Friday, February 26

fondue, shattered glass, crusty bread, the dentist, and a retrocade

i know what you're thinking:
what the heck does fondue, broken glass, crusty bread, the dentist, and a retro arcade all have in common? 
the answer is simple. nothing. except that the brower clan has experienced each one of those things at least once over the past two weeks.

for valentine's day we decided to live on the edge and try something slightly different and little bit exciting. we gave fondue a go and it was a hit!

we read about a fun tradition when someone drops there bite of food in the fondue pot, they have to kiss the person next to them on the cheek. there were tons of giggles and squirms going on all through out the meal! 

can't have chocolate without messy kisses, right?

i have been on a bread baking kick lately. i've never had much luck with yeast, but lately it's been working so i've been baking up a storm! french bread, rolls, and these crusty rustic loaves have been our favorites!

chris took these pictures and we couldn't stop laughing after we saw this one! reeeeeally enjoying that soft dough ;)

i think i made 5 of these loaves last week. it's soon good toasted and then smeared with butter and drizzled with honey.

 other news from the kitchen is that i managed to cause a 9x13 pyrex dish to explode in the oven and then later broke a glass vase. we are now wearing shoes at all times in the kitchen just as a precaution.

also, the kids had their first dental appointment in 3 years last week. i know. I'm a terrible mom. this was charlie's first time seeing a dentist and he's five. FIVE! i know, i know!

luckily the dentist office shows spongebob while their teeth are being cleaned and checked. but even better than that is that between the three kids we didn't have a single cavity! wahoo! i guess brushing and flossing daily really does pay off ;)

last saturday we went up to fayetteville to visit a retrocade (thats a retro arcade for those that aren't hip with arcade lingo). it was $5 a person and you could play hundreds of arcade games for as long as you want. i found an original nintendo and made the mistake of pointing it out to chris. he had to defeat all levels of super mario brothers before he could do anything else.

before the arcade we ate at a grilled cheese restaurant and after the arcade we had to get some frozen custard at andy's. we had to! owen is turning into such a character, and a pretty cute one too!

when he eats ice cream he shakes his head "yes, yes, yes!" between each bite. he approves!

ice cream makes jack do silly things too, like dancing in public without realizing people are watching...

speaking of dancing, here is a little snippet of owen dancing, because i know grandma's like to see. he  just can't resist it, and we love that!

ellie's 8!

we just can't even believe our baby girl is eight years old. how? how did that happen so quickly?
we've been celebrating for a couple weeks, just as one should for such an important milestone!

on her birthday morning she had pancakes with sprinkles and whipped cream along with presents from both grandparents!!!
i just love these sleepy face pictures!

this soft monkey from grandma janie has been her cuddle buddy every night these past couple weeks.

as we were driving to school i looked in the back and there was ellie, dressing her doll in her new outfit from grandma.

the little boys and i joined ellie and jack for lunch at school. we had to take a picture wearing our BFF necklaces. i love that she still likes me and hasn't decided that mom isn't cool yet :)

daddy took ellie out for her birthday dinner to Fuji, which is a Japanese steakhouse. Fuji is jack's favorite restaurant because of the sushi, so we were all surprised that ellie picked it. she said that she wanted to try something out of the usual.... and they have steak, which she loves!

ellie invited three friends over for a little party on the 15th because they didn't have any school. she thought long and hard about what kind of party she wanted to have. i guess when you don't have a party with friends every year, you really have to put some thought into the ones you do. so after some thinking she decided to have a
Cupcake Wars Party!!!

we divided into two teams and i gave the girls 2 timed challenges that they had to complete without any help. The challenges were related to the birthday girl in some way.

the first challenge was to use a white cake mix (ellie's favorite cake) and doctor it up in some way so it wasn't an ordinary white cake mix.

the second challenge was done while the first challenge was baking and cooling. it was pretty simple: decorate some pre-made cupcakes using the color mint green, ellie's favorite.

once the second challenge was completed, they had to decorate their first batch of cupcakes. i was pretty impressed that the girls could plan, follow recipes, and execute their ideas so quickly. they made two different types of frostings from scratch, one team filled one batch of cupcakes with a cream cheese filling, and one team even made a chocolate ganache.

in the end we had two surprise judges (the other girls' mamas) come and do a blind taste test to decide the winning team. it came down to just one point! ellie's team did not win, but the girls all had a blast!

this was definitely a fun party to have with kids this age, especially since these girls are competitive and like to smack-talk a bit, but i have to be completely honest: it was exhausting! i was running all around the kitchen trying to keep mixing bowls, measuring cups, and utensils washed and ready for each team, not to mention cleaning up all the piles of powdered sugar and sprinkles! that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it just meant that i didn't get as many pictures as i would have liked to. i'd totally do it again if one of the other kids wanted to do it sometime.

as i've typed this post, i've also been busy getting floral arrangements together, a cake frosted, a white jumpsuit and 2 dress shirts laundered, and a new set of scriptures with the name Ellie Jane Brower engraved on them wrapped and ready, all in preparation for tomorrow. tomorrow is a big day! ellie is getting baptized tomorrow evening and she couldn't be more excited! she has been counting down the days. she's a beautiful girl, inside and out, and we are so proud of the little lady she is turning in to. she is quick, she is sassy, she is loving, she is creative, she is happy, she is tough, she is daring, she is determined, she is beautiful, and she is going to be one heck of a woman when she grows up! but she always be our baby girl.

Monday, February 8

not much to report

we haven't been up to anything too exciting around here the past month or so. we've been busy doing the normal day to day routine with soccer a couple times a week, cub scouts, church duties, and of course school and work. owen keeps me very busy these days. he just goes and goes and doesn't stop... just like jack, ellie and charlie did (and pretty much still do). he gets into everything and has figured out how to climb.

we don't have a pantry (curse whoever designed a home without a pantry!!!). owen pulls everything off our shelves, several times a day. sometimes we get lucky and don't have spills. we try to hide all of the glass items, but owen is clever and can find them.

we went to OKC for an overnight trip last month so chris and i could take turns going to the temple. the kids were very much needing a swim, so they were in heaven. charlie told me last week "mommy, my arms need to swim. can we build a pool cause i need to swim? please?". florida kids through and through.

i put together a baby shower for katie smith on the 23rd and it was a great afternoon! they welcomed their 4th girl, Remi Lee Smith, last wednesday the 3rd and she is the most beautiful newborn i've ever seen. I've enjoyed her snuggles.

it's been really windy the past few weeks, so we've tried to make the most of it with the kite charlie got for christmas.

 we've prepped all of our valentine's and are ready for the school parties! we got this fun idea from kersey over at  and the kids love it and can't wait to pass them out.

 this week we will celebrate ellie's birthday. i can't believe our baby girl is going to be 8. EIGHT!!! she is over the moon excited for her baptism on the 27th of this month. she and her best friend Dani will be getting baptized at the same time. a few months ago she told me that when she gets baptized, she wanted to wear a long white dress that touched the floor. such a funny girl. we found the perfect dress online and she looks so beautiful!