Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday Field Trip: Kids check out the animals at Fresno State's farm

On Friday, we piled in the car for another Friday field trip with our Mothering & Playing group. This time our destination was the nearby Fresno State farm for a tour. This was a little different from other farms we've been to since we had a student tour guide and there was a focus on sheep, cows and pigs. Meilani loved the little lambs and the chance to sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" at the top of her lungs. The fuzzy guys let us get up close and pet them.

We trekked out to see the cows in the pasture and hear about the whole milking ordeal. Let's just say we saw the biggest "milk pump" you can imagine. Preston McGowen was checking out this "fellow milker." We saw mama cows, baby calves and daddy bulls.

Next stop: to see the horses. Fresno State has a great Equestrian team and the horses are well taken care of. Our tour guide was part of the Varsity team. Our friends, Isa and Terry, pose just beyond the horse stables. (Meilani took this pic!)

After the tour, our group settled in for an afternoon picnic in the park across from the farm. Meliz (the big sis of our group) smiles for the camera with Preston aka Phatty.

After lunch in the shade of the fiery-colored trees, the kids found a platform/stage and started performing. Guess who started that brigade? Yes, Meilani was singing her favorite show tunes from "Sound of Music" and more. The other kids started dancing. (We're going to need to build one of those stages in our backyard or something!)

We missed the group pic since prego mama was in the bathroom but here's a celebration of all our mommy and kid friends plus one dad from Play Group. What a fun way to spend an afternoon. And Fresno State's farm is right down the street!

Meilani and Milani say goodbye to the farm...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Taste of Friendship: Dorina cooks for audience

Move over Rachael Ray. Dorina is on the job. (Well, not quite but it was fun to pretend.) On Saturday our church, The Bridge, invited me to speak at women's event called "Taste of Friendship." The event was designed like a cooking show with a kitchen stage and everything.

I started the morning sharing my passion for healthy cooking (and eating!) and demonstrating our Peanut Butter Coconut Granola. This is a recipe we use frequently at our house. Meilani helps me and we make a weekly batch for Daddy's cereal and snacks. The granola can also be made into granola bars. I shared about the book, WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING, and how that book prompted us a year and a half ago to change our lifestyle and really start eating foods that God created. The ladies numbered more than 120 and they were very responsive. I got some great questions about how to make meals more healthy on a budget.

After my morning the demo, the ladies were divided into four groups and they went to various rooms to watch other mini-demos. The four chefs included my mom, Maria Lazo, demonstrating Italian Pizzelle Cookies, Marie Kenyon demonstrating Roasted Tomato Soup, Anne Ogden demonstrating Empress Hotel Scones and Pastry Chef Willy Bezemer demonstrating marzipan roses for cake decorating. We had so much fun learning and tasting these new recipes as well as sharing cooking tips with friends.

The afternoon culminated with one final demonstration I did for lunch. I did a talk about "The Gift of Hospitality" and sharing cooking traditions with family. I demonstrated my own recipe of Spinach-Stuffed Manicotti (recipes in sidebar at the right) served with my mom's Tomato meat sauce. The ladies were also served one of our favorite salads, which included baby greens, feta cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts.

One of the most exciting parts about being involved in this event has been hearing all the stories afterwards from ladies who attended with friends and how they are trying new recipes at home. Many have shared ways they are incorporating healthy foods into their diets now. And the best part is their families are still being served delicious food!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fridays are Fun Days with Friends

On Friday, we went on a field trip with our Mothering Play Group to Me & Ed's Pizza. The kids got a tour of the restaurant and kitchen and a chance to make their own personal pizzas with the toppings of their choice. Meilani was stoked to go to the "pepperoni store."
Our new friends, Terry and Isa, joined us for the pizza party.
Milani and Peyton McGowen had big fun with gobs of toppings. Canadian bacon, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms and pineapple!

I spent the entire afternoon Friday making Stuffed Manicotti for this big cooking event I did on Saturday at our church. After making 150 manicotti (and 12 batches of peanut butter granola the day before) we opted for dinner out Friday night. Our friend Shawn Young was in town for the weekend and Mary joined us with Olivia. We checked out a new restaurant on the corner by our house - Thai Kitchen.
Let's just say that bringing a 2 1/2-year-old and a 6-month-old to a nice Thai dinner at a new restaurant was an adventure. We thought it was time to school Shawn in the "life with kids" scenario. We'll spare you the details of the blowout diaper and the Thai chili sauce. Good laughs! Olivia's face just says it all.

Nice purse, Shawn!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Meilani discovers pinata at the Pumpkin Party

We celebrated Halloween this year with many different parties and good times with friends. The Ganzenhubers hosted one of their famous kid gatherings on October 31st. Stephanie is mama extraordinaire with her little craft tables, snack tables and kids activities. Meilani loves the crafts and made several "glitter" pumpkins throughout this party.
The Shehadys made a pumpkin pinata for the party. The pumpkin was filled with goodies and the kids lined up to smack it with a pool noodle (giggle.) Meilani aka Larry the Cucumber refused to take a turn hitting the pinata because she thought it was too pretty. She was quite traumatized when it was finally busted open by Christian.

Ganon aka Superman dug the decorate-your-own cupcake table. (This prompted his super power!)

The kids had so much fun with all those sprinkles, pumpkin candies and chocolate chips.

Meilani refused to wear her costume most of the day (because it was so dang hot - what else is new in Fresno?) but she was keen on getting her face painted by Devon. She got a spider on her cheek and a pumpkin on our hand while she hung out with her bud, Ryan. Good times, good times!

Toslands host Candyland Kids' Extravaganza

Our friends just threw the biggest kid extravaganza birthday we've ever been to...for a one-year-old anyway. Josh (King Kandy) and Amy Tosland (Princess Frostine) celebrated their little sweetie, Luke's birthday with a Candyland theme. They converted all corners of their home into the Candyland game with a the finish culminating in a Bounce House. Of course, Meilani girl bypassed the candy and went straight for the Bounce House.

They had a Candy Cane Lane complete with Christmas lights and a cookie decorating station.

See no, Hear no, Smell no Evil? Outside we found the Lollipop Woods...

...and the Peanut Acres.

Amy even created life-sized Hershey bars. The tables were covered with every kind of candy imaginable - a kids' dream come true. And we appreciated the healthy snacks inside like strawberries, spinach dip and gold fish. Happy Birthday, Luke!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Small Group celebrates friendship

On Saturday, we enjoyed a small group brunch with our friends at Cori & Darrell Schmidt's place. Our small group has been meeting four years now. The group includes Cori & Darrell (top left), Stacie and Forest Benedict (bottom left), Troy & Allison Vasquez & Mia (middle top and bottom) and our growing Gilmore family. (We get together every other week for food around the table, prayer and discussion of a book. Since all of our families are growing in 2009, we decided it was time for another group photo. This one took a few tries but it's not to bad for a timed photo. (Go Allison & Troy, our photogs extraordinaire!) Our next group photo will include at least three more babies...

Meilani's favorite part of small group time is playing with Mia Vasquez. Here she's reading Mia a story.

They entertain each other...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Gilmores pose as Veggie Tales for the costume party

We Gilmores can't pass up a chance to dress up. The best part of Halloween is the chance to use our imaginations and creativity. This year Meilani declared that she wanted to be Larry the Cucumber so we followed suit. Appropriately, Mama was Bob the Tomato (didn't have to stuff the round belly) and Daddy was the not-so-junior Asparagus. We invested exactly $3 in these homemade costumes - after raiding Nana Maria's stash of remnant material and scrounging up some old hats and shirts.

Meilani's Cucumber costume was the real masterpiece. I made the design and cutouts and Nana sewed the edges. Meilani selected the button and ditched her Cucumber hat the night of the festivities.

We headed to our church's Pumpkin Patch on Friday night after dinner. They had quite the extravaganza complete with multiple bounce houses, games, prizes, food booths, popcorn and cotton candy and even a Cupcake Walk. Meilani was quite overwhelmed by all the people in crazy-weird costumes. She did enjoy the "Fishers of Men" game.

Meilani helped (watch) Daddy play the "Conquer Goliath" game. This is a familiar Bible story for her so she knew what to do.

Daddy was fascinated by the slingshot he got to use. (Can you say kid at heart?)

The two also had fun at the "Feed Noah's Animals" game. Let's just say Daddy should not pursue any hopes of playing softball. (Stick to running, babe!)

We saw some of favorite friends at the Pumpkin Patch, including Corban Pusey aka Mickey Mouse, who flashed a willing smile for the camera.

Not surprisingly, Meilani's favorite part of the Pumpkin Patch was not the games, the candy & prizes or any of the other big attractions. She really lit up when she saw the newly-opened playground at our church. Then she was in her element. She even got brave enough for a little jumping in the bounce house before we headed off the Grandma and Grandpa's house for a little Trick or Treat action.

The night was a lot of fun and we safely avoided the sugar high and later hangover. We tried out something Ericlee read about called the Halloween Trade-off. Earlier in the day I took Meilani to the Dollar Tree and JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts. She got to pick out about $10 worth of fun stuff. At the end of the night, we traded her bucket of candy (which we deposited in the trash) for a giant coloring book, 3 packs of crayons, a glow-in-the-dark silly pen, a Dora baton, stickers and a Jamba Juice card. We parents thought it was worth the extra cash and our 2-year-old didn't miss the sweets. It's a new tradition!