LIVE LAUGH LOVE DANCE

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Evan!

Today's is a very special day in our household. Not only is it New Year's Eve, but it's my little (or maybe not so little) guy's sixth birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVAN! Where have these past six years gone? I remember the day perfectly like it was yesterday, when I held my little guy in my arms for the very first time. I was blessed with a very special little boy who has changed my life forever. I'm a very proud mom as I'm sure you can tell.

Evan's birthday celebration actually started last night with his birthday dinner from YaYa. He wanted to go to Ukai so that's where we went. He loves watching them cook the food right at the table. It was a nice dinner and Ev was super excited to finally get his Lego Fireman Boat. He didn't get it for Christmas and was waiting and waiting for it (A top item on his wish list). You can tell from the picture how excited he was about it.

Today we celebrated Evan's birthday with lunch at Qdoba. This was his choice as it's one of his favorite places lately along with Noodles & Co. Evan's got a buddy when he goes to Qdoba. One of the managers, Carolyn has watched Evan grow up. We've been going to Qdoba for many years and ever since we took Evan in there in the baby car seat Carolyn has loved seeing Evan. She would always tell us how cute he was when she saw us in there. Once he got old enough to start holding a conversation with her, Evan would talk, and talk, and talk to her. That's my boy, Mr. Social Bug! It's continued now over the years and when Em was born the same thing. Carolyn gets a joy out of seeing Evan and she's always talking to the other co-workers about him. Today Greg and Evan were gone this morning for a little bit so Emme and I met them at Qdoba. When we got there Em told Carolyn that it was Evan's birthday. She asked me if it really was and I said yes. Then she said, I'm going to run and get him a balloon before he gets here. She took off out of there and in no time was back with a "Happy Birthday" balloon for Ev. He was so excited. Such a nice gesture it was. Ev really enjoyed his birthday lunch there.

Evan wanted to play with his new birthday present this afternoon with his Daddy. He actually got it last night and he hasn't wanted to stop playing with it. It's a 10-in-1 activity table. He loves playing pool. I think his new birthday present was a good investment and we'll get a lot of use out of it. Here's Ev & Greg playing some pool.

Then tonight we went out for Evan's birthday dinner. He chose Champps and it worked out nicely. They weren't too busy yet when we went, and we got to watch the end of the Spartan basketball game so Ev enjoyed that. Finally the b-ball team pulled off a win. Their season hasn't started off too well so hopefully this is a good sign of things to come in the Big Ten season!

We've had a relaxing evening after dinner. Evan worked on building his new Lego boat, and we've just been hanging out. Evan and Greg played some more pool. Em and I have been playing with some of her new toys, and now the kids are playing nicely together while waiting for the ball to drop. Yes, that's right they're still awake. It's Ev's birthday and it's the one night of the year they both get to stay up late. We had a little mini birthday celebration with some birthday cake. Greg's mom got this cake from Sam's for him last night. We ate some of the cupcakes last night and saved the middle part for tonight.


The big cake is next weekend when Ev has his birthday party. I told Ev to go up and get his pj's on and when he came back down I had lit some candles and we sang happy birthday to him. Emmaline did an awesome job singing and was loving the chance to sing happy birthday to her big brother! Here's Emme singing and Evan getting ready to blow out his candles.


It's been a great day, and I'm pretty sure Evan has had a great birthday! Today is also special in another way. If you remember last year I told you, it's also the day Greg & I got engaged eleven years ago. It's hard to believe that 2010 is about to come to an end. It's been a pretty good year and I wish all of you health and happiness in the New Year! As I head to bed tonight after the ball drops, I'm saying my prayers that the Spartans are ready for their big game tomorrow in the Capital One Bowl. Happy New Year and Let's Go State!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Four Christmases

Another week has passed and we're approaching the end of the year. We've had four Christmases and it looks like our house was hit by a tornado! I can't even keep up with getting this place cleaned. Every time I get one part of the house picked up, I turn around and it's a mess again. I'm fighting a battle that I don't see me winning anytime soon. Ugh. Where to put all the new stuff requires reorganizing and/or getting rid of stuff.

Our Christmas started with celebrating Christmas Eve with Greg's mom. We headed over to her house that morning and she made us homemade cinnamon rolls. Yummy! The kids were of course anxious to open their Christmas presents. They managed to tear through everything in no time. Ev's big surprise was a new bike. He couldn't wait to try it out so boots, helmet, and all he was out in the snow riding his new bike.

Em was so excited that she got her Barbie "Moustache," a.k.a. Barbie Mustang. She's going to have a blast this spring/summer cruising around the neighborhood. We all got a lot of nice things and I ended up getting the most wanted item on my "wish list," a new camera. Woo hoo, I'm back in business snapping away photos of the kiddos! Later on we went to Bravo Cucina for dinner. It's sort of become our place to go for Christmas Eve dinner. Thanks to Greg's mom for all the Christmas goodies and dinner. Before bed on Christmas Eve we let the kids open new pj's. I think it's going to be a new Christmas tradition. I liked that they had new pj's for pictures Christmas morning. I know it's sort of a common tradition among many families, but I think it's a good one. Here's the kids opening their new pj's.

Greg read "The Night Before Christmas to the kids before Em went to bed. Evan and I sprinkled the "magic reindeer food" outside before he went to bed. We forgot to do it before Em went to bed. Evan would not go to sleep for anything Christmas Eve. Santa was ready for bed, but Evan was not. Finally about midnight he fell asleep and Santa quickly got started putting stuff out. Here's hoping next year Santa can get to bed sooner.

Christmas morning Emmaline was up about 7:30am. She had to wake her brother up and tell him it was time to get out of bed and go see what Santa brought. The kids loved all their stuff from "Santa" and us. Em got a dollhouse which she LOVES. It's not the kind I was looking for, but it's similar to one I had as a kid so I'm glad she likes it. We did Santa presents and our Christmas that morning. My wonderful kids and husband got me a KitchenAid mixer. I was very surprised. I also got some new cookie sheets so looks like I can check two more things of my wish list. We had a nice morning, the four of us. Here's a picture I snapped Christmas morning of the kids that I just love.


We headed to my dad's for Christmas there Saturday afternoon. We had a nice lunch before doing presents. Christmas number three was successful and we all got some nice things. Emmaline fell in love with her Hello Kitty pillow from grandpa & grandma. She carried that thing around all night. I didn't think to get a picture, but will have to take one some time. Thanks to my Dad & Step Mom for all the wonderful things for all of us and the tasty Christmas lunch. Evan loves his new Leapster Tag Reading Books and everything else too. Em loves all her Hello Kitty stuff, Trio blocks, and everything else too!

Sunday evening we spent Christmas with my Mom. She came down to my sisters and we had our fourth Christmas. Usually I make chicken tetrazzini for Christmas dinner, but since we did two Christmases on Christmas day it didn't work out to have it. We did appetizers/snacks that night instead. I made a new pizza dip that I ran across the week before and it was delicious. I will definitely be making it again and will be posting the recipe soon. The appetizers worked perfectly since we had a big lunch earlier. The kids opened their stuff from grandma, aunt Jen, and Kaite. They got some really nice stuff once again, as did Greg and I. Thanks to my Mom, sister and Kaite for everything. It was a nice Christmas. The kids also got some great things from Uncle Dick and Aunt Deb that they sent from Arizona. So thoughtful of them to think of the kids. Thanks Aunt Deb and Uncle Dick.

Needless to say after four Christmases and traveling, I was exhausted on Sunday and spent much of the day being lazy before we headed back home. It was nice to just do nothing after being so busy. Once again a big thanks to all our family for everything, and thanks to my wonderful husband and kids for the stuff they got me. I can't wait to use my KitchenAid. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

O.k. so now I'm a week behind on catching up the Shearwater Nest news. Ugh. I don't know where the time goes, but I do know tomorrow is Christmas Eve and it just doesn't seem possible! It's time to put this blog on fast forward and give you the very fast run down of some highlights from the last week. I try to keep this blog up to date, and while this is all old news I feel like it's worthy of sharing because there were some fun happenings.

Last week Thursday was Evan's holiday party at school. I was asked by his teacher this time to be the "party mom" and plan the party. I didn't have to do too much, just call some moms and dads to see if they could help out in the classroom that day or provide some snacks. It all came together nicely and the party was a great success. I took in pretzel buttons and also helped out at the party. Greg took the morning off work and helped out too. Evan was excited that we both were at the party. There was a great turnout of parent volunteers. Evan's teacher, Mrs. Mills had a lot of awesome activities planned for the kids. They got to make candy canes with beads, do a gumdrop graphing sheet, make reindeer hats (girls could also make snow princess crowns), decorate pine cones, make a spice ball potpourri, decorate a stuffed sock snowman, and put together a bag of magic reindeer food. This one was a really cute idea. It's oatmeal & glitter mixed together and the kids just had to fill a baggie and attach the instructions: "Place magic reindeer food on your lawn. The magic glitter sparkling in the moonlight and the smell of the oats will guide Rudolph to your home." The kids were busy all morning and loved all the activities.

Here's Evan decorating his pine cone. Note- the little girl in the picture is Jaidyn (with her mom). Evan has a little crush on Jaidyn. Her mom says to me, "Evan's so cute. He's quite the flirt. I told Jaidyn's dad we have to watch out for that one." LOL.
Here's Evan at the "Sock Snowman table." The kids all did a great job making their snowman. Very cute!

Thursday afternoon the kids went to Greg's mom's and made cookies. Friday was Evan's birthday treat day since his birthday falls over winter break. Greg's mom graciously offered to make cookies with the kids so Evan could take to school since I was so busy and had a million other things to do. They made M&M cookies, one of Evan's favorites!

I really needed to clean Saturday, but shopping and a movie won over cleaning. The kids, Greg's mom, Greg, and I went to see the new Yogi Bear movie. It was a little predictable, but cute and the kids liked it so that's what matters, right? It was better than cleaning that's for sure. Greg and I went out Saturday afternoon to do a little last minute Christmas shopping kid free. While we were gone Evan lost his second tooth. He had told us it was looser Saturday morning, but it's been like that for awhile and we really didn't think it was going to come out already. Needless to say, one week before Christmas the tooth fairy had to show up at the Shearwater Nest. Five dollars it was this time for the second tooth. I finally got my Christmas cards back on Saturday and was able to get them all addressed on Sunday and in the mail by Monday! Definitely the latest I've been sending out cards over the years!

This week started Evan's winter break from school. Monday I slept in until 9am. I can't believe it. I must have been really tired. It was much needed sleep though that's for sure. The week has consisted of running errands, wrapping presents, doing laundry, cleaning the house, etc. It's been a never ending cycle of those things, and we've been gone late every night except tonight so that's why I haven't been blogging. I'm not even going to say when I'll be back on. It's going to be a busy few days here with Christmas, but I'll be sure to catch you up on it all next week sometime. I'm looking forward to watching the kids open presents from Santa this year. They're at a great age right now! So that wraps things up. I know, not as quickly as I wanted. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families and get a little time to relax in the rush of it all! Merry Christmas! Season's Greetings! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Santa Cookies

I know I need to get this blog caught up and hopefully over the next couple days I can. In the meantime to update you a little, I made my Santa cookies on Thursday so I'm posting the recipe. Maybe you've got nothing to do this last week before Christmas and will want to make them! It's really not like you need a recipe for these because by looking at them you can pretty much figure out how to make these. However, for the sake of this blog, I'm posting a recipe so you can find it under "cookies" with all the other recipes and you'll know how to make these cute Santa cookies. There's minimal ingredients and just a few steps to complete these Santa cookies. Here's a pic of the Santa cookies. Aren't they adorable?


Ingredients:

1 Package of Nutter Butter Cookies
1 Package Vanilla Candiquik
Red sugar sprinkles
White morsels
Mini red M&M's
Mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Melt half package of the Candiquik and dip one end of Nutter Butters (to resemble beard) and set aside until Candiquik hardens.
2. After step one is complete, melt other half of Candiquik and dip other end of Nutter Butters (to resemble Santa hat), sprinkle with red sugar sprinkles leaving a little bit of white showing for hat fur, top with one white morsel.
3. Top with two mini chocolate morsels to resemble eyes, and one mini red M&M to resemble nose (Use a little dab of the melted Candiquik to apply the eyes & nose). Let set until hardened.

Notes: It's helpful to have an extra hand when sprinkling hats and doing the eyes & nose because you have to work quickly before your melted Candiquik hardens. It's doable by yourself, but an extra hand doesn't hurt. By the time you get to the end of doing the eyes and nose you can remelt the Candiquik, but not too much or it will end up burned. Also, I have in the past used cinnamon red hots for the nose and black decorating gel for the eyes. My kids prefer the M&M's so I've switched to using those. Also, you'll see in the picture I made some with green Santa hats. I actually ran out of red sprinkles so had to switch to green. It worked out good though because I called them my Spartan Santa cookies!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cherry 'Mallow Cookies

As promised here's the recipe for the Cherry 'Mallow Cookies I made yesterday. I discovered this recipe in an email I got from Better Homes and Garden. I thought they looked too cute and sounded too yummy to pass up.

Ingredients

  • 16 maraschino cherries with stems
  • 1/3 cup marshmallow creme
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • 32 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 4 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating ( I used the Candiquik you can find at Meijer)

Directions

1. Place maraschino cherries with stems on paper towels; drain well. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together marshmallow creme and chopped maraschino cherries. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the maraschino cherry mixture on the bottom of one cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom side down. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies and maraschino cherry mixture.

2. In a small saucepan, heat and stir candy coating over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. ( I just melted the Candiquik in the microwave)

3. Dip cookies halfway into the melted candy coating. Return to baking sheet. Holding a cherry by the stem, dip bottom of cherry into the melted candy coating. Place cherry on top of candy-coated side of one cookie. Hold for several seconds or just until set. Repeat with remaining cherries and cookies. Let cookies stand until candy coating sets. Makes 16 sandwich cookies.

TO STORE: Place sandwich cookies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Here's the finished product! Don't they look yummy?


I actually doubled the recipe because I was planning to give some of these out to neighbors and 16 cookies didn't seem like enough. However, there's only one problem I discovered. I apparently missed the "TO STORE" section of the recipe and didn't see that they are supposed to be refrigerated for up to two days. When we opened the container tonight the filling got a little runny from not storing in the fridge. They still tasted fine, but just a little messy. Also, I see why the recipe only makes 16 cookies because you're only supposed to refrigerate them for up to two day. All in all though they're a fast and easy cookie to make and taste delicious.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Has Arrived!

Well if you look outside here, winter has definitely arrived. The warning was out on Saturday that the snow was coming, and sure enough it did late Saturday night into Sunday. We didn't get as much as I thought we would, but still any snow on the ground is more than enough in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, a little snow on the trees and ground is pretty, but the cold, ice, and nasty roads that go along with it I can do without. We ended up having a busy weekend once again. Christmas is approaching a little too fast, and I feel like I still have a lot to do. Ugh! It definitely is a busy time of year at the Shearwater Nest!

This past weekend was graduation at MSU. The big speaker for graduation was Magic Johnson. I can't even tell you who spoke at my graduation, but I know it wasn't anyone cool like Magic Johnson. Greg was busy all day Friday doing Graduation stuff and had to go take pics of Magic speaking to some students. I guess Magic ended up giving away like 10 trips to students to L.A. to see a Lakers game with him, all expenses paid. Now I'm not a Lakers fan, but that would be an awesome opportunity to go. Friday night I had to whip up a dish to take to Greg's Christmas work party on Saturday. He signed me up to bring El Az Dip which was fine because it's really easy to make. Greg actually even helped me chop up the stuff for it so I got it made in no time.

Saturday Greg had to work for a little bit to cover the big graduation at the Breslin Center. Magic Johnson was speaking so he didn't mind having to work. Greg doesn't go crazy over most famous people like I do, but I told him he must get his picture with Magic. He did get a pic, and I finally got to see it today. Here it is!


Greg's a little cheesy, but it's still a great picture! I told Greg, either Magic is really tall or he's really short. Haha! I'm thinking we should probably get a print of this and have it in our home!

Saturday afternoon I made a batch or party mix and Greg and Evan made some of the pretzel buttons I made last year. I'm pretty sure those will be an annual thing. They are so stinkin' easy and are yummy! They're a little too yummy because I've already had plenty of them. While the party mix was making (you know how you have to bake it for an hour and stir every 15 min.) I made up some guacamole for the Christmas party too. I haven't told you about my guacamole yet, but I guess this is probably a good time because it's way overdue. I never made guacamole until about a month or so ago. Our friend Brenda brought guacamole one football Saturday and it was really good. I mentioned that I really needed to learn how to make it and she told me how easy it was and how she made hers. I then started making it and am now wondering why I never made it sooner. The batch I whipped up on Saturday I think was my best yet! I'll post my recipe for it soon. Both the El Az Dip and the guacamole were a hit at the party.

Greg's boss, Kent, had the party at his house. We had the option of bringing the kids or not. Evan was all excited about the party once he heard about it and really wanted to go. He went with us and Em stayed at Greg's mom's. Kent had a few games planned and Evan was excited about both of them. One was a box filled with items that we had to reach our hand in and feel the items and write down what we thought it was. The other game everyone was given a sheet of stickers and you had to get rid of all your stickers by placing them on others without them noticing you doing it. The kids really got a kick out of the stickers. Evan, Greg, and I all worked together to guess the box items and we ended up getting the most right. We won a $25 gift certificate for Leo's which is a new restaurant in Okemos. That was a nice surprise. We had a great time and it was a nice evening. Thanks to Kent and Tammy for opening up their house for the party!

Sunday, I already told you the snow storm hit. We had to pick up Em that morning so we met Greg's mom and Em for breakfast. Then Evan was so excited about the snow that he really wanted to get snow pants. No we didn't have any yet. I know, I procrastinated a little bit. I had looked a few times, but couldn't really find any. Greg's mom said she'd buy the kids snow pants so we headed out to Kohl's. We found some for Evan, but none for Em so we then went to Target. We did find some there for her, however I still didn't have boots for Em. Yes, I know... procrastinating again. Well sort of! She's got some little suede boots which are fine, but they're really not for sledding and playing in the snow. I've also looked a few times for boots for her, but haven't been able to find any reasonably priced or in her size. (Ann, you're not alone with not having boots for your kid!) We still didn't find any so the search continues this week. Wish me luck finding some!

With the snow yesterday and super cold temps, came a phone call last night that school was canceled for today. Woo Hoo! I don't know who was more excited, Evan or me. I remember as a kid, wishing for snow days! I really wasn't looking forward to driving to school today in this weather so once we got the call that was a little bit of a relief. I got to stay in bed until 8:30am this morning which was really nice! I made some soup today and then made two more batches of party mix, some more pretzel buttons, and some new cookies I tried. I came across a recipe for Cherry 'Mallow Cookies that sounded really good. Greg even helped me make them so that was another bonus of him helping in the kitchen. I'll post the recipe soon. They were fast and easy to make! Now it's time to get to bed since I'm pretty sure there will be school tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Weekend Rundown

Before I tell you about my weekend which I'm a few days late I know, I'd like to wish my Mom a very Happy Birthday! The kids were so cute on the phone wishing Grandma a happy birthday. Evan asked her how old she was and she said 63. Evan responded, "63?" and Em said, "I'm three!" LOL. I said to the kids it's like putting the two numbers of their ages together, 6 (Evan's almost six) and 3 (Em's three of course). They liked that.

Now onto my weekend rundown, which I was so excited to tell you about my great shopping find that I forgot I hadn't recapped our weekend. Now it's midweek and it's pretty much old news, but I thought I'd give ya the rundown since it was a weekend full of fun things. It didn't start out so great, but thankfully it did end up to be a nice weekend. Saturday morning I made sure to get on the computer at 10am because Kid Rock tickets went on sale for the January concert at Van Andel in Grand Rapids. This is a concert that I've been talking about going to and want to go to very badly. I was expecting it to be hard to get tickets and expecting to get crappy seats. My friends Jessica and Brenda were planning to go with Greg and I so I was really excited. It was to be a fun night out in January. After sitting at the computer for a few minutes waiting and waiting for Ticketmaster to pop up the available seats to my surprise some half way decent seats popped up (section 106) at the cheaper ticket price (there were two different prices). I snatched them up and was so excited that I was going to be going to see Kid Rock! I then went through each step in the checkout process. I entered my credit card info and billing info and clicked the "submit" button and was waiting for my confirmation. Guess what? No confirmation! Instead something popped up that said "billing info error" and then said "your tickets have been released!" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It couldn't be. I was fuming and very mad to say the least. I'm not sure what the problem was, but it didn't even give me a chance to fix it. I immediately quickly tried to pull up some more tickets, but by that time they were in like section 202 which was on the side of the stage and more than likely blocked by speakers and half way behind the stage! These tickets were even the same price as the section 106 tickets. SERIOUSLY? I of course kept trying and tickets were gone. I even called and was on hold forever with Ticketmaster and of course got nowhere with them. What a waste of an hour and a half Saturday morning. I'm still ticked about it! Ugh!

Thankfully the rest of the weekend went well. I then headed off to the MSU Arts & Crafts fair at the Union. I've gone for many years now and this year the gal who I got Em's cute MSU outfit from was going to be there. I got some hats for Em, and our annual family Christmas ornament. If you remember from last year, I posted a pic of all our family ornaments over the years. Each year I get us an ornament.

Here's our 2010 family Christmas ornament.
I chose a tree this year since this is our first year having an artificial tree. I thought it was fitting for our 2010 ornament. Saturday afternoon I ran errands and then that evening was bunco night with the girls! Our last bunco of the year and this time my friend Carmen was the hostess. It was "Slumber Party Bunco" so we got to wear our pj's! Right up my alley since I love hanging out in my pj's! It was a fun night and I walked away with one "baby" bunco prize and won $20 for the most wins! Woo Hoo!

Sunday we had to miss out on "Winter Fest" downtown E.Lansing which is where the kids usually get their pics with Santa, see the reindeer, make a Christmas ornament, and we attend the "Chili Bowl" and get to sample local businesses chili and soup. Instead we had two birthday parties to go to. It was actually two parties in one though because it was for my friend Marie's kids, Kyra and Connor. They're birthdays are only a couple weeks apart so she combines their birthday party. Brilliant if you ask me because it's only one prep, entertaining, and clean up! We all had a great time at the party and had a fun afternoon. That wraps up our weekend and now another weekend is almost upon us!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Great Shopping Find

Don't you just hate it when you're looking and looking for something and you just can't find it anywhere? That's the case right now for me when it comes to finding a doll house I like for Em. I've kind of put the idea of getting her one from Santa on the back burner because I feel like I've exhausted all places to find that "perfect doll house." I saw one last year at Home Goods, and I just don't think it exists anymore. With that said, don't you just love it when you're not looking for something and you come across a great find you really can't pass up? It's even greater when you're at Home Goods, Marshall's, or TJ Maxx because those places are really a hit or miss kind of place. It's all about the timing and sometimes you can walk in those stores and find absolutely nothing, or find a ton or things you must have, or find that perfect something you're oh so happy you've stumbled upon.

That was the case with me last Thursday when I stopped into Marshall's looking for a birthday present. After I got the birthday present I went in for, I was going to just go check out and leave but decided I might as well go around the store the other way from the way I came in, and see what they got. It was a good thing because I passed by this table.


I instantly thought this little table would be perfect for Em's room as a nightstand. Once we turned her crib into a full size bed, I've always had in the back of my mind that some day I'd get a table to put next to her bed. She's three though and at this point doesn't really "need" one, but it would be nice to have to sort of "complete" the bedroom set. However, I ended up taking a picture of the table and walked out not buying it. That's considered a "no no" when it comes to a store like Marshall's because more than likely if you go back to get something you saw, it's usually gone. I went home and showed it to Greg and see what he thought. I was a actually a little surprised because usually he just says whatever. He thought it would look fine in her room and said to get it if I wanted to.

Well of course since I got his approval, I figured I was sure to be out of luck going back on Friday to get it. I headed into the store hoping the table would still be there, but thinking if it's not then well, it's not meant to be. Sure enough though it was there, so I guess it was meant to be! I couldn't find anyone to help me so I took everything off the table that was on it and carried it to the front. Em was so excited we were getting a table for her room. I noticed a few small scratches on the table so figured I'd ask if they'd take anything off. They did so it was an added bonus and I got an extra 10% off. It wasn't a huge amount, but it was something. So I walked out with my table and it only cost $36! What a bargain!

Here's Em's dresser. It's black and has like some distressed marks on it (like on the top middle drawer, I added her ladybug knobs).
Once again here's the table. (The flash made the table look a little shiny, but it's really not.)
Here's Em's bed with the table next to it.
It matches perfectly, don't you think? The knob is almost the same as the knobs on her dresser. The slats on the bottom match the slats on her headboard. And the table even has the distressed marks on it. I think it will be a perfect spot to put some bedtime books for her and eventually a lamp to go on top! As you can tell I'm pretty excited about my shopping find! It has sort of replaced my frustration about the doll house issue temporarily.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Turkey/Chicken Noodle Casserole

Everyday I get recipes emailed to me from Allrecipes. Often I think, "that sounds good, I should try that for dinner." Then I forget about it. The other day I got this recipe for Chicken Noodle Casserole that sounded really good. I had some turkey left over from Thanksgiving and thought that I could make the recipe with turkey instead of chicken. So that's what I did and it turned out really good. Here's the recipe from Allrecipes.

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream ( I used reduced fat sour cream)
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions

  1. Boil chicken in a large pot of simmering water. Cook until no longer pink in center, about 12 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside. Bring chicken cooking water to a boil and cook pasta in it. Drain. Cut chicken into small pieces, and mix with noodles.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together mushroom soup, chicken soup, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir together cream soup mixture with the chicken mixture. Place in a 2 quart baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan, and remove from heat. Stir in crumbled crackers. Top casserole with the buttery crackers.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until heated through and browned on top.

I omitted step one since I already had the turkey cooked up and just boiled some egg noodles. However, if I were to make it sometime with chicken I'd probably omit step one again and just use a rotisserie chicken. I also didn't have any crackers and rather than running to the store, I just omitted that part too. It tasted fine with out. The recipe also said wonderful as leftovers topped with melted cheese. So towards the end of the 30 minutes of cooking I mixed in some shredded cheese on half of it to try. The half with cheese was good, as was the half without. I'd say you could make it either way. It was a great recipe to use up that leftover turkey and the kids really liked it so it was a win win meal!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The First Snow

Well here we are starting December and we got our first official snow today. Why I live in Michigan is really beyond me because I hate this weather. I don't like to be cold, I don't like to drive on the icy roads, and I hate having to bundle up in heavy winter coats, not to mention bundle up kids in hats, coats, mittens, boots. I'm happy just grabbing my purse, keys, and slipping on my flip flops to head out the door. I probably shouldn't complain too much since we have had a pretty warm fall for the most part. However yesterday it was 50 and today I wake up to 27 degrees and snow on the ground. That's a little too much of a change for me. I know it's only December 1st, but here's to hoping winter moves in and out very quickly!

I'm so proud of myself that I got all the Christmas decorations up before December hit. I don't remember the last time that happened. Evan helped me put the rest of the decorations out Monday night after Em went to bed. Yesterday morning when we came downstairs Em walked into the living room, and says, "Bootiful" (it sounds like boo when she says it), then she walked into the middle of the room, opened her arms up, spun around in a circle while saying, "It's so bootiful in here." She did this a few times. It was just too darn cute. She absolutely loves the Christmas decorations this year! It's so fun to watch her look at everything. I'll try to post a picture soon. I meant to take a picture tonight and forgot, and now it's too dark.

Now onto another recipe. It's actually fitting for this weather because as soon as the cold hits, what do you think of making? If you're like me it's soup! It's the perfect meal on a cold winter day. I usually make my soup up ahead of time so it's already made come dinner time, and then there's always enough for leftovers so that's another added bonus of making soup! Greg made this soup about a month ago for the first time. It was from my soup cookbook (the same one I posted the Italian Chicken Soup recipe from that's on this blog). The first time we had it we both liked it, but it had a little too much garlic we thought. We're not huge garlic fans, but put in what it called for anyway. The next time we made it, we tweaked the recipe a little. I'll post the recipe and then tell you what we changed.

Beef & Bean Soup

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, sliced
14oz. canned black-eyed peas (found in the canned bean aisle)
1 cup fresh ground beef
1 tsp. of each- ground cumin, chili powder, and paprika
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced
8 ounces of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups of Beef Stock
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently (about 5 minutes or until softened). Add bell pepper and carrots and cook another 5 minutes (we cooked a little longer).
  2. Meanwhile, drain the peas, reserving the liquid from the can. Put two-thirds of the peas (reserve the rest) in a food processor or blender along with the liquid from the peas. Process until smooth.
  3. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until well browned (we cooked our burger up in a separate pan before hand and added already cooked).
  4. Add the spices, cabbage, tomatoes, stock, and pureed peas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in the reserved peas, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving!

Lisa's tweaks:
I just use the baby cut carrots (that's what I always have on hand) and chop some of those up. I don't really measure them. The second time we made it, instead of using garlic gloves I just put in some garlic powder (didn't really measure, just tasted along the way). The third time I made it with my sister and we tried this McCormick's Garlic Pepper seasoning I have in place of the garlic cloves and it tasted really good. To save time (or maybe because I'm lazy) I didn't drain the peas and just poured all the liquid and 2/3 of the peas into the food processor, reserving the rest of the peas. I used more than a cup of ground beef (didn't really measure) I wasn't about to peel tomatoes so I just used a can of diced tomatoes (with juice). The first time we used beef stock, the next two times we used beef broth (it's cheaper) and it tasted just as good. Honestly I don't really know the difference between beef stock and broth so I figured it didn't matter much.

Note: We sort of doubled this recipe. Well certain parts- carrots, black-eyed peas, ground beef (probably used about 1 lb.), and beef broth. This is a recipe that I don't think you can really screw up. If you double the beef broth (5 cups) and black-eyed peas (2- 14oz. cans) then add however much of everything else you want to your liking it will be fine. You can kind of make it your own to your preferences. If you like more or less of something then add what you desire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes

Below I'm posting the two recipes I talked about I made on Thanksgiving. Both are very simple to make and very tasty! The first one is the pumpkin bar recipe I saw on my friend Ann's blog. The second one is for the sweet potato casserole.

Pumpkin Squares
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Add the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients into another (I just put all the ingredients in one bowl). Slowly mix together and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into (1) 9 X 13 pan or (2) 8 X 8 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting
3 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cup powder sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 stick of butter (4 tbsp)

Mix all the ingredients together. Frost the cake after it has cooled and store in the refrigerator.

*Note- I made a double batch of these and on one I frosted with the cream cheese frosting and the other I just put cool whip on top. They're both equally good I thought. If you want a little sweeter go with the frosting. If you want a little "lighter" or don't have time to make the frosting, go with the cool whip.


Next up the sweet potato casserole. I really don't have a recipe for this as far as amounts of each item I put in, as I just throw the items in and mix it to taste. However for the purpose of posting this recipe I'll give you an estimate. You can always add more if it's not enough to your liking.

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 Sweet Potatoes (Cooked)
milk (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
butter (about a 3-4 tbsp.)
brown sugar (about 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (probably about 1/2 tsp.)
nutmeg (probably about 1/2 tsp.)

mini marshmallows (top casserole with at very end)

Boil the sweet potatoes until soft when poked with a for. Approximately 20-25 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool enough to peel skins off. Mash with potato masher and add the next five ingredients (NOT THE MARSHMALLOWS). Mix well and pour into a 9x12 (or whatever size casserole dish you have) baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mini marshmallows (enough to cover top of casserole). Place under broiler long enough to get marshmallows toasty brown (I leave the oven door cracked a little and keep an eye on them because they brown very fast).

Note- You can also add a small can of crushed pineapple (drained) if desired.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Ten Football Champs

After a nice Thanksgiving dinner Thursday and a successful day of Black Friday shopping, Saturday ended even better. My beloved Spartans ended there special season beating Penn State at Penn State. I had a feeling on that day back in August when we went downtown East Lansing to "Meet the Spartan Football Team," that it was going to be a special season for the Spartans. Many didn't believe in the Spartans and underestimated them, but in the end they came away with a record of 11-1. That record earned them a share of the Big Ten Championship along with Ohio State and Wisconsin who also have 11-1 records. It's also earned the Spartans a BCS Bowl Bid which there's a lot of controversy over. You see there's a three way tie in the Big Ten and only one team gets to go to the Rose Bowl. Because of tie the bowl game is determined based on the BCS rankings. Well that means it goes to Wisconsin who is ranked higher than OSU and MSU. However, many disagree and I'm one of them on determining it by the BCS rankings. Wisconsin beat OSU, MSU beat Wisconsin, and MSU and OSU did not play each other. That ends up looking like this between the three teams: MSU is 1-0 (with their win over WIS), OSU is 0-1 (with their loss to WIS), and Wisconsin is 1-1 (with their win to OSU and loss to MSU). That means MSU is UNDEFEATED against the co-champs which you would think would mean they would go to the Rose Bowl. Well these are all new rules this year with the BCS, and had they not changed and had last years rules, MSU would be going to the Rose Bowl. The whole BCS thing really is a bunch of crap anyway. It's such a bummer, and you might say well, MSU should of beat Iowa which that loss hurts, but then had MSU won, MSU would be 12-0 and still would most likely be on the outside looking in at the BCS Championship Game. MSU gets overlooked more times than not and unfortunately get no respect outside of the Spartan "family." It's pretty sad when Coach D has really turned this football program around and is a well respected coach. So with that said, there's not much one can do, but sit and wait for the bowl game to be announced. Most likely it will be the Capital One Bowl against Alabama. We're still proud to be going to a bowl game and would love to end the season with a win. We shall find out Sunday when the announcements are made.

Enough about my bitching on the BCS and with that Big Ten Championship comes a celebration! Saturday night MSU opened up the Breslin Center to welcome back the team and coaches. Remember we went to celebrate the Basketball team after the Final Four? Of course we weren't going to miss this so we headed on over to the Breslin Center to congratulate the Big Ten Football Champs and celebrate with other Spartan fans. It was a Sparty party at the Breslin and such a great moment to be a part of! Coach Izzo and the b-ball team even came out to support the football program. We met up with my friend Jessica and her family and had a fun time! Here's a few photos from the evening. (Remember my camera sucks and is sloooooow so the pics aren't the greatest.)

Actually While waiting for the team to arrive Evan wanted to go say hi to Coach Izzo and give him a high five. He walked over to him all by himself. Here he is getting his high five from Coach Izzo (Coach gave him two high fives).

Coach Dantonio thanking the fans for all their support and congratulating the team on all their hard work!

Greg Jones (Evan's favorite MSU player), addressing the crowd and thanking them for supporting him on returning for his senior year~

Right before we were about to head out, MSU b-ball player, Draymond Green came out and was gracious enough to stick around for a minute to take a pic with the kids!
Saturday night we got the tree up. This year it's our first time having an artificial tree. Every year since we've been married we've either bought or cut down a live tree. Last year after Christmas we decided to go the artificial route and bought one on clearance. I do miss the real tree and the wonderful smell a real tree gives off, but I must say it was nice not to hassle with getting it in the stand and having to string lights! We didn't have a chance to decorate it though since we had to leave for the MSU celebration so that was for Sunday.

On Sunday we took the kids to see Tangled. Ever since Emmaline saw the movie preview on T.V. she's been saying she wanted to go see it. Finally after a busy holiday weekend we got time on Sunday. It was a really cute movie and Em loved it. Evan even liked it a lot too! After the movie we came home and got the tree decorated. The kids were so excited to help put the decorations on. This year I thought it was only fitting to put the MSU football front and center and top the tree off with a Spartan Santa hat! Our tree is definitely "bleeding" lots of green this year. Here's our tree for 2010!


A movie and decorating the tree on Sunday was a perfect way to end our nice long weekend! My next couple posts will be the recipes I promised to post!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Nice Long Holiday Weekend

Before I run down our Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I'd let you know that Tuesday and Wednesday went really well watching Brooke. Tuesday was the best day and she only fussed a little and took naps for me. Wednesday wasn't as good as Tuesday, but far better than Monday so I can't complain. She was pretty good for me, and I was even able to get a few things done during the day. Evan didn't have school on Wednesday so he was home all day. It was me and three kids all day long, which could have made for a long day, but actually ended up not being too bad. Emmaline took her nap for me and Evan was a great help with Brooke. He even read some books to her which was really sweet. It was a joy to watch Brooke for Angie, and I look forward to maybe watching her down the road sometime.

With Thanksgiving on Thursday and having lots to do, I prepared some of the Thanksgiving dishes ahead of time. On Tuesday I made pumpkin bars which I got the recipe from my friend Ann's blog. On Wednesday I made my sweet potato casserole. I figured the more I got out of the way before Thursday, the less I'd have to do on Thanksgiving. I will be posting the recipes soon because they were both fantastic! Great additions to Thanksgiving dinner or to just make whenever.

This year we had Thanksgiving at our house with my mom, sister, and my niece. My mom bought the turkey and we all contributed some of the side dishes. I prepared the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin bars. My sister made green bean casserole, and my mom made the stuffing. It was my first time cooking a turkey all by myself and having to clean the "gross parts" out of the turkey. I made Greg take the neck out because it was just a little too gross for me. I stuffed the turkey with cranberries, an orange, and an apple and then basted it with olive oil. It turned out pretty good, as did all the side dishes. Dinner was tasty and we were definitely stuffed by the end of the meal. Thanks to my mom and sister for all they contributed to help cut back on all the work that goes into making a Thanksgiving meal.

Thursday night we just chilled for the most part. Greg, my sister, and I did make a quick run to Meijer that night to check out a few deals they had for their Thanksgiving sale. We then came home to plan our Black Friday shopping. I've been Black Friday shopping for many years now. I don't even know how long I've been doing it, but I do remember the days when my mom, sister, and I used to go out on Black Friday with my niece Kaitlyn when she was a baby. She's now 14 so it's been at least that long! It's kind of a tradition and while Black Friday seems to keep getting crazier and crazier and isn't like it used to be, I keep getting suckered into going. Now stores are opening earlier and earlier (some even on Thanksgiving night), and I find myself saying I'm not going out next year and then I still end up going.

This year we hit Walmart at midnight and it was of course a madhouse. The "hot" items like electronics weren't available until 5am, but what I really wanted was a Shark Steam Cleaner for the hardwood floors which I was able to get so I was very happy! We got a few other items and then stopped by home to drop them off before we headed out Okemos to hit the other Walmart which wasn't opening until 5am and Target at 4am. We took two cars and my mom and Kaite camped out at Walmart while my sister and I were going to head over to Old Navy and Target. Kaite was such a trooper and sat in line in the cold in her chair bundled in blankets. My mom traded off with her a few times so she could warm up. We had heard that Old Navy was supposed to open at midnight, but when we got there we found out they weren't opening until 4am. We decided to skip waiting there and head over to Target. The line was super long, and I was about to wait in it because I knew the "hot" items I wanted weren't going to be there by the time I got in. So my sister and I camped out in the car and decided we'd just go in after the line was all in. Well 4am rolled around and still at 4:20am the line was still feeding into the store. We decided to skip Target at that point because even if we went in and got some of the items we wanted we wouldn't be checked out in time to get back to Walmart at 5am. We made a McD's stop to pick up and early breakfast for all of us and took it back to Walmart. By the time everyone ate their breakfast and Kaite packed up her chair and blankets there was only about five minutes left to wait for the store to open. 5am struck, the doors opened, and everyone was off to find their bargains. My sister and I got the t.v.'s we wanted and Kaite got her new laptop. We also got a few other things like my hand mixer I missed out on at the first Walmart. After we finished there we headed back over to Target and ended up getting the "non-hot" items we wanted and got through the checkout in pretty good time. All in all it was a successful Black Friday shopping experience! The early morning shopping paid off!

We got home around 6:45am and I ended up only sleeping about two hours before I heard the garbage truck going through the neighborhood and of course Emmaline got up. Late morning we decided to make an impromptu trip to Trader Joe's and Home Goods. Greg needed to go to the camera store in GR so he and Evan went there and the girls went shopping. We stopped in Howell for lunch at Tomato Bros. (which is super yummy if you're ever in the area), then hit TJ's at 8-mile. On our way back to Home Goods in Brighton, we decided to make a detour and head to Ann Arbor to hit that TJ's. The first TJ's was out of the chicken tamales which was one of the items we went for. Thankfully the second TJ's had them since we made the trek there. On the way back we hit Home Goods, but didn't find what I was looking for. Bummer. Then we headed home and got back around 5:30pm. It was a long day and all on about two hours of sleep. A big thanks to my mom for driving there and back and for lunch at Tomato Bros. Friday night my mom and the kids made Christmas cut out cookies which is a tradition. This was the only time we had to do it before Christmas and the kids had fun making them.

I've got more to share about Saturday and Sunday, but I shall save that until my next post as it's late and I should get to bed. We've got a full week this week which means early mornings off to school! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cleaning Like Crazy!

I don't know what got into me Friday (& Thursday for that matter), but I started cleaning and got on a roll. Back to Thursday for a minute, when I was cleaning while the kids and Greg were at the store. I worked on our loft which has a built in desk up there that is a catch all place for papers. It's always a mess and it's where I throw stuff that needs to be filed. I finally had enough and went to town shredding stuff and going through papers. I can now see the top of the desk again and it looks 100% better. I've got a stack of papers on our bench still that needs to be gone through, but I did make some MAJOR progress.

Friday I worked down in the basement cleaning and moving furniture in the family room down there. It's the kids playroom, mostly Evan's, so it's got lots of toys and it's an endless battle to clean. I never get down there because well, nobody is ever down there really, but the kids so it's always one of the last places to clean. I went to town though and cleaned good and went through some things down there and am down to Evan's "corner pile" of toys that I need to sort through before Christmas and see what can go into the garage sale pile. Then I worked on the unfinished part of the basement which is our storage area. My dad was coming on Saturday to bring us a refrigerator and freezer so I needed to make room for the freezer in there. The fridge was going in the garage, but we didn't have room for both in the garage. I got rid of some things and moved some stuff around and made a spot for the freezer. There's still some things that need to be gone through, but my goal was to make a spot for the freezer and I did.

Then Friday night some guy came to pick up our old fridge so we could get that out of the way before the "new" one could come. I found a guy on Craigslist who would haul it away for free which worked for us, then we didn't have to deal with it. Then Greg helped me take apart the bed in our spare room down in the basement so we could take it to his mom's for the kids to use over there. My Dad was also bringing us a newer mattress so we had to make room for that in the spare room. We didn't have room for two twin beds in there so it worked out that Greg's mom had room to use at her house for the kids.

Saturday, Greg had to work the football game so it was just the kids and I for most of the day. We waited around for my Dad to come with the "goods." He made a special two hour trip to bring us the refrigerator, freezer, and bed so we didn't have to mess with and figure out how to go get and haul it back. It was a fast trip up for him and back because he had a busy day, but we really appreciate him hauling all that stuff here. It couldn't of come at a better time with Thanksgiving this week. Now I'm back in business with an extra fridge and freezer. It's nice to be able to buy the extra gallon of milk or frozen items and have a place to store them. The kids also got some new t-shirts from grandpa which they loved! Em really liked her Hello Kitty outfit too. A big thanks to my Dad for bringing everything. Thanks to my grandma too for the fridge and freezer that were actually hers. We're already getting lots of use out of them!

Saturday my beloved Spartans played Purdue after a bye week, and at the half I must say I was quite worried. I hate when MSU has a bye week because they never play good after. Finally when it was needed the most in the fourth quarter, the team rallied and came together to fight back and win. They didn't give up and it was a great victory for the Spartans. A great win for the seniors, especially Evan's favorite Greg Jones who we were saddened to see play his last game in Spartans Stadium. The Spartans are now 10-1 and have a tough match up coming up on Saturday against Penn State. I sure hope they play better than they did this past weekend. Saturday night we ran some errands and had dinner at Chili's. Awhile back my friend Angie got us a couple gift cards to some restaurants for all that we had done to help her prepare for the baby. We finally used one of them at Chili's and it was nice not to have to cook! Thanks again Angie for the gift cards!

Sunday I got crazy cleaning again and tackled the coat closet by the back entry. It's been a mess for a long time and has had some of the kids old coats that are way to small, as well as coats we don't wear anymore. I got it nice and organized and am hoping it can stay that way. That pretty much wraps up the weekend, and today was my first of three days babysitting Brooke. She's about seven weeks old now. I wasn't sure how today was going to go starting at 7am and watching her until 4:30pm. The morning went super good. She slept for the first couple hours. Then by afternoon she decided she wanted to be fussy and wanted to fight sleeping. I fed her, burped her, changed her, rocked her, put her in her swing, etc. but nothing seemed to work and every time she was about to fall asleep she woke herself up and decided against it. It was sort of a long afternoon, but I managed and we made it through nonetheless. It hasn't been all that long since Em was a baby, but I definitely forgot how much work babies really are. I was tired by the time Angie picked her up. I still enjoyed watching her though and really it could of been worse so I can't complain too much. Angie said that's pretty much how she is in the afternoon so at least I know it wasn't me. I am hoping tomorrow goes a little better though. We shall see! Now I'm off to bed where I should of been at least a half hour ago!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Helping Tackle Hunger

I want to share about something special the kids did, but first a couple tidbits about the rest of last week. Wednesday I volunteered at the book fair at Evan's school. Do you remember the book fair when you were in school. Good ol' Scholastic Book Fair during parent teacher conferences. I remember going and getting so excited about the books and picking out "cool" posters for my bedroom. It was fun times as a kid. The book fair these days is still pretty much the same... books on carts, a box full of posters to choose from, and a section of that stuff you just had to have- pencils, erasers, bookmarks, little toys, etc. The stuff parents hated right? However, the checkout process at the book fair is a little different these days. Now they have little mini cash registers to check out at, which I had to work. It was very easy and had a touch screen that pretty much prompted you along the way. I volunteered my two hours and then it was time for parent-teacher conferences.

Greg met me at school and we went to our first kindergarten conference. I wasn't worried at all because Evan got such a wonderful report card, but was still anxious to hear what his teacher had to say. It was all pretty much good and Mrs. Mills said that Evan was a reader and a writer. She said he always comes to school with a smile on his face, and he works well with the other students. She told us that we prepared him well for kindergarten which really felt good to hear as a parent. She shared some of his work with us which I have to say he did an awesome job on the assignments! Way to go Evan, Mom and Dad are so proud of you!

Now onto the "special something" the kids did I mentioned. Thursday night I wanted to get some cleaning done so Greg took the kids to the store so they could buy some food for the "Help Tackle Hunger Fourth Annual Food Drive." If you remember back to last year about this time we did the same thing. This is the 2nd year we've donated to this particular food drive which I've decided is going to be a tradition for our family. This is a special time of year with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and I want my kids to know the importance of the spirit of the season which is giving. It's important to me to make sure they know there are many people less fortunate than us who don't have all that we have. While we're not living the rich life of millionaires as I've said before, we know that there are many who are less fortunate than us. Helping out, even if it's a little bit, makes a difference. The "Help Tackle Hunger Food Drive" is held each year in November during the week prior to the last home MSU football game. Coach Dantonio's wife, Becky, is the event chairperson for the drive.

Last year I bought some food and told the kids what we were doing with the food. This year I gave them each $5 to spend and they could pick out their own items with the help of Greg. They went to Meijer and got to pick the stuff out, put it in the grocery cart, and pay for it at the check out all by themselves. They did a terrific job and came home with three bags of food. They had a total of $10 and ended up spending $10.17 which I don't think you could get much closer than that! Here's some pictures from their shopping experience.

Emmaline picking out some fruit for the food drive!
Evan decided on some instant potatoes for one of his choices!
After they were all done shopping, the kids got to scan the items all by themselves that they picked out.
Time to head home and show mom what they picked out!
Here's all the food they bought with their $10
Friday afternoon we went to one of the drop off locations at the MSU Union, and we dropped off the bags of food. The kids were so proud to be helping out others.

We look forward to helping out again next year! I've still got to give you a run down of the weekend, but that will have to wait until my next post. I need to get in bed because Brooke is coming bright and early tomorrow when I'll be babysitting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

It's been a busy few days and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. Let's start with the weekend recap. On Friday, Evan came home with his first report card. It seemed so weird getting a report card for my kid. I remember getting my report cards. In kindergarten, (at least in Haslett) there aren't A's, B's, C's, etc. In stead there's M's (meets grade level expectations), P's (partially meets expectations), N's (not meeting expectations), etc. I'm happy to say, my little guy got all M's on his report card. So instead of straight A's, he got straight M's! Way to go Evan! We are so proud of you, keep up the good work. We actually have his conferences tomorrow so looking forward to talking with his teacher. Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day for November. It was 70 degrees here, and I was wearing my flip flops!!!! Loved it! I don't know if I've ever told you, but I really don't like wearing socks with shoes. I'd much rather be in my flip flops any day! So it was pretty much a bonus day for me on Friday. Can we bypass winter and get right to spring again? I took the kids to our neighborhood park Friday afternoon. We were there for a good chunk of time and Evan got to play with his friend Ethan and Em got to play with her friend Chloe. They really enjoyed playing at the park and it was nice to get some fresh air. Friday Greg had to work a little late so after he got home we grabbed some dinner and pretty much chilled at home. I had some prep work for my UL party on Saturday so I did that and we vegged out in front of the t.v.

Saturday started out to be a pretty nice day. The sun was out and it warmed up quite quickly. It was a nice surprise because I thought it was supposed to turn chilly and only be about 40 degrees. My friend Marie had a UL party for me Saturday afternoon so I headed to her house. It turned out to be a great party with lots of orders. A big thanks to Marie for hostessing and opening up her house. I really appreciate it! While I was doing that, Greg went to the movie with the kids and they were able to make another trip to the park! That unfortunately I think might have been the last trip to the park because Saturday evening turned cold and wet and it's been chilly ever since. I'm afraid the warm weather won't be back for a long time.

Sunday we made a trip to Kohl's and ended up spending a good couple hours there. I had a 30% off coupon and Greg needed some jeans and we ended up coming home with a little more than jeans. The Kohl's credit card got a little damaged, but on the bright side, I got a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done for the kids. Yeah me! Then we made a stop at Best Buy to check out cell phones. We have Verizon and I was eligible for a new cell phone back in August, but didn't know what I wanted for sure. Then I had my eye on the LG Ally and Best Buy had it for free a couple months ago. I didn't get it then and decided to wait and ever since then it's been $49.99. Finally this week Best Buy has it on sale again for free so I thought I'd look into it. Well after spending some time at Best Buy on Sunday, I ended up walking out with a new phone. I ended up with the LG Ally and now I finally have gotten with the times and got a Smart Phone. It's definitely different than my old phone, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

Monday came and went before I knew it. I did some things around the house and then late afternoon I watched Brooke again for my friend Angie. She was an absolute perfect baby! Angie dropped her off and said she'd been cranky all day, but about five minutes after she left Brooke fell asleep and slept for two hours. She woke up about five minutes before Angie came to pick her up. Let's hope she's this good next week because I'm watching her Monday- Wednesday from 7am-4:30pm!

Today I had to make another trip to Kohl's to exchange a couple things and then I finally made it to Meijer to get a few much needed groceries. I've been trying to get some things done around the house and do some cleaning again. Next week is Thanksgiving and soon after that it will be time to put the Christmas decorations up so I need to get things organized and cleaned again so the house is ready to go when it's time to decorate! So that's been our busy last few days and tomorrow I'm helping out at the book fair at school before conferences. Thursday Em has a doctors appointment. Friday, I'm not sure what's on the agenda and then it's the weekend and Greg has to work the football game on Saturday. Until my next post... stay warm as the cold weather is here to stay I believe! :(

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Love You Soooo Much

There's not a whole lot of news on my end here. I've got a couple tidbits to tell you about, and then I thought I'd tell you about a couple cute things the kids did today. Before that though, I did go into Evan's class again on Tuesday and volunteered. I had another great morning in his class, and it just amazes me how much the kids have grown since the last time I was in there. They really do learn A LOT in a half day of kindergarten! I got to work at the table this time where the kids had to draw a card from a bucket and draw the picture of what was on their card. Then they had to try to sound the word out and write it as best as they could on their paper. They did an amazing job trying to write words! The kids had art at the end of the day and while they were in art I helped Mrs. Mills with some prep work.

Then yesterday I babysat my friend Angie's little girl for a couple of hours. I forgot how much work little babies are. It went fine and Brooke's a little doll, but I quickly remembered how much mom's do one handed when you have a little baby. I enjoyed watching her and I get to watch her next week and the week after so I'm looking forward to it. Em wasn't quite sure about a baby in the house though. She kept saying, "It's not a good day." I asked her why and she said, "Because baby is crying." Too funny. The time actually went fast when she was here. And Angie, (I don't know if you read my blog but if you do) you're doing a wonderful job with Brooke!

Now onto the kids cute things. Today, Em would say to me, "I love you sooooo much!" She did this all day from the time she woke up until the time she went to bed. Sometimes she would just be walking around playing with her toys and say it. Other times she would be snuggling with me and say it, and sometimes she'd walk up to me and say it. The way she says, "I love you sooooo much" in her cute little Emmaline voice, with her cute little Emmaline smile just melts my heart. She's actually been doing this a lot for the last few days. She's been very lovey dovey and no matter how much she says it, it actually surprises me every time she says it. I love that little girl more than words can say.

Evan on the other hand has been amazing me with everything that he's learning. His growth in the first two months of school is crazy! It's been a long time since I was in kindergarten, but I often wonder did I know that much as a five year old? His reading skills are awesome, as well as his math skills. Tonight he told me that 98+2=100 and 100-2=98. I was like, "Where the heck did that come from?" I told him how impressed I was with that. Then he went on to ask what the word "delicate" meant. Greg told him, something that breaks easily. Evan responded with, "So it's kind of like the word fragile." I have to say I was a little amazed that he correlated those two words like that. That's my little guy! I'm so proud of him, and like my little Emme, I love him more than words can say.

That's about all I got from here. Tomorrow is Friday! MSU is off this weekend so it will be weird to not have a game to watch. However, my friend Marie is having an Uppercase Living party so I'm excited to go show all the new product! If you don't hear from me again, which more than likely I won't be back on until Sunday, have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bike Race Weekend

Wow what a cold weekend we had! We headed to Traverse City on Friday for the Iceman Cometh yearly bike race. This is the 28 mile race from Kalkaska to Timber Ridge campground in Traverse City. It was cold when we left and there was a few very light flurries as we were pulling out of the driveway, but once we got up to Grayling it was VERY COLD and lots of snow flurries. Then we got to Kalkaska and it was VERY COLD and LOTS MORE snow flurries! As we neared Traverse City it was so cold, windy, snow flurries, and all I was thinking was I really wanted to be back home in my warm house because I knew Saturday was going to be a cold Iceman. Greg's been riding the Iceman for seven years. I have been going for 6 years and although it's the Iceman and it should be cold and icy, I've been pretty lucky to have decent weather as a spectator. The first couple years I went it was a little chilly and the next couple years we very nice, especially last year when it was in the 60's! This year however not so much to my liking. It was freezing cold Saturday morning at a balmy 30 degrees! I really am not a fan of the cold weather. Why I live in Michigan is beyond me sometimes, but seriously the cold is not for me especially when I have to stand outside in it all day long. We went to the race check in to get race packets and walked around the expo a little and then we headed to our favorite restaurant in Traverse City for dinner, the Red Mesa Grill before we checked into our hotel.

Race day didn't start out too good when I woke up and hadn't slept good all night. The kids both have colds and were coughing all night and the hotel bed wasn't very comfortable. Then Greg's jersey zipper broke in the car on the way to the bike race. Of course he didn't have a back up. He never does, and he's never had a problem before. However for future races, there will be an extra jersey packed. Live and learn I guess. So with that said Greg was not happy he had to race in a sweatshirt. It sounded kind of good to me since it was so cold, but as a bike racer it's not what you want to be riding in. The bad luck in the a.m. ended up carrying on all throughout the race because as the kids and I waited and waited and waited at the finish line for Greg he wasn't coming across at about the 2 hours 15 minute mark like he expected. I was a little worried that he was hurt or had bike trouble. Finally about 2 hours 40 minutes later from the time he started he came around the corner and crossed the finish line. He wasn't hurt so I asked him what happened to his bike and he said nothing. It just took him a long time this year. The course was icy, muddy, and since he wasn't really prepared well for this race due to injuries a few weeks before he didn't do well. It happens, but it doesn't make it fun for the kids and I as spectators to have to wait extra long! We were brrrr chilly cold!

After Greg's race we had to wait around in the cold some more for Evan's Sno-Cone race. This was his second Sno-Cone Iceman race and he did a great job. This year there were the most entrants ever in the kids race. There were 500 kids racing the Sno-Cone! It was a little crazy to say the least. Although they break it up a little with the training wheel bikes doing the shortest part, Evan's age doing about 1 mile long loop, and the little bit older kids than Evan doing almost a two mile loop it was still quite congested. The course was a little bit different this year, but Evan still did a fantastic job. He went all on his own this year because Greg said he wasn't running along side of him because last year he couldn't keep up with Evan anyway. He took off and gave it his all. I saw him go around on the first part of the trail and he was smiling all excited. Finally he came around across the finish line and got his medal. He said he had to walk his bike up a couple of the hills this time, but I think that was more because it was so crowded with other kids than him not being able to do it. I'm still proud of him and how great he did. He stuck with it and finished and it was cold. Here's a few pictures from the race. Some aren't the greatest because as you already know my old camera I'm using sucks and is so slow taking pictures.

On the shuttle to the start line to see daddy take off. This was Em's first time on a school bus!
It's was cold out there, but the kids toughed it out and waited for daddy. Em wouldn't keep a hat on for anything!
Greg finally coming across the finish line!
Silly face Emme hanging out waiting for brother's race. What a cutie patootie!
Evan all geared up and ready to race! (No shorts this year!)
At the start line and ready to race!
All set to hit the trail in this huge crowd of kids!
He finished! So proud with his medal!

We made a short trip this year for the bike race and came back Saturday instead of staying another night and coming home Sunday. We left shortly after Evan's race so we could get home at a decent time. We were all tired and while the drive home wasn't very fun since I was exhausted from the wind, cold, and not sleeping well the night before, it was nice to be home back in my own bed Saturday night. With the extra hour of sleep Saturday night too and waking up Sunday being lazy it felt good not to have to drive home on Sunday. We had a laid back day Sunday which was really nice. We picked up Molly from Greg's mom's, which we appreciate her watching Molly for us, and then went to lunch. As we were walking out of the restaurant I saw MSU linebacker, Greg Jones walking out of the restaurant next door. I said something to Evan and he shouts out, "Hi Greg Jones." I had one of those moments where I knew it was Greg Jones, but then when Evan shouted it, I was like oh gosh I hope that is Greg Jones. LOL. He turned around and said hi back to Evan. I mentioned that Evan was one of his biggest fans and Greg said, "thank you." Then Evan shouted, "I hope you win your next game!" Which in return, Greg Jones, shouted back, "Thanks buddy." Evan was so excited. The only problem was Evan has this picture he drew for Greg Jones a couple months ago that he keeps asking when can he give it to him. Well, we kept telling him maybe some day if there's another football event. It's too bad I didn't have it in my purse because this would have been the perfect opportunity. Bummer. He was still excited he got to see his favorite football player!

We chilled after lunch for awhile and Greg got the bikes all washed up. Then late afternoon we headed to the movies with Greg's mom and we all saw Megamind. It was pretty good for a cartoon and the kids enjoyed it. After the movie we headed to Noodles & Co. for dinner. They had free dinner for kids if they traded in some of their Halloween candy for a bowl of noodles. it was perfect. I didn't have to cook and we got rid of some of this candy in the house! The rest of the night was spent relaxing and doing nothing! Fun weekend, but by Sunday night I was exhausted!

I'm adding a link here of some video that was shot from a video camera on a pro-racers bike. It's pretty neat to watch and now I have a glimpse of where Greg rides in this race and what it's like. At about 10-12 min. in on the video is pretty neat (& crazy) to watch these pro-racers ride into the finish so fast. I highly recommend you check it out! Video of Iceman Cometh Challenge: (Click on the link below and then click play on the right for video where the guy's hand is)
http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/237804-ICEMAN-Cometh-Challenge/video/363919-The-Iceman-Experience-2010-Iceman-Cometh-Challenge

Oh and I forgot all last week, not on purpose because MSU lost, but just because I was barely getting blogs posted and was busy. My beloved Spartans had lost to Iowa in an ugly appearance by some team I didn't recognize. It's unfortunate that they lost and that nerves got the best of them. They didn't show up and play and if you don't do that you don't win. So while it was a horrible loss and not what we Spartan fans hoped for, the team had to pull together and get ready for their game against Minnesota this past Saturday. Thankfully the Spartan team we all know this season showed up and my beloved Spartans came away with another victory on Saturday. 9-1 is something to be pretty proud of. They have a bye week this coming Saturday and then two games left. There's still high hopes of finishing 11-1 and hopefully the team will keep practicing hard and finish off the season on the right note.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evan's First Field Trip

Yesterday Evan's class took their first field trip. Evan was really excited because not only were they going to the fire station for the field trip, but Greg was helping out on the field trip. Greg took the day off so he could go along which was nice for Em and I because we didn't have to get out in the cold and take Ev to school or pick him up. We were lazy yesterday morning and slept in a little and snuggled in bed. Oh how I love my Emmers snuggle bunny! Now back to the field trip. Evan was also excited that he got to ride on a school bus for the first time ever! They got to tour the fire station living quarters, watch the fireman put on all his gear, learn about parts of the fire truck and the things they use to fight fires. Plus they also learned a lot about fire safety. They only spent about a half hour at the fire station, but learned a lot. Each kid got to bring home a hat which they thought was cool. Evan was excited to tell me all about it when he got home from school. Greg ended up staying at school after they got back and helped out in the classroom. He also got put on prep work duty and had to make copies for Mrs. Mills while the class was in gym. Hopefully I'll get to go on one of the future field trips! Here's a few of the pictures from the field trip to the fire station.

Getting on the bus to head to the fire station
Learning about fire safety from the fireman
Evan taking a peek inside the fire truck
Evan on the bus heading back to school with his fireman hat!