The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Aunts and Uncles

6 2liters of soda.
2 boxes of poptarts.
20 miniature bags of chips
12 chocolate chip cookies

have been consumed in my house in the last 24 hours.

And not by me or Kev.

It could only mean one thing.  My sister's kids are over.

For their annual New Year's celebration with their Aunt Kim and Uncle Kev.

We just had to do it a little early this year - due to my schedule at work.

It always amazes how much they can eat.  And the list above does not include dinner or lunch!

I promise that it is not my goal in life to feed kids a bunch of junk food.  In fact, these days I would LOVE to be able to have them experience something new, something different, something healthy.

But kids will be kids and it is my job as an Aunt to give them what they want. 

It is important for me to be the "favorite", after all.

I texted Ashlynn - as I have done for the past couple of years- to find out what food they would want.  Her response was "spaghetti or pizza". 

Which just happens to be the response that I get every year.

And even with the spaghetti and pizza, we are not talking anything fancy.  No green.  No fancy cheeses.  No interesting variations.

Just noodles + sauce OR cheese pizza with maybe a pepperoni or two.

So, I planned a pizza party. 

A "make your own pizza" party.

Because getting to choose your own toppings between a bowl of pepperoni and a bowl of cheese is crazy fun!

And I also made garlic breadsticks ( from the freezer) and "handcrafted" "fried" cheese.

It was handcrafted because I wrapped string cheese in eggroll wrappers.
And it was fried because I rubbed the wrappers in olive oil and then baked them.

Thank goodness for pepper jack string cheese... because otherwise they would have had NO TASTE!

They pretty much exploded in the oven.... probably because I didn't wrap them tight enough.??
Like I said... the ones with regular string cheese were the blandest things that ever touched my lips.  But the pepperjack ones were ok.

They didn't ruin the evening... but they probably won't be on my menu again.
And then the creative pizza making began....

They turned out pretty good.  And the kids thought it was cool to make their own three cheers for the Aunt and Uncle!!

Dessert was ice cream sandwiches made with fresh chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

Other than consuming large quantities of junk and drinking obsessive amounts of soda... the crew basically just sat around and played video games...

And posed for pictures...

I'd like to think that they get their 80's band poses from me...

It was one of the subjects that I studied in high school.

For lunch today I made them more pizza and commented multiple times on how they need vegetables in their life.
They were so much fun as always and great entertainment. 

I was telling my Mom today about their visit and commented that I don't know why they like to come out because all they do is play video games.  But she reminded me of how they will always have great memories of spending time with Kim and Kev no matter what we do to entertain them.

And she is right.  Because going to visit my aunts and uncles was one of the greatest experiences ever when I was growing up.  They literally could have given me a stick to play with and served sliced cheese and I would have had the BEST time.  Even though they did WAY WAY MORE than that.  It was just being with them and staying at their house that was so special and awesome.

And now I'm off to review 2011's resolutions and see what I accomplished and what I need to refocus on this year.

Nerd alert times 20!

Today is the LAST day of the year!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Questionnaire

OK.  I get it.  Christmas was last week. 

It's called savoring.  And running behind on recapping the holiday. 

And a little bit of  New Year's resolutions procrastination.  ( I take them very seriously!)

I received this questionnaire WAY back in the middle of December and thought it would not only be fun to answer but I might get some fun ideas as well in reading other people's traditions.

Oh well,  I guess we can just treat it as getting a head start on next Christmas. 

I'm all about doing things in advance.  Yes, that's the ticket.

But before I start, I need for you to know how much in love I am with this animal...

 I don't know if it can get any cuter than a hedgehog in winter attire.

However, after tons of research, it has been reiterated to me that hedgehogs are very high maintenance.  And there can only be one of us like that in the house.

And now for the questions...

1.  Does Santa wrap presents or just place them under the tree?

Santa does NOT wrap our presents.  Never has.  Our Santa present reveal has always been somewhat of a process, though.  When we were little, we would all sleep downstairs and upon waking we would line up on the stairs in order of age and wait to be called in to the living room.

We couldn't all rush in at once - because #1 the gifts were all unwrapped.  But also because #2 we needed a picture ( and eventually a video) of the "excited to see our Santa gift face". 

There is NO WAY to capture six children's excited faces at the same time. 

But due to the fact that I am the mean and nosey and sneaky big sister.. I would usually have already crept up the stairs to get a peek OR would have found the stash in the "secret" closet in the garage. 

I've never been a good one for surprises.

Plus - my Mom always knew how to handle my gift discoveries and would tell us that since we had so many kids in our family, Santa had to drop off our stuff off early for my Mom to store.  But then he would come back on Christmas Eve to get his cookies and milk.

A VERY believable story if I do say so myself. 

To this day, we still line up in order of age.  And we still get called in one by one.  But instead of being under the tree - it is in the formal living room complete with blanket in the doorway to keep lurkers out.

In case you were wondering... blankets are EASY to bust through. 

Not that I would know anything about that.  Wink wink.

2.  Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Growing up it was ALWAYS colored lights!  I loved them.  Especially the big, old fashioned ones that probably set a lot of things on fire. 

When we moved to South Carolina, though, it was made VERY clear that white lights were the only way to go.  My parent's entire neighborhood was fancy white lights and our house stood out like a mullet in the future.  And my Dad didn't just do a couple of lights - he went ALL OUT.  Like blinking, flashing, crazy all over the place lights.


Still is.

And now it seems that the colored lights are making a comeback.  The majority of my parent's neighborhood now has followed their lead.  Colored lights are probably considered cool and vintage now. 

As for my house, we went with white lights in the yard.  Mainly because our house is white and it is kind of our theme.  And white lights on the trees inside.  I only have one tree with colored lights and that is my Disney tree in the "kid's" bedroom.

Kev did add in a little color when he decorated the back deck area.  And I foresee a little more being added in next year because we enjoyed seeing them all over the place this year.

3.  What is your favorite holiday dish?

Geez.  That's a hard one.  I'm a TOTAL carb-a-holic.  So, I guess I would say the potatoes, bread, and mac n cheese. 

I realize that is not just one dish - but they are all carbs so it's ok.

4.  Favorite memory as a child?

Wow!  Another super hard one.  I have SO MANY amazing childhood Christmas memories!  No detail was ever spared.  I loved it all.  The tradition.  The anticipation.  The story telling.  The treats. EVERY.SINGLE.THING.

But the two standout Christmases for me were:

When I received my HANDMADE dollhouse!  ( My Dad asked Santa if he (my Dad)  could make my gift that year.  And he built my dollhouse from scratch.  Shingle by shingle.  I still have it and still love it.  And plan to (one day) restore it back to it's original shape.

And the year that I received my first Cabbage Patch doll.  It was a fight to the finish for my Mom to score four cabbage patch dolls that year.  I'm sure she still has the scars to prove it.

I wanted a boy doll so bad.  Probably because I was SO sick of having sisters.  haha.

5.  Real tree or fake tree?

I LOVE real trees.  But the thought of going out and finding one, lugging it home, watering it, and then disposing of just too overwhelming for me.  Even though I'm surprised that Kev hasn't insisted on it based on how much he loves his plants and how our dining room is now a greenhouse.

Plus, Kev grew up with a real tree. 

I did not. 

We own FIVE fake trees now.  Even though I only decorated one this year.

6.  Favorite holiday dessert?

I would have to say wedding donuts!!!  I also love cake - like carrot, coconut, or caramel.

7.  What is your favorite tradition?

So hard to choose...

The reading of The Night Before Christmas ( which is why my parent's gift this year was the best ever!!)

My Dad handing out our stockings and gifts < = he makes the perfect Santa!

Our big feast.

Spending time with family and PLAYING GAMES!
Look how serious we were while playing Disney Cranium.  Family game time is quite intense.  Even if it is just a kid's game.

8.  What tops your tree?

Our main tree is pretty tall and to top it requires pulling out the BIG ladder.  Therefore, we went without this year.  Also, because we were afraid that the hot lights were going to catch the angel's dress on fire.

9.  What is your favorite Christmas song?

First of all, I must tell you that the Michael Buble cd was/is the greatest thing ever!!  Once I warmed up to it, I think I listened to it eleventy billion times. 

It is awesome!

As far as a favorite song... I have always loved Carol of the Bells and Silent Night.  And Michael's version of Jingle Bells is pretty sweet.

10.  What do you leave for Santa?

I don't leave anything anymore... but we used to leave cookies and a note.  Santa would always leave us a "thank you" note that my Mom would read to us first thing Christmas morning.

I thought it was so cool.  Until I started recognizing my Mom's handwriting.  It was the same writing that would be on my notes she would send to school with me that would grant me early release.

Growing up is the pits!

But luckily it hasn't stopped me from acting like a kid.  And using my imagination like a kid.

And enjoying Christmas like a kid.

The End.


As I told you in the last post - this was the first Christmas Eve that we were spending the night in our own house. 

We turned off the Christmas tree lights ( important fact for later) and went to bed at a decent time.

It was going to be our first time in forever that pictures would be taken without us having sleepy eyes.

And then at 1:30am we awoke to SUCH A CLATTER!

One loud boom after another.  Right outside our window ( at least it sounded like it).  Shaking our brains from left to right.

It seems that all of these years we have been missing the GINORMOUS GASTON GALA O' FIREWORKS.

And yes, that is the official name.  ( that I made up)

Random firework performances have become quite common out here in the country - but on CHRISTMAS MORNING!!  At 1:30!  And they were not sparklers.  They were like bombs.  If I was a parent that was trying to keep my children asleep - I would have been furious.

Let's face it.  I'm not a parent and I was furious.

They continued every thirty minutes until about 3:30am.

I decided to get up and sleep on the couch by the Christmas tree.

And the tree lights were ON!

In a sleepy, confused state, I just stood there and stared wondering if Santa really came. 

Or if the firework's posse had just blown my front door off and had come inside for some milk and cookies.

I was too tired to investigate.

We eventually got some sleep - and woke up to a beautiful Christmas day.

I had originally planned a big breakfast but decided to save it for another day because we would be eating quite the Christmas feast at noon.

I cooked food for lunch.  Kev worked out.  It was a peaceful morning.

We arrived at my parent's house right after Bethany and Teddy got there. ( They had been driving since 3:00am!)

Shannon + Randy and the kids arrived soon after.  The kids were excited to show what all they had received from Santa.

I did not get a single picture of Bethany with a sweet face....
Princess wearing her Christmas best!

Abigail's first Christmas...

And then she got a wardrobe change.  It is so hard when there are so many cute holiday outfits and only one month to wear them in.
We started the festivities with a HUGE feast.....  Complete with Christmas china.
The meal...

The desserts...
The food was delicious as usual.  And we all ate too much as usual.  And then ate on it again and again throughout the day ... as usual.

Then the gift giving began...

We started with the big stuff and continued tradition by entering the "Santa room" one by one to see what was left for us.

Abby's first bike...
I must have left the room at this point... because I did not take these pictures or participate in the following foolishness...

Our turn...
We got gift cards to Bonefish!  $5.00 bang bang shrimp on Wednesdays is where it is at!

Mom and Dad..

Reindeer hats were required for the next part...
The hats were really for the kids... but look who wanted to wear them too.  No surprise there!
It was really so much fun!  Another holiday full of laughter and love and loudness.  I can't imagine it any other way.

And for those of you that are game players... my parents got the best game!  Disney Cranium.  Yes, it is real.... and yes, it is awesomesauce.
I have always LOVED Cranium - but this one has you doing so many stunts and scavenger hunts and tricks along with every thing else.

Like balancing dice on your biceps until the timer runs out.

Bethany even had to crab walk from one room in to the other - which is one of the things on my bucket list.

( I'm pretty sure it is just for kids - but everybody knows that kid's games are better than adult's games!)

I could have stayed and played for hours and hours... but work the next day was calling my name.

I feel like this year Christmas came and went faster than usual... but it was such a great time with family and another awesome weekend of making amazing memories!

I loved EVERY second of it!  ( Except for the fireworks! )

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Twas The Night Before Christmas....

and all through the house there was so much food, family, and laughter,

and hopefully no mouse.

I can't believe it is already over.  I can't believe that I am already focusing on my New Year's resolutions. 
I can't believe that we STILL have so much food to eat.

I need a banana and a salad in the WORST way.

( Not sure exactly what that means - but it sounds extra dramatic)

Despite the whirlwind weekend, our Christmas was fantastic and so much fun! 

Which I attribute to good planning, a laid back schedule, plenty of sleep, and coffee.

The Christmas Eve festivities have been held at our house for the past four years.  This is when we get together with Kev's family to eat, drink, and be merry.

I was lucky enough to get this day off of work - and spent the day preparing food.

The infamous wedding donuts:
Dill dip with veggies and wheat thins:
Cheddar wafers served with sweet and spicy pecans, pimento cheese, and honey almond chicken salad ( my favorite from Publix!)
Tomato Bites!  ( Thanks for the recipe Rebecca!) I made them two ways - in baked wontons and in phyllo cups.
Antipasto Kabobs:

Pizza Bites:
And Kev's "Holiday Punch": 

Introducing "Festive Kev".  Similar to "Vacation Kev" but with a little more bling.
Big surprise of the night... Glenn surprised Mary with a fancy new camera!
And she got to open it before we officially got started so she could enjoy documenting the entire evening!
Being the only kid on Kev's side definitely has it's advantages!  Jayden received so many cool gifts.
With Kev's family, we draw names ahead of time....  And then we do another small gift swap where we draw numbers and fight for the best.

We ended up with several sentimental pieces from Kev's Grandmother, gift cards, cat food (?!?!) and an outdoor heater thingy that will allow us to have cookouts in the winter!

Some more pics...

Aunt Kim with Josh, Krystal and Jayden Young....
Mary, Glenn, and Jenn ( Kev's sister).

And, as usual, there were other family members that weren't documented.  Including myself.

We had such a great time as always!

Then every one left.  And for the first time in 40 years I was not spending the night at my parent's house.

I had no where to rush off to.

It was time for us to start a new tradition.

It was very bittersweet.  And strange.  And weird.

Our grown up lives have just gotten so busy and complicated and it has been getting harder and harder to get together - so we planned to meet on Christmas Day at 11am.  Which meant we all stayed in our own homes for the night.

Thank goodness for this....

My Mom and Dad recorded the story for me so I could listen to it any time that I wanted.

It was perfect!  And so special.  I loved it.

After listening to the book, we discussed what we should do.  And ultimately exchanging gifts with each other won out.

Kev surprised me with a Garmin.  For running!!  I cannot wait to use it!

Then we watched Christmas shows until we couldn't stay awake another second.

And fell asleep with visions of sugar plums ( or wedding donuts)  dancing in our heads.....

Up next:  Christmas Day!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Every one is talented at something. 
Most people are talented at a lot of things.
Sometimes it takes years and years and years to discover what your talents are.
Sometimes you figure it out when you are very young.
My parents worked hard to find what I could do best.  Ballet, tap, choir, sports, piano, and scouts.  I was mediocre at everything.  Which is putting it nicely. 

Until I learned the tripod.

For some reason I excelled at this move even though I showed a lack of grace, balance, or fitness.

It may or may not have been my extremely teased bangs and over sized teeth that kept me balanced in the pose for minutes on end.

But it continued into adulthood.  And soon became my "trick" or my "talent" that I showcased at get- togethers and family reunions.

( Sharing talents and performing shows for each other is a pretty big deal in my family.  Isn't that normal for every one?)

Fast forward to present day..

I was in my hot yoga class recently and was told that we would be ending the class with handstands.

Even though I am always up for new things, I immediately told the instructor that I would not be able to do that. 

Plain and simple.

And she just smiled at me and repeated that we would be doing handstands at the end of class.

I knew that once she saw my flexibility level she would give up on me and let me leave a little early.

But little did I know how patient and determined and encouraging she would be.

Right before we started in to handstands, she asked me if I had ever done any thing remotely close to balancing on my hands.

And I jokingly said, "Well, my talent is the tripod."  And then started laughing.

To my complete surprise, she lit up!  And informed me that she could do so many things in yoga but was unable to do the tripod.

And then had me demonstrate for the class.

Who knew that all of these years I was performing a yoga pose!  I knew I loved yoga for a reason. 

Then she used my new found confidence to talk me through getting in to a handstand position.

A handstand.

Something that I NEVER EVER thought I would be able to do.

Even though I was assisted and it was up against the wall.  I still did it. 

And it felt amazing!  Like scream worthy amazing!  I'm afraid I was a little obnoxious about it.

I even hugged her after we stood back up.

It is just that I was in shock!

Then there are things that you want to be talented in and you refuse to give up.

Like baking.

No matter how much I try - it is just not my thing.

I enjoy making cupcakes, and cakes and wedding "donuts"... but other than that it usually ends up feeling like a chore and not turning out.

I keep envisioning beautiful Christmas gift baskets full of treats from my kitchen.

And then half way through my baking extravaganza I end up with chocolate in my hair and sugar in my eyes and flour in every nook and cranny of the kitchen.

Of course, it may have something to do with me dancing and singing ( in to the mixer beater) all over the place.  That Michael Buble cd sure does get me in the spirit!

Regardless... this is what I ended up with....
Sweet and spicy pecans.  Made with melted butter, brown sugar, and spices. 

The pecans were actually very very easy and turned out pretty good.  I guess I can't really consider that baking, though.

Next came the melting of the chocolate.  Tons of it.
I felt like all I did was dip in chocolate for the next 100 hours.

I made peanut butter/chocolate pretzel bites.
They turned out SO sloppy - but still have the overall taste sensation that you would expect.

And cookie dough truffles.
These are really rich but so good!!  Again, mine are sloppy.  And I totally forgot to buy the mini chocolate chips which definitely make a difference.

But overall they are still fun to eat!

Which I did.  A lot of.

I'm hoping that my lack of talent in baking is cancelled out by my cooking.

And now my body is counting down the days until we get back to a normal healthy eating plan.

And begging me to do a tripod pose in front of Kev the next time he is watching something important on tv.

Tis the season for showcasing talents!