Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bloom & Gloom

Wow, what a change in weather! Only in Michigan, only in Michigan readers does it go from 90's in summer one week to 60's in summer the next week! Last week I was loving the weather! Hot yes, but I'll take it. This week, not so much, I'll leave it! Greg likes it, but other than that it's for the birds! Where did summer go? Please sunshine come back! The heat and sun was great for my flowers last week. One day in the midst of all that sunshine and heat it was like boom, the flowers bloomed! I just love it! They're so beautiful, if only they'd stay that way all summer. I figured I'd snap a photo of them so when they're done blooming I can go back and look at the photos. Here's one of my daisy bunches and one of the tiger lily bunches! Aren't they beautiful?

These flowers amaze me that they keep getting bigger and bigger every year seeing as we've transplanted them a few times. The daisies I took a small bunch from my mom's about seven years ago, which she had transplanted from a friends house, and planted them at our previous house. Then I transplanted them again three years ago when we moved here. The lilies we also moved from our old house three years ago. There were like two lilies at the time, now there's seven with multiple bunches on them. We have a couple more lilies around the house that have done the same thing. My hydrangeas are about to bloom too so I'll have to snap a picture of those when they do.

However, with the weather this week if it doesn't warm back up they may not be bloomin'! I think I really need those flowers inside instead of out. I've been hibernating for two days and it's driving me nuts! I'm ready to get back outside. Cold and rain are not good at the end of June! It's been two solid days of gloom and it makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and take a nap! While I did lay on the couch for a little bit today, I didn't get a nap. Em was too busy snuggling with me off and on and getting up and down into trouble while we watched Sesame Street! I think the weather is getting to the kids too because Evan is constantly asking when we're going for a walk so he can ride his bike and Em, well let's just say her terrible two's came back yesterday. Into EVERYTHING! She really needs to get outside and play! Here's hoping we see the sun again this week!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Photo Publication

A couple weeks ago Greg got an email from the American Psychological Association. They asked him if he'd be interested in doing a photo shoot of a former psychology professor from MSU. The person who contacted him from the APA found his name on the MSU website and had seen his work, and chose him out of the photographers to do this photo they needed for their publication Monitor on Psychology. What a great honor I thought when he told me. Once again I thought my husband deserved some credit! So I'm sharing this with all of you! Of course he told the magazine yes he would do the freelance assignment, and this time it was a little extra pay in his pocket!

On Saturday Greg went to take the former professors photo at his home in East Lansing. Frederick Wickert is 97 years YOUNG, and was a psychology professor at Michigan State University in the 1950's for over 30 years! I say young because he joked with Greg at the photo shoot that he didn't have many wrinkles because his dermatologist peeled all the skin off his face at one time. O.k., I'm sure it wasn't all of his skin, but he is 97 years young telling the story. Apparently he had some skin damage from the sun growing up in California, so in his later years he had seen a dermatologist and whatever he did, it helped to keep a lot of the wrinkles away to this day at 97! I don't think he looks 97! Take a look for yourself.

Photo is property of G.L. Kohuth Photography

I love it when Greg gets offered these on the side jobs, making a little extra money. Nice work honey, and if anyone out there is in need of a photographer for some small photo assignments, I know where you can find one!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free BW3's & Babysitting

Our weekend started off great with a trip to the park Friday night and free BW3's. Well apparently I'm out of the loop because I didn't know they changed their name awhile back to just Buffalo Wild Wings, or if I did then I forgot. I guess in my book it will always be BW3's, kind of like Biggby will always be Beaner's to me! Anyway, LMLM put on another great event and this month they combined the mom's night out with an optional family night out. Us mom's could bring spouses and kids if we so desired. Plus there was free Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. It was a chance to meet other mom's and families with free food for everyone and free play for the kids! A great way to spend a Friday night! Thanks again LMLM!

Saturday rolled around and we didn't do a whole lot until later in the day. We babysat for Em's friend Chloe. She came over about 3:30pm and Em was still down for nap so we played until she got up. Evan was a great help and he too played with Chloe. He even read her some books!

When Em finally woke up at 4:30pm she was excited to see her buddy here! They played while I made dinner. We decided to try out Greg's Father's Day present, slider grill basket and made mini burgers. I was smart enough to take some pics of the girls before dinner, which I'm glad I did before they trashed their clothes! Here's a couple of the pics I took. I love the second one of the two of them looking at each other. Look how cute their smiles are at each other!

Yes, they're on the table for a reason. It was the only place I could get them to sit for a picture and cooperate! Ditto, on the cup in Em's hand too. It was hold the cup for her or no picture for mommy! The girls did manage to make quite a mess at dinner and we both decided it was a good thing we didn't have twins! It was all good though and Molly enjoyed clean up!

After dinner the girls and Evan played in the pool. Greg got it blown up ahead of time so it was all ready to go. However when we got outside later to get in the pool, there was a little bit of a problem. The one side had a leak already and it had fallen down. It did this too us last weekend, after we blew it up Saturday and by Sunday the one side was down. I'm thinking there was a tiny hole that got bigger the second time we blew it up. So guess I'm going to have to see if I can exchange it. Despite the topped tipped over a little as you'll see in the pictures, the girls and Evan still had fun! Here's a few photos for your enjoyment!

I love that Emmaline is showing her belly off, while Chloe inspects the bucket!

I love the expression on Em's face in this one. She was pouring water on her belly and one time she got the bucket a little high and it dumped on her head! "Oh did that bucket do that to me?"

Here's Em and Chloe taking turns with the pool toys! Thanks to Aunt Jen for letting us bring some of her pool toys home last weekend!

They all had fun in the pool! We were going to feed the ducks, but didn't get a chance. So maybe next time! Em was ready for bed and conked out at 8:15am. Chloe was getting tired too and she and Evan snuggled on the floor until Wesley arrived a little while later. Take a look!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Addendum To The Jam Making

Does the jam need pectin? I recall telling Liana that YES, YES it does! Well, come to find out after my jam sat on the counter at room temp overnight, and I was moving the containers Friday afternoon that I too forgot the pectin step on a batch! So apparently Liana and I were in the same zone Thursday evening because we both forgot the pectin. I thought that it was only fair that I confess my oopsie too and let you all know that Friday afternoon, I was boiling more pectin to fix my batch of pectin free jam! I had a couple containers that had solid sugar on the bottom and pure liquid berries on top. Note to Lisa: ADD 1 BOX OF PECTIN PER BATCH! And to think... we weren't even drinking this year! Ladies, we must have adult beverages next year! Good times, good times! I promise if I give any of you jam, it won't be the messed up batch. Although Liana and I agreed that those batches we fixed will probably stil lbe fine!

So after I remade that batch yesterday, I got the freezer loaded up with all the jam! Then today, I made a strawberry pie and strawberry tarts with the berries I still had. Here they are below, don't they look delicious?

They were quite tasty if I do say so myself! At least the pie was. I haven't had the tarts yet. I gave a few of those away to neighbors, but I'm sure they're yummy too! When I got the pie and tarts done I still had a lot of strawberries left. They weren't going to last too much longer since I had already cleaned them, so guess what? Yes, I made some more jam! I figured we weren't going to eat all the strawberries before they went bad so I might as well not waste them. I whipped up another batch of jam this morning, and YES I added the pectin! LOL! So a couple more containers of jam to add to the rest!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homemade Strawberry Jam Time

(This one is a little long as I've included the recipe at the bottom.)
Another June is almost said and done, and that means it's homemade strawberry jam time! I used to eat homemade jam when I was younger. My mom used to make it. Being a kid, I don't think I ever really appreciated how much better it was than store bought jam. Then a little over a year ago, I think it was like April 2008, my friend Liana brought me a container of some homemade strawberry jam. It was delicious! After eating homemade jam it's really hard to go back to the Smucker's. I think we tore through that container of jam in no time! Liana mentioned that she'd be making jam again in June (2008), and I was welcome to join her in picking strawberries and coming back to her house to make jam. I took her up on the offer and last year I made my first batch of homemade strawberry jam. Liana welcomed five of us into her kitchen only to trash it with bowls, measuring cups, pots, spoons, mashers, freezer containers, pectin, strawberries, sugar, and more sugar! It was a good time had by all. I got rave reviews on my jam and I haven't had store bought jam since! Thanks Liana for inviting me to make jam and starting something for years to come!

So yesterday it was time for all of us to gather once again and make our yearly batch of jam! As I mentioned yesterday, I was really hoping the rain would hold off at least until we got the strawberries picked. Well guess what? It did hold off, in fact it didn't rain at all last night and we were able to go pick strawberries. We headed out about 4pm to Felzke Farm in DeWitt to pick our containers of strawberries. It was only about 90 degrees, but it had to be done. Actually it didn't feel too bad until we had to lug our heaping mounds of strawberries through the field! Last year the strawberries were quite small which meant we had to pick a lot more and it took longer. This year the strawberries were HUGE and inappropriate (I'll get to the inappropriate in a moment). I think I picked a little over 16lbs. last year. This year I guess I got a little carried away because I ended up picking 18.30 lbs.! Here's my box.

All together between the 5 of us, we picked a total of, drum roll please..... 81.19lbs of strawberries! It took us about an hour to pick which wasn't too bad. Here's a photo of my friends Liana and Ellen picking at the strawberry farm and a photo of all of our 81.19lbs. of strawberries!

We headed back to my house this year to make the jam. I offered up my kitchen this year since Liana so graciously let us trash her's last year. Once we got our stations set up, we were all off to clean the berries, smash the berries, add the sugar, boil the pectin, mix it all together, pour into containers and repeat the process over and over. In between all these steps there was wonderful conversations & lots of laughs, which lead to some oopsies along the way. First up, the strawberries gave us lots of laughs. While we were out picking we ran across some weird shaped strawberries. Some were big, some were small, some looked like butterflies, and some looked like... well let's just say we decided we were in the "adult section" of the strawberry patch. Take a look for yourself.

See the bottom right one looks like a butterfly.
The one at the top right has a Siamese twin.

Here's another pic, I took this morning with the one's I had left that came out a little better.

None of us had ever seen strawberries like this so of course guess where our minds went... right to the gutter. It did make for some good laughs out in the field and while we were cleaning them. Thanks to Elizabeth though because she was keeping it clean with saying some looked like they had Mickey Mouse ears... yeah, o.k. Elizabeth we'll say that when the kids are around! LOL!

When making the jam, after smashing the berries and mixing with sugar you're supposed to let it stand for about 10 minutes. Then you boil some water and pectin (Sure Jell) and when that's done mix in with the strawberries. Stir all for 3 minutes and pour into containers. So in between the waiting 10 minutes, stirring 3 minutes, we're all chatting away, eating pizza, cleaning more berries, and listening to my two wonderful kids that had come home and decided to put on a crabby fest for everyone (sorry ladies). At first we watched the clock to wait the 10 minutes, set timers when the pectin was boiling for a minute, but then as the night went on we kind of ended up winging it and thinking, "yup that was 10 minutes, yup that was about a minute, sure I stirred for 3 minutes." Apparently the conversation and laughs got the best of some of us.... Liana, Elizabeth!

Liana smashed a batch of her strawberries, stirred in the sugar and was chatting away thinking she was on the last three minute part, and then went right to pouring in the container. Sara noticed and asked her if she added the pectin. Liana's reply, "I don't know didn't I, I thought I did." NO Liana you didn't add the pectin! Come to find out that wasn't the only batch she didn't add the pectin, there were two other batches sans pectin. She emailed us all this morning and said she was making jam at 6:30am today because she woke up to some containers with solid sugar on the bottom and pure liquid berries on top. Note to Liana for next year, ADD 1 BOX OF PECTIN PER BATCH! LOL!

While we all took turns at the stove to boil the pectin and water, I think it was Elizabeth who spent the most time at the stove. She stirred and stirred away at the pectin and water several times before realizing the burner wasn't even ON! Liana and Elizabeth don't be mad for telling your oopsies, it really did make for some great comedy!

The kitchen did get trashed, but not as bad as I thought it would. Here's one part of the mess below. That's Ellen plugging away after she took a break to run home and feed the baby.

Everyone contributed to clean up so it was back in shape in no time! I ended up making 24 containers of jam. Here's all my jam!
I hope that's going to be enough! I think I made around 27 last year! I wanted to save some strawberries to eat (Em loves strawberries) and some to make a pie! If I run out I'll have to be calling on one of my jam friends for a loaner! We all had different containers between the five of us which you can see below.
So overall we made a grand total of.... drum roll again please.... 142 containers of strawberry jam! It was a great night had by all and I'm sure we'll all enjoy our 2009 jam for the next year! I see lots of pb&j's and English muffins in our future! Maybe, just maybe some of you (if you're a faithful blog reader- you have to follow me) will share in the jam joy if you're lucky, and I show up at your doorstep with yummy, delicious, homemade jam! I'm thinking if you're a loyal reader I will enter your name to give one of my jams away. (A lot of hard work & money went into making this jam!) Thanks ladies, Liana, Ellen, Elizabeth, & Sara for our 2nd year of jammin'! It was loads of fun, and I can only imagine what jam making will bring next year! We've determined that jam time brings babies as well. Last year Ellen was pregnant, this year Sara is pregnant. Now Ellen tells us we have to keep with tradition and someone has to be pregnant next year... NOT IT ladies!

Here's the famous recipe: Strawberry Freezer Jam

(These amounts are for ONE batch)
1 quart fully ripe strawberries (2 cups crushed)
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 box fruit pectin (Sure Jell)

* Make sure you have clean, dry plastic (or glass jars) freezer containers ready beforehand.
1. Remove strawberry stems and rinse gently with water. Pat dry.
2 Crush berries until you have 2 cups exactly. Stir in sugar.
3. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
4. Mix water and pectin in small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring for 1 minute. Careful not to burn.
5. Remove from heat and add to fruit mixture; stir constantly for 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy; a few sugar crystals may remain and that's o.k.
6. Fill containers immediately within 1/2 " of top.
7. Wipe off top edges and immediately cover with lids.
8. Let stand at room temp. 24 hours.
9. Your jam is now ready to use, and can be stored in fridge for up to 3 weeks or frozen up to 1 year. (Note, we've all had a container in fridge for more than 3 weeks and it still tastes fine.)
10. Thaw frozen jam in the fridge before using.

*For about the amount I made- I used approx. 15-20lbs. sugar, 16lbs of strawberries, and about 10 boxes of pectin.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Emmaline's Name

This post is going to be about my sweet little girl! I thought it was time I told you a little about how we got her name since I said I was going to about a month ago. It's not that big of a story, but many people ask us when they hear her name how we came up with it. We both wrote up a list of names and I had always liked Emma so it was on my list along with Grace and a few others. Greg had his list too and he had seen the name Emeline in our baby name book so that was on his list. At the time I was pregnant we had known a couple people with babies named Emma. Greg said the name Emma was too common and we should go with Emeline since we had narrowed down our list and I still had Emma, he had Emeline, and we both had Grace. His other choices I didn't care for and vice versa, he didn't care for some of mine. He had played this song for me titled Emaline by Ben Folds Five. I really liked it and then he played another song by them called Gracie. I liked it too. (They're the two songs on my playlist!) We ended up compromising and since I like Emma and he liked Emeline I said how about we go with Emeline, but change the spelling and spell it Emmaline. I figured I would probably end up calling her Emma so that spelling would fit. So if you're not sure how to pronounce it, it's exactly as it sounds.... Emma- line. We both agreed on Grace for the middle name with no problem so there you have it... our little Emmaline Grace.

I know there are some people that don't care for the name, but hey guess what? She's not your kid, sorry! I admit, it had to grow on me, but to this day I'm not the least bit sorry we went with Emmaline instead of Emma! I hear of a lot of Emma's especially Emma Grace's. I love it, the name fits her, and pretty much everyone that's ever heard her name has told me it's very beautiful! We actually were at the Noodle Company one time and someone heard us say her name and turned around and asked us if we called her Emmaline and said her daughter's name was Emmaline and she was like 12 years old. That's the only time we've ever heard her name. As far as calling her Emma though, I don't really. I think I call her everything but Emma. She's pretty much my Emmaline, Em, Emme Gracie, Emmers, Gracie girl, or if she's in trouble Emmaline Grace! Here's a picture of my little girl being good this morning! She was sitting reading all her books as you can see. Don't you love the book in her hand?

Well, that's it for the blogging today because I'm off to pick strawberries and make homemade jam in a little while. There's a few of us that go pick and come back and make jam all night so hopefully we'll have success today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rain holds off, at least until we get the strawberries picked and back inside. It was just sprinkling a little bit as I write this, but it stopped and the pavement is already dried up. So wish me luck and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cupcake Recipe

Here's the recipe I promised for the homemade cupcakes. I call these the Wesley cupcakes because the first time I had them my friend Wesley brought them to me. I was hooked ever since. It's a little extra work than using mix from a box, but well worth it! They're delicious! If you have real vanilla instead of imitation, they're even better! I think she got this out of a Betty Crocker cookbook if I recall correctly.

Silver White Cake (or Cupcakes)
(You can use this to make cupcakes, a 9x13 cake, or two 9-inch round cakes)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups milk
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 large egg whites

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with baking liners or grease bottom and sides & lightly flour cake pan.
2. In large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients except egg whites with electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Then for about two minutes on high speed. Make sure to scrape bowl occasionally to mix all ingredients well.
3. Beat in egg whites on high speed for about 2 minutes. Pour into baking cups or cake pans.
4. Bake cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
(9x13 cake takes about 40-45 min. & two 9-inch pans takes about 25 min.)
5. Cool completely on wire racks for about 1 hour. Frost with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (see below).
*Makes about 24 cupcakes

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 Tablespoons milk

1. In mixing bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer (I use a mixer) on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk
2. Gradually beat in just enough of remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. (I usually have to use the whole other tablespoon) If frosting is too thick, beat in a little more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

*Add a few drops of food coloring to color frosting if you desire!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary- 8 Years!

Today is our wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been 8 years already. Where does the time go? I knew eight years ago I'd still be married to my best friend, soul mate, and love of my life eight years down the road, but I didn't know I'd have two special children with my wonderful husband. I always dreamed of having children, and after I married Greg I was able to fulfill that dream with two wonderful children! I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful family with Greg, Evan, & Emmaline! My husband is terrific and I'd like to thank him for everything he's done for me and our kids! Thanks honey for taking that step with me and making it official June 23, 2001! I look forward to many many more years together!

Since we couldn't have wedding cake today (bummer), I decided I'd make Greg some homemade "anniversary" cupcakes! I put the flower baking cups to use again. Note to self, spray baking cups when using for cupcakes. Some of the cupcakes stuck a little, the muffins never did. Oh well they still tasted good so that's all that matters. I even made some mini cupcakes for Em. I must say they all turned out good and tasted very yummy! I'll post the recipe soon! You'll never want to use boxed cake mix for cupcakes again! I promise this will be the last picture of the baking cups for awhile. I just love them. They're fun to use!

Greg & I got to go out to dinner by ourselves for our anniversary. Thanks to Greg's mom for watching the kids and thanks for the anniversary present & dinner last night. It's rare with two kids that we go out by ourselves so it was nice for a change, we appreciate it. We only went to Olive Garden, but hey we had a gift card and we hadn't been there for a long time so figured why not. At least we didn't have to sit and cut up the kids food while ours sat and got cold! Dinner was good and of course we couldn't not talk about our kids. After eight years the anniversary excitement really isn't all that I guess because after dinner we went to Target. I know super exciting right. We both needed razors and soap so since we were right there we might as well go I thought. Of course we had to pick up something for the kids. When we got home I told them we had something little for them. Evan got in a chair and covered his eyes, so of course Em had to follow along and do the same thing.

Here they are waiting for their little present
They both got these new plates

We had seen these at Target awhile back and Evan always says his kid plates are old so Daddy picked out his and I picked out Em's. If one has something the other has to have the same thing. They have camping stuff on them so Ev thought that was cool! We also made a Beaner's (oops I mean Biggby, I still call it Beaner's) stop before we picked up the kids and got some iced coffee which hit the spot in the hot weather.

Overall it was a nice anniversary day! Definitely a lot hotter than it was on this day eight years ago! Thanks everyone for the anniversary wishes! We got lots of anniversary wishes on Facebook too so that was nice as well! I'm going to leave you with one more photo. This was my little girl Monday morning...
Apparently she knew that Mommy & Daddy's anniversary was coming up. I swear I had nothing to do with this. She was playing and went over to this table with a picture from our wedding and was looking at it for the longest time. Then she was giving it kisses. As a mom, my heart just melted. It was like she was wishing us a happy anniversary early!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Fun In The Sun Filled Weekend- Part 2

Sunday was Father's Day and the weather cooperated and was another beautiful day. While it was a little on the hot side, it was better than rain! We spent the day watching the kids swim in their new pool from Papa & Nana, Evan picked tomatoes, and an afternoon boat ride. When we showed up to Papa & Nana's on Saturday, there was a surprise for the kids. A new pool! So we got it all blown up and ready for Sunday. Here are the kids enjoying the water in their new swimsuits from Papa & Nana at Easter, to get cooled off on a very hot day! Em wasn't into getting in the pool so much, but she had a blast dumping buckets of water out of the pool. (For some reason recently she hasn't liked bath time either so I'm not sure why she's not liking the water. She used to love it!)
Thanks Papa & Nana for the pool! We love it! It's going to get lots of use on these hot summer days!

When Evan goes to Grandpa's in the summer he likes to check out all Grandpa's tomato plants. Well Saturday there were no tomatoes ready, but Sunday there was, and Evan was all excited to pick them. (FYI- Grandpa put some ripe tomatoes out so Ev would have something to pick on Sunday! Evan won't eat tomatoes for anything, but he likes to pick them for me so thanks Dad for entertaining Evan with the tomatoes. He gets a kick out of picking the tomatoes!) Here's Evan at work!
Picking them one by one
A whole bucket full!

We did enjoy a nice ride on the pontoon boat out on the lake! I think the kids had fun too after Em got over having to wear a life jacket! She was not a happy camper when that got put on. However, once the snacks and drinks were out she was quite content!

Em after she was done throwing a fit about the life jacket
Daddy with his munchkins enjoying a nice boat ride on Father's Day!
Em loving the lake and looking for duckies along the way!
It was nice to get out on the boat for the first time this summer! Followed by a delicious dinner of chicken and ribs on the grill and banana cream & strawberry pies for dessert! Thanks for a yummy meal before we hit the road home! Here's a few final pictures of the Dad's opening their Father's Day presents!

Ev watching Daddy open his slider burger grill basket
Daddy's new guitar t-shirt from his favorite kids!
Em & Papa with his Notre Dame sign (our State one is better)

We had a nice weekend of fun in the sun, but by Sunday night as I told you we were all very tired! Thanks for all the yummy food and treats for the kids & Jen thanks for letting us invade your house with two very energetic kids and dog! Yes, even Molly went and surprisingly she did very well. Even when she and Baggy (Papa & Nana's dog) were together! Look how cute they are!
One last thing... once again Papa remembered the kids while he was traveling and brought back a t-shirt for Evan and a hat for Emmaline and Nana picked up a couple shirts for the kids for 4th of July! The kids love their t-shirts! Thanks a bunch!

A Fun In The Sun Filled Weekend Part 1

I mentioned yesterday that we had a busy weekend! It started off with a car ride to my sister's on Saturday. We got there shortly before lunch time so once we got the car unloaded and settled in for a little bit we headed to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. I don't think I've told you, but I LOVE Chick-Fil-A! My Dad got us started on that when we were kids! I'm so sad that we don't have it here by us. We don't get it often so if we're by my sister's we try to go if time permits! So Saturday was one of those days! It was definitely a yummy lunch! Then we stopped by for a short visit to Papa & Nana's before Kaite's softball game. Evan had to show Grandpa that he brought his fishing pole! We spent a little bit of time outside and Emmaline was enjoying the lake. We don't get down there often so everything seems new to her again! Here's a couple of my favorite shots of the kids!
The kids checking out the lake!
Emmaline flying in the air!

That afternoon Kaite (my niece) had a softball game. It was hot, but I thought since we never get to see her games we'd go for a little bit. Well, it ended up just being Evan & I that went because are you ready for this.... Emmaline fell asleep and took a nap somewhere besides home! I couldn't believe it. She grabbed a pillow and layed down on the floor and soon after she was out. I had to take a picture to remember this because it's not often she'll nap somewhere else!

Kaite's team won their game 15-4 so that was awesome! Evan had fun watching her play although it was super hot! She scored two runs so way to go Kaite bug!!! Here she is running into home, it's not the best picture, but she's in the green shirt.
Saturday evening we grilled out at my sister's and Evan was excited to play with the neighbor girl Maci. Plus they have drums in their basement so after dinner Evan was itchin' to get over there and play some rock n' band music. While dinner was cooking I took the kids for a couple tractor rides in the backyard & I managed to get the grass cut for my sister. I like to ride the tractor around so I figured I'd cut the grass at the same time. Riding on the tractor reminded me of when I was little. My Grandpa would always take my sister and I for tractor rides. There's not a whole lot to do in Michiana so tractor rides it is! Greg also drove the kids around on the tractor so here's a few shots I snapped!

Evan was ecstatic to go to the neighbors and play the drums. I can't believe how much into the drums this kids is. Not to mention it looks like his sister is right behind him. She had a blast playing the drums too! I think they could have their own little band! Here's a couple videos of them playing the drums. It really is too cute!

That was our busy Saturday. This is getting long so Sunday is up in the next post.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Too Hot & Too Tired!

Well, it was a very hot weekend and I'm very tired from being out in the sun for two full days so my blogging about the weekend is going to have to wait until tomorrow. We headed to my sister's and dad's yesterday and came back today so I've got lots to tell about. Plus I've got a lot of pictures to share, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow to get them all uploaded! The kids were exhausted from the weekend and fell asleep the minute we got on the road to head home. I pretty much feel like them (see the picture) so I'm calling it a night early and heading to bed!

Before I do though, I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to my Dad and husband! I hope they both enjoyed their day! Today is also one of those hard days where we really miss Greg's Dad. We're thinking of him and I know he'd be proud of the Dad that his son has become! Greg you truly are a wonderful Dad to our children! They love you lots! Me too! A shout out also to our neighbor Rich for completing the 100 mile Lumberjack MTB Race this weekend! That's a long time to be on your bike! I know Greg would've liked to do it, but maybe after hearing Rich's experience he'll think differently for next year!

Also, a nice surprise when I got home and checked my 40 emails... I was a winner again on the Lansing Moms Like Me Site (LMLM). This time it was a Father's Day Contest and you could enter as many times as you'd like about something special about a Dad in your life whether it be my Dad or my kid's Dad. I think I entered about 12 times maybe and overall there were about 170 entries I think. So I end up with a $50 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods! Pretty nice huh? Thanks again LMLM! You rock! I'm thinking since it was a Father's Day contest that my husband will be getting some use out of the gift card too! See I should've played the lotto after my last LMLM win and Ann's blog win! Good night everyone and happy summer! It's officially summer today and it felt like it! Woo hoo!!!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Good Deals

Yesterday turned out to be a great day for a good deal! The kids and I headed to Jimmy John's for our $1 subs. We got there right about 11am when it started and there was already a line!

Evan says, "We're not standing in that line!" So we drove to the other one, but that line was even longer and the parking isn't good by that one. So we ended up going back to the first one we were at. We did stand in line, but it only took 15 minutes so that wasn't too bad. However, their slogan is "Subs so fast you'll freak" so I'm thinking now maybe that was a little long. LOL! Anyway, we took the subs to go and headed home. On the way home, I heard on the radio that the Tim Horton's down the road from us was giving away free iced lattes. So since I was passing right by there on my way home we whipped through the drive thru to get my free iced latte. I chose the butter caramel and it was yummy! Then we got home and ate our subs, well at least the kids did. I opened mine up and wouldn't you know it, they made it wrong. I was so ticked after standing in that line. So I called them up. They said if brought it back they would remake. I didn't really want to go back out, but since Greg wasn't home for lunch he was going to have his JJ's for dinner, and I didn't know what the rest of us would have. So figured I'll go back and while I was there get a few more subs since the guy told me I didn't have to stand in line. We headed back, got the sub remade, and ordered a couple more for dinner and the manager gave me 3 more subs for FREE! I guess it was worth the trip back then. So it was a day of JJ's for lunch and dinner! We also headed back to Tim Horton's when Greg got home from work because he wanted to try the iced latte too. Greg and Evan rode their bikes there which Evan thought was so cool! We tried chocolate, mint, and butter caramel again. The butter caramel is the best in my opinion.

Emmaline continued to be good yesterday and I was able to get a lot of laundry and some cleaning done. She did however tear the screen again. I don't think she was trying to be naughty. She just wanted out on the deck, I heard the screen door shut, ran into the dining room, and she was out on the deck heading down the stairs. Damn, she's fast! It was like a matter of seconds. I'm guessing she kind of pushed the screen then opened the door. So needless to say, the screen needs a fixing again. I guess I'm going to have to lock the screen door too. Yesterday, I also was excited about using my flower cupcake holders again so I made more muffins! This time mixed berry! These one's looked really pretty with the colored specks in the flower cupcake holders.

The kids love muffins so I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of use out of the cupcake holders now that I've taken them out of the package!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Recipe

Here's a quick and easy recipe that I discovered on my friend Ann's blog. I've made it several times and in fact made just last night. It's an easy go to recipe if your stuck on what to make for dinner and it tastes really good! Usually I have all the ingredients on hand and it's simple to prepare.

Tater-Topped Casserole

Prep: 15 min. | Total: 1 hour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped (Greg doesn't like onions, so I skipped this ingredient!)
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup (regular or reduced fat soup)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (can put in more if prefer a little more)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I've also used colby jack when didn't have cheddar on hand, & I usually use more than a cup. You can never have too much cheese!)
1 lb. (1/2 of 32 oz. pkg.) frozen bite-size seasoned potato nuggets (tater tots)

Brown meat with onions in skillet, stirring occasionally; drain. Spoon into an 11x7 size dish. Mix soup and milk; pour over meat mixture. Top with layers of mixed vegetables, cheese and potatoes. Bake 45 min. or until potatoes are golden brown and casserole is heated through.

Makes about 6 servings.

* I switch it up occasionally and use turkey burger instead of ground beef!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Much Better Day

Today was a much better day in the temper tantrum department. Since little Miss Emmaline missed her nap yesterday, she ended up sleeping until 10:30am this morning. I figured I better leave her alone otherwise I'd probably be in for it with the tantrums. She was pretty good when she was up, ate a good lunch which sometimes is a challenge, and went back down for a nap at 2pm. Then she slept until 5:30pm. I know all you mom's that have trouble with naps, don't hate me. By 8:30pm she was ready for bed again! I'm thinking that 7am Monday morning had a lot to do with her tantrums! No temper tantrums today which made for a much more pleasant day, and when I'm not dealing with temper tantrums, guess what? I was able to accomplish a few things today. It felt good to get some things done and I'm hoping for the same tomorrow! I even found some time to finally try out one of my birthday gifts (from March) that my sister gave me. I made some muffins in my new silicone muffin cups. Here's the finished product- banana nut muffins in my cute flower muffin cups!

To go along with my much better day, my sweet, adorable, precious, little Emmaline (she is when she's not throwing tantrums) started calling me Mommy today. Just out of the blue she said Mommy and that's how it went all day. She usually calls me Mama or Mom. It was really cute and sweet. I tried to video her, but of course she didn't want to say it then. It goes something like this... Mommm-eeeee!

In Evan news, after dinner tonight Evan learned how to open the gate we have by the basement stairs and back entry. I've told you how Evan has a big playroom downstairs and he's down there quite often. Well, every time he goes up and down he needs help opening the gate. It can get pretty old pretty fast when it's over and over and over. I try to leave it unlatched if Em is in bed so he can get through, but if she's awake it has to be shut otherwise she tries to go downstairs or in the bathroom. So tonight Evan needed to get through the gate and before one of us could get to it he had it opened! Yeah!!!!! This will make things much easier if he can continue to open it. It's a little tricky, but so far he's doing good. He's a little impatient when someone can't open it right away so I'm looking forward to him getting through on his own from now on!

So that's the big news around here today. I'm looking forward to another good day tomorrow sans temper tantrums and I'm headed to my favorite sandwich place! On Facebook today it was announced that Jimmy John's in Lansing is having $1 subs from 11am-3pm! Woo hoo! It doesn't get any better than that. I'm thinking I may even be able to handle a tantrum if I'm getting JJ's for $1. (But hopefully not!) I think everyone I know around here is going to be at JJ's for lunch tomorrow! It's the big excitement in Lansing for the day! I even had to let my friend Ann know because there's $1 subs at JJ's in Ann Arbor too! Mmmmm, I'm already thinking about what I'm going to get... #4 no sprouts, add cukes! Greg said we should get 20 for that price, but I don't think that's going to happen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where Is My Week Going?

Well, here it is Tuesday night and I feel like this week is quickly slipping away from me. Before I know it the weekend will be here, and I've got stuff to do. I haven't gotten anything done around the house for two days. Yesterday I had two kids awake at 7am. Not a good thing! Em played in bed for an hour until 8am when I got her up and I should've just left her because it was downhill from there. First she threw her English muffin on the floor after only eating a couple bites. Then she took her cereal and was dropping it piece by piece on the floor so the dog could eat it. Then when I wouldn't let her do that she just dumped the whole bowl. In between all this she's throwing temper tantrums. By 9am I had enough of the naughty Emmaline so she was back up to bed. She slept for about an hour and a half. She woke up a little better until her and her brother got together and then I had two naughty kids. Too much to write about, but one thing involved the screen door. About a month ago Molly went through the bottom of our screen going out to the deck. I fixed it and since them Em has torn it a few times. I keep refixing it, and yesterday I ended up fixing the screen FOUR times! It's on its last straw, and I think I am too! If it happens again I think it's going to need a new screen! It's about beyond repair stage! Grrrrrr! So needless to say, I got nothing accomplished in the morning with naughty kids.

Then while Em took her nap in the afternoon, I spent all afternoon on the phone with insurance companies. Our insurance went up so I had been calling around trying to find a cheaper rate. Well, I did and was all set to switch. Then I call to cancel our current carrier and they suddenly can give us a better rate. Go figure! I had called them two times previously and guess what? Nope, they couldn't do any better for us. Then a week later they can. Why didn't they just tell me they could the first time and I wouldn't have wasted so much time calling or emailing other places. Insurance companies are a PAIN! So needless to say, I got nothing accomplished in the afternoon, but talking to insurance companies. Lovely!

Today, I was on the road at 9am to head to Grand Rapids to do some things for my mom. She's still layed up from her fall Mother's Day weekend and can't drive. Greg's mom took the kids for the day, which I was thankful for because it would've made for a very long day trying to run all these errands and do things around the house for my mom with two kids in tow. Hopefully, only a couple more weeks and she'll be back in full swing. She is moving a little better thanks to physical therapy. We're all keeping our fingers crossed that the healing is going as planned, as I'm sure she is! So needless to say, I got nothing accomplished today since I was gone all day. I got stuff accomplished for my mom, but that doesn't count for my to do list here. I developed a headache mid afternoon that hasn't stopped yet so I was good for nothing tonight to do anything. We did sneak in a little walk, but not for long because Emmaline hadn't napped all day since she wasn't at home. She was tired and ended up throwing another, yes ANOTHER tantrum while we were on our walk. So I'm off to bed in hopes that I don't have this headache when I wake up because I have got to get some things done!

A quick happy note: Greg took Evan back out to Sleepy Hollow (where they went camping), Monday night to ride the bike trails. Evan rode without his training wheels this time and from what I heard, he did awesome! He was riding that trail like a true bike rider and rode over branches and through all the dirt. He didn't even fall! He had a blast and before they even got buckled in the car to leave Evan was asking when they could go back! I'm only sad that I didn't see him. Em and I stayed home. We had mommy daughter time and went for a walk and played outside for a little bit. Then when it was time to pick up and go in.... yes, she threw ANOTHER temper tantrum!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Productive or Unproductive

I'm trying to decide if my weekend was very productive or not. I'm thinking it was about 50/50. Friday evening after my garage sale we did head to the Tasty Twist. It definitely hit the spot after a hot day out in the sun! My friend Wes and her daughter Chloe went with us too. That was about all I had the energy for because I was tired when we got home. I'm thinking it must be all the sun that made me tired because sitting in a garage all day really isn't hard work!

Saturday I felt was pretty much a wasted day! I hate at the end of a day when you feel like, "I wished I would've done this and this and this." The weather was crappy to begin with so it was one of those days that you feel like just taking a nap. I didn't, but wished I had since I didn't get anything productive done! It was gloomy and chilly, then the sun would come out and warm up, then a few sprinkles, then chilly, then the sun back out, over and over, and over. There was yard work to be done, but the way the weather was I knew if I started I wouldn't get very far. I did cut Evan's hair that morning, finally. I kept saying I was going to do it and then haven't so I was glad I actually got that done because that was about the only productive thing I did.

So instead of doing anything around the house we decided to go to garage sales. Yes, I said WE! Greg and the kids, and I all went. Evan just went to one sale with us and then we dropped him off at his Ya Ya's (Greg's mom's) for the afternoon and to spend the night. So then it was just the three of us. Greg had seen a garage sale advertised on craigslist that was selling camping stuff so we thought we'd check it out. Of course nothing good left by the time we got there so no camping stuff for us. We ended up hitting a few sales and spending a total of $2. Greg got two cd's and I got a utensil holder/vase for the kitchen. It goes with a bowl I have so I figured for $1 what the heck. I was shocked that Greg actually went to garage sales with me. I hardly ever go to garage sales, and Greg has NEVER gone to a garage sale besides our own. He didn't even complain once! Here's my big purchase:

So by the time we got home it was Em's nap time. I should've been cleaning up my garage sale stuff while she was sleeping, but I didn't. Then after dinner the three of us went for a walk. Saturday was Relay For Life (an event to raise money for Cancer) at the Soccer Complex down the road from us. We decided to head that way on our walk because a few of our friends were involved in it. We ended up staying longer than we thought so by the time we got home Em was more than ready for bed. I think next year we may sign up for it. It's a cause that hits very close to home for us since Greg's Dad passed away from Cancer and so have several of our grandparents. I was glad we stopped over there because the rest of our day I felt was very unproductive!

Today however I felt much better about. Greg went for a ride this morning and I got to look at the Sunday ads before three days into the week which is usually what happens lately. After he got home we ran a couple errands, came home and got Em down for a nap since she fell asleep in the car. I guess Target wore her out because this is how she ended up as we got close to home...

and here's another shot

So while she napped we both headed out to do some much needed yard work. We got the grass cut, trimmed, fertilized, and patched the spots we're still trying to repair from our mole last year. I also fertilized the plants and we got the lawn watered. I also worked on packing up some of the sale stuff. So I felt like today was much more productive than yesterday which I'm glad. Otherwise I would've felt like the whole weekend was wasted, and I hate when that happens!