Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Contest

We had a fun little pumpkin carving contest with Little Kenny, Brian, my Kenny, Jereme and Melodi.

Little Kenny waited until the day before Halloween to purchase his pumpkin and ended up spending 2 hours searching for one--- A for effort for sure! We could only find the little ones so I used a little one since my design was small.

Here are our pumpkins - 

Me- Spider 

Brian- Dodge Challenger 

Kenny - Dodge Truck 

Little Kenny - Honda 

Jereme- Toyota 


See any resemblance in the guys pumpkins??? Its all about cars lol I posted all the pictures on facebook for our friends to vote.... Little Kenny campaigned pretty hard and won himself a $5 starbucks gift card. 

I had a really good time with the whole thing and it was fun to do something with our cousin even though he is in another state. This was my first carving experience on my own.... next year I will try something a little more challenging. 

Halloween 2011

My mom had Kenny and I over for dinner tonight. It was kind of neat all 7 of us crowded around my grandma's old table. My mom made a pork roast and a beef roast in the same crock pot like my Grandma Taylor used to do- it comes out so moist and tender!
After dinner Kenny, Brian, the boys and I got dressed in our costumes to hit the town for trick or treating! Our first stop was my parent's neighbor, Bill- his wife made special treat bags for both boys! Then we were off to Radiant for some Trunk or Treating. It was super crowded with probably twice as many people trick or treating and only 1/2 as many stops compared to years past... We decided to venture out to the neighborhood right by the church and had great success! Lots of people really went all out with decorating their homes which was fun. The boys were so much fun to watch as they scampered up and down the driveways squealing with delight. My favorite was when they got popcorn and Jacob's little face lite up as he said, "They gave me Halloween POPCORN!" Our group got lots of comments and people seemed to enjoy us being dressed up... although not many people knew who I was... Mario and Luigi are easy, but Princess Peach isn't as easily recognized. Someone said, "OH you must be Princess Toad!" which my brother of course had a lot of fun with the rest of the night.

After we dropped the exhausted Taylor boys off at home with their heavy bags filled with candy we went home and got a surprise visit from 3 adorable pirates (and their parents and grandma!). We haven't seen the Ross family in a while, but when kids are young a small gap in time feel like you have missed so much! The twins are absolutely adorable and growing like weeds! I was pretty impressed when the 3 of them walked up to the door like old trick or treating experts! I can't believe how much they are 'talking' and getting around these days!

Emma sat on the couch and pulled out every piece of candy in her bucket and gave it to me : ) She is so adorable and always smiling.

Matt says, "Happy Halloween!" and it is just too cute. This is the first time we have seen him with his glasses and I think he is just handsome as can be!

Zack is getting to be a big boy! He is talking much more clearly now. I am always surprised how he always knows me and Kenny... I mean of course he knows us, but he addresses me by name. "Hi Amanda" or "Amanda look at me" its pretty neat. He was having WAY to much fun eating his suckers and running all of the place. He sang us his ABCs which ended in "Now I lay me down to sleep..." LOL

I really enjoyed our surprise Pirate attack!

Hope everyone had a Spooktackular Halloween too!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Great Groupon Weekend

Friday when I got home from work I printed groupons for Dracula, Golf, The Spooktacular Balloon Festival at Salt River Fields and the Fall Festival at Vertuccio Farms... so I declare this was the Great Groupon Weekend! 

I am one of the few who have never seen or read Dracula... I do love the Twilight Saga and HBO's True Blood series, but before last year I had zero interest in vampires. Since no one else was really interested in going to see a play I invited my coworker, Becky to come with me. We split the Groupon of a whopping $12 for two admissions and carpooled out to Grand Canyon University for the evening- talk about a cheap outing! 

Since I was not familiar with the plot or characters I had no pre- conceived notions about the play and I really enjoyed it! in fact it was probably one of the best plays I have seen! Now I want to read the book and watch the movie so I can compare them: ) 

I always have a good time hanging out with Becky, because she is so easy going and fun and tonight was no exception. 

BTW the Grand Canyon University campus is amazing!

While I was out at the play Kenny met up with his Nana for a movie. They saw In Time and both said it was pretty good. 

Saturday morning Kenny got up early to pick up my brother for a round of golf ... out in Mesa. When they got home Kenny told me they tired and both scored 83... I had to ask, "What exactly were the rules?" and he replied they scored themselves on what they felt like they should have got for the hole... ha ha I knew there had to be a catch! My brother is left handed, but doesn't have is clubs anymore so he borrowed my dad's right handed clubs... Although, he did really well driving right handed Kenny and Brian both admitted there were moments when they both couldn't stop laughing (to me the best kind of golf- laughter filled). They stopped Cheba Hut for lunch on the way back. I guess all of the food is named after pot... Kenny didn't care for that too much, but he said the food was good : ) 

Saturday evening my mom, Kenny, Brian, the boys and I went to The Spooktacular Balloon Festival at Salt River Fields. I was surprised how big the event was! We started at the kid zone area which included bounce houses, obstacle courses, a zipline, a giant slide and human sized hamster balls!! 

Since it was only $2 each we all tried the hamster balls. I was surprised how much the boys liked them. They came back dazed and giggling and wanted to go again (the line was pretty long at that point!). Brian took off running fast in his ball and we all laughed when the momentum scooped him up and he rolled in the ball. I went last and almost didn't go, wanting to save the tickets for the kids to play, but I am glad I did it! It was a ton of fun. When we did the hamster ball in Branson we were strapped in, but this one you actually just ran like a hamster and you could control the speed and do flips if you wanted to which of course I did : )

After the boys had tried a few of the bounce attractions we headed over to check out the vendors.... I always enjoy the vendors-- free goodies and maybe some coupons- oh yeah! Kenny and I signed up for a Time Share presentation there too... hope we don't buy it! They are always fun to go to though. The boys liked the booths too, because they got to trick or treat them! 

Once it was dark it was time to check out the haunted house... Little Brian begged and begged us to let him go through the haunted house. We finally gave in and bought him, Jacob and Big Brian a ticket... once he got within 10 feet of the entrance he turned around and starting crying and said he changed his mind and didn't want to go. Since there were no refunds available and my mom had wanted to go anyway she ended up going in with Brian and Jacob... Brian said when they walked in Jacob turned and headed back for the door and Brian ended up carrying him. He clenched tightly to his dad and was wide eyed, but never cried. When they came out he declared that he was not scared at all .... 

After we got a quick bit to eat we decided to go on the FREE haunted trail ride. We hopped on the golf cart and toured through the baseball fields with random zombies and ghosts jumping out at us. Kenny and I were in the back seat and of course I think that was the worst seat for me to choose... they 'creatures' would all follow and stare at us which freaked me out and I would turn away until they left... I think Jacob is more Brave than me!! 

We ended the night using up our tickets on the giant slide... Kenny, Brian and I all wanted to try it out! Funny how sometimes the adult like the kid attractions more than the kids. Little Brian ended up going up with us even though I thought he would be too scared. He did end up wanting to go down with me, but was pretty brave and then raved that it was the best part of the night. 

Everyone ended up having a really great time that night. The weather was perfect we all just enjoyed each other. Mom and Brian both admitted they were sure how much fun the Hot Air Balloon festival would actually be, but ended up really enjoying it... yeah for Groupon! 

Sunday morning Kenny and I picked the Taylor boys back up to drive all the way out to Mesa (again) for the Fall Festival at Vertuccio Farms. I mostly wanted to go out to this farm because they have a 10 acre corn maze! Everything (besides food) is included with your admission, which is so nice not to have to worry about all the hidden extras of buying, sharing and keeping track of tickets! 

While everyone was fresh and still full of energy we tried out the corn maze.... after about 40 mins of wandering we did make it out. All the boys had so much fun taking turns running ahead and hiding so they could jump out and scare us. 

We tried the peddle cars which were of course a big hit- 

The bounce horses were SO much fun! After about 10 mins we were tired out and moved on to the next activity.... more jumping! 

The Extreme Air Pillow was basically like a trampoline and we all had a bunch of fun bouncing.... I don't know how my brother has so much energy to keep up with those boys!! 

We rode the train, checked out the animals and milked a 'cow' and we were pretty beat. 

Its pretty sad when it takes you as long to get to a place as you spend there... Kenny did admit it was worth the drive. 

We stopped to eat at Taco Bell (which the boys weren't too happy about because they voted for McDonalds, but all the adults voted for Taco Bell - ha ), but they ate there food without complaint! The boys were pretty wound up when we got in the car for the hour drive home, but once I told them we were having quiet time and they had to entertain themselves they did just that! 

Another fun filled, but exhausting weekend!! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making our list and checking it twice-

With Halloween just about behind us I am looking towards Thanksgiving, but mainly Christmas. This is probably the latest in the year I have ever started planning for Christmas! I have so many mixed emotions about the holidays... If I could fast forward past them I would take that option, but since I can't do that I want to make the most of it and have lots of fun... I need to focus on who I have in my life and not who is missing.

As I make my Christmas shopping list I am really torn on who to add... Normally I feel obligated to buy for everyone. Obligated is probably not the right word, because I do WANT to buy for everyone- friends, family, co-workers, adopt a-family, online friends etc however our Christmas budget doesn't usually stretch that far anyway and they are not always appreciated!

I have several traditions to consider as well... every year my grandma always made photo calendars for the entire family and bough ornaments for each grandchild... I have already decided to continue on the calendars, but what about the ornaments? Also, the last couple years Kenny and I have been doing stockings and delivering them on Christmas Eve to help Santa out, do I continue that one (I love that one) and what about the Christmas countdown with books? The Ross family loved it so much that Michelle made me an entire scrapbook of her children reading and opening the gifts... is that a keeper? Plus I heard of Elfing people (same as booing) and of course I want to do that too....Then there are so many awesome out of state family that we love to send packages too.

So anyway, that is what is currently on my mind! Not sure what we will come up with! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Allans concert

Brian and I (Kenny was in Vegas) picked Blair up from work and headed to the East side for Allan's concert. I think we had the most fun on the way there just talking and laughing with Blair.

When we arrived at the venue Blair found Allan and we all said hi to the band that was waiting outside for their set. We decided to walk over to circle K to get some sodas and snacks since the bar prices would have been ridiculous.

Finally we made our way into the 'club/bar' for Allan's band, Virulent. They are extremely heavy metal... like Metallica, but you can't understand the lyrics.... I wasn't expecting them to actually be good, but they really were! Maybe someday they will be huge and I can say I saw their second concert ever... for only $10 per ticket!

A Very Fun Thursday

Fall Festivals sure have changed in the last 20 years since I was in elementary school... I remember games, face painting and cotton candy. Tonight Little Brian's school put on a Fall Festival that was all about learning. Don't get me wrong it was fun (pretty much anything with those boys), just different than I expected. Each child was given a passport to go around the school and collect stamps. They did a science experiment, played math games, practiced reading comprehension and more. I am SO impressed how much Little Brian has progressed in the past few months! Although, he is still behind his peers, according to his teacher, I can see him excelling ahead of them in the years to come.

In the Cafeteria they had a sensory activity where the children were blind folded and lead around the room and prompted to smell, touch, taste and feel different items and guess what they were. It was very crowded and hard to lead the boys around the room. Little Brian was so excited he kept bouncing around (now I KNOW where the term bouncing off the walls came from lol) and bumping people. Jacob took it very seriously and unfortunately would get left behind.... we would move forward and he would patiently wait, blind folded, for someone to lead him to the next station. Anyhow we decided not to finish that activity.

People just loved the boys costumes and lots of people would comment, "Hey Mario and Luigi!" Jacob was really tickled by that and said, "They don't know its me, Jacob."

After the festival mom, the boys and I went to Taco bell for dinner. I really can't believe how much Little Brian can eat... I think my brother is in trouble when he gets to be a teenager!

After dinner we went to boo the Ross family. The boys are really enjoying all this booing and were very excited to 'ding dong ditch'. The way the house is set up you have to go through a gate and into the yard to get to the front door. Little Brian wasn't about to do that so I ended up setting the bag in place and they rang the door bell. 

While we were off playing Kenny and Brian got invited to the Hockey game because Jereme and Melodi had extra tickets. I passed since I was already busy, but Brian and Kenny went and decided to invite Trevor (Kim watch the kids) since he loves Hockey too. They all had a really good time in the box suite seats and the Coyotes won ! 

Fall fun and friends

Every year there are so many things that I want to do and it seems like the time/days/months/seasons just pass me by... well not this year! I made a list of the things I wanted to do this fall and scheduled them all before our Calendar became too busy. I have never made caramel apples and really wanted to give it a try. Our newly married friends, Jereme and Melodi wanted to give it a try too so we made a whole date night of it. I made a simple soup for dinner and they provided some bread to accompany it. 

After dinner the Bintzs wanted to try out their new chocolate fountain and we sampled TONS of different dippers... pickles, bacon, potato chips, 3 types of marshmallows, nutter butters, oreos, strawberries and bananas !  

After we ate ourselves sick,  (pretty much one of each of those dippers will get you there) we started our caramel apples. 

We used this recipe - 

Taste of Home Logo

Carnival Caramel Apples

            Carnival Caramel Apples
 With four kids (one child whose birthday is November 1), we celebrate Halloween in style around our house. These caramel apples are a tried-and-true favorite year after year. —Gail Prather, Bethel, Minnesota
10-12 ServingsPrep/Total Time: 30 min.


  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • Dash salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 to 12 Popsicle sticks
  • 10 to 12 medium tart apples, washed and dried
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, chopped


In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter; add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.  Insert Popsicle sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Dip bottom of apples into peanuts. Place on greased waxed paper until set. Yield: 10-12 apples.

Nutrition Facts:
 1 serving (1 each) equals 526 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 32 mg cholesterol, 231 mg sodium, 94 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein.

The caramel came out SO tasty and our apples looked pretty good too!! We double the reciepe so each couple would have 10 to take home and share. We had plenty of caramel left over so we probably could have made another 5 or 6 apples. 

We had planned to carve our pumpkins that night as well, but time would not allow once we got everything pick up and packed up to take home.

Pretty much anything you do can be fun (or not fun) depending on who you are doing it with. The Bintz are a great couple to try new things with and we always seem to have a good time together. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

AZ State Fair

Kenny and I took our nephews to the Fair today! My brother was supposed to go with us, but he wasn't feeling good.

Our first stop was the Air Guard booth... the boys did a push up competition and caused a lot of entertainment for those around... I love the lady's expression in this picture! (The boys are on the left side of the picture, Jacob and then Little Brian) 

Me, Jacob and Little Brian- love their enthusiastic smiles! lol
Little Brian got to 'pedal' some watermelon smoothies at the Walmart tent!

The Turkey races was probably our favorite event of the day!!

The birds chase the red monster truck filled with food! I loved how excited the boys got for the race! Look at Little B's hand in the above picture! LOL so cute!
A view of the Fair 

Jacob and Kenny

We bought the boys some silly light up, noisy guns to take home and ate some cotton candy. It was a hot day so we left in the late afternoon.