Juice
Fresh Cilantro

Poor the desired amount of rice into your pot. Add the recommended amount of water. Lightly salt the water and add 2 tsp. of lime juice. Cook the rice accordingly. Once the rice is done, add an additional 2 tsp. of lime juice, chopped cilantro, and salt to taste.

YUM!!! If you don't have a rice cooker, get one! :) I love that I can just poor in the desired amount of rice and water, push a button, and 20 minutes later I have delicious, fluffy rice. What a time-saver! Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!!!