Christmastime 2013

December 26th, 2013 . by Melissa

We had a great Christmas this year and our fun has only begun! We headed down to visit my family in Southern Indiana on Sunday. We went straight to the Dart Family Christmas at my Aunt Debbie’s. The kids had a great time playing with their second cousins and we enjoyed lots of yummy food! We also got a few family photos, which was nice since the others were so out of date! Jack and Cadence each also got a new toy!

On Monday, we headed to the Ritzy’s Fantasy of Lights. I didn’t get any photos but the kiddos sure loved it. We also ate at Hacienda, one of my favorite Evansville restaurants and enjoyed a delicious mudslide dessert. Tuesday was Christmas eve. We spent time with my dad and Kathy, just relaxing. We started a new tradition with the kiddos, a special Christmas Eve box that included new Christmas jammies, a new family movie to watch, popcorn and hot cocoa. The movie they got was Tangled and they loved snuggling with Grandpa and Nana, sipping hot cocoa. After the movie was over we went outside and let off a Chinese wish lantern just like the ones in Tangled. My dad just happened to have one lying around (he has everything!)

Christmas morning, the kids woke up at a decent hour (thank goodness they are still young enough to sleep in!) We immediately went upstairs to see what Santa brought. Jack was thrilled that the goodies and milk he left were all gone. The kids had a great time opening their Santa gifts and their gifts from Grandpa and Nana. Cadence really got the hang of ripping off the wrapping paper this year, she loved it and would even try to help Jack! We had special Christmas tree waffles for breakfast. The kiddos played with their toys for a little longer while Jason and I packed up the car. We said our goodbyes and then headed to my Mom and Terry’s in Kentucky.


We had Christmas lunch at my Mom and Terry’s. My brother was there, as well as my cousin and her family, my Grandma and my Uncle Craig. My grandma made her famous potato salad “just for me.” I had several, several helpings. And had more today for lunch, too! The kids opened their gifts and enjoyed playing with the dogs and with their cousins. Alora and Cadence are just 2 weeks apart and were being so cute with each other! We had a great time. We loaded up the car with all kinds of goodies and then drove 4 hours home. Luckily my mom sent us on our way with tons of cookies, homemade fudge, and cheesecake. That kept me awake for the drive home!

The day after Christmas we let the kids open their stockings and their gifts from us. It was nice to have a little Christmas of our own and actually use the tree we put up! I spent the rest of the day making room for the new toys, out with the old and in with the new! Our holiday cheer won’t stop here; Jason’s mom, sister and brother are coming to visit tomorrow. Let the holiday fun continue!

Best Ever Toffee Recipe (So far…)

December 14th, 2013 . by Melissa

I finally found and modified my so-far-favorite recipe for toffee, and I am writing it down here so I will know where to find it next Christmas when I want to make it again! and again! and again! I love Christmas toffee, can you tell?


2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

2 Sticks Salted Butter

1 Cup white sugar

1 Cup brown sugar

3 Tbs. Corn Syrup

1 Cup Chopped Almonds

1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips



  1.  Use a heavy bottomed saucepan. Coat with butter.
  2. For thicker toffee use a 9 x 13 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet. I’m talking 1/4-1/2 inches thick in the middle. For thinner toffee, use a 10X17 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet. Add alumnium foil to bottom of pan and coat foil with cookie spray.
  3. Combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low (on my stove it’s between 2-3) Boil to brittle stage, 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) without stirring. DO NOT STIR! On my candy thermometer the magic number was 275 (it has a bubble).  Remove from heat. (If bubbles in the boiling mixture are dark brown instead of a nice light amber, the heat is too high!) Also don’t forget the water test, to see if you’ve made it to the hard crack/brittle stage.
  4. Remove mixture from heat, pour into jelly roll pan. Wait 3-5 minutes. Then add chocolate chips. Wait another 3-5 minutes and spread melted chips all over the top of the toffee. Finally, add the chopped almonds. I chopped my already slivered almonds in the food processor to chop them finer and also create an almond dust, that I personally think makes the toffee look even more beautiful and professional, kind of like Almond Roca.

Serves 48.

Little Boy

December 6th, 2013 . by Melissa

…is what we are calling the baby for now because we cannot agree on a name. Good thing we have 4 more months to figure one out! There are actually 2 names we really like and have had on our list for awhile but BOTH are on the Top 5 Most Popular Boy Names for this year. While I don’t want to name Little Boy some made up name like Pooky Gooky Dooky (sorry, Jack!), I also don’t want him to have the same name as 5 other boys in his class. Jack(son) was number 36 in popularity when Jack was born in 2009 and it seems like there are 4 year old Jacksons everywhere! Poor Jack was so confused at his soccer games when this other little boy named Jackson (also called Jack) brought his entire extended family to every game to cheer him on. They’d yell “Score, Jack, score!!” But my Jack was nowhere near the ball or goal and was wondering why all these people were yelling at him! It really wasn’t that big of a deal but it’s made me rethink popular names for our future children. SO yeah, we have no name ideas for Little Boy!

I wanted to share a little bit about this Little Boy we can’t wait to meet in April!

First, he is a crazy mover!! More than my other two, and I thought they were busy bodies in utero! At the ultrasound the technician had a hard time getting all of his readings because he was so fidgety. Despite all this moving; I only feel his kicks, body waves, and punches 10 or so times a day. My placenta is in front of the baby and so all of his movements are muffled by that. Which also means, Jason hasn’t been able to feel him yet because his movements aren’t strong enough to be felt on the outside.

Second, he’s a little guy. He is only in the 11th percentile for height and weight. At my ultrasound, I had only gained 5 lbs. and I was terrified they were going to tell me there was something wrong with the baby’s development. However, he is perfectly healthy in every way, just waiting for a growth spurt to catch up!

It’s amazing to me how each of my pregnancies have been noticeably different. I was much sicker with this one than I was with Cadence (and I wasn’t sick with Jack at all!) This is my first baby where the placenta has been in the front, so that’s been different as far as feeling movement! I get tummy aches all the time with this one and have to be careful about what I eat even though my nausea is long gone (thank goodness!!)  With Cadence I had already gained 15 lbs. by week 15, with this one I have finally hit the 10 lb. mark at week 23 (and I’m really happy about that because low weight gain scares me.) I am also getting a lot more frustrated, a lot more quickly this pregnancy. My poor children and husband, just know it’s the hormones talking, not me!

Here’s are some cute “skeleton” pictures (as Jack calls them!) and a belly shot!



IMG_20131113_1_1IMG_20131113_1_6 IMG_20131113_1_8IMG_20131113_1_13


And here we are at 23 weeks!DSC_0173 copy


Turkey Day!

December 6th, 2013 . by Melissa

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Debbie’s this year, and it was so fun for the kiddos to play with their second cousins. There are 13 grandchildren on my Mom’s side, and 5 of us have kids. So, I think there were a total of 10 second cousins, plus 3 other little ones that my other aunt and uncle foster parent for. It was loud and crazy but even without the kiddos that’s how it is on that side of the family, it’s great! We spent the rest of our Thanksgiving break with my dad and Kathy. It was relaxing, we got to eat at my favorite restaurant Tequilas. YUM!  We didn’t brave the Black Friday crowds this year, though I usually love to. Fortunately, this year I was almost completely done with my Christmas shopping before Black Friday and just didn’t need to get out. Instead, my mom, Jack and I went to see Frozen. It was really good, I highly recommend it! I didn’t get any pictures for the entire rest of the trip, I guess I was just having too much fun living the moment! But here are a few pics I was able to snap.


Happy Birthday, Jack!

December 4th, 2013 . by Melissa

I’m still in shock that I have a 4 year old. 4!?! That seems so old. Jack had a great birthday, he was lucky to celebrate with his Grandma and Terry in person and also got lots of phone calls from the rest of our family. It was a nice relaxing day, spent playing with new toys and eating yummy cake.

Pirate Parrrrrrty!

December 4th, 2013 . by Melissa

Jack celebrated his 4th birthday with 4 of his friends at the Buccaneer Bay indoor watermark. He had such a fun time and enjoyed pretending to be a pirate for the day!

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