Archive for December, 2009

A Year In Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I am stealing this idea from my friend Dave.  I loved his post so much and thought it gave a good account for the year 2009.  What better way to ring in the new year than with a list of fun memories and pictures from the past.  Without further ado:

January – 100th day of school…Call me crazy, but I think this is one of my favorite days of school, right behind KY Derby week and Dr. Seuss week!  The kids all dress up like they are 100 and we do activities all day that revolve around the number 100.  It is crazy fun.

Christmas - New Year 098 Christmas - New Year 100

February – My birthday, what else!!  I also did a fun art project for the nursery with an old student, T-, who is kind of like an adopted son for us.

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March – 10 years of bliss (combined dating and married) with my wonderful husband!  He surprised me with 10 gerbera daisies (my favorite), throughout the day and even a surprise lunch.  He also put together a photo album, with a picture for each year we have been together.  There was also a sweet visit from Catherine mixed in there.  We had fun just hanging out, driving around forever trying to find a place to get a pedicure, and then painting pottery.  It was a great last hurrah before Mikayla was born!


April – The birth of my dear sweet Mikayla…enough said!

Mikayla 053Mikayla 011_MG_0289_ed

May – Ben graduated from seminary…Hallelujah!  Three years of no social life, lonely nights on the couch (me) and endless hours of studying (him) were officially over.  I don’t know who was more excited, me or him?

grad june 008

June – Lots of mini road trips and first meetings for Mikayla.  We traveled to Somerset where she met her great grandparents and adopted grandma (Cindy Kerr).  Then on to Mayfield, Kentucky to meet Mignon, another great grandmother.  Finally, a trip to Kentucky Lake to meet the extended Kickert clan (great Aunts and Uncles and second cousins).  It was an exhausting month, but a lot of fun!  She also met T- and his brother, M- (see February for more information on these two)!

grad june 045grad june 044 grad june 043  June 2008 0142009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 027 2009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 035 2009-07-04 Kickert and Simmons visit 049

July – I finished up my “internship” at the Kelly Autism Program which meant I finished my Rank I (no more school for me)…Can I get another Hallelujah? Sorry no pictures of this for the month, but here is one of Mikayla!  This is her classic pouty face!


August – Adventures in Baking and back to school.  I spent a lot of time in August cooking. Homemade pizza, salsa, okra stew, stuffed jalapenos, and a first attempt at sushi just to name a few.  It was hard to leave Mikayla at the beginning of August and head back to school but we managed.  Ben did such a good job of taking care of her, even if he did try to cook her!

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September – September was a slow month for me.  I worked and when I wasn’t working I was spending time with my family.  I guess you could say the most exciting thing about the month was developing my love for BabyLegs.  Hey, I told you it was a slow month!

2009-10-13 legwarmers 002

October – Smokey Mountain fun with the Altmaiers and celebrating my five year wedding anniversary with Ben.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, these are some of the best friends a girl could ask for.  We have known them for so long and it never fails, with each visit, we just pick right up where we left off.  There is no awkwardness at all.  We could go weeks without communicating and then jump right back in when we do.  They are our go to couple when having a marital dispute and more like family than friends!  Seriously, it doesn’t get much better!  This is perhaps one of my favorite months of the past year.  Fall + Great Friends + Five years of wedded bliss = A great month!



November – Another slow month, not much to report besides Thanksgiving.  We had a great time visiting with both sides of the family and ate until we could eat no more.

 2009-12-05 Thanksgiving, tree, bacon 004

December – My favorite thing about December was starting new traditions with my little family.  We decorated the tree, opened stockings, drank hot cocoa, took pictures, ate some Chinese, and enjoyed some wine.  It was a great way to end the year.  Oh and those yummy cinnamon rolls!

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I hope that 2010 brings as much fun, excitement and joy as 2009 did!  Happy New Years everyone.


Starting Traditions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Since we have been married, we have never had the opportunity to have Christmas on Christmas day at our house, just the two of us.  However, with this being Mikayla’s first Christmas I knew I wanted to make that special and do whatever I could to make sure we began some traditions as a family of three (Shiloh was not around sadly).  On Christmas afternoon we headed back to BG for the evening to have our family Christmas.  It was perfect!  We began some simple traditions that I hope we uphold in the years to come. 

The first was something that I stole from some college friends.  We all got in our pajamas, made some hot chocolate (except for Mikayla, maybe next year), set up the camera timer and took some fun shots in front of the Christmas tree.  Here are just a few.  I will try and upload more to facebook later.

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2009-12-25 Christmas 166     2009-12-25 Christmas 142

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This is what Ben originally had on before I made him change…I thought he over-dressed his PJ’s a little!

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After that we opened up “gifts”.  As long as I can remember Ben and I have not exchanged gifts.  Instead we help purchase gifts for a family that can’t afford them.  Instead, we just put together stockings for each other (mostly consisting of candy).  Mikayla got one “big” gift from us and then a stocking as well.  In case you are curious the “big” gift was a play yard for the house.

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 2009-12-25 Christmas 121

 2009-12-25 Christmas 124

 2009-12-25 Christmas 126

 2009-12-25 Christmas 129

Next, we bundled up in our winter attire (it was really cold here on Christmas) and headed out to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner in our pajamas.  It was so much fun and of course everyone who was there (and it was a packed house) cooed and awed over Mikayla!

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 2009-12-25 Christmas 170

Finally, we returned home and put Mikayla to bed (after three days in Somerset and three Christmases she was pooped, plus she needed to recuperate for the three Christmases ahead of her).  After she was down for the night, Ben and I snuggled on the couch, glasses of wine in hand and watched a Christmas movie.  Although I wasn’t a fan of the movie, it was still nice to snuggle with Ben and have some down time in the midst of the crazy holiday season. 

It was simple, relaxed and perfect!  I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Christmas with my tiny family.  Well…maybe if Shiloh had been around!

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Posted in Life |

Congratulations Altmaiers!

Monday, December 28th, 2009


Meet Molly Bennett Altmaier

(I hope they don’t care that I stole this picture)!


She is the newest member of the Altmaier household.  The Altmaiers, Dave and Catherine, are dear friends of ours dating way back to elementary school.  Ben first met Dave around first grade on the tee-ball field.  I met Catherine sometime back in elementary school, I am just not sure when.  Nonetheless, we have been close friends since then.  On Christmas Eve they welcomed Molly into the world.  She weighed in at 7lb. 6oz and was 20 inches long!  She even came out with a mohawk!  Classic!

I could not be more excited for these wonderful people.  It feels like a sister or brother just had a baby.  They are going to make great parents.

To Cat and Dave:  Congratulations and welcome to the journey of parenthood!  We can’t wait to meet Miss Molly one day very soon!  We love you guys!

To Molly:  Welcome to the world sweetheart.  I hope that you and Mikayla become great friends one day!

Posted in Life |

Family Tradition – Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Every year since I can remember my grandma would make homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas.  These aren’t your average cinnamon rolls, they are combination of sticky buns and cinnamon goodness.  In short, they are amazing!  So amazing that each year she would hide a few pans so they wouldn’t get eaten in one fail swoop.  No kidding, my family can demolish some rolls!  I could almost eat a whole pan in one sitting they are so delicous.

Well, as my gramdmother got older she enlisted help each year to make them, they are a day long process afterall (that is if you are making enough for the entire family).  My sister and I helped out for a few years and then last year my grandmother decided she couldn’t do it anymore.  My grandparents live in Florida for part of the year and with traveling and everything she wasn’t going to have the time or energy.  I got the bright idea that I would take over the tradition.  And last year that is what I did.  With the help of my dear friend Luella, I made cinnamon rolls (five times actually) and gave them out to each family member and neighbor.  They were a hit!  This year, I was working solo so I only made three batches.  (We opted for cranberry bars for the neighbors!)  It officially feels like Christmas now that the smell of cinnamon rolls fills my house!  There is nothing like the taste of one fresh from the oven!  Now I just have to figure out how we are going to squeeze our luggage and gear for a week, a baby, a dog, two adults and nine pans of cinnamon rolls in the Saturn.  Any suggestions?

Here is a play by play of how they are made.  Enjoy!

Step One:  Prepare the dough.

To do this mix 2 cups of lukewarm water wit 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tsp salt.  Add two cakes compressed yeast (I used packaged) and stir until yeast is dissolved.  This is one of the most crucial steps in the process.  Next add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of soft margarine and continue mix.  Gradually add in flour until dough can be formed into a large ball.  You will end up adding around 7-7 1/2 cups of flour.  Place the ball of dough in a well greased bowl and grease top of dough ball.  Cover and set aside in a warm place until dough has risen double in size.

Almost double in size!

Almost double in size!

Step Two:  Punch down dough (when it has doubled in size), this is my favorite step.

After you punch the dough, divide into small pieces.  Work dough on a well floured board (I used my kitchen table).  Roll out dough until about 1/2 inch in thickness

Step Three:  Prepare the pans (in my family this is the most important part of the roll)

Melt margarine to lightly cover bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans (be generous, this is the yummiest part).  My grandma would sometimes add raisins, but seeing as how I don’t like this part I omitted them.  My family likes sticky buns, so to make them sticky drizzle white karo syrup over the pans after they have been prepared but before placing in the rolls.  Again, don’t be stingy, this makes them yummy!  Your pans are now ready for the rolls, please proceed to step four.

Prepared pans ready for rolls

Prepared pans ready for rolls

Step Four: Prepare the rolls

Once dough is rolled out, cover with melted margarine and sprinkle with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Side note – Last Christmas my grandmother passed down to me her antique cinnamon/sugar shaker.  This made the cinnamon/sugar process a breeze!  Ok, back to the rolls.  Once dough is covered in butter, cinnamon and sugar, roll up dough pinwheel style.  Slice about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and place in prepared pans.  Make sure to leave space between all rolls to allow them to rise.  Cover, place in a warm place and all to rise until double in thickness.

Rolled dough with butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture

Rolled dough with butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture

Rolled into a pinwheel and ready to cut into individual cinnamon rolls

Rolled into a pinwheel and ready to cut into individual cinnamon rollsRolls in pans ready for the second round of rising

Double in size (they didn't rise as well as last year, I think it was too cold in my kitchen) and ready for the oven

Double in size (they didn't rise as well as last year, I think it was too cold in my kitchen) and ready for the oven

Step Five:  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Baked and ready to eat!

Baked and ready to eat!

Step Six:  Grab a fork and dive in!  They are best straight from the oven, but also very good warmed up.  To reheat, add some butter to the tops of the rolls and place in microwave until heated through.  Grab a large glass of milk and enjoy!

I ended up making a triple batch this year and between making the rolls and juggling a baby it took around seven hours.  Now, that might seem like a long time but it is so worth it in the end.  If you enlist the help of a friend you can cut your time significantly!  Happy baking!


It’s official!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Our little (although not so little anymore) is on the move…the official move..she is a real crawler!  In this post, I mentioned that she was doing a glorified worm.  Today however, she made it official and actually began the crawling movement.  And like any good parent, I was so excited about her crawling, that I failed to get it on video or camera…awesome!  She has already found the cd/DVD shelves and torn them apart!  We are in for a rude awakening…is it time to start baby proofing yet?


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Posted in Parenting |

Making Your Own Baby Food

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

We have been very intentional with the way we have been raising Mikayla.  We have tried to buy as little new stuff as possible  and recycle old stuff instead (in other words we have made or borrowed as much stuff as possible).  Part of this is because we are what some people would refer to as “cheap”, but most of it is we saw how quickly children cycle through toys and clothes, leaving them in excellent condition when they were through.  We couldn’t justify buying brand new stuff when we could borrow from family and friends items that were gently used.

We have also been using cloth diapers since Mikayla was around 1-2 months old.  Despite the fact that they are super cute and cheaper than disposables in the long run, they are much easier on the environment than disposables.  I have loved every minute of it!

Speaking of “green” things, when we found out we were pregnant we decided that we would make our own baby food.  Call us crazy, but we knew we could make it work.  It began as a money saver, and has now turned into much more.  We make our own food because we feel it is healthier for our daughter.  Making your own baby food is easy as 1-2-3 (and maybe 4).

  1. Wash, peel and chop vegetables (omit this step if you are using frozen veggies).
  2. Place in steamer basket (we have on that fits in our saucepan) and steam until soft (can easily break with a spoon).
  3. Place steamed veggies in food processor and puree until desired consistency (pretty runny at first).  If too thick then add leftover water from saucepan in processor.
  4. Place pureed food in ice cube trays, cover and freeze until hardened.  Once frozen transfer to ziplock bags, label and store in freezer.  Frozen baby food can be stored for up to 8 weeks.  We mix and match our food as needed, pulling out a cube or two from several bags for each feeding.  **Don’t forget the all important rule of introducing only one new food at a time for a couple of feedings to determine allergies.**

When I first began making my own baby food I searched the internet high and low for advice, recipes and tips, and of course talked to some friends who were doing the same.  Here are some helpful websites and books I have found.

  1. Annabel Karmel has some great books with high quality recipes and detailed instructions.  She also has a pretty good website and books for recipes when cooking for toddlers.  She has some great ideas!
  2. This website is filled with recipes and valuable information when making your own baby food.
  6. (quick bulleted list of do’s and don’ts)

Mikayla even seems to think it tastes pretty good!

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Posted in Parenting |

Life Update

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Not much has been going on in the Kickert world.  We have been staying busy working, playing with our darling baby and just enjoying life.  Random thought – I can tell I am getting older because “life” ends for me between 9-10pm.  How sad is that?  Here are some quick updates on what has been going on:

  1. Cooking – Ben and I haven’t done a whole lot of experimental cooking lately, but have manage a few new meals and some tasty old ones.  Ben has actually taken to the kitchen quite a bit this last week, which has been nice to come home to!  I love to cook, but every once in awhile it is nice to let someone else do the cooking and just eat!  Noteworthy meals of the last week include homemade pita bread, spicy peanut soup (see recipe below), cheesy chicken broccoli casserole, and chili.  Ben pretty much cooked both of the soups all on his own and they were delicious!!  I have taught him well 😉
  2. Mikayla – While not crawling she sure is doing her fair share of moving around.  I am not sure how to describe her movements more than a glorified worm.  You know, the classic break dance move.  If you unfamiliar with what I am talking about check out this video.  She has also figured out that her voice has different levels and will scream happily for long periods.  She isn’t upset, just talking in her loud voice.  She is eating like crazy, and seems to love everything we have served her.
  3. Christmas – We are beginning to prepare ourselves for our Christmas tour.  We will make 6 stops in three different cities in less than a week.  Wish us luck!!  We have also been trying to do as little shopping as we can (we have done mostly online or handmade gifts this year).  I am not a fan of retail stores so I try to avoid them at all costs, especially at this time of the year!  I have done a little Christmas decorating, but not nearly as much in years past.  While I like to look at the decorations, I would much rather spend time with Mikayla while she is up and leave the rest of my evening for down time with Ben.  We just ordered our Christmas cards, and I think they are going to be super cute!  Keep your eyes open for one in the mailbox soon…hopefully we get them out before Christmas this year!
  4. School – It happens every year, but I must say my kiddos at school are crazy!!  I can’t wait for this next week to be over with so I can have a little break.  We all need it, kids included!  And speaking of kids, did I tell you about the kid who used the glue stick as chap stick?  Yep, I have that kid in class.  Or what about the one who chewed through a fat wooden pencil?  Yep, I have that kid too.  Let’s just say I need a break!

I think that is it for now.

Spicy Peanut Soup

Heat 2 TBS of OLIVE OIL in a large pot. Once it’s to temperature add 1 large ONION finely chopped along with 1 TBS of minced GARLIC. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons CHILI POWDER and cook for 1 minute more.

Add 2 RED BELL PEPPERS finely chopped along with 2 large CARROTS, 2 medium POTATOES and 4 CELERY stalks (all finely chopped. Cook for another 4 minutes stirring occasionally.See More

Add 3.5-4 cups VEGETABLE STOCK (depending on how thick you like your soup, 6 tablespoons (a little over 1/3 cup) CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER and 8 ounces of CORN. Stir thoroughly


Heat to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Serve with chopped unsalted roasted PEANUTS as a garnish and RICE on the side.


Pancakes and Bacon

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I love breakfast food!  A few weeks ago we decided to dedicate a whole day to food!  We started with breakfast.  We made blueberry pancakes, pumpkin pancakes (with a few chocolate chips and pecans), and maple and pepper bacon and of course, fresh coffee.  It was delicious!  (We ended the day with an African dish, but you will have to ask Ben about that one!)

To make the bacon we lined a baking sheet with foil and placed the bacon on top.  We put a generous amount of fresh pepper on top.  Then drizzled some maple syrup (the real stuff would have been best, but we were out) on top.  Then we baked it for about 10 minutes, flipped the bacon, added some more pepper and then baked until it reached the perfect crispiness.  It was amazingly simple and tasty.  Clean up was a breeze too.  We just dumped the foil in the trash and rinsed the pan.

Here are some shots of our breakfast feast!

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Posted in Cooking |

Why I Love My Husband

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I love Ben for many reasons, but one of the things I love about my husband is he will do things with/for me that he hates.  On Thursday, Ben ASKED me if I wanted to decorate the Christmas tree.  I emphasize the word “asked” because if you know Ben at all you know that he is not a huge fan of the Christmas season (i.e. music, decorations, etc).  The fact that he brought up the tree showed me just how much he loves me.  It was a perfect evening encompassed with many things I love:

  • Spending time with my family.
  • Shrimp Scampi – Ben even cooked, it was as good if not better than Red Lobster.  We were only missing the garlic, cheese bread.  I will include the recipe at the end of this post.
  • Decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music – Ben only made a few negative comments!
  • Hot Chocolate and magazines – I am little behind on my magazine readings, so we made up some homemade cocoa for me (see this post for the recipe) and eggnog for Ben-JAM-in.
  • A bath – When I was pregnant with Mikayla I took a bath almost every night.  I love baths!  I haven’t taken that many since she has been born, so this was very relaxing!
    Here are a few pictures of us decorating the tree.

Shrimp Scampi Recipe for Two (courtesy of Ben Kickert)

Preheat oven to 450

Peel and Devein 1/2 pound shrimp, wash and place in single layer in small corningware.

In small sauce pan combine 1/3 cup butter, 1/4 cup white wine/sherry (I did half and half), 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and/or ground grains of paradise, onion powder, oregano (listed in descending order of amount).

Heat mixture until butter is completely melted. Pour mixture over shrimp (cover so 95% of the shrimp is covered, but allow some edges to protrude).

Sprinkle Cajan Seasoning over shrimp and bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until shrimp is pinkish-white and opaque.

Place on top rack and broil for a few moments until mixture begins to boil.


We serve with french bread, steamed broccoli and garlic/olive oil or parmesan pasta.  It makes a great meal!

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Posted in Life |