Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How hard it is to get back to work...

I really didn't want to come back to work today, no offense to my coworkers. Just a few days at the beach, and a Tuesday return back to work was not what I was looking forward to.

The beach was great - pictures to be posted later this week. We visited old stomping grounds that we used to go to on our annual treks to the Outer Banks each year. We ate ice cream, went for runs on the beach, bought beach jewelry, took naps, read books. We took the kids to Currituck Lighthouse, climbed the sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge, and went to Roanoke Island.

We normally pack alot of things in our vacations, but just remember, my kids are early risers. We spent from 11:00am to 4:30pm on the beach on Saturday where we witnessed two girls getting "rescued" from the lifeguard (the riptide was pretty strong, and they weren't really in trouble, but the lifeguard went in after them anyway), saw crabs, had some crazy lady say she saw a shark, and just had fun. Audrey was great - at one point she said she was tired, so we told her to lay down and take a nap. Which she did.
Yesterday on our way out of town, we stopped by Roanoke Island and went to the NC Aquarium there. Where we literally ran into the man who was the best man in our wedding. Seriously, we haven't seen this guy in about 8 years, and we run into him at the beach. Not to crazy though since his parents own a house in the Outer Banks. But still, the chances? So emails were exchanged, kids were introduced and then we were on our way.

And now we are officially one week from the start of first grade for Ashley. She is in another Girl Scout camp tomorrow through Friday. This time, she is in it with a few of her friends, so she is really excited. I still need to take her school supply shopping and I promised her a new outfit for the first day of school.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Off to the beach...

Off we go...to the Outer Banks for a long weekend.

I am turning off all electronic devices. Well, except for my phone. And I may still possibly check email on it. Maybe.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I can sew

I break out my sewing machine every so often. Like when I am tired of Ashley's patches falling off with that iron on tape stuff.

Or when I want to finish my curtains I started like a year ago. And actually, these have been hanging for a few weeks, it just took that long for me to actually take pictures of them.

These were actually not that hard to make. And don't worry, they are not without their mistakes. Just don't look too closely.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stove Top Challenge

As most of you know, Ray and I have challenged each other to spend only $75 a week on groceries. We have been mostly successful these past few months and have significantly decreased our monthly grocery bill.

So when I was asked by Stove Top to make 5 meals using Stove Top for my family for under $10 each, I was all for the challenge!

Stove Top sent me $50 and a ton of coupons (more on that later) and gave me five weeks to post 5 one dish recipes using Stove Top.

Bring it on.

This week, I chose a really, really easy recipe that makes clean up a breeze. We often eat a dish with chicken that has ranch, cheese, bacon bits and teriyaki sauce. This is a variation on that.

Chicken baked in foil? Easy - and yes, I am counting this as a one dish meal even though I packaged up two separate foil packs. I am not cheating.

Foil Pack Chicken
2-4 Chicken Breasts (we used 2 for our family of 4)
1 box of Stove Top Stuffing Mix, Chicken Flavored
1 1/2 cup of water
Shredded cheddar cheese
Ranch Dressing
Bacon Bits

1. Mix stuffing mix and water in a bowl.
2. For each chicken breast, get one large sheet of aluminum foil and put the Stove Top at the bottom.
3. Place a chicken breast on top, and place about a tablespoon of ranch dressing on each. Then sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.
4. Seal the aluminum foil to make the packets, and place in a baking dish.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 400 degrees.

These came out so juicy and tender. Audrey inhaled the chicken. Ashley smothered all of her food in ketchup and inhaled her as well. Ray and I like stuffing, so all the plates were cleared last night.

And the cost? Here is the breakdown:
Chicken breasts - even if you made it with four, I got 10 chicken breast for $11.98 at Walmart, so for four, it would be $4.79
Stove Top - $1.74
Cheddar Cheese - I used about 1/4 of a cup from a 2 cup pack that was $2.00 on sale, $.25
Ranch Dressing - I probably used 2 tablespoons, I am going to guess (over estimating probably) $.50
Bacon Bits - Another guess, I used about 2 tablespoons, maybe $.75
Aluminum Foil - I am guessing for 2 square feet of aluminum foil, $.25

So total bill for a family of four? $8.28 (being over cautious of course). Since we only used 2 chicken breasts, our cost was only $5.89. One economical meal that the kids loved.

And this is where you come in. I have coupons for free boxes of Stove Top. Post your own recipe in the comments or on your blog and let me know, and I will send you some coupons (first come, first served). And look for 4 more weeks of Stove Top recipes to come!

Up and down, up and down...

If you recall, almost three years ago, I lost 60 pounds using Weight Watchers and regular exercise. I mostly kept all the weight off, give or take 10 pounds. The 10 pounds (or more like 15) had been creeping back up on me the past few months until I decided to do the detox I did a few weeks ago.

And in three days - POOF! - 10 pounds gone.

If anyone knows me, I am stubborn, which in some instances can be a good trait. In this instance, it was a good trait. I refused to gain back those 10 pounds I lost on the detox. I watched what I ate, still do, and not only have I kept off those 10 pounds, but I have lost about 5 more pounds.


And it has honestly been pretty easy this time. I sort of knew what I was doing wrong (over-eating, eating CRAP) so it hasn't been that hard. I would still like to lose a few more pounds, but we shall see.

One goal I have had for a long time is to run a 1/2 marathon. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I really, really like the workout I get from running. I like going out and running and having my thoughts all to myself. I like to sweat and feel like I am putting my body through a good workout. I hate the stitches I get, I hate having to convince myself to do one more mile.

And the thought of running 13 miles honestly scares the living crap out of me, but what the hell, you only live once.

I am signed up to run the Outer Banks 1/2 Marathon in November. Ray is signed up as well, as is about 20-30 people from my neighborhood. They are setting up some training groups, but I run really, really slow, so I am pretty sure I will have to train by myself. I have sort of come to grips with the fact I run slow and everyone will run faster than me, but hey, at least I am running.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Made it through

We made it through the weekend, celebrating our anniversary with making Ray watch Twilight with me and through Father's Day by grilling out. I got Ray a new mouse pad for his computer at work for Father's Day with the girls' picture on it. Luck have it, I was in Walmart on Saturday grocery shopping and the store called to tell me it was in. That will never happen again.

Ray's take on Twilight? Remember, he did not (and will not) read the books, but he thought it was sooo sloooowwwww. I get that, and can understand by not having read the books. I have him slightly convinced when they make the 4th book into a movie, he should totally go see that one.

We have a short week this week. Friday, we are leaving for the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a long weekend. We are using more of our Hilton points and staying at a Hampton Inn there. Ray and I are excited because we used to spend a week there every summer with my Dad and Stepmom and her family, and we miss it.

I have a few food related posts coming this week (Stove Top challenged me, and I took them up on their challenge, details later this week!). I thought I would throw in some food related goodness now.

With Ashley in various camps this month, and us enjoying the pool every minute that we can, snacks have been a big deal in our house these past few weeks. One snack item my kids love are granola bars. You see where this is going? I scoured several food blogs last week and random recipes sites to try and find a good compatible granola bar recipe for me to make at home that would taste a lot like what I buy in the store.

And no, I am not going to pretend I am doing this because I don't want my kids eating all the various preservatives that are in the store bought ones, because a lot of the posts I read about homemade granola bars toted that. And yes, it would be nice not to have corn syrup and such, but I was positive my kids would not eat the really, really good for you granola bars (aka the ones without the corn syrup, sugar, or whatever).

I settled on a recipe I found in All Recipes, and changed it up a little bit. And these things are so freaking easy to make, I am pretty sure I won't be buying any store bought ones anytime soon. I made this batch, cut them up into individual sizes, and stored them in snack bags and threw them in our snack drawer. It made 20 granola bars!

Gobble Up Granola Snacks

2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins (I omitted these, I don't like raisins)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used honey instead since my kids don't like peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I also added in chocolate chips, about 1/2 a bag of chocolate morsels.

1. In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal and oats. Set aside. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine the brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until boiling, then remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, and mix well. I waited a few minutes for it to cool a little, then added the chocolate chips.
3. Press into the prepared pan using the back of a large spoon. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.

These were perfect. The chocolate melted a little bit, but that actually helps me because Ashley has been known to remove and eat the chocolate chips first.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Okay, it's 11 years, not 12....

Um, so yea. It took my friend in Virginia to call me and ask me if I was sure I had been married 12 years.

It's really only 11.

Can you tell this week has been nuts?

12 years

This week has been kind of crazy with something going on every night, just random stuff that popped up this week. Ray has also pulled some late nights working and the kids have continued to not sleep as well as they should.

The week also started off bad with me finding out my best friend from college, who I was matron of honor in her wedding and she was maid of honor in mine, was getting divorced.

But it will end on a high note. Ray and I celebrating our twelve year wedding anniversary tomorrow. Yes, there are things about me that probably bug the crap out of Ray, like how I never like to make decisions or how I drive him nuts by worrying too much, but he puts up with me. We make a good pair, and complement each other in every way that we need to.

Last night, we took a page from Debbie's book and sat on the front porch after I got home from band practice and the kids were in bed and just talked. It was nice to have an adult conversation without it being between commercial breaks of So You Think You Can Dance or while trying to do the dishes.

We are not planning anything special for tomorrow; I have a Girl Scout event to go to with Ashley during the day. We won't do presents, but we will get to spend some time together at the end of the day. And that's all I want.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


This week Ashley is attending a day camp run by Girl Scouts. As a troop leader, I have been impressed with the Girl Scout organization as a whole, as well as with the qualities it instills in the girls.

And this week is not disappointing either. The things Ashley has made this week? A birdhouse, a hummingbird feeder, a bird feeder, and a few other things she will bring home on Friday. She attends flag ceremonies each morning with the pledge of allegiance and Girl Scout pledge, and then spends her day outside playing games, making things, attending presentations (on Monday they had someone bring in animals for them to pet).

And I don't necessarily know all this because Ashley tells me because getting Ashley to tell us all about her day is hard. She gives us bits and pieces, but I think mainly she is tired by the end of the day and the third degree by me isn't the thing she wants to endure. No, I know what she does all day because the camp director not only send us daily emails, but she also sends us pictures. Hundreds of pictures that I can see exactly what they did that day. Like pitch a tent. Or decorate a pet rock (it was raining ALL DAY yesterday, so I think they had some backup arts and crafts stuff to do).

And being outside all day and learning about recycling and reusing? Priceless. I am very impressed with this week. She is attending another camp the first week in July that she is even more excited about because she will have friends at that one. This week, it's just her, and she's fine. She has made new friends. It still shocks me sometimes that Ashley is only five and here she is, getting dropped off at a camp where she know no one, and she does it. No problems, nothing. But Ashley does idolize older girls, and they have high school Girl Scouts (I can't remember what they are, Cadets? Juniors?) helping to run the camp. I think she likes talking to them.

The only issue with this camp? The shirt. She has to wear the same damn shirt every day, which I get. It is really easy to pick out her group in the pictures because they are all wearing red, but doing laundry every night isn't what I signed up for. And of course, the inevitable happened. I forgot to put the shirt in the dryer last night. And then didn't realize it until we were going to get dressed this morning. So yes, as I was reminded several times, it was my fault Ashley was going to camp with a slightly damp shirt. All my fault.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strangers say the funniest things...

So Saturday morning, I got up, along with 22,000 other people in the Raleigh area, and ran the Race for the Cure. My street has a team that my neighbor has put together for the last 3 years, and its a lot of fun. I had a goal in mind for the race, and unfortunately I didn't meet it. I was trying to run the race in about 32 minutes, and I came in over 34 minutes. Oh well. The problem? The first mile I did somewhere around 10 minutes (it said 10:44 when I passed it, but I didn't cross the start line right when the race started). That was WAY too fast for my first mile, and after that, the race course turned into a neighborhood with hills, and on the first hill I got nauseous and had to really slow down. But at least I didn't walk.

I got home from the race, and Ray had to go to work, so I decided it was a good time to go run a few errands. You know, at lunch time take the kids to the grocery store. Brilliant. I only needed a few things, so I put the girls in one of those race car shopping carts and started shopping. Only Ashley really doesn't fit in one of those and was constantly encroaching on Audrey's space. Audrey decided she was pissed and pinched her sister, and hence the great sibling fight of 2009 started. At this point, I was so close to being done, I just was trying to get out of there when an older woman walked up to us. She said she was glad to see my girls fighting as it proved to her husband that siblings fight. She went onto explain that her grandkids are close in age and are fighting constantly and her husband, the grandfather, thinks it isn't right.

So thanks Ashley and Audrey for being horrible in the grocery store. You helped out some grandparents realize kids can really be bad.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Last week while in Myrtle Beach, all Ashley wanted to do was flip. On a trampoline. Outside at Broadway at the Beach, right next to the people in big inflatable balls on the water. Seriously. It was the craziest thing.
So back to Ashley flipping. She would start out jumping, and then just kick her legs back and poof.
She would flip.
And maybe someone could help me take better pictures outside on a cloudy day, because I obviously can't.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

We are having technical difficulties

Ashley has been our "good" sleeper for so long. Often times, she is asleep before I even leave the room after tucking her in. She hardly ever wakes up in the middle of the night, and when she does, she easily goes back to sleep.

Well, throw all that out the window. I don't know what triggered this recent sleeping issue. It might have been our fault with letting her stay up late every night of vacation. Maybe she is just lacking sleep.

But now? She is waking up crying like every.single.hour saying she can't get back to sleep. She was crying when I put her to bed last night because she was worried she wasn't going to sleep well again (yes, she gets all of these really good traits from me, I realize this). She fell asleep, only to wake up about an hour later, drenched in sweat and crying. Again. And then again a few hours later until we played the musical bed game. Ray ended up with Ashley in the guest bed, Audrey had found her way into our room around 4:00am, so I was with her.

So not fun. I am at a loss. I don't know how to convince her it's okay to wake up in the middle of the night again. But honestly, I think she's so tired she doesn't even remember waking up in the middle of the night 400 times.

We will try an earlier bedtime again tonight and see what happens.

Monday, June 08, 2009


I realize I left this blog a little neglected last week. My apologies, but as soon as Ashley got off the bus on Tuesday, we headed straight for Myrtle Beach. Nothing like celebrating the end of kindergarten with a quick beach trip.

And it was well deserved. Ashley improved her behaviour grade on her last report card from a "2" to a "3". And because I know you are curious, here are the definitions:

Level 4 - Extends targeted grade level standards
Level 3* - Demonstrates proficiency of targeted grade level standards with evidence of application over time
Level 3 - Demonstrates proficiency of targeted grade level standard
Level 2 - Inconsistent and needs support to meet targeted grade level standards
Level 1 - Insufficient performance of targeted grade level standards with support

And for behaviour:
3 - meets expectations
2 - inconsistently meets expectations
1 - does not meet expectations

I guess it makes sense, but it was just different from the "S" or "S+" from when I was in elementary school. And then there is the who deserves a "4" thing. I know I had that college professor that did not believe in giving anyone, no matter what, and "A". Which completely sucked. Ashley actually did receive a "4" in math, but considering the grade level standards included things like "counting to 30", she was good to go.

And yes, I know it is kindergarten and her report card is really just an indicator of how she is doing, and she's doing fine. But it is nice to know that maybe she will be a math nerd just like her Mom and Dad. And yes, just because I use a ten-key to add and subtract doesn't mean I am not a math nerd.

Friday, June 05, 2009


I was tagged by K Mommy recently, and since I have vacation brain so I am playing along today. And make sure you check out her blog, especially her profile picture, I love it!

First off, the rules:

1) List Six Unimportant Things That Make You Happy.

2) Mention and link to the person who tagged you .

3) Tag six of your favorite bloggers to play along, and comment on their blog to let them know they've been tagged.

Here are my six unimportant things that make me happy:

1. New Moon Trailer

2. Mexican food

3. College Softball World Series games on tv

4. Tivo

5. Not getting a stitch in my side when I run

6. Playing my bassoon

So, I am tagging, well, all of you. Who ever wants to play, join the fun!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Last Day

Today is the last day of kindergarten...
So at approximately 3:15pm, I am the parent of a 1st grader.
How in the HELL did that happen?

The bus driver makes all the kindergartners sit in the first few rows, on the door side of the bus. Every morning Ashley waves and waves and blows kisses at me until the bus pulls away. Considering she has told me she doesn't even want me at the bus stop when she is a 1st grader (fat chance on her part), I am thinking that the waving will cease when she starts back on July 7th. Or maybe it won't.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I am slightly obsessed...

I did not watch the MTV movie awards, but the first thing I checked on the computer this morning was to google New Moon Trailer.

And now I have to wait until November to freaking see the movie?

I have actually seen more movies in theaters in the past month than I have in a long time. A few weeks ago, Ray and I went and saw Star Trek. I was not excited about the movie, but it actually ended up being really, really good. I would even watch it again. And then yesterday in a last minute decision, I took the girls to see Up. Ray was working an open house, and Ashley was begging to go to the pool for the third time this weekend, and Audrey was tired. So instead of dragging them to the pool, I took them to see Up. Ray bet me that Audrey would fall asleep in the theater, but she waited until we got in the van on the way home.

So, my favorite movies of all time? Just don't make fun of me.

Indecent Proposal
Hope Floats
Steel Magnolias
Dead Poets Society
Dirty Dancing

Yes, I like movies that make me cry and I obviously love a good love story. Remember, I told you not to make fun of me.