Friday, December 30, 2011

Stroll Down Memory Lane

Yesterday I closed down our house.  The weather was nice and my kids needed to get out of the house.  Whether they liked it our not, they were going to be outside.  While spending some time at our local park, I ran into two former parents.  Their kids are now in 9th and 10th grade.  Man, time flies.  I can still picture them as little fourth graders.  They were so precious.  It was good to hear of how the kids were doing today.  Good stroll down memory lane.

Once I decided the kids had exerted themselves enough with outdoor activities, I graciously allowed them to come in the house for naps.  It was great time to check up on my emails from the day.  I received one from Little Man's teacher.  She was nominated for Teacher of the Year this year.  Honestly, it should have happened a long time ago.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this, but she's pretty much awesome.  

As I was reading through some artifacts to her portfolio, I pulled up the same artifacts from mine.  Somehow, in my fourth year of teaching, I fooled my co-workers enough that they nominated me.  What a bunch of suckers!  Anyway, I came across one document that was supposed to wrap up my philosophy of education.  Reading through the artifact made me remember all the good times with great kids.  

Get ready for some reading, because I'm getting ready to share with you.  Also get ready for weird spacing because after I copy/pasted there was something funky going on.  I don't really care enough to change it.  Sorry 'bout it...

Candidate No.  11

 State Your Philosophy of Teaching

q       Describe your personal feelings and beliefs about teaching, including your own ideas of what makes you an outstanding teacher.
q       Describe the rewards you find in teaching.
q       How are your beliefs about teaching demonstrated in your personal teaching style?

“I am the decisive element in the classroom. 
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
 It is my daily mood that makes the weather.  
As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make
a child’s life miserable or joyous.”

                                                              - Hiam Ginot

The clock reads 1:45pm…time for Social Studies.  There’s a knock at the door.  All students remain seated 
as I answer the door, slip outside, and re-enter as Mrs. Continent.  Mrs. Continent takes time to teach a few 
lessons in Social Studies.  Her specialty is in the area of landforms and map skills.  The kids sit in awe as 
Mrs. Continent shares her biography.  Born and raised in London, she has a noticeably strong English 
accent.  She begins her lesson on lines of longitude and latitude, sharing with the students how the Prime 
Meridian, intersecting with her hometown, inspired her to become a professor of landforms and map skills.  
Mrs. Continent goes on teaching; students answer questions while learning all about exact locations.  She 
glances at the clock…2:15pm… time to catch her flight back to London.

Through the seemingly revolving door, I re-enter.  Funny, the kids say I look so similar to Mrs. Continent, but no time to talk about the striking resemblance.  It’s time for Math.  Division has been our quest for the past two weeks.  It’s the first time since we’ve started that everyone has scored satisfactory on their paper!!!!!!  Breaking into a chorus of Alleluia, I suddenly faint from excitement.  The kids wonder where I have gone.  The front two groups notice I’m on the floor.  The giggles begin and the students start to feel the mounting pride from accomplishing a new skill. 

The clock now reads 3:20; time to wrap up the day.  A discussion of high and low moments from the day brings me overwhelming joy.  I listen as my kids share their greatest accomplishments and struggles from the week.   I make mental notes of what I will do to change each child’s struggle into a success.  As the students gather their belongings and file out with hugs and good-byes, Michelle hands me a paper.  It’s a very neatly written field number, game time, and a little message. “Can you please come to my game?  Circle yes or no.”  I circle and hand the paper back to her.   My week is not over.  I’ll be at that soccer game to support her as she excels in an area outside of the academic realm.

How do these snapshots demonstrate my philosophy of teaching?  It is the devotion to each student in and out of the classroom.  The stitching on my heart motivates me to create a fascinating and engaging learning environment, as well as, developing a unique and special bond with each individual.  Giving my time, love, and support to each child beyond my classroom allows me to reap the benefits inside the classroom.  The devotion to my students ensures they will become actively involved with our learning.  I often have teachers who ask,” Where do you find the time or energy to do the ‘extras’?”  My reply is simple.  “I find the time and create the energy because my students depend on my tremendous power!”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Deep Thoughts On Maternity Pants

  • Maternity pants are cute on other pregnant women.
  • Maternity pants do not stay where they should...on your hips/waist.
  • Maternity pants show my crack way more than it should be shown.
  • Maternity pants leave you constantly pulling up or adjusting them for the reason listed above.
  • Maternity pants are of the devil.
There you have it.  My take on maternity pants.  This could be the reason why I'm still rocking my old jeans rigged with a rubber band.  Those and yoga pants.  Yoga pants are of the Lord.  The stretch and move and stay in place.  If you see me in public, make sure you pay tribute to my yoga pants.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Progress on Baby #3's Room

You would think that staining a full size loft bed would be enough of a project this week, but no.  Here at the Casa de Torres we like to cram as much work into Steven's vacation time as possible.  He's such a lucky man to be married to a slave driver like me.

Really our only accomplishments yesterday were two trips to Lowe's, spray painted frames, painted peg board, and hanging the frames and pegboard.  What's been floating around in my head, or shall I say my Pinterest board, is starting to take on reality.  After all this baby will be here in less than two months...yikes!  Am I really ready for all this???

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DIY: Full Size Loft Bed

I'm getting ready to tell you all you need to know about how to make a full size loft bed.  I hope your ready for some reading...and note taking...and relief.  This will be short.

STEP ONE:  Find a picture of what you want...check.

Pinned Image

STEP TWO:  Find someone who is really, really handy...check.

{Uh...not my mom.  Her husband, Michael}

STEP THREE:  Ask that person to help you build the bed of your child's dream...check.
STEP FOUR:  Give them the picture of what you want and the changes you want to make...check.
STEP FIVE:  Answer the phone and for any questions about the above bed...check.
STEP SIX:  Be amazed when your mom sends you a picture of the progress...check.

STEP SEVEN:  Attend the final reveal with your child...check.

STEP EIGHT:  Pick out paint or stain for the bed....check.
STEP NINE:  Have your husband help with staining process.  
STEP TEN:  Bring the bed home!!!

There you have it, the 10 step process to building your own loft bed.  It doesn't seem so bad now, does it?  I guess there is one minor problem...I didn't actually build the bed.  Thank goodness for Michael.  He's an amazing carpenter.  Well, actually he's pretty amazing with any kind of tools.  We are so thankful that he was willing to spend so much time to build Little Man's bed.  It's something we will cherish for a very long time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Monday

I can't believe Christmas has come and gone.  We had a wonderful time as a family, and I hope you did as well.  Our kids were spoiled way too much, but the joy on their faces was priceless.  My favorite moment from yesterday was when Little Man woke up and saw Baby #3's stocking still on the mantle.  His first comment, "Mommy, Santa didn't bring the baby anything for his stocking."  He had all his presents and stocking sitting there, but he noticed his the lack of gifts for his baby brother.  I love his heart.

For this week's menu, we are pretty much back to normal.  Normal except Steven is home from work most of this week.  I could not be any happier.  Here's what we're having this week...

Monday-Nacho Pie, Fresh Fruit, Corn
Tuesday-Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice and Asian Seasoned Veggies
Wednesday-Dinner @ Mom's...they boys are staining Little Man's NEW LOFT BED!
Thursday-BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes, Mac-N-Cheese
Friday-Pork Tenderloin with Carrots & Potatoes, Homemade Dinner Rolls
Saturday-Finger Foods for NYE
Sunday-Breakfast for Dinner

Tomorrow I'll share the details of Little Man's new loft bed.  My mom's husband built it from a Pottery Barn picture I handed him.  It is the coolest thing I've ever seen in a kid's bed.  I can't wait to get it home!

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm On Vacation

You won't be seeing anything new on here today...or yesterday, but I'm guessing you figured that out already.  We're enjoying our family time and getting fatter.  All the baking goodies are just too delicious to stay away from. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Believe In Public School

This is Little Man's Pre-K class and his teacher.  You can find him in the gray shirt cuddled up next to his teacher.  It's been a wonderful, wonderful year.

Being a former public school teacher I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of schooling.  Despite it all, I still believe in public schools.  It may not be for all families or children, but I would be lying if I said it hasn't been a blessing to our family this year.  Little Man has a phenomenal teacher who fosters a love of learning in all of her students.  He loves attending school, and he has grown academically in ways I could not have done on my own.  I'm truly thankful for the partnership we have with his teacher.

In the five short months Little Man has been in school, we have witnessed him not only master all of his letters, but their sounds and how to write them in upper and lower case.  When I sent him to school he maybe had between 10-15 letters mastered.  He didn't have the intrinsic motivation to work on them at home until he began school with other children.  I no longer have to motivate him extrinsically to work on academics at home, he asks.  He has a drive to learn how to read and write. 

If you are looking for the best fit for your child, don't immediately discount public school.  I truly believe some of the best teachers teach in public schools.  It just take a lot research and prayer to get your child in the right place.  Maybe one of these days our research and prayer may lead us to a private school, but right now public school has served our family well, and I am proud to say my child attends a public school!

Monday, December 19, 2011

30 Weeks

I'm in the 30's!  30 weeks of carrying this baby boy.  It's going by a little too fast.  I actually filled out my pre-registry papers yesterday.  A little weird.  In about 10 weeks, give or take a few, I'll be a mom of three kids.  I really can't wrap my mind around that right now. 

I'm not sure if I've ever shared this, but ever since we found out I was pregnant with Little Man,  Steven and I would take a picture on the same day I had a doctor's appointment.  We get an ultrasound and picture of the baby every visit so it just seemed appropriate to add a photo of the baby inside my belly and out.  I'm really glad we've kept this up for all three kids.  It's pretty cool to look back and see how differently I've carried all three kids.

The 30 week picture is probably one of my favorites.  Not because of my gigantic self, but it documents Little Man and Little Miss so accurately in this moment.  Little Man cannot get enough of basketball right now.  He just started his first team.  He carries that ball with him everywhere he goes.  He even sleeps with it in his bed.  Little Miss just likes to pretend she has a baby in her tummy too.  She's holding her baby up just like me.  Funny, funny girl!

Menu Monday

It's another one of those weeks...Christmas parties, volunteering at Celebrate With Family, Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Day Dinner...doesn't leave a lot of menu planning on my part.

This year, Rene and Lindsay (the BIL & SIL) are hosting Christmas Dinner at their house.  My side of the family won't be in town and her's will.  Makes it a lot easier on all of us.  This is the first time in a while that I won't be cooking a big meal on Christmas Day.  It actually feels pretty good.  All I have to do this week is the Annual Christmas Baking.  Here's what's on the list...

Cake Balls
Sugar Cookies (made by the kids)

I'm also super excited about our festivities this week.  Little Man has his first school party on Tuesday. 
On Thursday morning some of my friends are bringing their kids over for the first ever Gingerbread House making.  I hope this goes well, because I would love to make it a new tradition for our family and friends.  

It's going to be such a great week! 

What are some of your family traditions for this time of year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Little Girls...A Tribute to Little Miss

Since my brain is fried today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite
photos of Little Miss on Christmas morning 2009.

{Hey!  Check out my new baby doll.}

{I said look, not touch.  Get away!!!}

{Why am I getting in trouble?  He was touching my baby doll.}

You can come to our house on any given day and find this wide display of emotions. 
What can I say?  She's my girl.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa or No Santa?

Yesterday I read a friend's post on facebook about Santa.  To do the Santa thing or not to do the Santa thing?  It brought about some pretty strong emotions from commentors.  I found it pretty funny what the initial post was about.  Not 'funny haha', but 'funny weird'.  Someone she knew had, in not so many words, said they were elevating Santa higher than Jesus by pretending there was a Santa with their kids.

At our house we do Santa.  Santa comes.  Santa brings presents.  Santa gets cookies and milk.  Little Santas are displayed througout our house as decorations, along with snowmen, and sleighs, and miniature trees. We also celebrate the biggest gift of all, Jesus.  That is our main focus.  Santa and snowmen and sleighs and trees are just the fun stuff we add for our kids.  We don't elevate those make-believe ideas higher than what's real and true. 

I realize in some cases Santa is the only thing that is celebrated in households.  The true reason is left out or not even known about, and that makes me sad.  However, it will not keep our family from adding elements of fun and whimsical magic for our kids.  Passing judgements on families for doing Santa or not doing Santa is a little ridiculous, and in my opinion, a complete waste of time.  Every family has their own set of beliefs about the best way to celebrate Christmas, and I doubt passing judgement will really make a difference in a positive way. 

I'll tell you what will make a difference, and that's giving.  Giving of your time and giving of good gifts to others.  God gave the world a gift in a human form.  We can be Christ like by giving gifts to others to bless them, and serve them with loving kindness.  Let it be our family, friends, or strangers, we are going to be givers.  

I think the best example of giving to me came in the form of my little five year old last night.  He brought in his Mason jar of money that he has had since he was a baby.  Never, ever, ever has he spent any money from that jar.  It has a pretty large amount of cash in there for him to use someday, and I guess 'someday' finally came.  

His class was asked to bring in small amounts of change or dollars to help support a local homeless shelter.  Little Man slams his jar on the kitchen table and tells me he wants to give.  It was really hard for me to not say anything and let him decide on the amount.  He obviously doesn't fully grasp the value of money, but he knows the bigger the number on the bill, the better the money is.  He reached in and pulled out the bill that had the biggest number on it, then dumped out the change to give as well.  The best part was what he said.

"I want to give enough to feed a little girl and a little boy just like me and Little Miss.  I want them to have yummy food, and I think this will buy it for them.  Do you think it will buy it for them?"

Knowing exactly how much it costs to feed X amount of people at our local homeless shelter, I told him it was enough to not only feed a little boy and little girl, but also a mommy and daddy as well.  His smile was priceless.  He was so happy to give.  It's one of those moments you feel you're doing a great job as a parent.  Well, until he farts and tells me it was a good one because "it's really stinky."  Yep, we're doing great parenting over here! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hits and Misses: Pinterest Recipes

A few days ago, I had a few people mention they were 50/50 on the recipes they were making from Pinterest.  Sometimes you just never know.  I have quite a bit of recipes on my Recipes board, and I've made my fair share of them.  I thought I might break it down for you on the hits and misses for our family.  Fortunately (unfortunately for my thighs), most have been hits.

Pasta e Fagioli
Sonic Cherry Limeades
Hawaiian Roll Ham Sandwiches
Honey Spiced Glazed Chicken (I cut back on the cayenne pepper)
Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Taco Cupcakes
Baked Club Pinwheels
Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
Hashbrown Casserole
Layered Zucchini Parmesan
Sausage Egg Muffins
Reese's Cheesecake Brownies

WW Bubble Up Enchiladas (A little too dry. I would make these again, but cut back on the biscuits)
Slow Cooker Potato Soup (Bland, bland, bland)


Those are really my only misses.  Either we aren't very picky, or I've been super lucky. 

What are your favorite recipes you have on Pinterest?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When I met this tall, dark, and handsome man fourteen years ago, I really didn't think about what he would be like when he was 33.  That seemed so old to me as a 17 year old.  Practically middle age.  Practically.  I wasn't really in tuned to reality then.  I'm not really in tune to reality now either, because I still feel like we're in our 20's.  So when we have a family party for the boys and our kids are blowing out the candles with the daddies, it's a little surreal.

We actually had a candle lighting ceremony a few times.  Someone didn't get enough candle action the first time around.  Just look at that little face.  Such injustices in life...

Of course Chunky Monkey got a do-over.  His pushy cousin, Daddy, and Uncle Stevie blew out the candles before he got to them.  All happiness was then restored at the camp, and all campers were happy.  It's important to have happy campers at a birthday party.  After all it wasn't his party so he couldn't cry if he wanted to.  At least that's what the song says.

Last week, I didn't take the time to do a tribute to my extraordinary husband, but I am today.  I'm going to give you 33 Facts O' Steven Torres.
  1. He doesn't like to be called a loser.  Even if he really did lose.
  2. He has a pretty good fashion sense, but every once in a while he puts something together and I think aliens must have abducted him and replaced his body.  Otherwise there is no explanation for why he thought his ensemble went together.
  3. His co-workers give him a hard time for how many different pairs of shoes he wears to work.  The shoe fetish runs on his dad's side of the family.  Honest to goodness.
  4. He cleans better than me when he gets going.  A real thorough deep cleaner.  Seriously detailed oriented.  It's amazing.
  5. If he is in his cleaning mode, stay out of his way.  He gets an attitude.  Unless he's jamming out to old school hip hop.
  6. One part of his job is teaching Defensive Driving to employees, but he has a pretty bad case of road rage.  It is very rare that we can drive somewhere and he doesn't shout names at other drivers.  It's fairly comical.
  7. He is a gym rat.  Every lunch hour he races to the gym, puts the treadmill on the highest incline and fastest speed, and runs until he's out of time.  He even has other gym members stop to ask him about his workout habits.  Funny, no one has ever asked me...
  8. He is a phenomenal father.  He can play Barbies just as well as he can play catch.
  9. He's supportive of my crazy ideas.  Well, most of them.
  10. He like to keep his yard manicured and weed free.  This past summer of multiple 100 degrees days was killing him.  Brown spots in the midst of green grass could send him to an irate state.  Very scary.
  11. He is a person who is willing to change to better himself.
  12. His work ethic is admirable.  I don't know too many people who put as much effort into their work like he does.
  13. He snores when he's congested.  I count my blessings every night for that.  Especially after listening to my SIL describe his brother's snoring.  Not pretty.
  14. He thinks it important to spend time together as a family over his own hobbies. 
  15. Laughter is pretty important to him.  When he gets one of his deep belly laughs, you can't help but laugh with him.  Even if you are the butt of the joke.
  16. He is a man of faith.
  17. Most issues are black and white with him.  It's either right or wrong. 
  18. He has a language all of his own.
  19. Christmas is his all time favorite time of the year.  He could easily go 'Clark Griswold' on the house if he didn't have a conservative wife.
  20. He will eat almost anything. His motto is, "Don't knock it, 'til you try it."  What I find completely strange is he doesn't really like cinnamon rolls.  I really don't know how we ended up together.
  21. Chicago sports get his blood pumping.  The Bears, the Bulls, and the Cubbies are his absolute favorite teams.  At least 99.9% of his baseball caps don one of those teams.
  22. When cooking, he measures out all ingredients exactly.  It drives him crazy that I 'eyeball' it.
  23. He finds bodily functions absolutely hilarious. If you fart on accident around him, he's going to laugh.  Laugh, and laugh hard.
  24. His body language screams louder than any words he could ever say. Even though he thinks he hides them well.
  25. He's quite the looker, and gets better looking with age.  This is not the same for me.  One of these days people are going to think I'm a cougar.
  26. He'll do the most ridiculous tasks just to make me happy.  Like get out of bed when he's almost asleep to get me a sip of water.
  27. He's a crier.  A big strong man that knows how to let it out. This also runs in the family.
  28. He was more excited about baby #3 than I was.  He loves his kiddos.
  29. He's pretty responsible with his choices.  When he graduated college he asked for a lawn mower, weed eater, and edger knowing we were looking to purchase a house (we were getting married in 3 months).  That yard equipment is still running well keeping up with his yard expectations.
  30. Clutter drives him crazy, yet his desk at work has papers haphardedly scattered.  He argues they are spread out while he's doing safety regulation research.
  31. We can't drive by a construction site without him commenting on the safety violations.  We like to call him Safety Steve around here.
  32. I have never questioned his devotion to me or his family. 
  33. He sings in the shower (loudly) and LOVES to whistle.  I think his record is whistling God Bless America for over two hours.  I thought I was going to strangle him.  He thought it was funny.
There you have it.  Thirty-three things about my wonderfully, amazing husband.  I couldn't ask for a better life than the one I have with him.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Monday

This week really kicks off the Christmas Festivities, so there are a few holes in the menu.  Instead of doing the daily run down of our menu, I'm going to list some links of some of our menu items.   Here's some items we're trying out this week...

Lemon Chicken Breasts
Pasta e Fagioli
Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos
Beef and Bean Casserole

Most of these came from Pinterest.  The only one I'm really nervous about is the Pasta e Fagioli.  I really love Olive Garden's soup so anything less will be super disappointing.  It may even send me into an evening depression if it's not good.  A depression that will drive me straight into the arms of Olive Garden which is 4.8 miles from my house. Kidding.  I really don't know how far Olive Garden is at my house, nor the last time I ate at Olive Garden.  However, I do love their soup...and salad...and breadsticks.

Hopefully, the soup will turn out as well as the DIY Sonic Cherry Limeades.  Those are getting pretty dangerous for me.  So easy and inexpensive to make.  Not to mention the crushed ice that easily dispenses itself from my fridge. Yes, it's beginning to become a problem.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It Just Keeps Getting Bigger

You're about to see a whole lotta me.  More specifically, my preggo belly.   I hope you don't go blind...

I think all the growth that came in the last 4 weeks was a direct result of Thanksgiving. I enjoyed it...three times around. Maybe I'll be able to contain myself over the Christmas Holiday. Nah, that's when I do all my baking of the goodies. So, basically, I'm going to look like I'm carrying twins.

I would also like to say Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband who is 33 years old today.  Next week I'll do a little tribute to him by revealing 33 things about him.  He's quite the character so it shouldn't be too hard.

Happy Birthday, Steven! 
You know I love you.  Bunches.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Must Make To Eat. Period.

I like simple things.  I like tasty things.  I like to eat.  All three of these items are wrapped up into this...

Pinned Image

Deliciousness in a pan. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to make these Hawaiian Sweet Roll Ham Sammies, do it.  There really shouldn't be anything stopping you.  Unless you are vegetarian. Then you really shouldn't eat anything I post to this blog.  We like our meat around here.  Oh yes we do.  Our meat and our desserts.  It's a wonder why we aren't contestants on The Biggest Loser.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Spending Update

I only have 2 small gifts left to buy.  Everything else is done and wrapped.  Even the stocking stuffers.  This may be the earliest I've been done ever.  It feels good.  It also feels good that I only spent what we had.  No looming debt hanging over me to be paid next month. 

Here's the total so far...

Total Spending: $517.48
Total Savings:   $492.76

If I didn't purchase items on sale with coupons I would have been at a total of $1010.24.  Instead I shopped for about half that price, AND purchased everything that was on the lists of the people we buy for. 

Here's one little tip for you...

SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS!!!  Almost every store does price adjustments.  Just the other day I walked back into Target and recieved $10 back because an item had gone on sale.  If I didn't have my receipt, or wasn't aware of how much I originally paid, I would have lost out on $10.  I've done this multiple times with clothing stores.  A few years back I received almost $100 back in my hand for price adjusting.  There is a catch though.  Most places only give you a 2 week window, and you can only adjust one time.  Use your adjustments wisely! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cultured Kids

My kids are officially cultured.  Before Sunday evening we had been raising them as Neanderthals.  Little tiny barbarians that we let wander around disguised as regular kids.  However, they have now been to a museum of art.  They were so sophisticated while pondering artists' meanings behind their abstract work.  At one point, I even caught them discussing juxtaposition and the Baroque Period.  After visiting the Renaissance artists, we allowed our newly cultured kids to explore the gardens.


If you're buying the big load of malarkey I just fed you, then I'll let you in on a little secret.  As much as I would like to say my kids are cultured in the art realm, they are not.  At one point they each stuck their fingers inside a sculpture of a dog and announced they had found boogers.  It was a proud moment for me.

The real reason why we visited our local museum was to see the Festival of Trees.  Christmas Trees decorated in the most unique manners only to be auctioned off for a museum fundraiser. There were also Gingerbread houses that were really outstanding.  It was pretty cool to see all the different constructions and materials used.  A little inspiring until I came to the realization that I, myself, would eat the decorations and therefore leave nothing left to decorate. 

Before I show the pictures of the trees and houses, I would like for you to keep your eye out for pink flamingos.  It's important.  Just trust me.

Did you catch them?  I wish Steven had captured the full tree.  Quite gaudy and it sold for well over $700.  If you're wondering why my mother and I would take time to capture such an ugly tree, you must first travel back in time with me, say, about 15 years ago...

My mom and I were meandering through the garden section of a store looking for outdoor pots.  As we were passing a large section of bright pink flamingos, my mom picks one up and says very loudly, "Why on Earth would anyone buy one of these awful things?"

I can't say that I didn't agree with her.  They are pretty awful.  Maybe one of the more tacky yard ornaments you could purchase here in the midwest.  That wasn't the problem though.  The problem was what I saw and what she didn't.  As she was making her stand against the flamingos, I could clearly see the lady in front of me had her cart stacked full of them.  Right after my mom made her bold statement, the lady turned to her cart and began unloading them.  All of them.

I'm not sure if my mom's 'foot in mouth' scenario was appreciated by the lady, but hopefully she appreciated not becoming the laughing stock of her neighborhood.  It doesn't really matter though.  My mom and I are left with a pretty funny memory. Seeing the tree at Philbrook made us crack up immediately.  We couldn't resist a pic with it.  Who knows?  Maybe my mom bid the $700 for the tree.  She has been known to do crazy things. I just hope she didn't purchase it for me.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Monday

A pretty much perfect weekend occurred at the Torres house.  A Friday evening date night that involved 99% of our Christmas shopping, followed by two days of pjs, and a Sunday evening at Philbrook.  Lots of family time.  Lots of relaxing, but yet getting a lot done.  It was wonderful.

The only way to finish up a wonderful weekend is to start a wonderful week.  It's Steven and Rene's birthday week.  Celebrating another year of their lives is pretty wonderful to me.  So I'm calling this week wonderful.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Hopefully the menu for this week will hold up to wonderful this week too.  Hopefully.

Monday-Ham Sammies, Homemade Fries, Fruit Salad
Tuesday-Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Crescents
Wednesday-Homemade Pizza and Salad
Thursday-Garlic Parmesan Chicken, Broccoli Bake, Potatoes Au Gratin
Friday-Birthday Cookout for the Boys
Saturday-Bowtie Lasagna, Cheesy Bread, Green Beans
Sunday-Roasted Italian Sausage, Carrots, and Potatoes, Rolls

Friday, December 2, 2011

Little Miss' Not So Little Problem

You see this precious thing...

You would think she's the most lady like little girl.  You would think.  Unfortunately she lives in a house where boys find their bodily noises hilarious.  H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.  Another unfortunate addition is she has the gastrointestinal fortitude that her father and brother does.  She can toot with the best of them.

Many times I hear 'a noise' only to find out it wasn't that of a grown man.  It was my 27 lbs of a little girl letting out an adult size fart.  What's even more embarrassing is her announcement of what she's just accomplished, "I fawted, Mama."  You know, just in case you didn't hear it.

Yes, she says 'farted'.  As much as I've tried to convert her to 'toot' or 'fluff', the boys in the house have already sunk their nasty words into the depths of her innocent little vocabulary.  I don't think my corrections have any effect on her.  As much as she likes to produce those stinky bursts of air, she likes to announce what she's just accomplished.  I guess I should count my blessings.  Who's going to want to take my farting daughter out on a date?  Not too many I suspect.

Yes, this could be key in keeping her with us forever.  So Little Miss,  you keep on farting.

Your Mama

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baby #3's Room

Well the Littlest Man will make his debut in a few months, and true to Torres fashion, we are getting some things done.  When it comes to projects for our upcoming babies, we get things ready early.  So here's a little info on baby #3's room.

When we built our house we nixed the formal dining room. Steven and I didn't see the practicality of having a formal dining room that was separate from the kitchen.  Our families like to eat in one area together.  Instead of having a wasted space, we decided to turn it into a fourth bedroom.  A decision that have proved to be very wise for us.

This is what the space looked like before we knew baby # 3 was coming...

Of course it has carpet now, but other than that it looked pretty much the same.  Nothing really in the room except items we really didn't have a place for.  In a way, it became the catch-all room.  At least the closets did.  We like to hide our clutter around here.  You know...give you the impression that we have it all together.  We're a bunch of pretenders.

Welp, once we knew baby #3 was going to be reality for this family, I started planning.  Or shall I say Pinterest'ing'.  I searched and searched for ideas.  The room is not as big as Little Man's and Little Miss', but it has a certain quaintness to it with the window seat and separated closets. 

At first I thought I wanted to paint the walls gray and have yellow accents for the walls, but then I started thinking that wouldn't be enough color.  Sooo, we went with this color...

I wasn't too sure about the baby blue-ish colors hitting the walls as Steven was painting, but I kept telling myself to trust the color palette I picked out.  However, it was looking really blue.  Thankfully, Steven got a fire under his britches and immediately began priming and painting furniture we already had and were going to utilize in the baby's room (an old armoire cabinet and Little Miss' old crib).  Once those items came in it helped me to see not so much blue.
 {Little Miss' crib that used to be black, now gray}

{Old armoire cabinet that used to be black as well, now gray}

As for the walls, we are searching for vintage sport items that go along with these pics...

These used to be in Steven's office a couple of years ago until he decided he didn't want them anymore.  What I'm trying to decide is what color to spray paint the frames.  Do I go with all once color, or three different colors?  And then there's this little beauty I found on Pinterest...

Pinned Image

Of course the colors are all wrong, but the concept of the peg board above the changing table I LOVE! One thing I haven't decided is what I want to do with the window seat.  It has hinges and storage inside, but I also saw this on Pinterest and I kinda thought it was cool....

Pinned Image

Maybe add a cusioned window seat cover and cushy pillows with curtains in a just right vintage print/  I just haven't decided if it will make the room look even smaller.  Basically, I need some opinions.  What to do?  What to do?  Feel free to chime in on all aspects of this room so I can get yet another item checked off my long term task list!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Savings Update

I got a large portion of my Christmas shopping completed this past Saturday.  I had an hour and a half of kid free time to shop.  Let's just say I was on a mission.  I had my cash envelopes stuffed with coupons, my list of items, and time clicking away.  An hour and a half may not seem like a long time, but when you don't have 2 to 3 kids tagging along, you can accomplish almost anything.  Not only was I able to pick up almost all the items I was searching for, but I was able to really focus on making the most of the coupons I had in my hand.

Here's my totals to far...

2011 Christmas Spending...$288.39
2011 Christmas Savings.....$384.31

This coming weekend Steven and I are shopping for the kids.  I don't have near as many coupons for the items on their list, but I've done my research for the lowest prices in town this week.  I'm crossing my fingers for good savings, and more importantly, to be DONE with shopping.  Me likey presents under the tree, but me no likey having unchecked items on my list.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sporting Adventures

Confession Time...

I'm competitive.

I can't help it.  It runs in the family.  We like to win.  We like to be the best.  It doesn't matter if we're playing cards, doing flips, walking into stores, or holding yoga poses, there has to be a winner.

I have another confession to make...

I'm an annoying cheer'er when it comes to rootin' for my family.

When Steven races, I'm the wife who's yelling for him to 'pick it up' and 'push harder'.  I know he really appreciates it.   You know, me standing on the sidelines watching him run his heart out, yelling.  It's motivational for him.  At least I tell myself that.  He probably wishes I would shut my pie-hole.

Back in the old football days before Steven had to report to summer training camps, we would hit the track and I would time him.  I wasn't nice.  I think the words 'pansies' and 'softy' might have come out of my mouth when I thought he could do better. 

I'm not sure what possesses me to talk to my husband in that manner other than I know he's had much worse in high school wrestling coaches and much, much worse in his college football coaches.  After all, I wasn't dropping F-bombs.  Just a few minor words that I know really get to pansy.

I've never really seen this as a problem (other than embarrassing myself at sporting events), until now.  Tomorrow Little Man starts his first real organized sport.  Basketball.  I'm not real sure how this is going to go.  I have concerns about containing myself and my mouth.  Hopefully, I won't be as hard on Little Man as I am on his daddy. 

Honestly, I don't know what I'm stressing about.  I won't need to yell insulting remarks at my child because he will be the best.  As far as I'm concerned he's going to smoke folks.  He's no pansy.  He's stinkin' awesome.  Just look at this kid and his guns...

He's one tough cookie.  He must get it from his mother!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Monday

I really don't want to think about turkey or ham right now.  Not at all.  We officially completed three full on feasts for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  It was wonderful to be with family and the food was spectacular at every location, but no more turkey for us for a while.  The leftover meat got put to the freezer for later use.  So this week we're back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Monday-Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole and Honey Butter Bread
Tuesday-Fish Fry, Leftover Broccoli Rice Casserole, Peaches (Little Man's first b-ball practice)
Wednesday-Tortilla Soup served with Chips and Garden Salad
Thursday-Roasted Italian Sausage with Potatoes and Carrots, Rolls
Friday-Garlic Parmesan Chicken, Green Beans, Spring Salad
Saturday-BEDLAM!  My FIL is cooking up some bedlam treats!
Sunday-Christmas Tree Night at Philbrook and dinner with extended family

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beatin' the Crowd

Can you tell the Torres family loves Christmas time? To celebrate Thanksgiving Break for Little Man we asked Chunky Monkey to come with us for a little Bass Pro Santa Shop visit, stay overnight for a sleepover, and morning donuts. The kids had a blast at Santa's Village. Chunky Monkey wasn't too sure about Santa until he saw the candy canes. He figured out pretty quickly if he sat on Santa's lap he would get candy. When he saw Little Man and Little Miss excited about Santa, he got into it too.

That's all I have for you today. My kids and precious nephew with Santa. I would, however, like to direct your eye to the bottom right hand pic. This is so my life. Three kids doing three different things, in three different worlds. They are some crazy funny kids.

There will be not posts for Thursday or Friday.
Enjoy the time with your family!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Running Tally of Christmas Savings

We have a lot of people in our family and we buy for everyone.  It's easy to spend an arm and leg on Christmas, and we have in the past, but now I use coupons and sales.  Throughout the Christmas season I hunt for the best deals to purchase exactly what's on everyone's list. 

Last year I know my receipts added up to well over $1,000, but we only spent $600 cash.  We didn't do anything on credit.  We did the envelope system

It worked so well because it kept Steven and I searching for the best deals, and we didn't impulse buy for our kids (we have a tendency to do that).

This year I want to keep a better tally of how much I'm really saving.  I'm hanging onto every receipt and adding up the savings.  Hopefully, I"ll be surprise.  Throughout the season I'll give you updates on how we're doing.  So far, I've done very well and I have a stack of coupons to utilize at the stores I need to visit.

Total Spending: $85.41
Total Savings:   $130.02

I hope to keep the spending amount well below the savings amount.  We'll see over the course of the next few weeks.

It's important to Steven and I to be givers.  Our hearts are mainly focused on those who have difficulties sustaining the basics of life, but we also like to give good gifts to our family and friends.  Giving good gifts doesn't have to put you in debt.  Just a little work and research can help you keep your costs down when searching for the gifts on your list. 

Here is one website I use religiously when retail shopping.  It helps me find coupons for the stores I'm shopping at for the season.  Matching those coupons when items go on sale is the best way to save your money.

You might be wondering if we do Black Friday at our house, and the answer is...nope.  We have never done it.  The main reason is I like my sleep.  The other reason is I usually don't find the items I'm searching for discounted at their rock bottom prices on Black Friday.  I have to really weigh my desire for sleep for the desire of savings.  So far sleep has won out.  I guess we shall see this year.  I'm still waiting to search through the Toys R Us ad.  So far Walmart and Target's won't be waking me from my slumber or keeping me up late into the night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Monday

It's a short cooking week at the Casa de Torres.  Actually I'll be cooking, but it will be elsewhere.  We are headed to see my Grandparents!!!  I haven't seen them since the end of August, and the kids haven't seen them in a very long time.  We are all so excited.

I hope you are gearing up for Thanksgiving with your families as well. Such a precious time to be together with the ones you love, but don't get to see too often.

Even though it's a short cooking week, I still have plans.  Here they are...

Monday-Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken, Seasoned Steamed Veggies, Crescents
Tuesday-WW Bubble Up Enchiladas, Arroz con Gandules, Corn Saute
Wednesday-Not my night to cook!
Friday-Not cookin' again!
Sunday-Tomato Basil Pasta with Grilled Chicken, Salad, and Garlic Bread

*I always assume people eat the same type foods on Thanksgiving, but if your family has a dish that is different and delicious...please share!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

OCC...It's Not Too Late

Drop off week is here.  Operation Christms Child has arrived.  There are quite a few drop off locations around the United States and it's easy to check to see which one is nearest you.  Just go here for all the information you need to know.

If you haven't packed a box yet, don't despair.  You still have time.  The last day for drop off is Monday, November 21st.  Packing a box with your child can make a great impact in their life and the life of another child.  Little Man asked this year why we were packing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and socks.  He wondered why not all toys.  It was a pretty good lesson for him.  To him, all gifts are toys.  We went online and watched kids open their boxes from last year.  He was amazed to see how excited the kids around the world were about receiving things he doesn't even think about.  This is one reason why this will remain a huge part of our holidays.  Not only will Little Man and Little Miss learn how to be cheerful givers, but they will also have the opportunity to make difference.  A difference in kids they may not meet here on Earth, but will one day meet. 

Please excuse the ridiculous looks on my kids' faces.  I had time for one pic before naps. 
One pic, and this is what I got.  Feel free to laugh.  I did.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pinterest...Recipes I May Love

Pinterest is of the devil.  I am thoroughly convinced.  All those delicious recipes, crafts, decor ideas, DIY's, they all make themselves appear to be so simple.  I pin those suckers, and well, the only thing I do about it is pin...except the recipes.  Those I cook.  Too bad I don't pin the smoothies or 'green drinks'.  Nope I pin stuff like this...

Pinned Image
{via Plain Chicken}

This dip is totally low-cal.  Totally.

And there's this...

Pinned Image
{via Beyer Beware}

Yep, a heart healthy meal.  Definitely.

Last but not least, there's this...

Pinned Image
{via Eat Live Run}

Hello Carbs.  I love you.  I want to break you apart, slather on some butter, and gobble you up.
Oh gosh.  I'm blushing.  I shouldn't be talking to my carbs like that on the web.  Forgive me.

Now, if I could just talk you people into eating these same items then you too would put on the weight as well.  Then I wouldn't feel so bad for myself.  Then I would be surrounded by others who have a buldging mid-section.  Then I would feel...I would feel...I would feel like I could conquer the world.  At the very least by sitting on it.  I am going to be one l-a-r-g-e lady after consuming these calories.  Large and happy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Trot or Not To Trot?

It has been a frustrating morning and afternoon.  No connection to technology until now, and my scheduled post didn't come up, but it's here now...

I'm so very sorry to dissapoint you, but this preggo girl has fallen off the running wagon.  It has been 2 weeks since I have ran.  TWO WEEKS.  I can feel my cheeks enlarging as we speak and I am not talking about my face.  Maybe this is just mental?  Maybe, but it makes me feel better anyway.

I was totally okay with letting running go and regressing to the speedwalk when I realized it was a Springfield, MO Thanksgiving year.  A Springfield, MO Thanksgiving year means we celebrate with my fabulous grandparents at their house.  It also means this...

Ever since we have been married, we've participated in the Turkey Trot when we are in Springfield.  When we first started it was a roughly thrown together event, and now it has grown to over 6,500 runners.  It's a fun time.  Getting up early on Thanksgiving morning, bundling up, heading to the run, running, and then stopping at Starbuckie's for a little coffee.  It's a must.

Here's the problem.  I could very easily walk the 5k, but the competitive person in me says, "I can run this."  Plus, I don't want to pay $ to walk. So here I am blogging about it.  To Trot or not to Trot?  That is the question.  I went online two times today to register Steven (who will run the entire race in under 20 minutes), but I couldn't complete it because something inside me stops my fingers from hitting enter.  Visions of this enormous belly crossing the finish line allure me.  That, and the idea that if I run that morning I can eat more...

I'm at a crossroads here people!  This is a real issue.  Real life stuff.  I guess I'll try and get my booty up tomorrow for a brisk jog to see if I can still hang with a 5k.  Yes, that's what I'll do.  Well, if not tomorrow, the next day...or the next...but definitely by Friday.  After Friday registration fees goes up, and you all know how I like to save $$$.

*My doctor knows I have been running.  He's totally okay with that and encourages me to keep it up.  So please, no worries.  I wouldn't do anything to harm my Little Nugget.  He's kinda grown on me...get it...grown on me.  Well at least I'm laughing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Man's Outdoor Movie Party

Little Man had his party to celebrate his 5th birthday this past Saturday, but I've had my wheels spinning on what to do six months beforehand.  I like to do birthday parties at home.  It reminds me of when I was a kid.  I like to think up (or steal) unique ideas to make the day extra special.  When I saw Ashley Ann's post on an outdoor movie party she did to raise books for charity, I knew Little Man would love something similar.

Now let's get real.  Anything Ashley does blows us all out of the water. So please, use her beautiful pics to get some kind of idea of what we did.  My pictures are a little less desirable.  Okay, a lot less desireable, but you'll get the point.

When planning the party, I knew I wanted the kids to have popcorn for the movie.  At our house you don't watch a movie without popcorn. I was going to buy individual popcorn bags (found at Hobby Lobby) for the kids, but I wanted to personalize some parts of the party.  Instead I took brown paper bags (all of the stores in our area were completely out of white paper sacks) and printed his own Cinemark name on them...

This was a real labor of love.  Feeding each individual sack through the printer one at a time, forty plus times.  It took a lot of patience.  Those little boogers got jammed so easily.  I'm glad my persistence paid off though because Little Man was so excited to have his own bags.

I also personalized a concessions sign.  Plenty of years of making spirit posters for cheerleading finally paid off.  It trained me for making a birthday sign for my son...

Since Little Man was born in the beautiful month of November, I knew it would be a bit chilly.  What goes better with chilly weather than a warm fire and s'mores?  Uh, nothing.  So that's what we did.  Our neighbors loaned us their outdoor fire pit, and I gathered pounds of chocolate, graham crackers, skewers and marshmellows.  I'm not sure the kids were too into the roasting of the marshmellows, but I saw plenty of the parents going back for seconds...and thirds...and fourths.  If we ever do this again (which we probably will) I will most definitely have s'mores again.  At least for my own personal sake.

As for the movie screen, we owe the creation to my step-dad.  We were going to build a contraption like the one featured on Ashley's blog, but Michael stepped in and put together a pvc pipe frame.  My grandma gave us a white sheet that had openings on each end to slide the pvc pipe through.  Michael and Steven then hammered reebar into the ground for the pvc pipe to slide over.  A few zip ties to the fence and slits in the sheet to allow the wind to pass through (and it was windy that night), and we were good to go.  The screen held together well, and the best part, the frame is easy to take apart and set up.

The last part we needed was projector and a laptop to play the movie.  Steven got special permission to borrow his work projector he uses for presentations.  That's all we needed and we were good to go.  Until...

...we realized it would be super dark.  Since I'm married to the best man ever, he strung our white Christmas lights along the back of the house for extra light. It was just perfect.  Enough light to see by, but not too bright for the movie screen.

When it was time for the party guests to go home, they all got little popcorn containers filled with birthday trinkets, and their own little kit to make a s'more at home...

I'm just wondering how many of the kids actually got to eat their s'mores.  I'm betting some of the parents got into the goodie bags before their kids realized what was in there.  You don't think so?  I guess I'm the only parent who would do that!

There you have it.  The small details on how to put on your own outdoor movie party.  We really had a lot of fun, and I think the guests did too. Feel free to steal any of these ideas.  After all, I did!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Monday

I really want to thank all of you for the kind words and encouragement regarding Little Miss' hiccup.  I didn't get a chance to respond to all the comments with the events of our weekend, but I wanted you to know they really mean a lot.

The second kid birthday party in one month is over.  Thankfully I have a full year to gear up for Birthday Season again.  We still have Steven's to celebrate in December, but at least I don't plan a full out party for him.  Just family.  Family, I can do.  Forty plus people is exhausting.  However, I am so grateful for the forty plus people who came over to celebrate Little Man's 5th year of life.  Some of the best people I know were here.

I seriously can't believe Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away.  My mom and I have already made our menu for the meal we'll eat with my grandparents in Springfield, MO.  With all the talk of Thanksgiving food, this preggo girl had to add a little Thanksgivingish food to the menu.  The baby was pratically demanding it.

Monday-Spaghetti, Green Beans, Salad, Cheesy Bread
Tuesday-Baked Fried Chicken*, PW's Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Stuffing
Wedneday-Cresent Chicken Roll-Ups with Green Bean Casserole
Thursday-Chicken Bacon Sandwiches, Sweet Potatoes, Salad
Friday-MDA Benefit Tailgate Night
Saturday-Tacos with Chips and Queso Blanco
Sunday-Dinner @ Mom's

*We actually ate the Baked Fried Chicken last night.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Very tasty and crispy.  I would definitely recommend it.