More Traditions…

After sailing through the holidays, it occurred to me that there are a few more traditions that we partake in and they all involve food…

Easy Christmas Eve In addition to making every effort to not have last minute wrapping to do, if there is a way to make Christmas Eve easier and less chaotic, I’m all over it. Instead of going overboard with a fancy Christmas Eve dinner, we save that for Christmas Day and we enjoy yummy Potato Hot Dogs the night before. What’s not to love about hot dogs stuffed with mashed potatoes, topped with velveeta cheese, and cooked to gooey perfection (I even use boxed potatoes)?!! The other easy Christmas Eve tradition is one that I borrowed from my sister-in-law… Santa’s cookies are from a frozen batch of Nestle’s from the store – yeah!!!

Easy Cookies and a Carrot for the Reindeer

Char’s Christmas Morning Casserole Jeff’s Mom, Char, has passed on this delicious recipe for her Christmas Casserole. Besides the fact that it smells and tastes delicious, this casserole can be made ahead of time and it never fails to be finished just as the first round of presents is over and people start realizing they’re hungry…

  • 12 Slices Bread
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Fresh Mushrooms – Sliced
  • 2 Cups thin sliced Onions
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Italian Sausage
  • 3/4 lb Shredded Cheddar Cheese - Grated
  • 6 Eggs
  • 2 1/2 Cups Milk (Use part Half n Half)
  • 3 t Dijon Mustard
  • 1 t dry Mustard
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 2 T chopped Parsley

Brown mushrooms and onions in 1/2 C butter.

Cook Sausage and break into bite size pieces.

Cube Bread.

Butter a 9×13 casserole and layer bread, mushrooms and onions, sausage, cheese. Repeat, ending in cheese.

Mix eggs, seasonings and milk and pour over casserole.

Refrigerate overnite. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

New Year’s Fondu(shi) Back in Idaho, we (along with our good friends) couldn’t decide which tasty food morsels we’d rather be ringing in the New Year with…fondue or sushi. The decision was too difficult, so we compromised and started the Fondushi tradition! It’s fabulous and usually involves way to much food. For the past few years, we’ve resorted to just fondue because we’ve been living in places were sushi is generally unavailable, but I have no doubt that Fondushi will be back before long!

New Year's Eve Fondue

Party Girl

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Is it Time Yet?

The Carroll house is definitely a buzz with anxious anticipation! Grandma and Grandpa’s arrival is only 2 days away and Santa Claus will be on their heels. Our three year old can barely stand in her own skin!

As I’m sure Christmas will be a full post in and of itself, I’ve decided to do a quick post to bring everyone up to speed on the last 22 days or so.

Our Advent celebration has been a highlight and has exceeded my expectations for “Family Time”. At one point, Reese made me stop the Advent reading and asked if I had Jesus in my heart – how sweet is that?! As mentioned previously, Char created a puzzle for us to complete each day, in addition to nightly readings and a craft for Reese. Not surprisingly, our candles are getting pretty short! Prior to this exercise, puzzles were not something we would have considered a strength for Reese. I am happy to report, however, that she has now finished a 24 piece puzzle all by herself and is in the process of re-assembling it as I type!

Puzzle Done

After a wonderful family adventure to get the tree, it is up and decorated with beautiful ornaments that hold so many memories of Christmas’s Past. Persistence was the name of the game for Jeffrey as he had to shim that poor tree in every direction to get it to stand up straight – next year we need to find a different tree stand, made especially for fresh cut trees with super skinny trunks!

A Hunting We Will Go!

Timber

Hiking Out...Jeff had the tree

Weeee - These Girls know how to travel!

Last Saturday, I took the girls to see Santa Claus at the Arts Guild in Red Lodge. Reese did a great job of telling Santa exactly what she wanted him to bring: A crib and some toys for her Puppy. Sylvia was a little scared at first, but she warmed up to the big guy pretty quickly!

Checking it twice

Sylvee's first impression

Santa and Sisters

In other, non-Christmas, news…Reese is really getting the hang of skiing. I’ve started taking her harness off. I’m still skiing backwards with her because she’s not quite with it enough to pay attention all the time – and that’s not a lesson that I’m ready for her to learn the hard way yet!

Sylvia just had her 6 month check up. She’s 25 inches long and weighs 13 lbs 13 oz and quite healthy! She started eating solid food at the beginning of the month and hasn’t turned her little nose up at anything yet. People warned me that our kids would be different – and this is definitely one of those good differences – as Sylvia seems to be a much more avid eater than Reese has ever been – yeah! Now, sleeping through the night is a whole other story…some day!

Sylvia's first solid food

Ironically - Reese is a BIG help in feeding her sister!

I am very excited to say that I am finished with school until January 3rd! I’m also 95% finished wrapping presents. Now, I just need to finish this post so that I can get the house cleaned and grocery shopping done before the landlords arrive!

Last, but not least, I do need to give a shout out to Jeffrey. This new website is all him…I’m not sure what new stuff is going into my brain these days, but Jeff is continually learning and creating. All in addition to being incredibly busy with work and various commitments around the state! I love this new site…it’s totally customized for us, but it’s soooo much easier for me to update than either Blogster or our previous website! As you can see, I’ve been able to load a lot of pictures into this post, but if you’re interested in seeing all of our photos for December so far, please click here to view the December Kodak Gallery. For our loyal followers, I’m hoping we’ve officially found a home and you won’t have to chase us around any more. Please subscribe so that you’ll know when I’ve updated!

Merry Christmas Everyone and Happy New Year ~ Ginny

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Traditions

One of my favorite things about being a parent is introducing my daughters to our family traditions and no other time of year can compare to Christmas when it comes to traditions. As I was unpacking what felt like a housefull of decorations the other night, I was mulling over all of the things that I’d like to do over the next 3+ weeks and couldn’t help but imagine, with motherly optimism, how our traditions would be passed down and manipulated to fit into their lives just as our parents’ traditions have been molded into ours. Traditions define us in a unique way…This is who We are…This is what We do…when we participate in traditions, we’re staking our claim as part of this family. Good – heart warming stuff!

So, what are our traditions and where did they come from?

Advent – The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important – in this case, of course, Christ. I’m not sure how old I was when my parents started our Advent tradition – perhaps it was my entire life, but I remember our nightly gatherings starting somewhere around 4th grade. We would start by lighting the Advent wreath. One candle for each week before Christmas. Then we would do two readings – one that tied scripture to the our sense of anticipation and another that depicted the family tree of Jesus. Both readings had questions that would often lead to memorable discussion. After the readings, we would open the advent calendar, which we would memorize  – by Christmas Eve this was the longest part of each night. Finally, we would stand as far away as possible and blow the candles out. It was really an exercise in getting as close as possible to hyperventilating without passing out and potentially explains my incredible lung capacity.

In our little family, we still light the Advent candles, we still do a couple of readings (Reese even reads to us about Puppy), and we still blow the candles out – sort of, but we’ve added a very special twist – thanks to Jeff’s mom, Char. Every year, Char comes up with a new theme for Advent and proceeds to fill our Advent Calendar with heartfelt words and fun activities for the girls. This year, each message has been delivered via a puzzle. In addition to it being a complete labor of love on Char’s part, it certainly adds to the fun, festive and anticipatory feeling of Advent.

Christmas Stroll- Last weekend was the Red Lodge Christmas Stroll. A local tradition for something like 23 years now. The Carroll Family has fully adopted this local festivity and we can’t think of a better way to spend the first weekend in December than perusing through the shops of Red Lodge, eating treats around every corner, spreading holiday cheer with everyone we know, and sometimes getting to share our Christmas wants with Jolly Old St. Nick. This year we spent the first night with the Fitzgerald Family. Reese and Kate were so eager to see Santa that they spilled their guts to the Santa on the street, which was good because the Elk’s Santa bailed early – ha! Saturday, it was just the four of us and still so much fun. Our girlies were troopers for going two nights in a row – it’ll only get better from here!

Candles – Another of my favorite traditions, one that we owe to Jeff’s family, is that of Christmas Candles for the important people in our lives who’ve passed away. We choose one evening during Advent, light a representative candle for each person and then share stories about each person. It is always a moving experience and it truly feels like we’re welcoming the individuals to share in our Christmas experience. Now that we have kids, it’s also a great way for us to share our memories of each person with Reese and soon, Sylvia.

There are certainly more traditions that we try to stick to, but those are the biggies – the ones that I see the girls holding close to their hearts.

Christmas Cards – This one is funny. I’ve caved and have opted to create Valentine Cards instead – don’t hold your breath for your Carroll Christmas Card. Christmas traditions need to be enjoyable and to bring you closer to those that you love – and this one just wasn’t doing it for me anymore – maybe it will happen again in the future…maybe! Don’t get me wrong – I still want you to send me yours because I have another tradition of creating a scrapbook page with all of the Christmas pictures from the previous year. Double standard, yes, but oh well.

Whatever traditions you partake in during the holiday season, may they bring you great joy and happiness.

Cheers ~ Ginny

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Thanksgiving Recap

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Jeff’s parents and our nephew Noah!

A few highlights include:

Quality time as a family.

The Girls

Cousin Noah reading to Sylvee

Grandad and Sylvee

Bowling and Pizza Co with the Fitzgeralds. Sylvia tried her first solid food – a lemon!

Yummy Lemons

A Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner with much to be thankful for. Char and Noah even had winning lottery scratch tickets…

Beautiful Table

Skiing with Noah and Grandad for openning day at Red Lodge Mountain.

Grandad and Noah on Miami Beach

The family that skis together...

And, my favorite quote from Noah, “People are so nice here…I can see why someone would want to live here.” And that was said when it was about -15 degrees! Yeah, it’s a pretty great place to live and it really is all about the people – good observation Noah!

Pictures really do say more than words. Please click here to view the entire November Photo Gallery on Kodak. We had a great time and are already looking forward to seeing Char and Bob and hopefully All the Deckers again soon.

Love, Ginny

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Funnies

Okay, it’s been a month. And in that time, we had a fantastic visit with my Mom, we welcomed a new baby into our circle of friends, our daughters turned into a witch and a monkey in order to beg for candy, Sylvia’s first tooth appeared, and Jeff cleaned out the garage such that I can park in it just in time for the first big SNOW storm!!!

Looking ahead…this weekend will be very exciting – details later. Monday will be filled with anxious anticipation for the arrival of Ana, Grandad and NOAH (who hasn’t been to MT since our wedding when he was 2…now 13). Thanksgiving promises a gluten free pumpkin pie in addition to all sorts of other indulgences. Friday will bring the first day of the new ski season – and Saturday we’ll say goodbye to our guests and the girls and I will spend our first Saturday without Jeff for the season. Monday will be his first Monday off for the season – his chance to accompany Reese to dance class & a dentist appointment (assuming he doesn’t cancel). So there you have it…our lives in a seriously small nutshell.

Rather than dwell on the daily details, I thought I’d post some of the things that have made us laugh regarding the girls lately:

After hanging up with Jeff, Reese asked, “Who was that?”
“Who do you think it was,” I replied.
“Was it the handsome man you’re married to?”

I recently got frustrated…not sure what it was about, but I do remember Reese telling me to “Deal about it.” This has since become a favorite saying of ours.

Apparently Reese announced to her dance class that Santa will be bringing her a real live puppy for Christmas – ummmmm….not even sure what to say about that one!

Sylvia can’t talk, so you’ll have to laugh at pictures…

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! ~ Ginny

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Post Hiatus Update

Well, it’s been over two months! Fortunately, I’ve got a couple good excuses. First, we went on a fabulous vacation in Colorado. Second, school started for me, so I’ve added 20+ hours of busy-ness to an already full schedule. However, I find myself with about 2 seconds of unscheduled time today, so it’s time to do a quick update! We’ll do it by person (youngest to oldest) and hopefully it will be quick. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking…I’ve loaded both August and September photos onto Kodak, so Enjoy!

Sylvia
Growing like a weed, “talking”, just rolled over for the first time yesterday! I started the last post by saying that I thought she was fussier than Reese, but after having her alone for a few days in Idaho in August, I decided that it’s simply because I’m trying to keep up with both her an Reese that she seems fussier…everything’s relative – sorry for the false accusation Sylvee! That being said, I did go ahead with the probiotics. I decided that I’ll never know if it helped if I do it, but I might regret not doing it if she ended up with digestive issues later on.

Reese
3 YEARS OLD!!! Started preschool, is thriving in her 2nd year of dance, riding her bike like mad, enjoys spying on her parents after being put to bed and gave herself a haircut on Saturday! Reese goes between being the sweetest little thing we’ve ever met to making my blood boil – and she can accomplish both within a five minute span. She’s definitely forcing us to define our boundaries, which is harder than we thought it was going to be, but we’re learning. She’s doing exactly what 3 year olds are supposed to do – and, after a little help from our hair dresser, her new short hair looks super cute.

Ginny
Finally feeling like I’m into a routine with 2 girls and a supposedly part-time job, hoping to figure out how to fit some yoga and other exercise into my routine and praying for a few good days of skiing this season! One thing that I’ve done recently that I’m super excited about is purchase another screen for my work computer – it’s amazing how much more efficient it’s made me, which is good because I was having a really hard time getting it all done for the first few weeks of school. Next on my “to do” list is to finish a coupld of Kodak Photo Books….I love how they turn out. Last, but not least, trying to be a more “fun” mom – finding songs to sing with Reese and actually planning some fun adventures that are geared toward the girls.

Jeff
Another year older and Projects, projects, projects! I am so thankful that Jeffrey’s a handy guy – this would have been a much tougher month otherwise. In the last month we’ve had to repair almost everything with moving parts that we associate with…. We now have a new water filter, a rebuilt hot water heater, a new hard drive in the computer, a repaired dishwasher, a repaired oven, and more. We’re not through the list yet, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction – it’s so important to winterize around here! In his spare time, he’s headed over to Cody for some indoor hockey and always enjoys some good rough housing with his girls. Last, but not least, he’s orchestrating getting ready for winter at the mountain – selling season passes, hiring employees, etc.

This is a great time of year – a hint of winter in the air and loads of anticipation. Hopefully his next project involves managing my iPod – I really want to use it more, but never have time to update it!

Short and sweet! Enjoy the pics – my mom is here for several days, I’m off to enjoy my precious time with her.

~ Ginny

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Random Thoughts about Sylvia

Sylvia is a great baby. We’ve definitely lucked out with two “easy” babies! That being said, she’s definitely noticeably fussier than Reese was…so much grunting and squealing. Everyone is different, but a Mom can’t help but wonder.

When she was born, I had tested positive for the Strep B bacteria, so I had to have 2 high doses of antibiotics while I was in labor, prior to delivery. While this is overall a good thing and has the power to prevent a variety of very scary illnesses for newborns, I’m worried that the antibiotics also killed all the good bacteria that was supposed to be passed on to her during delivery. There is a fair amount of evidence that babies born via C-section don’t get the good bacteria from their mothers and it is suspected that the lack of this good bacteria is responsible for preventing things varying from athsma to digestion issues. It makes sense that a baby born in the presence of antibiotics might also be lacking this good bacteria.

According to an article I just read in “Parents” magazine, the bacteria in one’s digestive tract evolves until a baby starts to wean and eat solid food – after that point, you’ve got what you’ve got for the rest of your life. With that in mind, I’m thinking of starting Sylvia on some pro-biotics to help her make up for what she might not have gotten during delivery. The girls have their 2 month and 3 year doctor appointments on August 16th and I’m going to investigate it at that point. I chatted with our pharmacist about it today and he seemed to think I was on the right track.

The other thing I’ve started doing is giving her a multi-vitamin with Vitamin D. By and large, babies that are soley breastfed do not get enough Vitamin D. The three of us, myself, Jeff and Reese, have recently started taking a Vitamin D supplement because of vast amounts of research that has shown all sorts of health benefits, but I’m not sure that Sylvia’s seeing enough of it. As it’s really hard to overdose Vitamin D, I feel good about giving her a supplement as well.

Salud! 

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Random Thoughts about Reese

Perhaps, rather than jotting down every detail of our lives, it might be more interesting to post some random thoughts. As I’m usually thinking about things that are going on in our lives, I think it will still be applicable, so here goes:

Reese…starting to think about when would be a good time to start her in kindergarten. She’s right on the cusp of the age cut off and would end up being one of the youngest in her class if we start her in two years. New research is showing that kids do better if they start later, but I’d like to take a good hard look at that research before I make any rash decisions. The questions I have are…How involved are the parents in the kid’s education? What exactly do they mean by “do better”? What are the demographics of these kids, ie small towns or big cities, at home parents, time spent in daycare, etc?

I have an August birthday and was the youngest in my class. While I wasn’t the star athlete in our class, I did okay and I did excel academically. Socially, I did not cave to peer pressure and to this day, I am good friends with many of my classmates. So, my personal experience leads me to believe that she’d be okay. Jeff on the other hand, is a late September baby and had to have nap time instated in the 1st grade because he couldn’t stay awake all day. While he did excel athletically, he is inclined to think that he might have done better academically if he’d started school a year later. All that being said, I think he turned out just fine!

The research is also showing that girls who start earlier are more likely to be successful than boys who start earlier and since I’m sort of leaning toward starting her early, this does give me some comfort.

The hang ups that I’ve got with starting her early are these. First, you don’t know that you’ve made a mistake until years later. There is a big social jump between 7 and 8 years old and an early starter might find herself a bit immature compared to her classmates. There’s another jump at puberty that can be even more significant. Second, when Jeff and I went to kindergarten, it was only 1/2 day. We will not have a choice – regardless of when we start Reese, she will have to go to full day kindergarten. Even if she is academically and socially ready, I worry that 5 days a week in a little desk will be a lot.

So, I’ve got 2 years to figure all of this out, which probably means that I’ve got 2 years to fret about it and watch each little milestone as a gauge of whether or not I will be confident that she’s “ready”. Stay tuned…

All this is coming about because we’re in the process of switching Reese from her current daycare/preschool to an in home daycare with our good friend Annie Fitzgerald (Kate’s Mom) and the preschool in town. The Beartooth Children’s center has a new director and thus a new direction that we’re really excited about, but we also looked at another preschool that will not even take her this year because they believe that she should be 3 years out from kindergarten instead of 2; thus, I started really thinking about it – yikes!

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July Daze

Here we are. It’s the end of July, Reese and I are approaching birthdays #3 and #34, respectively, Sylvia’s approaching month #2, and Jeff’s probably approaching insanity with 3 girls on his hands (or is it pure bliss?). Either way, it’s probably time for me to update: July started with a wonderful visit from my parents and Casey and Shannon. It was the 4th of July weekend, so we stayed very busy. We watched the parade every day, we picnicked in town, and we even managed to pull off a fun party at the house on the 3rd. Reese loved seeing everyone and everyone loved seeing her and meeting Miss Sylvia!

I was even able to catch up with my buddies from high school. I met Ingi, Julie, Misa and Dana for a couple of hours on Friday night and then went to a fabulous lunch with Ingi the following Tuesday. It’s hard to catch up on 5 or so years of details in such a short time, but we sure tried!

Casey and Shannon had to take off on the 4th, but we’ll see them again in August! Look out Colorado, here come the Carrolls!!!

Once again, Mom came through with tons of imaginative playtime with Reese! I love that she doesn’t watch much, if any, TV, but I will admit that her active mind is certainly a challenge to keep up with – especially now that I have baby brain!

My parents even watched the girls one evening so that Jeff and I could go on a date! What did we do? We went on a trail run through Silver Run, followed by a picnic and ice cream at the Red Box Car – of course!

And, we did manage to have some nice family moments as well…still hard to believe that there are 4 of us.

In more current news, Sylvia has started smiling. They’re not often, but their certainly worth the wait! I got so lucky to capture one of the first ones on “film”. She’s still sleeping a lot, but the last couple of days I’ve been working on getting her into a more predictable schedule and it seems to be working pretty well for all of us. She’s also sleeping in her own room now, which is a little sad, but very necessary because Little Miss Grunts a lot has been keeping her parents awake while she sleeps!

Two weekends ago, the Harley Rodeo was in town. It’s a pretty fun event, but it’s certainly not for children. So, we packed up the car and headed to Billings for a really fun day with Matt and Heather Prinki and their sweet little girl, Maise. We started with a walk to the farmer’s market, where we all found some fun things to eat. Then we fueled up with some caffeine before heading back to their house for a yummy lunch and lots of chatting and playing. It was a really enjoyable afternoon and much needed relief from the noise of the Harleys. After that, we headed to a craft show at Rocky Mtn College. We didn’t find a whole lot, but we did buy some mead (wine made from honey) that we’ve really been enjoying…could be our new thing!

This last weekend, we invited the Fitzgeralds and Jes and Nick over for some grilled food and outdoor movie night (it ended up being a great excuse to get the house clean). It was a fantastic evening – Reese and Kate had an awesome time and the only mischief that we know of resulted in Reese having a huge glob of soap in her hair (with no plans of cleaning it out), so not bad for two young girls with minimal supervision ;-) . After the girls went to bed, we watched “Anchorman,” which will never cease to be funny!

On Sunday, we took Reese and Sylvee on a “hike” up the Lake Fork Trail. We had Reese walk, so we could only go as far as we were willing to carry her back, which was about 3/4 of a mile in, but we’re happy to report that she did indeed walk most of the way. It was beautiful and it felt great to get out. Reese is still learning to pick up her feet when she walks, so she tripped a few times and has the war wounds to show for it! She’ll figure it out because this family is going to be spending a lot of time in these beautiful Beartooths.

We really seem to be soaking up summer. Jeff is grilling every chance we have (even breakfast) and he’s making some incredible stuff – he’s even got people seeking out his recipes! Reese and I have been attending the toddler program at the Nature Center and we’ve been going to the park and play dates on a regular basis. And, last, but certainly not least, we’ve started our running efforts again – with the girls! It was definitely hard at first, but we’re both getting our legs under us. Gearing up for running is a whole new ballgame with kiddos in tow. Jeff even managed to get up the airport hill while pushing both girls in the Chariot!! It feels great to get moving and now we’ve got the RL fun run in our sites. We’re hoping to be ready for the 10K with the chariot by Labor Day weekend – yikes! Gotta squeeze it all in while the weather’s nice!

So, that’s it. It’s been a great month and we’re most definitely looking forward to August. Two birthdays, a trip to Boise for me and Sylvia and a trip to Denver for the whole family – we may even get to see the Deckers while we’re there!!! Stay tuned, you never know what crazy happenings are going to take place with the Carrolls. PS, I’m sure I’ve left things out, so click on any of the pictures to access the entire July album through Kodak.

Love, Ginny

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4th of July Photos

Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve loaded pictures from the first part of July onto our Kodak Gallery. Please click on the picture below to take a look…details to follow. Enjoy!

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