Saturday, August 25, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

Did you know school is starting Monday?  I was blissfully unaware of just how close the approaching school year was until last week.  Maybe it's because all I could think of was a certain lemonade stand birthday party, who knows.  I didn't realize how quickly Gannon's time as a preschooler was diminishing, or how unprepared I am for school to start!

He is ready, okay who am I kidding, he is more than ready to start school.  As happy as I am that he is excited and really going to love it, part of me just wants to keep him home a little longer.  Why do they have to grow up so fast??

This weekend, I have been racking my brain to find suitable lunches and snacks to send with him to school.  Add to the fact that he is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, their school district is peanut free.  This obviously means no peanuts, peanut butter, etc.  But it also means nothing that was processed on equipment that may have come into contact with peanuts or any other tree nuts.  Not so easy.  That eliminates his favorite lunch, peanut butter and jelly, and two of his favorite snacks, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip granola bars.  I've got to get creative.

I found this recipe on Pinterest for homemade granola bars, so I thought I would give them a world.  I made a couple of changes based on what I had on hand in the pantry.  This is what we got.

These were so easy to make, and they didn't take long either!  The recipe makes 24 bars, and they freeze well.  I plan to just take one out in the morning before school and toss it into his lunch box.  That way, it's ready at lunch time, and I only have to make them once a month....if I don't sneak into the freezer while he's at school ;)
So here's what you need:
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ (I didn't have any, and they came out fine, however, it's on the list for next time)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped (I didn't have cherries, so I used raisins)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I only had semi-sweet morsels)
3/4 cup slivered almonds (obviously, I had to omit this)
And here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.
Mix well using your hands, add in raisins (or other dried fruit), and chocolate chips (and almonds, if you're using them). Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges. Cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes before cutting. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting or they will crumble.  I used a pizza cutter, and it worked great!

Store the bars in an air tight container, or freeze.

The moment of truth:

 We have a winner!!

And there you have it!  Homemade chocolate chip raisin granola bars :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Birthday Girls!

This is a double birthday post.  Not only did my little princess turn FOUR today, but my baby girl also celebrated five months!

Sometime during the night, the Birthday Fairy paid Austyn a little visit.  Bryan and I heard a little noise, so we snuck into her room to find this:

And our little sleeping beauty slept right through the fairy's little visit!

 This morning, she woke to find this!

She was so excited! about that hair?!

What does a princess have for breakfast on her birthday?  Well, coffee milk and cupcakes, of course!

She had a fantastic birthday weekend!  Thanks to all of you who helped to make it perfect!  She said the best part was when the Birthday Fairy put all the balloons on her ceiling ;)

We had another special day this weekend!  We celebrated five whole months with our little Mia-Bug!  She kind of got lost in Austyn's weekend, but I don't think she minded one bit.  Here are her stats this month.

She is really loving to play with her toys.  Her coordination is getting better and better.  She can't pass toys from one and to another, yet, but she can put them in her mouth!

Look at my little chunk in the tub!  

Now that she is rolling (constantly), she is really getting active in the tub.  She just loves it!

Sleep has been a struggle for us lately because Little Bit is trying to get some teeth :(  I hate to see her so miserable.  We lost her anklet in Houston (bad, BAD Mommy!!), and it really shows.  She still sleeps about twelve hours from the time she goes down at night until she is up for good the next morning, but there are lots of nursing sessions happening in those hours.  Sometimes it's once an hour, sometimes she can go for six.  

I know it is hard to tell from the pictures, but eating is probably the lowest thing on her priority list right now.  She is so nosey, she will only nurse for a few minutes before losing interest and moving on to something else.  It's still about 2-3 hours between feedings even though she is eating less.

She loves to be worn.  I have an Ergo and a ring sling, and she loves both.  I have to admit, though, I prefer the Ergo.  It is a little easier to use, to me.  Any time she gets too exhausted to calm, I just pop her in the Ergo, and BOOM!  She's out!

 Gannon wanted to wear her so bad!  Haha :)

Gannon is one of her biggest fans.  He is so sweet to her, and always wants to help.

She is too cool for school!

Teething aside, she really is one of the happiest babies I have ever seen.  Teething obviously comes with pain and tears, but other than that she only really cries when she is tired.  She will get whiny when she is hungry or when she just wants attention, but as soon as you give it to her, she is happy, happy, happy!

She is still refusing bottles and pacifiers for the most part, so when I do get a's going to be rough, to say the least. 

She's trying so hard to get up on all fours and scoot.  She has gotten up once, and thrust herself forward, but I believe it was an accident.  Won't be long, though!

Did I mention she can sit?!  Yep, that's my tiny baby girl sitting up all by herself!!

I think she is proud of herself ;)  I'm proud of you, too, baby girl!

Just for fun:

Happy birthday to my big FOUR-year-old!  And happy five months to my not-so-tiny baby girl!  We love you both so big!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How Can it Be?

Can it really be true?  Is my tiny little baby already FOUR??!  Yes, friends.  Yes, it is.  For four wonderful years, we have been watching our baby grow into a beautiful, smart, funny hilarious, quick-witted joyous little girl.  It has been a blast!

This year, Austyn chose a lemonade themed birthday party.  I had so much fun decorating for it, and I think she really had a great day!

She had pink, yellow, and white cupcakes with personalized toppers, mason jars with pink and yellow ribbons, and, of course, lemon drops!

On the mantle, I arranged a few of our favorite photos of the birthday girl.  They ranged from birth to age FOUR!  I really can't believe I am saying four....eeek!

And here is the birthday princess, herself!  She even had a dress made just for her party!  The perfect dress for a lemonade/pink lemonade party!

Mia slept through most of the party.  It was all just a little much for her!

The highlight of the party--The Water Slide!  Dustin let us borrow his slide, and the kids were SO excited!  There was a 60% chance of thunderstorms Saturday, but the weather actually cooperated with us!  We never even got a drop :)

I can't believe I didn't get photos of the crowd on the water slide!  But I did get them on the trampoline.  They went back and forth all afternoon.

*That's Gannon "rockin' on!"

This is Ramsey.  He is the little loner of the bunch.  He just did his own thing and tried to stay away from the crowd.  Isn't he just the cutest thing?!

Lunch break!  This didn't last long, and they were back out to play. 

Now, on to any birthday girl's favorite part:  The gifts!  We are so blessed to have such great family and friends surrounding us.  I know I say it all the time, but it really just amazes me!  Even here in Longview, we have found the greatest people to share these experiences with!

Austyn told Mimi that she wanted piggies (big surprise), Kool-aid, and a pink car for her birthday...She got just that!  That is the Kool-Aid there :)

 Parrain E got her some new earrings.  She was so excited to open them and see pearls, just like Mommy!

This is part one of two from Mommy and Daddy.  It was a little family and some furniture.  As soon as she saw it, she started screaming for her friend, Chloe, to come see!  She was so excited!

Here is her face as she saw part two of two....a new DOLLHOUSE!

Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday sweet princess!  Happy birthday to you!

Let's play "Caption This"

I think she is saying:  What do you mean I can't have cake??

Haha, sweet girl :)

I think it is safe to say, the party was a success!  We had great weather, great friends, and great family!  It couldn't have been any more perfect!

Except....Can someone please put a rock on this girl's head?!  She is growing up too, too fast!  At least I get to be a part of it!  Love her ;)

Happy, happy birthday, Austy-Bear!  We love you to the moon and back :)


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