Monday, September 29, 2008

Just playin' around

Gabrielle likes to put a blanket over her head--usually to play "Peek-a-boo" with us.  But, lately she's been putting it over her head and then attempting to do other things like in this picture (play her toy piano).  Interesting to see her walking around the living room like a zombie.  I tried it myself and I couldn't see a thing through that blanket--interesting.

The blanket falls down, and now you can see that she likes to play dress up with some of my clothes (in this case it's the bottom skirt-piece to a swim suit set).  Fun!  :)

Another blanket picture...

I think that she was getting ready to show off her belly button (one of the body parts she is fairly proud of!).  I thought this was a fun picture too because you can see a lot of her teeth.  By the way, since she has the four teeth in the front (top and bottom) and one set of 4-molars, what are the next ones to come in, and about when can I expect them?  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our fabulous 9-day trip to Wichita

We left Texas on Saturday, September 13th and drove to Kansas...not to avoid the hurricane or anything like that (especially since we live the the desert).  

When we got south of Wellington, KS on the Turnpike we were instructed to drive very slowly because there was water rushing over the road.  The picture really doesn't give justice to the amount of water that was there.  Crazy!

We met Nick's mom, Debbie for supper at Chipotle (something we don't have in Texas), and afterwards noticed this beautiful rainbow in the sky.

The other side of the rainbow.  It wasn't connected at the top, but it was still beautiful!

Gabrielle napping in the car Sunday morning after church when we were on our way to Salina to meet up with my parents who drove down from Nebraska.  Notice she's wearing a new pink polka dotted sweatshirt--by the end of the day she had spaghetti sauce, black oil of some sort, and some Cheetos residue on the front.  Fortunately, it all came out in the wash--praise God for Shout spray!  :)

Stopping by the McDonald's for a little afternoon playtime.

I think she looks so grown up in this picture--one of my new favorites!!!

Messing around with the lock on the door to the play area--one of her favorite things to do at home.  Unfortunately, she got her fingers pinched when she got the door open just a little bit--sorry Gabi.

Nothin' that a little ice cream won't fix-especially since it was from Grandpa Reinke.  Yummy!

Nick's 99-year old grandma who lives in an assisted living home in Salina.  I can't believe how sharp she is.  She was a little nervous about Gabrielle breaking some of her antiques--seriously we're talking about furniture that she said belonged to her parents.  Wow!

Gabi found lots of things to play with and touch in Great-grandma's room including her baby picture from the hospital.  

Gabrielle hanging out on the bed in our hotel room before bedtime.  We really enjoyed staying at the Holiday Inn (Hwy 96 and Rock Road).  The beds were great, the continental breakfast was tasty, and we got the pool all to ourselves every time we used it.  

Gabrielle and I traveled out to Cheney for lunch with the teachers on Tuesday, and had a great time catching up with old colleagues.  The students remembered me too, and it was so much fun hearing one of them ask if I was coming back to be their teacher!  :)

After lunch Gabrielle enjoyed a little play time when we went down to the gym during 1st grade PE.  I had a great visit with so many people--hopefully we can come back again soon.  Oh, and the cooks made some fabulous homemade lasagna the day we were there.  Perhaps we can come again and hit chili and cinnamon roll day next time!  :)

Nick and Gabrielle opening a gift from Grandpa and Grandma Walker--a shirt that says, "What happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's".  Before we left they gave us a coloring book and some new crayons too.  Luckily Gabrielle doesn't put the crayons in her mouth TOO much's too bad though that she's favoring her left and when she draws!

Gabrielle checking out the picture on one of Grandma's purses--too cute since it's of her in the swimming pool this summer.

Trying to figure out the fan...the circulating button on top really intrigued her the most.

Grandpa Walker playing with the toy garage and some of the cars.  Gabi sat there for quite a while and played nicely with him.

Outside checking out Grandma's apples on her tree.

Trying to be helpful and pick one of the lower ones off for her.  Fortunately, Gabi wasn't able to pull it off...will she have a green thumb later in life (I sure don't!).

Grandma Walker and Gabi playing in the backyard.

Yea!!!  Grandma giving Gabrielle the princess treatment in the wagon.

On Wednesday we met Julie and Grayson at the Rockwell Library for story time (which showed me that she needs to learn how to sit down for more than 2 seconds!).  Then we got some lunch and headed to the Eastborough Park for some playtime.  We also met some other friends there--Katie and Kristy and each of their girls.

Gabrielle enjoyed this "window".

Going down the slide is sooo much fun!  She really enjoyed it, and we even went down the curly slide together once.  

Unfortunately, after that she got a little freaked out for some reason, and wouldn't go down the slide...she just hung on for dear life.  So, I came to her rescue, and sadly, she didn't return to play on the equipment much after that.

Playing in the fascinating wood chips with Delaney.  Notice she enjoyed playing with Julie's keys more than the playground equipment.  Hopefully that will change some day!  

Eating lunch at Spangles (Nick's favorite burger place) and enjoying our free ice cream cone.

Check out her red upper lip.  You'd never know she'd been licking away at that ice cream cone, would you?  ;)

Sunday on our drive back to Texas, we stopped in Lawton, OK to eat lunch with the Peterson Family.  Thanks again for driving out there to meet us!!!  Here's Brenna and Gabi getting better acquainted.

Checking out the rocking chairs...they actually did a great job of sharing and switching between the big and little ones.

Cory and Sydney playing checkers.

Gabrielle trying a gummy worm for the first time.  She thought she was pretty big stuff!

Check out her red tounge.  The bad news is that when we got out of the car at the next gas stop, I found part of the gummy worm on the back of her head squished into her hair--yucky!  She didn't like it too much when I pulled it out either.  Oh, we've now had our first hair-extraction.  I'm not looking forward to the day that there's gum in there.  I think that must happen to every girl at some point in their lives.  *Sigh*.

Once again, thanks to everyone who made our trip to Kansas so special this time around.  I had a great time hanging out with friends on the days that Nick was working up at the Koch building.  And, all together, we had a great time with family too.  One more thanks to the Ayotte's for hosting a gathering at their house for some old Focus friends to gather.  I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures of the kids all playing in their "band" together.  Wonderful memories!

I realize that the video is a little dark...but Gabrielle's so sweet here!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Work is fun

Okay, so I was tired and even sweating a little after I got done of an hour of fast-paced music teaching to the little guys this morning.  But I wanted to report that it went better than I had expected!

The little 2-year olds didn't participate much (some of them didn't sing or play the games at all).  But, they weren't really a problem to "manage" (other than the little girl who wanted to leave the circle and play with the kitchen set).  Hopefully they will grow with me as the year rolls on...I have to try to keep in mind that Gabrielle isn't far from some of their ages.

The 3-year olds were great because they wanted to learn the songs and try out the games.  It probably also helped that the two teachers in that room were playing and singing right along with me.  I even learned some new actions for the song "Twinkle, Twinkle" from one of them!

And, lastly the 4-year olds.  The most able to join right in with me, and to learn new songs quickly...not a surprise, but it was good after struggling to get the younger ones to sing.  Since they are older though, I can see some students that I might have more discipline problems with as we go boy was playing with the mat they were sitting on, while one of the girls was trying to "lead" the songs that we were doing.  

All in all, a very interesting morning, and fun was had by all.  I think that I need a nap so that I am ready for tomorrow (especially since it's a dreary-rainy day outside).

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go

So today is my first day teaching music for our church's Preschool/Kid's Day Out.  And, I'm nervous!  I've never taught 2, 3, and 4 year olds music before.  I don't even know if some of them can talk, let along sing.  Wow!  

My music-teaching experiences in public school didn't dip much below 5 years old (although there was a boy in Kindergarten who started the year out as a 4-year old once--not the best decision his family made for him).  And, Gabrielle's my only experience from birth to a year and a half old, and she's barely talking right now.  What about all those fun ages in between?

I'm sure I will have to add a blog update after I get home this morning.  I'm planning on teaching them how to "Copy Cat" me (or echo back something so that I can teach them a song that way), singing a couple of songs with actions, and then ending with "Shake My Sillies Out".  Hope that's enough to fill fifteen minutes...that's another thing...learning how much to plan for my music time with them.  I guess if I run out of things today, we'll just go back and review one of the songs that I teach them.  Hmmm...

More later...

Monday, September 08, 2008

More new faces and tricks too

The tongue is the new-to-Gabi body part of the week...she's been sticking her fingers in her mouth more too.  Interesting what she explores and "finds" each day.

More cheesy grins for the camera--fabulous!

More exploring...or perhaps she's training for the circus.  
Who knows some days!  :)

The TV of her favorite toys.  
Good thing she hasn't completely figured out how to operate it yet!  

Friday, September 05, 2008

Another tasty meal!

Just thought I would share another recipe that was a hit for supper tonight!


Salisbury Steak with French Onion soup and Cheese Toasts


1 T. olive oil

1 lb. ground beef

2 T. dried parsley

2 T. dried onions

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

2 T. flour

1 cup onions, sliced

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

1 T. tomato paste

2 cups beef broth

¼ cup dry red wine

Salt sprinkle

½ tsp. dried thyme


Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.

Combine beef, parsley, onions, salt, and pepper.  Divide evenly into 5 portions and shape each into oval patties.  Place four on a small plate; dredge each patty in flour.  Reserve leftover flour for later.

Add patties to pan and sauté 3 minutes on each side, or until browned.  Remove from pan.

Add onions, sugar, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute or until paste begins to brown.  Stir in flour and sauté another minute.  Stir in broth, wine, salt, and thyme. 

Return meat to the pan and bring soup mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve steaks with soup and cheese toasts (I also had corn on the cob with this meal).



Cheese Toasts

8 slices French bread

4 T. butter, softened

1 t. dried minced garlic

Pinch of paprika

½ cup (or more) grated Swiss cheese

2 T. Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine butter, garlic, and paprika; spread on one side of sliced bread.

Combine cheeses and sprinkle evenly over buttered bread. 

Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread is crisp and cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Simple Shrimp Alfredo

Here's a quick and easy recipe that we enjoyed took less than 30 minutes total to prepare (including getting the water to boil for the pasta).  I served it with steamed broccoli and garlic toast.  Yummy!

Simple Shrimp Alfredo


12 oz. spinach fettuccine

2 T. olive oil

16 oz. raw peeled/divined shrimp

Salt & pepper

1 clove garlic (I used ¼ tsp. dry minced garlic)

16 oz. jar Alfredo sauce

½ cup Parmesan cheese

4 T. lemon juice


Cook pasta according to the package and drain. 

Meanwhile cook shrimp in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Stir in Alfredo sauce, cheese, and lemon juice.  Add pasta and cook until warm.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New smiles

Thought you would all enjoy a little giggle, so I am posting Gabrielle's new smile (with squinted eyes) when she notices that we are taking pictures of her...I think it's adorable! :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Playtime with Daddy

Since the camera started working again this week, I've captured several great pictures of Gabrielle and Nick together. I am soooo glad that we didn't have to buy a new camera (previous post)!!!

Gabrielle and Nick playing with the stacking cups. Nick would help her get them mostly stacked, and then Gabi loved the part of knocking them all down and starting again (which frustrated Nick a little).

Where's Daddy's belly button?

Enjoying some wrestling time--who says girls can't do that too?

Gabi was really quiet one afternoon and here is where I found her...playing with the keyboard. She likes watching the pictures on our screen saver, but hasn't figured out that when she messes with the keys or mouse that the pictures go away. She was definitely enjoying herself! :)

Helping daddy open one of his birthday presents this weekend.

Daddy reading Gabi one of her favorite books (there are buttons that she likes to push on the side that play different classical music songs).

Just playing with my new beads.

Bonus picture...mommy and Gabi ready for church.