Monday, September 26, 2011

On The Go!

Wow, were we ever busy last week, and it's going to be like this for awhile. I didn't know if I was coming or going last week. I think I spent a majority of my time in the car. I clocked 270 miles on my car for the week just going back and forth between schools and sports/dance. I already told you Em started school last week. She absolutely loves it, and she had a great first week. Tuesday was our second week of "Sporties for Shorties." Em learned some of the fundamentals of t-ball. She had a blast with Chloe. Wednesday night was ballet again. I just love watching my little girl doing her ballet steps. It's just too cute! Last Thursday Evan started flag football. He really enjoyed it and is looking forward to games that start this week. He will be having practice once a week, and then games are every Sunday for six weeks. Friday we finished off the week with some drinks and taco bar at Lou Ha's. We met our friend Brenda there, and it ended up being a great way to wind down after a busy week. Saturday Greg had to work for a little bit so the kids and I went with his mom to see Lion King in 3D. I love that movie. It was great in 3D.

Sunday, I had to pick my mom up from the Detroit airport. She had been in Turkey and Greece for two weeks. Since I didn't have to pick her up until about 5pm I decided to make an afternoon of it on that side of the state and made a stop at IKEA and to see my friend Ann (she's the one who got me started blogging and we went to high school together). Ann met me at IKEA, and we had some shopping fun. It was nice to have some peaceful shopping without kids going in every direction. We each picked up a few items, and as soon as I win my IKEA shopping spree I'll be back to pick up some wish list items. Oh, I guess there probably needs to be an IKEA shopping spree entry first. Haha. After our shopping, we went back to Ann's house for a little bit. I got to finally me her little girl Evelyn for the first time. I also got to see her other daughter Sylvia who is almost three. I had met her one time before. Both girls are adorable with the blonde hair. It was a nice afternoon. Thanks Ann for spending it with me. Then I was off to the airport to pick up my mom.

She had a great trip to Turkey and Greece. The traffic was crazy coming home, but it was nice she actually got in a little early and there weren't any flight delays. We grabbed a pizza on the way back into town before she headed home to GR. She brought us all some goodies back, and I absolutely love our gift. A little background first... Before she left she kept asking me what I wanted her to bring back. I didn't really know. Then the week before she left I was watching a new show "Step Into My Office" on the Big Ten Network. It's about Big Ten Coaches, and the debut show was about MSU's football coach Mark Dantonio. They were touring his office, and he pointed out a Spartan helmet that a grad student had brought him back from Greece. I instantly knew it was what I wanted my mom to bring back. I told her to catch the show on replay to check it out. I knew it was probably a LONG shot that she'd be able to find the Spartan helmet like Dantonio's, but hey it was worth a shot. Well folks, when she handed me the bag yesterday and I unwrapped the package, I couldn't believe it. She brought us back the Spartan helmet. It's so cool. It's absolutely perfect for this Spartan family (& the fact that Greg is Greek) it's pretty much fitting for us. Here's our Spartan helmet.

And here's Dantonio's Spartan helmet in his office. (Not the best pic since I took a pic of the t.v., but you get the point). If it's not the same exact one, it's pretty darn close!

Thanks Mom for the Spartan helmet, and all the goodies for the kids. They love their stuff! While I was gone all afternoon Sunday, the kids and Greg went to the cider mill and the kids picked apples for the first time. Unfortunately I don't think he took any pictures. Bummer. We now have apples galore! You know those reusable shopping bags? I guess the cider mill they went to, you have to buy a bag and then you go out and pick enough to fill it! I think I'm going to have to get creative with the apples. Greg made an apple crumb pie tonight that I can't wait to try tomorrow!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Today is the first day of fall, and with fall comes the "pumpkin" season. Everything pumpkin sounds so good this time of year. I love foods with pumpkin, but really only eat it at this time of year. It was a busy week and a little baking therapy seemed to be perfect to finish off the week. This bread is so yummy! Our neighbor/friend Liana made us some last fall and we all loved it. Evan had been asking me if I could make some so I got the recipe from Liana, and whipped up a couple loaves today. I normally wouldn't think of pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, but once you try it you'll agree it's so yummy! Here's the recipe.

(Photo courtesy of


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
* Note- I made the pudding, but Liana told me she often uses the premade vanilla pudding in containers (like Hunt's or Meijer).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmaline's First Day of Preschool

Today was a very special day for my little girl. It was her first day of preschool. Not only that, but it was her very first day of school ever. She's been waiting for this day for a long time and she just couldn't wait to get to school. She was excited about everything from picking out an outfit to her backpack, to seeing her buddy Chloe at school and meeting new friends. I loved her enthusiasm for school. I think I told you we decided on a different preschool from where Evan went. We wanted a school that was pretty much on the same schedule as Evan as far as breaks (Winter break/ Spring break). We decided to go with this lady who teaches out of her home. She's been doing it for 20+ years and it's where Em's friend Chloe has gone for a couple of years. Em goes four days a week in the afternoon for three hours. Miss Shirley is her teacher, and Miss Sallie and Miss Gail are the assistant teachers. I think Emmaline is going to have a great school year. Here's some pics from her first day!

My little preschool girl
She couldn't wait to get out the door with her backpack!
Emme and her best friend Chloe when they got to Miss Shirley's!
Checking things out at school.
Too much fun at school today makes for a tired little girl!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sporties For Shorties

Recently I was looking through the East Lansing Community Activity Guide and ran across a sports camp this fall I thought would be good for Emme. The camp is for 3-5 year olds and focuses on learning various sports. I mentioned it to my friend Wesley on Saturday to see if she would be interested in enrolling Chloe. The class was to start this past Tuesday. She thought she probably would and said she'd look into it and let me know. She had mentioned that Chloe had done a similar class last year. Then on Monday she emailed me some info about "Sporties for Shorties" which is the class that Chloe was in last year. It's through Meridian Township Parks and Rec instead of E. Lansing. It was fairly similar in that the kids learn to play various sports. I think one of the sports was different, but no big deal. She said the coach was really awesome and Chloe had a lot of fun in the class. She wanted to know if I'd be willing to sign Emme up for that one instead of the E. Lansing class. I was fine with it, no big deal. Emme and Chloe could be in the same class. So Monday afternoon I went and signed her up and the class started on Tuesday. It's a four week class, that's once a week, and each week they focus on learning a different sport.

Emme was so excited to start the class, and kept asking me over and over if it was time to go to "Sporties for Shorties." The class is Tuesday mornings for an hour. The first class went well, and Emme had a blast. She loved every minute of it, and she participated the whole time. The kids learned to play soccer. It was so cute seeing the 3-5 year olds running around kicking the balls. Em had a lot of fun with Chloe too. Here's a few photos from her morning at "Sporties for Shorties"
All set and ready to start "Sporties for Shorties"
Listening to Coach Mike explain the rules
Practicing kicking and stopping the ball
Practicing kicking a goal!

It was a great class, and I'm so glad I signed Emme up for it. She had a blast and can't wait to go back next week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Spartan Day For A Spartan Family

Last week was a short week with the holiday, but seemed to drag on and take forever. We made it through the first week of 1st grade with Evan, and on Wednesday Emmaline started ballet again. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was definitely ready for some Spartan football. I signed the kids up again this year for the Junior Spartan Club. It's really a great deal for the kids, especially if you want to take your family to a football game sometime during the season. We did this last year, and I probably told you about it, but here's a little recap. Each membership is $25, and each child gets a ticket to a Spartan football game along with tickets for their parents. So for $50 all four of us got to go to the football game on Saturday. One ticket is usually $49 so all four of us went for the price of one! Plus there is a tailgate for families at Munn Arena before the game. My friend Jess signed her kids up too so we all went together. The membership also includes various sporting events throughout the MSU "school" year that the kids get in free. It's really a great program for Spartan families. Here's some pictures from our Spartan Day on campus.

Emme couldn't wait to get her picture!
Evan playing a little bean bag toss at the tailgate festivities.
Ready for some Spartan football!!!

We had a great afternoon as a Spartan family! It was a little hot at the game, but much better than sitting in rain. Both the tailgate and game were fun. The Spartans won so that was great! Now this weekend the Spartans are on the road at Notre Dame, and Greg and I are going to the game! Looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11- A Day To Remember

Ten years ago today the world changed forever. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I'm sure you all remember where you were and more than likely what you were doing on that horrific day. Greg and I were newly married, almost three months. He was off to work which he had recently began at Michigan State. I was sitting in our apartment watching the Today Show like any other day. It was a beautiful day. The Today Show was about over, and I would soon be going about my day, and then it happened and Matt Lauer said, "We wanna go live and show you a picture of the World Trade Center." I sat staring at the t.v. in disbelief. I was all alone in our apartment, and I remember saying to myself, "What the hell is going on?" I was crying, I felt helpless, I wanted my family with me, and after the second plane hit, and it was certain that it was far worse than "we" knew, I was angry. A little while later the Pentagon was hit, and the plane in Shanksville, PA went down. That beautiful day quickly became very "dark." Flights were grounded soon after and the world seemed so "quiet." Once planes began to fly again, I remember looking cautiously at every plane that passed overhead for days. From that day on, our world would never be the same....

I did not personally know anyone who was lost or injured in 9/11, but as an American I feel like I lost "family." My kids are too little to understand the magnitude of what happened, but as we sat this morning watching some of the tribute on t.v. and the CBS special tonight, I think they understood a little of it. I hope they never have to tell their kids about such a horrific day happening in their lifetime.

So today we remember the victims of that tragedy as well as the heroes. Take a moment to say a prayer for the families who lost loved ones. Cherish the moments with your loved ones. Be proud to be an American, and God Bless this great country of ours.
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\ 9/11 AMERICA \
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/ \

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Evan's First Day Of First Grade

Well, summer is really over. School started today and that means, it's first grade, full days for Evan. This is going to be a big switch for the both of us! I'm so used to picking him up after a half day of school. Today actually went by fast, but I really missed having my little guy at home. Emme doesn't start school until the 19th though so at least I still had her home. Here's a few pictures I wanted to share from Evan's first day as a first grader.

I love this pic. Emmaline told Evan she was going to miss him while he was at school.

She wanted a kiss, but he was trying to get out of it. Em won! :)

How is my little boy in first grade already?

This is when I started getting a little emotional...

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Trip To The Detroit Zoo

About a month ago, my friend Ann who also has a blog had written about her visit to the Detroit Zoo with her family. This was about the same time we were talking about going to Chicago and going to Brookfield Zoo. Then I won the Legoland tickets and our Chicago plans changed. We decided to go to Legoland, the Aquarium, and Navy Pier when visiting Chicago instead of the zoo. So in the back of my mind, I often thought about Ann's blog post about the Detroit Zoo. Since we didn't do the zoo in Chicago, I thought maybe we could head to the Detroit Zoo before summer ended if we got a free day on the weekend. You see, we've never been to the Detroit Zoo, but when I read Ann's blog and saw pictures of a Dinosaur exhibit there, I just knew it would be something Evan would love to see. Yes, there's always next summer to go to the zoo, but the Dinosauria exhibit was only at the zoo until today, September 6th, and then it was going to be extinct. That was even more incentive to get there. From the time we got back from Chicago until school starting we had two weekends to get to the zoo. However Greg had to work all last weekend so that left us with Labor Day weekend. We had also talked about taking the kids to a Tigers game, and when Greg looked into it we found out Sunday is kids day at Comerica Park. So with one weekend left of the summer we had pretty much decided to do the Tigers game until we found out that the game yesterday didn't start until 8pm. On kids day, the kids get to run the bases after the game. So if we were to go to the game we'd definitely have to stay until the end so the kids could run the bases. With that said, and knowing how long baseball can go we vetoed the Tigers game because it was just going to be too late of a night with the kids and driving back from Detroit. So the zoo it was for us yesterday.

The weather was a little iffy in the morning so we kind of waited around a little to see if it was going to rain or not. The zoo was open late for the holiday weekend until 8pm so we figured we had plenty of time. Greg's mom went with us so we went to breakfast before we hit the road and finally left around 11am. It was still overcast, but the radar looked good and didn't look like any rain until later at night. The zoo was pretty busy when we got there, but the crowd was spread out for the most part so it wasn't too bad. When we got our tickets the lady informed us that there were a couple things closed due to the storms the night before. We couldn't feed the giraffes, the Otters weren't out, and the Simulator was closed. As we started to walk through the zoo we couldn't believe how many trees were down. There was a lot of storm damage and there was clean up crew everywhere trying to rapidly clean up the mess. We also found out that there was a power outage and they had to bring in a bunch of generators. Of all days we pick to go to the zoo! I wasn't aware until be walked on this trail that on the other side of the fence is a neighborhood. We heard all this noise and went to check it out and there were trees uprooted everywhere.

Despite all the damages, and a couple closed exhibits, we had a fun time. The kids loved the Dinosauria exhibit! It was neat to see all the life-like dinosaurs. There were 30+ animatronic dinosaurs that roared and moved, as well as a few that spit water. The DinoTrail recreates prehistoric life and the life-like dinosaurs really were amazing! Here's a couple of the dinosaurs (I'll post all our pics on Facebook).

We made our way through the whole zoo and the weather was pretty overcast most of the day, but it was a little muggy and we had a few sprinkles, but nothing major. We saw everything from lions and tigers to zebras and giraffes to kangaroos and rhinos. We also saw the polar bear which took some time because he was hiding the whole time we walked around the Arctic exhibit until we got to the end and we spotted him. There was also prairie dogs, elk, bears, bison, the butterfly garden, vultures, camels, a gorilla, and chimps to name a few. There was a momma chimp with a baby that was only five weeks old. She was cuddling that little chimp so tight and wouldn't budge for anything to show it off so visitors could get a picture. Here's a few of our pics from the day at the zoo!

This gorilla was cool!
We loved the giraffes. This is the baby giraffe. She turned two in June.
Ready to go see the polar bear.
Sunday was this chimps birthday. He turned three!
We left the zoo about 5pm and wanted to grab some dinner on the way home. We ended up going to On The Border in Northville which is right by Trader Joe's. So we made an impromptu stop at TJ's after dinner before we headed home to stock up on a few things. Thanks to Greg's mom for the zoo and dinner! We all had a great time and I'm glad we got to the zoo before summer vacation was over. Now it's Monday night on Labor Day which means tomorrow is the first day of school! My little guy is going to be in school all day for the first time! This mom is a little sad about that.... *sniff sniff*

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fill The Bus

Early on I've made it a point to teach my kids that it's important to help those in need when we can. While we're not millionaires by any means, we have a pretty good lifestyle. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, vehicles to drive, clothes to wear, and my kids have a surplus of toys to play with. While they are always wanting new toys (what kid doesn't), I make it a point to let them know that they have it pretty good. Of course we'd all like to make more money and have some of those luxury items, but at the end of the day, especially in this economy I'm happy that my husband has a job and can provide for us. I remind my kids that there are kids/adults/families that aren't so lucky and really can't afford some of the basic things in life. I want them to know what it means to help out those in need, as well as how it feels when donating items to those in need. I try to give donations to various causes when we can. While I'd like to do it all the time, it's just not possible. I still have a family to take care of, but we try to do what we can when possible. Especially when it comes to giving back in the MSU community. Not because it's MSU, but because it's the community we live in.

I ran across a video of Kid Rock today (I posted it on my Facebook) in which the timing couldn't have been more fitting as the kids and I "Filled The Bus" (more on that in a minute) yesterday. You might not be familiar with all that Kid Rock has been working on to help revive Detroit. There's lots of various things he's been working on and one is his new beer Badass. It's made at the Michigan Brewery. He chose to have it brewed there to help bring jobs to the state. In the video he talks about why he's so adamant about helping out Detroit (It's where he's from if you didn't know). He says, "We all need to work together as "neighbors" and address the real problems. Help your "neighbors" out first before you can help anybody else out . There's people hurting all over the world, but there's a lot of my neighbors hurting. It's important to start there." Of course I'd love to help out in bigger ways like donate millions to help find a cure for cancer, but I just don't have that kind of money. However if I can start by helping out on a smaller scale, like in my own community... well then I can feel good about myself. Knowing that I've helped in some way even if it's just a little, feels better than not helping at all.

So with all that said, I heard about "Fill The Bus" on Monday and told the kids about it. "Fill The Bus" is an annual service project that asks for the help of the MSU community to donate school supplies that will be delivered to Lansing area organizations. I asked the kids what we could do to help, and Evan said, "buy some school supplies to give to kids that can't afford them." Then he said, "Let's go to Meijer mom!" At only six years old, he already has such a joy when we do these kinds of things. As a mom, it makes me feel good. I love his enthusiasm to help others in need.

We went to Meijer Tuesday night so the kids could pick out the school supplies. Here they are getting the goods! They each got to pick out the same thing.
All set to check out!
This is what we ended up with to donate!

After we were done shopping, we took the kids to MSU for the Spartan Spectacular fireworks they have to kick off the new school year. I thought they would enjoy it, and they deserved it for helping out. They had fun watching the fireworks and listening to the Spartan Marching Band.

The next day on Wednesday, we headed to the MSU Union to drop off the "Fill The Bus" items. Both kids told me that, "now some kids will be able to have some school supplies when they start school next week." Then they were asking when we could drop off the food for the food drive. They were talking about the food drive we always donate to in November. Em remembered where they have the buckets for the food drive. It puts a smile on my face that they're already excited to help out again! Here they are dropping off their donated items!

You can learn more about "Fill The Bus" by clicking here.