Sunday, November 29, 2009

What To Do With Those Turkey Lefovers

We've all stuffed ourselves with turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, and by now you're probably thinking "what do I do with those leftovers?" The popular leftover meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy on top of some bread has probably been exhausted by now. I'm a little bummed that we don't have turkey leftovers since we went out to dinner on Thanksgiving. While those of you who stayed home and cooked are probably sick of turkey by now, we're wishing we had some to make some yummy dinners. I thought I'd offer up a recipe in case you're in need of something to use that turkey for. I've been making this recipe for a few years now. I usually make it with chicken, but the past couple years I have made it after Thanksgiving with the left over turkey. It's called "Easy Chicken and Biscuits," but you can easily switch up the chicken for turkey and call it "Easy Turkey and Biscuits." It's really simple to make and tastes yummy with either chicken or turkey!

1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of potato soup
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups cut-up vegetables ( I use a package of frozen veggies- broccoli, cauliflower, & carrot combo)
2 cups cooked cubed chicken (or turkey)
1 pkg refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (10 count)

Mix soup, milk, thyme, pepper, vegetables, and chicken ( or turkey) in 3qt shallow baking dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min.

Then cut each biscuit into quarters, take pan out and stir mixture. top with biscuits and bake an additional 15 min. or until biscuits are golden and veggies are tender.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Shopping

Well here's my scoop on our Black Friday shopping. I've been going Black Friday shopping for many years now. At least 15 years I'd say if not a few more! I always usually go with my mom, sister or by myself. If you remember from yesterday I said that Greg was going to go with me shopping. Well, he stuck to his word and he did go out to the stores with me. We left the house right around midnight and headed to Toys R Us. They had some drums on sale that we wanted to get for Evan for Christmas from "Santa." We got to the store to find a line of course. No surprise there. I dropped Greg off to get in line, and I went to park the car. By the time I found a parking spot and got back to the line to meet Greg he was almost up to the door. The guy working at Toys R Us stopped me as I approached Greg and said, "Miss you'll have to go to the end of the line." I questioned him because there were other people in front of me going to get in line with their family and he said nothing to them. They had done the same thing and dropped a family member off to get in line. He said, "Miss you'll have to go to the end of the line. I didn't see them, I saw you." Greg was ticked to say the least and I was not happy with my unfair treatment to start off my shopping. I was one person getting in line with my husband while the others were three or four people joining their group. I thought Greg was about to get out of line because he was so mad, but he didn't. I told him go on in and I'd find him at some point. The line moved quickly and I was in the door a couple minutes later. I saw Greg ahead and we were all packed in there like sardines. I really was tempted to turn around an go out because it was making me claustrophobic, but there really was no way out. After moving through the crowd I found the drums and right after spotted Greg again. We got the drums and there was so much chaos as to where the check out line was supposed to be that we were told to go in all different directions. We finally found the end of the check out line and it was wrapped all around the store. We stood in line for about 2 1/2 hours and were in the store for a total of about 3 hours before we finally got to check out. As we got to the checkout line we discovered that there were two lines going for the checkout. The people coming from the other checkout line were people we saw come into the store after us and were checking out at the same time as us. During the time we were in line apparently the employee directing the checkout line got overwhelmed and she up and quit her job. So instead of management taking over they just let people split the line and make their own new checkout line and those people got to check out much faster than us. Needless to say many of us weren't happy! All the employees were rude and the manager, who was not worthy of being called that, (come to find out he was the guy who stopped me on the way in and told me to go to the end of the line) was pretty much clueless about anything. It was the most disorganized Black Friday shopping I've ever seen. You would've thought that Toys R Us had never done Black Friday before. At least we got our drums, and I know Evan is going to be super excited when he sees what Santa brought him Christmas morning!

Our original plan was to go home after Toys R Us and sleep for a little bit before we headed back out for more shopping when Target opened at 5am. Since it was 3am when we got out of Toys R Us (later than we expected), we decided it wasn't worth going home. We headed over to the mall to see if we could get the free Lego Rockband for the Wii that they were giving away. We got there about ten after three and there was no line to get into the store so we walked in. I asked if they had any left and the gal told me no. I overhead someone saying they hardly had any to give away so I'm guessing they probably only had five to ten and it was just a ploy to get people in the store. By this time we were pretty tired since we were both up at 6:30am on Thanksgiving morning. We sat down on a bench for a little bit in the mall and thought we'd go to Younker's when they opened at 4am. After sitting there for about a half hour, the line for Younker's was quickly growing. We decided that the $7 camping lantern we thought about getting or the Christmas tree on sale I wanted to check out wasn't worth it, by the time it would take to find the stuff and stand in line to checkout.

We left the mall and decided we needed some caffeine so we headed over to Biggby for a coffee. We didn't know if they'd be open, but we thought we'd go see anyway. Sure enough they had opened at 3:30am. We got our drinks, parked it in the comfy chairs and chilled for about an hour. There was quite a steady flow of customers in and out. Some interesting people to say the least. This one girl walked in about 4am and she had on stilettos, metallic (very tight) leggings, and a very low cut shirt on. We were guessing she wasn't going out Black Friday shopping, but rather she was just finishing her night! The three guys working there were a little too chipper and loud for 4am, and the music playing was a little too loud as well. It was even too loud for an afternoon visit to Biggby let alone 4am!

Finally we headed over to Target about 4:45am and the line was wrapped around the building and the parking lot was packed. We decided we weren't standing in the line and would wait in the car until everyone went in. Well the line started moving at 5am and then about five minutes later it stopped and we decided enough was enough. Screw it because we weren't going to get what we wanted anyway. It was then we decided we would head home and go to bed. We got in bed about 5:40am, neither of us could make it 24 hours to stay awake. Well, we probably could of, but it wasn't worth it just to say we were up for 24hrs straight.

We woke up about 10:20am thanks to the garbage truck. About 11am we headed back out to Target to see if there was anything left. We got a couple things on our list which I was surprised were still there. We headed to Walmart later that afternoon (we had decided to skip Walmart too after Target at 5am because they were crazy busy too) and they still had lots of items that were 5-11am doorbusters that were still available at the doorbuster price at 2:30pm. So I was glad we didn't try to go at 5am.

We picked the kids up in the afternoon from Greg's mom's and of course Evan wanted to stay longer when we got there so since Em needed a nap we took her home to nap. I took a nap as well for about an hour and a half. Then Greg's mom took us to dinner so that was nice I didn't have to cook after a long and very tired day! We really appreciate her keeping the kids all night and most of today so we could do some shopping and get some rest! In all my years of Black Friday shopping, I'd have to say this had to be the busiest I've ever seen the stores. It was also the most unorganized year for all stores I'd say, not to mention the rudest employees I've ever encountered. My sister said it was the same way by her down in Indiana. It really wasn't a good year for it to be Greg's first Black Friday shopping experience. I'm guessing if I go next year I'll have to go by myself!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving. This year we did something different for Thanksgiving. Instead of having Thanksgiving dinner at our house or going to family's house for dinner, we headed to Frankenmuth. It was kind of nice not to have to cook and clean up. The first thing you probably think of when you think of Frankenmuth is chicken dinner at Zehnder's and the huge Christmas store, Bronner's. Zehnder's had a Thanksgiving buffet with all their regular chicken dinner items, as well as turkey, prime rib, shrimp, and much more. We headed to Frankenmuth with Greg's mom and his Aunt Rose and Uncle Don to have our Thanksgiving dinner at Zehnder's. We decided to leave early so we wouldn't have to wait too long because we couldn't get reservations. By the time we got there shortly after noon, there was already a wait. It wasn't too long though only about 45 minutes. Soon after we sat down the Zehnder's Chicken came by our table. I got Evan's picture with him, but Em wanted absolutely nothing to do with the chicken. She kept saying, "no chicken!" Here's Evan and the chicken.

We enjoyed some great food and as always on Thanksgiving, ate way too much! One of the items on the buffet was simply called "squash with brown sugar." It was the best squash I've ever had, and I really must learn how to make it. It was much like sweet potatoes you make on Thanksgiving, super good. The kids even liked it! The only problem though when going out for Thanksgiving dinner is no left overs for the next couple of days. By the time we left the restaurant there was a huge crowd and the wait had to be at least two if not three hours. We were so glad we went early. We walked around Frankenmuth for a little bit and went into some of the shops before we headed back home. The kids had fun in one of the toy stores. Unfortunately we didn't get to go to Bronner's because they were closed. Bronner's is open 361 days of the year, and for some reason we all thought they were open on Thanksgiving. I really wanted to take the kids in there to see all the Christmas decorations. We'll have to go another time so they can see it. I remember going there often when I was a little kid with my mom, sister, grandma and grandpa. It had been a couple of years since we've been to Frankenmuth. Hopefully we'll get back that way sooner next time. Thanks to Greg's mom for buying us turkey dinner and to Greg's Uncle Don for driving us all to Frankenmuth.

After we got back home I needed to check out the Black Friday ads to see what store's I was going to head to. Greg came up with the idea to have the kids stay at his mom's, and he'd go shopping with me. Whoa! That was a shocker to me because folks.... Greg never goes shopping on Black Friday, EVER! Stay tuned.... tomorrow there's sure to be lots to blog about our Black Friday shopping!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gift Giving

As we all know Christmas is right around the corner. Just a couple days away from Thanksgiving, and once that's over it's full swing into the holiday season. There's only 31 days left until Christmas! I've seemed to get a good jump start on getting things for the kids so I'm feeling good about that. I really want to be ahead of the game and not be wrapping presents a couple days before Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Greg and I don't really exchange Christmas presents. We haven't for a few years now. There's always things that come up during the year that we need to spend money on so we just bypass the gifts at Christmas. One year I surprised him with a couple small things that were from the kids, but as far as anything from me those days are over for right now. We've got children to support. Once we had kids it was more about them than us anyway. As a parent, I feel that Christmas gift giving should be more for your children/grandchildren.

Another reason especially this year we're not exchanging gifts is we're planning a trip out west. My cousin Matt in Arizona is getting married in June so we'll be heading out there for the wedding. Greg is going to be the photographer for the wedding and we feel very honored that they asked him. We'll be driving (yes with two kids, I know) so we're going to try to make it into our first big family trip and try to do some sightseeing along the way and back. So needless to say we're trying to save money for our trip.

While it would be nice to get Christmas presents from my hubby, since I do have a "wish list," I know I have a great trip to look forward to next summer. For those of you who do exchange gifts with your spouse, significant other, or whomever is on your gift buying list, here are some things from my "wish list" that you may think are good ideas for someone on your list if you're stumped on what to buy. Here's my top 10.

Item #1- new phones. Our phone isn't that old, but for some reason the caller id doesn't work on it anymore. I hate it! So usually I try to remember to bring the phone from our bedroom down so if someone calls I can see the caller id. That phone though is about seven years old and the battery dies quickly once it's off the charger, and the keys stick so you really can't use it to dial. So while it would be nice to have a couple new phones, we can put up with these a little bit longer.
Item #2- Flip video camcorder - If you click on that link it takes you to Flip camcorders listed on There's a lot of different kinds, and I'm not a know it all on cameras of any kind, but Greg would know which one is a good one. Our much bigger video camcorder stopped working about two years ago so we don't have a video camera to take videos of the kids besides the one on my regular camera which isn't the greatest.
Item #3- new set of knives. We got a nice knife set when we got married. They're J.A. Henckels knives and are supposed to be good knives. They just don't seem to be living up to that though after eight years. A handle broke on one, we lost a steak knife somewhere along the way, and it really doesn't have what I call a good everyday cutting knife. I would really like this cutlery set. Martha Stewart 20 piece cutlery set. My dad has them and they seem like pretty nice knives. They're regularly $149.99 at Macy's, but right now they're on sale for $88.99 which is a pretty good price.
Item #4- Pink's newest album. Funhouse. While the first couple items are a little pricey, I also wouldn't mind the Pink CD. The kids and I both love some of her songs. Emmaline even knows when "Funhouse" comes on the radio it's Pink. She'll say Pink, Pink, Pink! It's so cute.
Item #5- A new camera. My camera isn't all that old, but it's slow at snapping the picture at times. I've missed some good shots because of it. I don't need a fancy camera. I have an Olympus point and shoot camera right now and I tend to stick to that brand since my memory cards are Olympus. So I recommend that brand for someone on your list in need of a camera.
Item #6- Gift Cards- Who doesn't love gift cards? Whether they're to a restaurant, stores, iTunes, or the movies, I think gift cards are a great gift. You can get what you want, when you want. Great item for that hard to buy shopper on your Christmas list.
Item #7- Sheets. We could use some new king size sheets for our bed. We only have two sets and the one set is pretty faded and not the best quality so some nice soft sheets would be nice.
Item #8- Cash. Who doesn't like cold hard cash. While it's similar to gift cards in you can buy what you want, with cash you're not limited to a certain store.

The last two items on my list are my dream items and probably aren't for anyone on your shopping list, but I thought they'd be fun to share. Hey I can dream right?
Item #9- A new couch. I'd love to have a new leather couch and put our old couch downstairs.
Item#10- Diamond earrings. What girl doesn't like a nice pair of diamond earrings. Enough said!

While some of my items are a little pricey, they're not as much as what Greg wants. He'd like a new mountain bike or bike parts to make his old bike lighter. Also a new camera for him would be nice. Since none of these items are in the budget right now, we'll just enjoy buying the smaller things for the kids and see the joy on their faces Christmas morning! Good luck with all your holiday shopping!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Parties In One

Yesterday the kids had a fun day! We had two birthday parties in one to go to. Evan and Em's friend Kyra (her birthday was Thursday remember) had her birthday party. It was also her brother Connor's birthday party too. Connor's birthday is December 7th, and my friend Marie decided last year she was going to try the combo birthday party since the kid's birthdays are so close together. She figured while they're so young and she can get away with it, since the kids don't know better, why not. I don't blame her. Birthday parties are a lot of work! By the time you plan, make food, bake, buy presents, and have a houseful of people, who wants to do it all over again two or three weeks later.

Marie kept the party simple this year and just invited family and us. We felt honored to get the invite since Evan and Em were the only kids invited. Marie and Jim are my kid's Godparents so they're like family to us! The party was at their house in Bellevue. It was nice for the kids to get the chance to play since we don't see them too often. Usually just at birthdays, school breaks sometimes, and a few times in the summer. It was also nice for us to catch up with Jim and Marie. I also got to catch up with Marie's parents whom I haven't seen in about 4 years so that was a nice surprise to see them there. Marie and I were roommates in college, and her parents were always so gracious to welcome me over to their house throughout our college years. The big surprise when we walked in was Kyra got her haircut. Maries' never cut her hair before and she got it chopped into a short bob. It's really cute. Kyra donated 11 inches of her hair to "Locks For Love." Isn't that awesome. Here's some pics from the birthday party.

Em was giving Kyra a bunch of hugs. I finally caught one of them!
Evan and Em helping Connor with the gift we brought.
Kyra opening the shirt from Ev and Em.
Birthday cake time! Of course the kids couldn't wait until cake time!

We all had a great time. Em was a great helper picking up all the wrapping paper. Em was exhausted and feel asleep right away on the way home. Thanks for inviting us Toburen family!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food For A Good Cause

This past week there's been a lot of things going on around campus in prep for the MSU-PSU game. One being the blood challenge I told you about on Tuesday which unfortunately MSU lost. Penn State ended up donating 2,129 pints to MSU's 1,880 pints. Although MSU didn't win the blood challenge there was lots of blood donated for a great cause.

Also this week, MSU's Division of Residential and Hospitality Services and the Athletics Department co-sponsored the third annual "Help Tackle Hunger Food Drive." It started on Monday and went until today's MSU-PSU football game. MSU's football coach, Mark Dantonio's wife, Becky Dantonio helped organize the food drive three years ago when they came to Michigan State. Collections were held at various campus locations throughout the week, as well as collection spots around Spartan Stadium and popular tailgate spots during the game today. Any food collected during the week is to be donated to the MSU Student Food Bank and any food collected on game day will be given to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

We all know that our state is not in the best of times right now and now more than ever there are many individuals and families that need help. While we're not living the life of the rich and famous by any means, and there have been some tough times for us, I want my children to know that there are people who are worse off than us. I can't really complain right now because my husband has a job when others don't. While I'd like a job myself the market isn't great for teachers right now and anything I've found requires me to put my kids in daycare so the daycare costs out way the pay. (Daycare is expensive isn't it?) So I thought this food drive would be a great way to help teach my children about the spirit of giving to those less fortunate especially around the holidays.

I dug into the cupboards and pulled out some items that we could donate to the food drive. Items like canned goods, boxed meals, pasta, rice, and soup which are in high demand. While Em is a little young to really understand, I explained to Evan what we were going to do. He was really excited because we were going to help someone. I was glad to see his excitement! So off we went yesterday afternoon to drop off our bag of food at the MSU Union. Here's the kids helping me out!

This year many food banks are in a crisis mode and have a huge shortage of food. The Greater Lansing Food Bank is one of them. They serve 18,000 families monthly. Can you believe that number? It's astonishing! They are concerned that they won't be able to help the growing need. Especially the huge growing need for families of small children who need formula and baby food. I urge you to donate if at all possible to the Greater Lansing Food Bank or if you're not from the area to your local food bank. Even if you can't afford much, a couple cans are better than none. You'll be helping out a great cause! Last year the "Help Tackle Hunger Food Drive" collected 3500 pounds of food and personal care items. This year they were well on their way to the 5000 pound goal they hoped to reach!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Do You Decorate Before or After...?

While the weather lately has been relatively warm for November, it's been an opportunity for people to start decorating their houses for Christmas. Over the past couple weeks there have been many houses in the neighborhood that put up Christmas lights and decorations outside. I haven't seen anyone with a Christmas tree up yet, but that's not to say there isn't. So my question for you readers is... Do you decorate for Christmas before or after Thanksgiving? I'm just curious. I personally don't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. It just seems too early before. The day after Halloween all the stores had Christmas decorations up, and it seemed like Halloween was quickly forgotten. I think the stores had Christmas stuff up before I was able to blog about Halloween!

I wouldn't say I have a problem with people decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. It just seems like Thanksgiving gets overlooked and it's right to Christmas. Granted it's been warm and who wouldn't rather put the Christmas lights out in 50-60 degree weather as opposed to in the freezing snow and cold 30 degree weather? However, that's part of the fun of it in a way... freezing your butt off while stringing lights outside. Then you come in and drink some hot cocoa to warm up and back out you go. What I do have a problem with is people turning on the Christmas lights outside before Thanksgiving. I guess "problem" might not be the right word. If you are one to turn your lights on before Thanksgiving, it's your prerogative. I don't think badly of you, I just think that maybe it could wait until after Thanksgiving. Really I'm thinking in your best interest because you could save a few dollars on your electric bill by waiting until after.

Some people might have an excuse to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving which is understandable. Like my friend Ann wrote on her blog Life on Roosevelt Street the other day, that last year she was decorating at this time because she was about to have a baby. That I totally understand because seriously, who would be in the mood to decorate when caring for a newborn and all the lack of sleep that comes with it? But for those who just jump the gun to get a head start on their neighbor for sake of competition seems a bit silly!

As Thanksgiving is approaching next week, I will probably start the Christmas decorating that weekend or the following week. I'm really in no hurry. I'm not sure that I will put lights outside this year. I sold my lighted reindeer in the garage sale this summer. They were just too much of a pain to deal with, especially in the snow. (Had I put them out in October, maybe I would of thought differently.) I was going all out last year and put lights on the porch and all the bushes only to finish and half of the lights didn't work. And yes, I did test the strands before I started! Ugh, I was so ticked! I might just do the porch this year with some garland and lights and call it good, we'll see. I guess those of you who have already decorated are one step ahead of me. For those of you who wait until after Thanksgiving, I'll be joining you as we get the Christmas decor out after we eat the turkey!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flu Shots

We've been talking about getting the kids H1N1 flu shots for about a month and a half now. We all know there's been a shortage of vaccinations. There has been clinics set up every now and then for certain people to get the vaccination. First it was babies under sixth months and pregnant people. Then they added children five and under, and now the list has grown more to kids older than five, etc. Our pediatrician's office has been out of it and their scheduled flu clinics on some Saturdays have been canceled due to shortages. It's been a real pain to get as most of you know. The health department has had certain times every week that they're offering it, but those times have all been when Evan's in school of course. Plus we all have seen the lines on the news of people waiting for the H1N1 vaccine, only to get turned away because they've run out. I dreaded trying to go to the health department and stand in a long line with two kids and then with my luck be told, "Sorry we're out of the vaccine." I've also had mixed feelings about getting the H1N1 shot for the kids. Part of me said do it and part of me said no. So needless to say the kids haven't gotten the H1N1 flu shot until today. Finally there was a clinic in E. Lansing this afternoon at the E.L. High School. It was from 4-7pm, and I figured I could pick Evan up from school and go right there.

I got to Evan's school a little early so I didn't have to wait in the car line and he'd be the first one in line. We got to the high school about 3:55pm and we walk in and of course there's already a huge line. It was all the way down the hall to the door. I asked the lady volunteering there if she knew how long it would take. She said once they started the line moving at 4 o'clock I'd probably find that it would move along at a good rate. Sure enough it did, and we zipped right through that line. They had it set up very nice and moved people in and out of there. It was set up in the cafeteria and there were different stations to go to. Thank goodness I was smart enough to download the form and fill out the paper work at home so I got to skip that step and move right ahead in the line. The kids both got the mist and did awesome! I was so proud of them. Evan was such a big brother and went first so his sister could see how easy it was. If they did a good job I told them they could have a couple cookies after wards. (Smart thinking on my part right, to bring the cookies along with me?) Although I think I would've been fine without them because the kids were so "grown up" about the whole thing. We were in and out of there in 10 minutes! So now round one of the H1N1 vaccine is done for the kids and we have to go back in a month for them to get round two.

My New Purchase

First I'd like to start off by saying Happy Birthday to my good friend Marie's daughter, Kyra. Today she turns five! I told you on Sunday it was my friend Missy's daughter's birthday. The three of us all had babies within six weeks of each other in 2004. It was kind of crazy, just like it was crazy that four of my neighborhood friends and I all had our babies within three weeks of each other when Emmaline was born. So Happy Birthday Kyra, we're looking forward to the birthday party this weekend!

Now, onto my big purchase. Over the weekend I told you about my Kohl's shopping expedition. I earned some "Kohl's cash" with my purchases so I went back on Tuesday to spend them. I'm very excited about my new purchase. You'll probably think I'm a little weird when I tell you what it is, but it couldn't of come at a better time. I've been wanting one for a long time now, not the same one I got but a new one nonetheless. Here's my new big purchase!

Yes, it's a vacuum! The Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet Upright Vacuum. Like I said, I've been wanting a new one for a few years now. I wanted a Dyson when they first became a big hit. Greg thought it was ridiculous to spend $500 on a vacuum. Which it probably is, but they're supposed to last forever and do a great job picking up pet hair. Then I stumbled across this vacuum awhile back. It was still rather expensive, around $219.99 everywhere it was sold, but cheaper than a Dyson. Then I saw it at Kohl's over the weekend and it was on sale, bonus! I came home and told Greg about it, and finally talked him into getting it. I could use my Kohl's cash and 30% off coupon so it was going to turn out to be a really good deal. Remember how I love a good deal. So I got the vacuum for drum roll please..... $90! What a deal, right? I don't normally go out and buy big ticket items, so I thought $90 wasn't too bad for a really good vacuum.

I said it couldn't of come at a better time because I think my vacuum is going on the fritz! Over the past couple weeks when I've vacuumed, it smells like my vacuum is burning. Not a good thing by any means. I wouldn't be surprised because we've had our vacuum for over eight years. It was a wedding shower gift. It doesn't really pick up the dog hair very well either. I can vacuum a thousand times and it seems like it doesn't get everything.

I'm hoping this new vacuum will control the dog hair a little better. I tried it out yesterday for the first time and it seems to work really good. The best thing about it is, the middle piece comes off and you can just carry it to do the stairs, your car, or the furniture. Isn't that awesome! I HATE vacuuming the stairs. Just HATE IT! It's such a pain lugging the big vacuum up and down the stairs. However, now all I have to do is take the middle piece off and "voila" no more big vacuum to lug! Here's how the middle piece comes off! So cool!

I can't wait to vacuum my stairs. That's on my agenda for the weekend! Exciting I know! Haha! Before I leave you I'm just curious... do you say you're going to vacuum or sweep? I used to always say I was going to run the sweeper when I was younger. I think my mom or grandma always called it a sweeper. But now I say vacuum and sweep or sweeper sounds funny to me. Isn't that weird? I sweep the kitchen floor with a broom, but I vacuum the carpet with a vacuum not a sweeper!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Give Blood

Every year in November, for a few weeks up until the MSU versus Penn State game there is a blood drive challenge that takes place between the two schools. This year is the 16th Annual Blood Challenge. The competition is to see which school can get the most donations in a three week period up until the Friday before game day. This year PSU plays at MSU and it's MSU's final game of the regular season.

I've always been, I guess you would say a "chicken" to give blood. However, after having Evan I thought, this is something I can do, give blood. Seriously, any woman who has given birth knows how many times the phlebotomist comes in your room to draw your blood! You're told to try and get some rest after you've given birth and yet, every couple hours you're being poked with a needle so they can have your blood. Really, you don't stand a chance to get any rest. So after I went through that I knew I could easily give blood. Why haven't I done it in almost five years since I had Evan? I don't know. It's one of those things that I've put off doing, but not anymore.

Over the weekend Greg said to me that we should go give blood for the MSU-PSU blood challenge. I had been thinking the exact same thing a few days before. So we both said let's do this. No more putting off giving blood. It's so easy to help save lives by simply rolling up your sleeve! It's one of the greatest gifts you can ever give, and it doesn't cost a penny! There isn't a day that goes by that someone isn't in need of blood! The blood challenge was a little icing on the cake to get my butt out there and finally do it! I always like to see MSU win, no matter what it is!

There was a blood drive location on campus this evening so I picked Greg up, and we headed over there. This was also Greg's first time giving blood. There was a little wait when we got there, but it was well worth the wait. If you've never given blood like us, this is what the process is. You're called to a little booth to get your info and asked some questions. They take your temp, blood pressure, and poke your finger to check your iron. (That kind of hurt a little, but not enough to keep me from going back!) Then you're asked to complete a 49 question questionnaire on the computer which takes just a couple minutes (nothing hard). Then they take you to the table and start drawing your blood. That takes about 6-7 minutes and you're done. It's that simple! I'm so kicking myself for not doing it sooner! Before you leave they give you juice and cookies! How great is that? That was Greg's favorite part he couldn't wait to get to. LOL! I felt really good after we left, knowing that I did something to help save someone's life. I look forward to many more times of giving blood! I really encourage all of you who haven't given blood before to go do it! For all of you who have given blood and do it regularly, I commend you!

Right now MSU is in the lead for the blood challenge, but not by much. I encourage all you in the MSU area to go give blood on campus for the challenge. There's only three days left! Not only are you doing a great thing, but you'll be helping the Spartans win! After we were done, I got to go see Greg's new office since we were right by there. I snapped a few photos while I was there.

Here's the view from the door. All the pictures on the wall are one's he's taken. (They're kind of hard to see I know.)

Here's his desk, more of his pictures, and Evan's art work. The red one is his "fire mountain."

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Week

Today Greg went back to work, and it was a little hard to get up this morning. We had been sleeping until like 8:30am last week. This morning though we were back to our normal routine. Before Greg left for vacation there was some switching around of offices at work. With some big budget cuts a few weeks ago at the university, there were some positions eliminated in Greg's department and people were laid off. It hit a little too close to home when Greg's good friend at work was laid off. We feel very bad for her. We are very very grateful that Greg still has his job. I thank my lucky stars every day. Greg was hoping to get a new office when he went back and he did. For the eight years that Greg has worked at MSU, he has never had his own office. He's shared an office for most of those years until last year. He used to work on the third floor and got moved to the fourth floor. When he moved upstairs his office was a cubicle, with just some partitioned walls. Now he's moved right next door to his old "office" and has actual walls and a door to close. I'm happy for him to finally have his own office. He and Evan stopped by work last night and Evan made him move one of his paintings from school into the new office right away. I think he wants it decorated with some cool artwork. I haven't seen it yet so I'll have to go check it out sometime.

In other news around here, it's been one week and I haven't had a pop. Pretty good I thought, but with one more week to go I caved. Sorry to disappoint you readers, but I can only drink so much water. I had a pop with dinner tonight. I only had one so that was good. Usually I'll pop a can open after dinner too. I'm going to try to limit myself though to one a day. I do have to give myself a little pat on the back though because the few times we went out to eat I didn't order a pop at all and I didn't get my Sam's dc dose any of the three times I was there last week. So it's not all bad, right? Even when Greg was drinking pop at home I didn't have a single drink of his. While I didn't make it two weeks, I surprised myself that I actually did give it up even if it was only for a week. I'm going to try to work hard at not drinking so much of it though everyday. So that's where we're at with my pop addiction. It is what it is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Day To Ourselves & Together

Yesterday was a much needed day Greg and I had to ourselves and then together later on. The kids went to YaYa's and we each took some time to do our own thing. First we watched the first half of the football game and then we both headed out at halftime. Greg went for a bike ride with Rich. (What else is he going to do besides ride of course!) I went off to do some shopping. It was an afternoon of pure bliss shopping by myself at Kohl's. I spent two and a half hours there and enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't have kids asking for a snack, or tearing toys off the shelves, or a husband asking me if I was ready to go. I took my time and actually got to look at things instead of grabbing what I needed and going. It was so nice to shop by myself for awhile. Just me and I could look at whatever I wanted and didn't have to be rushed. I can't remember the last time I did that! I had to get some birthday presents for a party we have coming up this next weekend, and I did a little Christmas shopping for the kids while I was at it. I figured since I had a 30% off coupon, I might as well. I got some really good deals. I love when I get a good deal and save money! I think other people had the same idea to do some Christmas shopping because the store was busy! Carts were few and far between and the shelves and racks were a mess! I love shopping at Kohl's. I think they have pretty nice stuff for the price.

Greg and I actually got home at the same time if you can believe it. I pulled in the driveway and by the time I got out of the car he and Rich were pulling in. I hadn't heard the MSU score so I wanted to watch the rest of the game before we did anything. We were planning to go out to dinner, but couldn't figure out where to go. It was one of those nights that nothing really sounded good. So while we were trying to decide, I fast forwarded through a lot of the game so I could see the score. I was a little anxious to find out how my Spartans did. I did get to see all the awesome big plays MSU had and got to the end to see another Spartan victory! It was a great game, and kudos to the Spartans for pulling off a much needed win to get bowl eligible!

After finally making our decision of where to eat we headed out for an evening of just the two of us. It was long overdue! I love my kids dearly, but we really needed some time just to ourselves. We decided to go to this restaurant called Bravo because I remembered we had a gift certificate left from last Christmas. We don't go there often because they're a little pricey. It was already 7 o'clock so we figured there would probably be a wait. There was so we just walked around the mall for a little bit. For those of you not familiar with our area, Bravo is an Italian restaurant at Eastwood Towne Center which is an outdoor mall here in Lansing. It's like a 3 minute drive from our house. They have great food. The Pasta Bravo and Romano Crusted Chicken Salad are my favorites! Yum! I had my mind set on the Pasta Bravo on my way there since I had a salad for lunch. However, after looking at the menu, I changed my mind. There was a new item on the menu that sounded absolutely delicious so I had to try it. The menu said it was a seasonal item so I knew if I didn't try it for dinner that I'd probably miss out by the next time we returned there. I had Chianti Braised Beef Ravioli. Here's the description on the menu and then you can decide how delicious it sounds- Sangiovese braised beef filled ravioli with roasted sweet potatoes, brown butter, and sage. Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it. Greg had the Pasta Bravo so we ended up sharing our meals, and I got to have some of each! It was a very pleasant dinner where we got to actually enjoy hot food since we didn't have to cut up the kid's food first or take Evan to the bathroom. Thanks for a nice evening honey. We really need to do this more often (however we need more gift certificates first, haha!)

We picked the kids up this afternoon and headed back to Kohl's for some more shopping. Em pretty much slept the whole way through Kohl's. Greg wanted to see if he could find a new fleece coat since his is really worn. He did find one, but after we got home, decided he didn't like it. It was only $15 so I think that's why he doesn't like it. I talked him out of the $30 Columbia one. I also talked him out of the $50 coat that wasn't fleece, but did look really good on him. It was a $100 coat, half off, and I had my coupon so it was really like $35, but I told him he was looking for a fleece. Haha! This afternoon we got some yard work done. We ran out of lawn bags so we had to stop. Hopefully we can finish up this next weekend. It's actually been so warm for November that some of our plants are being fooled and have buds on them. Crazy!

Thanks to Greg's mom for watching the kids for the night and for taking us to lunch Saturday and Sunday! They had fun and love their new toys they got yesterday. We appreciate it and were very glad to have some free time. Now it's back to the real world tomorrow, as Greg is back to work and his vacation is over. Evan's got another week of school, and I'm sure Emmaline will continue on with her terrible two's!

I'd like to wish my friend Missy's daughter Sarah a Happy 5th Birthday! I can't believe her little girl is five and my little guy will soon be there!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Baristas

This week Evan and Emmaline have been working a little bit. Don't worry readers, it was nothing I made them do, but rather something they wanted to do. They actually like to go to this job every once in awhile. Greg's mom works at a coffee shop that is in a doctor's office building. Greg's aunt actually owns the coffee shop. It is called Cup-A-Chinos. So every now and then we stop by to get our free dose of coffee or drinks. Well, not totally free because the kids and Greg and I get put to work and we make our own coffee. A lot of times we get to go in after hours and have the run of the place to ourselves. Since Greg was on vacation this week, we made a couple weekday visits to get our drinks.

Evan had to get his apron on before he started working and of course Emmaline had to follow. She always wants to be like her big brother! Here's my little barista, apron and all getting ready to make a drink.

We were mostly in the mood for a cold drink instead of hot coffee since it was a little warmer out. Usually I like to make a "Sugar Bear," what I would get at Biggby, but today I had a frozen Root Beer drink. It tasted yummy and felt good on my throat since I woke up with a sore throat! Ugh! The kids had the same thing, and Greg made a chocolate covered cherry latte. Here's Greg being a barista also. He does make a pretty good latte for me sometimes.

Emmaline doesn't make the drinks so much. She is more into playing with whatever she can find. For awhile she was pretending she was answering the phone. She also likes to sit on the stool at the counter. Here's my other little barista stamping the frequency card. Both Em and Evan enjoy the stamper and usually know how to fill a frequency card or two before we leave. Hey, if we have a full card then we can redeem it for a free coffee, right?

Here's Evan trying to ring me up for my order. Good thing
I had a fully stamped card to redeem for my drink today!

With making drinks comes cleaning up. We couldn't go until Evan cleaned up his mess and washed dishes. Emmaline helped too, but I didn't get her picture!

The kids enjoyed themselves and even got a couple tips while they were working. Thanks YaYa for letting us each have a dollar from your tip bowl. Thanks to Greg's mom for letting us invade the coffee shop. The coffee/drinks were yummy! Thanks to Greg's Aunt Sandy too for all the different drinks she's come up with. We enjoy trying them out! Now, if we only had an espresso machine at home, my baristas could make me a coffee tonight!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Ellen Day!

Before I talk about my Ellen excitement, I want to start by saying I'm a little surprised that I didn't get any comments on Evan's bike race. I talked about it a lot up until the race and then posted what I thought were all these great pictures of my little guy in his bike race and not one comment about it. I know he's not you're kid and you probably weren't as excited about it as Greg and I were or Evan for that matter, but I thought I'd get at least something from one of you. Is it that some of you don't know how to comment, or you just didn't care to, or I bored you with the bike race talk? Whatever it is, just know that I do actually read the comments, and I enjoy reading them. I actually appreciate it when someone comments after a post because then I feel like I've connected to my readers out there. I was a little bummed, but I'm going forward because I've been able to laugh a lot this week.

Remember I'm a big fan of the Ellen Degeneres Show, and today was the big release of her cover on The Oprah Magazine. Ellen's been talking about it for almost a year. It was her New Year's resolution to get on the Oprah magazine. It started out sort of as a joke, but then Oprah called her and asked her to be on the cover. I don't ever buy the Oprah Magazine, but when I heard that Ellen was going to be on the cover and there would be other articles about Ellen inside, I knew I had to get it. Ellen makes me laugh everyday. It's my one hour of t.v. that I can thoroughly enjoy because no matter what the topic, I can count on Ellen being funny. She's never really disappointed me with her show. The past couple weeks she's had the countdown to her cover on O hitting stands, and it's been an absolute hoot! She recapped her phone calls over the months to Oprah, the reveal of the cover, other cover ideas she came up with, behind the scenes at the cover photo shoot, and much more. It's been so funny and it's given me lots of laughs.

So all week I've dreaded the trip to Meijers to do my grocery shopping. Finally today I broke down and made myself go. I had a little incentive because today I could finally get the Oprah Magazine! It was the first thing I put in the cart when I got to Meijer. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't forget, or with my luck they'd be out of it by the time I got to the checkout. So into the cart it went, and then I did the rest of my shopping. I got to grocery shop on a weekday afternoon and without any kids. This rarely EVER happens, but since Greg is on vacation he stayed home while Em napped, Evan was at school of course, and I went by myself! It was so nice. I could go up and down the aisles without having to worry about the kids or have them asking for every other thing they saw on the shelves. Suddenly when I got to Meijer, my thoughts of dreading the grocery shopping left me, and I was in and out of there in pretty good time.

Now I've got my Oprah Magazine and have looked through some of it. I don't want to finish it all at once, so I'm looking at it in parts. I want to thoroughly enjoy it! You all might be thinking, "it's just a magazine," and it is, but it's just a little something to brighten my day that I can enjoy during some mommy time! It's kind of like getting two doses of Ellen laughter in one day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Parent Volunteer

Today I was the parent volunteer in Evan's class. If you remember Greg had gone in a couple weeks ago so now it was my turn. This was my first time in the class this semester as a parent volunteer for an afternoon, besides doing the library cart. Evan was very excited that I was going to be in his classroom today. As we were pulling out of the driveway to go to school he said, "Mommy, thank you for coming into my class today." Isn't that sweet? Here is Evan's classroom.

On Wednesdays during part of the school year, instead of going outside for recess the kids have "Dance Class With Miss Mary Jane." Evan had this last year too, but I was never in the class on the days they had dance class. Today I finally made it in there on a Wednesday and got to see the dance class. Evan's class is studying outer space this week so for dance class they did some outer space dances. They pretended they were astronauts and dancing on different planets. It was pretty neat. In the picture below the kids were pretending the red scarves were the planet Mercury, and they had to catch them on their back, arm, head, etc. after they threw them up in the air. Here's Evan getting ready to catch his red scarf. (The picture isn't the best because I had to try and not get other kid's faces in the picture because some parents don't want their kids picture taken.)

In large group today the kids were learning about the solar system and the order the planets go in. The teacher would describe a planet and if the child was holding it they would raise their hand and go put it on the board. Evan knew right away that he was holding Jupiter, and he raised his hand right away when the teacher started to describe it. Here's the finished product of all the planets in order. The kids did a really good job. (The board wasn't big enough to fit them all lined up so the last two got put in their own row.) Did you know there are only eight planets now, not nine? Yes that's right, so if you thought Pluto was missing on the board, think again. Pluto is no longer considered a planet. It's called a "dwarf planet" and now excluded from the other planets.

The pretend play area changes every week or two depending on what the kids are studying. Since the theme last week and this week is space, the pretend play area is a "space station." Last week Evan came home from school and told me there was a play video camera in the pretend play area. He was so excited about it, he couldn't stop talking about it! Evan couldn't believe he had a video camera to play with because that's what daddy uses at work. Today he had to show me how he pretends to be like daddy with the video camera. Check him out below.

I think he's learning from one of the best taking after his daddy! He looks like an old pro! It was fun to watch him play with the video camera this afternoon. I had an enjoyable afternoon in his class despite the one kid in his class whose behavior I couldn't believe. That part doesn't make me miss teaching, but watching all the kids learn and use their imagination does! I look forward to going back into his class to volunteer again!

Forget Scooby, We're On To Ponies & More

Last night we made a run to Sam's for a few things (I know, we know how to have fun don't we) and the kids couldn't get out of there without going by the toys. Now that the holidays are upon us, Sam's has all their toys out for Christmas. My friend Ann has been talking on her blog about these ponies her daughter likes at Costco. She likes to sit on them when they go there. Well folks, my little Emmaline spotted the same thing at Sam's last night, and she fell in love with them too. I don't know what it is about them, but apparently they're a kids dream because I couldn't tear my kids away from them. Every little girl wants a pony, doesn't she? The ponies were up on a shelf and Evan wanted to sit on the big horse and Emmaline wanted to sit on the little pony. Here's the two of them playing giddy up on the ponies at Sam's.

There is a button on the ears that you can push and it makes the pony's head move and it also makes sounds. It was hard to tear the kids away. Evan was asking how many dollars the ponies were, and I told him $70 for the big horse and $40 for the little one. He kept telling us, "I'll just take the 70 one, I like that one." Of course he would want the more expensive one! Ann, I can see why Sylvia likes the ponies so much. They're pure joy for a little one and they are pretty cute!

The kids also liked these other animals that they had there too.

Emmaline first tried out the elephant (you can see it in the bin) and Evan, the dinosaur. As I tried to snap a picture, the two of them were riding these animals around so fast that every picture I had was blurry. They were having the time of their lives. I didn't have my camera so thanks to the cell phone these were the best shots I got. After too many blurry shots Em wasn't waiting around anymore for another picture before she switched it up and tried out the lion. Finally I got them to sit still for two seconds so I could snap this shot. After that they were off riding the animals again. Thank goodness Sam's wasn't busy! If you look in the picture above and see the bin to the right (it's kind of hard to see), those had giant Mickey and Minnie Mouses. Emmaline also loved the giant Minnie Mouse. I'm thinking we're going to have to avoid the toy section at Sam's on future visits. Apparently Scooby Doo is a thing of the past for now. Evan quickly forgot about the sad fact he had to take Scooby back to school yesterday once he found these ponies and other animals to play with. Oh and one little note about our trip to Sam's... I walked out of there without getting a fountain diet coke in a long time! Yeah me! Greg tried to talk me into one, but I resisted. I'm on day three of no pop. So far so good!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scooby Came For A Visit

Since Greg's on vacation this week he picked Evan up from school yesterday. He also had to pick someone else up. Scooby finally got to come home with Evan. I got a call on the way home from Evan to tell me he got Scooby Doo. He was so excited he couldn't wait until he got home to tell me. I needed some burger for dinner so Greg and Evan stopped at Kroger for me on the way home. Of course Evan had to take Scooby in with them. They were having sushi samples so Evan wanted to try one. It was just rice and some wrap thing around it. I'm not a sushi expert and have never tried sushi myself so I don't know what it was called. It didn't have any fish in it though.

Unfortunately it was a pretty uneventful night with Scooby at our house. We had a very low key evening and just hung out. I was getting ready to make tacos for dinner, and Evan told me he would make dinner. He said he'd make the tacos and set the table so I wouldn't have to. He started to get stuff out of the fridge and informed me that he was going to make crescent rolls with the tacos. I thought this might not work out to well, so I let him just set the table and Greg and I handled making the tacos. Here's Evan setting the table and of course Emmaline wanted in on the action so she's doing her part.

After dinner Evan and Scooby played downstairs for awhile. Once Em went to sleep Evan was excited because Greg told him they could play rockin' band. Evan loves any chance he can to bang on stuff like he's a drummer. He set up his buckets downstairs like drums and they had their little rockin' band party with Scooby Doo.

Once again with Scooby visiting, Evan slept in his bed all night and didn't get up once. I'm thinking we may need to kidnap Scooby so Evan will sleep in his bed all night, every night. Just kidding. Evan was excited to show Scooby Doo his medal from the bike race so here's a picture of Scooby getting to wear Evan's medal.

Hopefully it won't be so long the next time Evan gets Scooby Doo, and maybe we'll have a more exciting evening the next time Scooby comes for a visit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Iceman- Part 2

Now onto part two of my blogging about the Iceman race. While it would be ideal to blog uninterrupted, that doesn't happen in a house with two kids and a husband who wants to use the computer. So here's what I know you've all been waiting to hear about... Evan's 1st Iceman race! This post will be mostly pics because I think they tell it best about Evan's race day. Evan was excited all week about his race and couldn't wait to go to Traverse City. As I mentioned on Thursday, Evan picked out one of his dogs to take, in place of Scooby. Here he is with his dog Boomers in the car on the way up. They're watching a movie.

Here's Evan, Emmaline, and Veronica while we were waiting for the dad's to finish the race.
All morning Evan couldn't wait to get his bike clothes on. He wanted to be dressed in his bike gear like his daddy. However his race wasn't until 3:15pm and Greg's was at 9am so we told him he had to wait until later to get his bike gear on. As soon as Greg finished the race, Evan was asking if he could get his bike clothes on so he could go do his race. This was shortly after 11am and we kept trying to explain to him that we had several hours before his race. Kids concept of time does not exist. We decided to run and get some lunch after Greg and Rich raced and told Evan as soon as we were done with lunch he could put his bike clothes on. He was super excited. When we returned back to the campground after lunch, the minute we parked the car Evan was changing into his gear. Here's Evan finally all dressed in his bike gear while Greg gets Evan's bike ready for the race!

Evan all ready to race. Doesn't he look like his daddy?
Here's Evan at the front of the pack of riders in his age group waiting for his race to start! His race was called the Sno-Cone. The kids got to race on the same path that all the racers rode on near the finish line. For Evan's age group they just ride like a mile loop. Evan could of really done the little bit longer race and done the 1 3/4 mile loop that Veronica did. We'll know better for next year.
Evan kept telling us he was going to ride by himself. Then when he heard the announcer tell Greg he could run along side him he changed his mind. Not exactly what Greg wanted to do after riding 28 miles, but he did it for Evan nonetheless. So here comes Evan around the same curve Greg came around at the end. You can see Evan in front of Greg.
And here he comes across the finish line. The same finish line his daddy came across. As you can see, Evan didn't really need Greg to run along with him because he pretty much left Greg in the dust. That's Greg way behind in the black sweatshirt. Evan won for his age, but all kids get a medal. They don't time them. The two kids in front of him got pushed most of the way and got help up the hills by these kids running. Plus the one kid was really too big for this age bracket. Evan didn't get any help from Greg and rode the whole race himself. He even did all the hills and didn't get off his bike once!

Here's Evan at the end giving me a two thumbs up for his race.
He loved it and had so much fun. He was ready to go again!

And here's Evan with his 2009 Iceman medal. I just absolutely love
this picture. What a great moment for him!
I am so proud of Evan for doing this race, as is Greg. It's one thing to talk about how much he's like his daddy and loves his bike and loves to ride. However, when you see your own kid, especially at the age of four to accomplish this little race is awesome! I was overwhelmed with joy for him and was so glad he had this opportunity. I know how much he loved being able to race like his daddy! He can't wait until next year's race!

This is one of the hills Evan had to ride up. I was quite impressed that
my four year old rode up it, when we walked by it after his race.

We happened to walk by it while we were looking for Rich's cell phone which he lost while running to different parts of the trail watching Veronica ride her race. Look at this picture above. You see all the leaves on the ground? Now imagine trying to find a cell phone among all these leaves at a campground. Yeah, nearly impossible! Well, after awhile of searching Liana and Rich couldn't find the phone. I said we needed to call it in case someone found it, hoping they'd answer. We did and no such luck. Then I told Rich we needed to go by where he thought he dropped it and call it hoping we'd hear it ring. Rich went off to search some other spots where he thought it would be and Greg, the kids, and I headed over to this area which is where Rich had fallen. We called the phone, but no luck. After about 15-20 minutes of searching, Greg found the phone right up this hill on the side of the fencing. Can you believe it? Of course the phone was on vibrate so that's why we didn't hear it ring when we tried to call it. I still can't believe Greg found it. Rich was forever thankful that we found it since it was his new blackberry he got like a month ago. He treated us all to ice cream that night. Thanks! We all had a great time and while we enjoyed lots of fun, it was still nice to get home to our own surroundings and get the kids back into their routine. Can't wait until next year's Iceman 2010 when Evan races again. It was so much fun to watch him!

Iceman- Part 1

We're home from our weekend away in Traverse City, and we had a great weekend! I've got lots to tell so let's get started. It was Iceman 2009 weekend, and this was the 20th year for the race. It was Greg's sixth year, Rich's third, and Evan's 1st. The race starts in downtown Kalkaska and ends at Timber Ridge Campground in Traverse City. The Iceman race is 28 miles, and the race gets it's name because usually the weather is winter weather in November, with snow, ice, and cold. Click on my link above for more info on the race. The first year Greg rode it was cold and a little snowy. Every year since it's been mostly just cold, and a couple years of cold and light flurries, but nothing much. This year was one for the record books and not what we expected two weeks ago when we were talking about the race. I was 99% sure it was going to be freezing cold and snow since this fall turned cold so fast. As the race date got closer, we saw it was going to be in the 50's and then changed to the 60's. I packed winter stuff just in case it didn't get as warm as they said. Well, folks it ended up being 63 yesterday and absolutely beautiful, no winter stuff needed. It was PERFECT weather for the race! Who would've thunk a month ago that we would have this kind of weather for the iceman, let alone all weekend?

We arrived in Traverse City early Friday evening and grabbed some dinner while we were waiting for the Marr's (our neighbors who went too) to arrive. They left E.L. after us. We hit the Red Mesa Grill which has sort of become a tradition for dinner the night before the race. We stumbled upon this place a few years ago and really like it. It's a Mexican place and they have really good food. I highly recommend it! Our meal was fantastic, Greg and I shared the fajitas, and the service was the best service we've had in a really long time anywhere! It was a pleasant way to start our weekend in Traverse City.

After dinner we headed over to the Grand Traverse Resort where the race check-in takes place. Greg, Rich, and Evan had to pick up their race packets. The guys also paroosed the booths set up so they could drool over which new bikes they wanted. Keep dreaming honey, keep dreaming. Of course I'd love for you to have a new bike because you really deserve one, but it's just not in the budget. Here's the expo that is held on Friday before the race.

Saturday was the actual race day. This years race was bigger than it has ever been with double the riders, so the race got changed a little. With 4000+ riders, instead of starting at Kalkaska middle school they added a mile to the race and all the riders started in downtown Kalkaska. There were 135 riders per wave, and because of ages, Greg and Rich started at different times. They were only five minutes apart so not too bad. With the changes, parking, and an early start time, Liana took the guys to Kalkaska, and then I left a little later with the kids and met up with her at Timber Ridge. We arrived a little before Greg and Rich came into the finish. In 2006 it took Greg 3 hours, 11 minutes (This was the year his Dad passed away and he hadn't rode his bike from August until the race). 2007 it took him 2 hours 15 minutes, in 2008 it took him 2 hours 13 minutes, and this year it took him 2 hours 10 minutes. This was the first year he raced expert class, before he's raced sport class. His time wasn't what he wanted, but he improved, and I'm very proud of him. I can't imagine sitting on a tiny bike seat for 2+ hours without stopping once! I think you did great honey. Greg and Rich finished the race without any bike problems and didn't fall at all! Yeah!!! Here's some pics from the race!

All geared up before the start of the race in Kalkaska

Here comes Greg through the home stretch to the finish.

Unfortunately I didn't get a great picture of Greg at the finish because I was trying to take a picture and keep my eyes on the kids at the same time. So Greg got a little cut off in this photo, but he is on the far left.

Rich coming across the finish line a couple minutes after Greg since he started after Greg.

Evan and Emmaline proud of their Daddy after the race!

Rich and Greg after the race, they made it! Tired and glad to be done!
This post is getting long and I'm not even to Evan's race yet so I'm going to end part one and dedicate part two (the next post to come) just to his race. I think my little guy deserves it! I want to congratulate Greg and Rich on their race. While they didn't win or place to qualify for any medals (this race has very tough competition with real pro bike riders), I think they both did a great job! You guys should be proud of yourself for competing in such a race!

Before I finish this post I'd like to thank the Marr's who invited us to stay with them at Liana's parents house in Traverse City. Since we stayed there, we didn't have to get a hotel. We greatly appreciated their offer and would also like to thank Tom and Marge (Liana's parents) for opening their house up to our family, especially our hyper children this weekend! We had a nice time and Emmaline even discovered some "old" Little People that were Liana's when she was a child. Em was having fun playing with the Little People since she had left hers at home. These were the same kind of Little People I had when I was a little girl. I remembered having some of the same pieces. Here's Em with Veronica and the Little People.

I'd also like to thank Greg's mom for watching Molly while we were gone. We appreciate her taking care of Molly so we didn't have to put her in a kennel. Molly was such a good girl while we were gone and was happy to see us when we got home!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Mother's Heartbreak

All week Evan's been hoping to bring Scooby Doo home again. Remember Scooby, the class pet? Well it's been awhile since Evan's got to bring him home, almost two months. It was mid September when he first brought Scooby home. Apparently some of the kids have forgotten to bring him back to school some days, so it's taking a little longer for the second round of bringing Scooby home. I kept telling Evan it would probably be any day because when I was in his class Tuesday I saw that there were only a few clothespins left in the can (Every kid has a clothespin and when their name is drawn to take Scooby home their clothespin gets put on the top of the can until all the clothespins are gone).

Well folks, today when I picked Evan up from school he didn't have Scooby Doo. He got in the car and said, "Mommy, I didn't get to bring Scooby home." He was really bummed. This is when his teacher informed me that some of the kids had been forgetting to bring Scooby back to school so it was taking awhile to get to all the kids. Evan told her he really wanted to bring Scooby home for the weekend. She told him he would get it next week because there's only two names left and one of them is his obviously. So today there would've been three pins before one got picked to take Scooby home for the weekend and Evan's one in three shot didn't turn out in his favor.

So we're driving home from school and Evan is really quiet and staring out the window. I ask him if he's o.k. and he breaks down crying. I had a feeling why he was crying, but I asked him to see what he'd say. He says, "Mommy, I really wanted to bring Scooby Doo home today so I could take him with me this weekend to the bike race." My heart just felt for him. I knew how sad he was because he had talked about this earlier in the week, and then it didn't happen for him to get Scooby. Poor little guy. He told me Scooby would like Traverse City and have fun. I think he had big plans in store for Scooby Doo on our little trip. What a bummer!

After I got him to settle down, I told him he could pick one of his dogs from his room to take. That made him really happy, and tonight when I was getting his stuff together to pack he didn't forget and went upstairs to pick out which stuffed doggy he'd take. So between his dog and Em's babies, we'll have a few extra passengers traveling with us to Traverse City.

You probably won't hear from me for a couple days since I'll be busy tomorrow doing some last minute packing, loading the car, and running a few last minute errands. Then we'll be heading north to what hopefully will be a weekend of good racing for Greg, his buddy Rich, and my little guy. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


We all like pop don't we? Most people I know like to drink pop. Some more than others, but nonetheless most of us are pop drinkers I'd say. I've always known pop to be called pop. It's a Midwestern thing. Out East they call it soda. I remember the first time I went to Boston when I was a kid. I asked the waiter what kind of pop they had, and he just looked at me weird. Finally he said, "Oh you mean soda." I guess that was a dead giveaway (besides my non-accent) that I was a tourist. My cousins out in Arizona also call pop, soda. They used to laugh at my sister and I when we would say pop and think it's weird. However we laugh at them because they think Faygo is a delicacy. When they came to visit us for our wedding they had to get Faygo. They couldn't believe how widely available Faygo was in stores here. Something they don't see out west. As far as what is right, pop or soda, I guess it just depends on where you're from. What do you call it?

For those of you who don't know me all that well, I like pop, a lot! Those of you who know me pretty well know that I love diet Coke, a.k.a. dc. I love love love a fountain dc, however give me a can of diet Coke and I'm good too. This past summer McDonald's had large diet Cokes for $1.00. I was seriously addicted to the $1.00 dc's. Come September though the $1.00 promotion ended, and I was sad. It's probably a good thing though because I probably had a few too many diet Cokes this summer. I don't know what it is, but McDonald's seems to have the best tasting diet Coke. I'm sure it's all in my head, and Greg thinks I'm crazy, but seriously a dc from McDonald's is heavenly. I think it's the straws because McDonald's has big fat straws as opposed to most places that have a skinny straw. Can you tell yet that I love fountain diet Coke?

As far as cola, I don't care for Pepsi too much. If I've got a choice it's definitely Coke. I never buy Pepsi and probably never will. It's never really appealed to me and probably never will be my choice over Coke. I'll drink it if that's all that's available, but I don't crave it like diet Coke. If it's all a restaurant has I'll sometimes get a diet Pepsi, with a lemon. That helps the taste for me, but usually I end up ordering an iced tea.

I also like other pop (non-cola) such as Mountain Dew, Root Beer, Cherry Coke, Sprite, and Orange pop. They have to be diet though because I don't care for regular pop, unless it's Root Beer then regular is o.k. And Sprite I don't like from the fountain too much, I'd rather drink it from a can.

We drink a lot of pop in our house. Probably not as much as our neighbors Rich and Liana. They drink a ton. A couple of years ago when we stayed with them in Traverse City for the Iceman, they were cracking open cans of pop for breakfast. I'm not that bad. I don't usually drink pop for breakfast. I'm not saying I never have, but it's a rare occasion I have pop for breakfast. Sometimes Rich even has two cans of pop in hand at a time. Double fisted with beer is understandable, but pop is a little weird. LOL. Pop is pretty much a staple in our household. I wish I didn't like it so much because I know it's really not the best thing to drink all the time.

So here's the thing. I'm thinking of giving up pop for a couple weeks. I know, you're saying a couple weeks what's the point? Well, I can't just give it up all together. I just know right now that's not feasible. It just wouldn't happen. So I was thinking I'd try to give up pop for two weeks at home. If we're out at a restaurant I'm going to try to not order a pop, but that might be a little harder seeing how I love a good fountain dc. I'm going to give it a whirl though. If I can accomplish the home part though that's a good start. So starting next Monday I'm going to start my non-pop journey. I might be a little grouchy without my dc, but I'll try and hold it together. I'll keep you updated and let you know how I do.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's November!

Well, it's officially November and with that comes daylight savings time. I hope you all remembered to set your clocks back one hour yesterday. You know the old saying, spring ahead, fall back! If you didn't, then you were in for waking up at the wrong time, getting to work at the wrong time, etc. I hate when the time changes. Ugh, dark at 5:30pm, and it feels like it should be bedtime when really it's only dinner time. Oh how I can't wait for it to be light again until 10pm! I have a feeling it's going to be a long winter, and it's not even officially winter yet. It's only the second day of November and the kids have way more energy than the indoors can hold. Not being able to get outside at night for our walks/bike rides, seems to be having an effect on them already. They have been wound up and could really use some outdoor play. I think we need a vacation to some place warm!

With November comes, fewer leaves on the trees, colder weather, the end of the college football season (besides bowl games), Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and time to start Christmas shopping. For our family, November also brings the Iceman bike race. This is the last bike race of the year that Greg races in. It's in Traverse City, and it's the first weekend in November. So since this coming weekend is the first full weekend in November, that means race time and a sort of mini vacation for us.. We will be heading to Traverse City and not only will Greg be racing, but Evan is going to do the little kids race. He's super excited to finally being able to do another bike race. It should be a fun time! Greg's got Friday off so we'll be heading up to Traverse City then, which means I have to figure out in the next few days what to pack for everyone. I hate packing! Ugh! Unfortunately we're going to miss Em's friend Lucia's birthday party this weekend since we'll be gone. We're really bummed about that. I know Em would've had a good time. Since Evan's racing for the first time in his own Iceman though I've got to go, otherwise we'd probably stay home. In the meantime, I've got my "To Do List" that I need to accomplish before Friday so I should probably call it a night in the blogging world for now so I can get some things done.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Happy November! Ugh, November already!Last night was finally the "official" trick-or-treat, and what a cold night it was. Unfortunately we didn't luck out last night like Thursday night with the weather, and it was only 40 degrees and windy, very windy. Had it not been so windy, it probably wouldn't of felt too bad. It didn't seem to bother Emmaline at first, but as the evening went on she got chilly. Evan was cold from the start, although once he was going from house to house getting candy he suddenly forgot about the cold. I already told you that my little Emme was a 50's girl and Evan was a S.W.A.T policeman. However, I didn't post the official costume shots. So here's each of them in their costumes!

Emmaline the 50's Girl. I just love her in this little dress with her purse which she used as her trick-or-treat bag.

Evan the S.W.A.T. Policeman. Don't mess with Evan with his handcuffs!

We met up with some of Em's friends before we went out to trick-or-treat so we could get some pics of the kids. Here's part of the group of kiddos.

From left to right, Madeleine as Cinderella, Lucia as Elmo, Jude as a monster, and Evan and Em. Maddie was dressed as Raggedy Ann, but she didn't want to be in the picture.

Emmaline and her friend Chloe

Here's the kids getting some candy from Miss Jenn! Thanks for the candy Buchin family!

We trick-or-treated for about an hour around the neighborhood. It was cold and unfortunately too many kids from outside the neighborhood came into our neighborhood to trick-or-treat and took some of the fun out of it. They were mostly older kids who didn't care about the little one's and were basically plowing through the little kids without any respect. All they were worried about was getting candy. Unfortunately their parents didn't care either and let them do it. Whatever happened to the days where you trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood and the kids actually walk from house to house instead of getting a ride up and down the streets from their parents. We even saw parents who drove into the neighborhood and got out strollers from their trunk and and put their little babies in to trick-or-treat who were clearly too young to even eat candy. Basically they were out to get candy for themselves we figured. Such a shame they have to go to that extent. We still had fun nonetheless and along the way we stopped by our friends Ryan & Ellen's and they invited us in so the kids could decorate cookies. It was nice to warm up and the kids really enjoyed themselves. Here they are decorating cookies. Evan decorated a cat and Em a ghost.

Thanks Ryan & Ellen for adding some extra fun to our trick-or-treat! The kids loved the cookies! We got quite a haul on the candy. Here's the final result between the two nights of trick-or-treating, less some pieces we've already eaten.

This actually isn't all of it because we took the kids to Greg's mom's after we went around the neighborhood and they both got two big bags of treats! I'm thinking some of this candy is going to have to go to work with Greg so we don't have so much here! Ugh... chocolate! Hope everyone had a good Halloween!