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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!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trick-Or-Treat Recap

I really wanted to post this last night, but the hubs needed the computer to do some work so I didn't get the chance. This is when we really need an iPad! So here it is November and my goal is to get more posts in this month than I have been lately. We'll see though folks because I'm sure before I know it December will be rolling around! I'm thinking I shouldn't blink or November will be done and over with just like October.

Anyway, it's time to share about our trick-or-treating fun that brought in more candy than we know what to do with. Thursday night we headed downtown E.L. Gosh, I think this is our 5th year. In case you forgot from last year, I'll give you a little briefing on the downtown E.L. trick-or-treat. Most of the stores along Grand River open their doors from 5-7 pm for trick-or-treaters. Then the MSU Greek community also hosts "Safe Halloween" which provides children a safe environment for trick-or-treat which also includes games and activities for kids. In years past the ELFD & ELPD have been there, but this year they weren't. The kids were a little disappointed that they didn't get to sit in the fire truck. Oh well, they still had fun! Unfortunately our nice weather didn't hold up until Halloween time so it was a little chilly that night.

On Sunday was the city trick-or-treat from 6-8pm. Before we headed out for t-or-t though we had a birthday party to attend. Em's friend Lucia had a costume/birthday party. Her birthday is in November, but she had her party early. So the kids got to get a little more use out of their costumes this year which was nice. This year my little munchkins went as pirates. I had no intention of them being pirates when we started to look for costumes. I thought Em would be Strawberry Shortcake or a fairy. For Evan, I really had no idea because boys costumes are so hard! Everything is so gruesome or has a mask for boys which I don't like. At first Evan wanted to be a policeman again, but since that was just last year I said no. I like them to be something different because you're only little for so long to be the cute stuff. So with that said, he was a pirate and guess what? He's been a pirate before. It was in 2007 though and he was a totally different looking pirate. Plus when Em found a pirate one she liked and they tried their costumes on together it was too cute to pass up the matching outfits so we went with it. I didn't like the Strawberry Shortcake one Em tried on so that's how they both became pirates.

Here's my two little pirates ready for trick-or-treat downtown E.L.
One of the activity tables at "Safe Halloween." Em made the face on her ghost sucker all by herself. I was impressed how well she did. I'm not sure about the expression on her face, but I love her eyes in this picture.
Here's Evan when he was a pirate in 2007
Here's my grown up pirate! Wow, how did he get so big so fast? :(
Here's my Precious Lil' Pirate
The neighborhood kids all set to go trick-or-treating
While we were out for t-or-t, the kids were happy they ran into Chloe. I love this picture of the three of them. Two pirates and a bumble bee!

All in all, the kids had a fun time trick-or-treating and this house has way too much chocolate. I even gave a bunch away, but I'm thinking some of it's going to be going to Greg's work! A big thanks for all the Halloween goodies from the grandparents and Aunt Jen & Kaite, and Uncle Don & Aunt Rose for the kiddos. They loved everything from Target gift cards to McDonald's gift certificates to candy, pop, snacks, money and new winter coats!