Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cheap Decorations

It's no secret my love affair with Pinterest.  It makes my life so simple. One place with all the websites to help cook, organize, save money, plan parties, and inspire me to update and decorate my house.  It's an amazing, amazing thing.

Last Christmas I saw an idea of using tomato cages and a string of lights to make outdoor ornamental Christmas trees.  There was one problem.  Tomato cages aren't readily in stock in December.  Go figure!  We did without last year.

Summertime rolled around and the last thing I was thinking about was Christmas Trees.  I was thinking about poolside, sun, sprinklers, and lemonade.

As summer faded it briefly crossed my mind to see if any hardware stores had any tomato cages left, but with school starting I never followed through.

Fast forward to the present and I was left without any tomato cages.  Again.  That's when you call your mama.  Mamas make it all better.  Thanks Mom for the tomato cages.  Your favorite son-in-law thinks these add the perfect touch to his increasingly strong desire to rival a Clark Griswold home.  Each year more gets added.  I fear for our future.  Unless I can entertain him with the idea of using materials my mom we already have in stock.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Photo Blasts From the Past

Completely random moment here, but I was looking for a picture of Little Man and I came across this photo.  I was preggo here with Little Miss.  Little Man was about 3 months shy of turning 2 years old.  He still makes that face today.  All the time.   This pic also reminds me of the days I had short hair.  For a LONG time my hair was never below my chin.  It was so easy to fix it.  I kind of want to chop all my hair off now. 

Chunkey Monkey and Little Miss are only 2 weeks apart.  He has always been...well...a chunk, and Little Miss has always been...well...little.  I guess their nicknames are fitting.  I love that they get to see each other almost everyday.  Such a special relationship.

This was me last year.  Part of me misses being preggo. I don't know if I'll ever come to terms with never being pregnant again.  Maybe just one more?  Is this how the Duggar Family became the Duggar Family?  They just kept saying, "Maybe just one more?"  Help me, Wanda!

This is one of my all time favorite pics of Steven.  It's so him.  All hot and muscle-y just strolling on the Florida beach with his #2 girl (I'm his #1).  He's such a phenomenal father.  Speaking of Florida, we get to go again in March!  I'm very excited.  And before you even ask, we're road trippin' it again.  That's how we roll.  Maybe we should invest in an RV?

Here's another favorite.  This is pre-kids.  See how there are no gray hairs or wrinkles?  Yep, pre-kids.  Good times right here.  Good times.  I can't tell you how many crazy posed photos we have like this.  Are we the only weirdos who do this?  Come on.  Say you do it too.  Even if you be lyin'.

That's all for the random photo dump.  I completely intended on sharing our Chicago pics, but I got sidetracked.  It happens to me a lot.  I'm not sure if you know, but I have issues.  Serious issues.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Menu

Intentions mean something, right?  Like I get some credit for intending to put the menu up earlier today?  Okay, you're right.  I'm a total slacker.  I've been so busy working on Pinterest projects that The Menu kept getting pushed back.  Then it was time for me to put myself to bed.  Then it was time for me to get up early.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  The Pillow Monster got me this morning and I was rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off just trying to get us out the door.  Thus, you get the menu on Tuesday...afternoon.

Monday (that was yesterday)- Chili Con Queso Pasta, Grilled Veggies
Tuesday-Chick-fil-a Style Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Wednesday-Restaurant Style Steak, Baked Potato, Salad
Thursday-Chicken Chili and Cornbread
Friday-Oven Baked Fajitas and Taco Dip
Saturday-Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole and Crescents
Sunday-Dinner at Mom's

Monday, November 26, 2012

Travel Clue Answers

Menu Monday will be tomorrow.  Too much laundry.  Too much cleaning.  Too much stringing of the Christmas lights.  Too pooped.  Amazing how life goes on while you are away.

It's over. Family time and vacation time is over.  I have some serious tears going on over here.  If you hadn't already guessed it, or you missed the pictures on Facebook, we went to Chicago for the week.  It was an amazing time visiting family in the city and family in the suburbs.

If you're curious about the meaning of the clues, here are the answers...

Travel Clue #1:  Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Park Zoo
Travel Clue #2: What you talkin' about Willis?  Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
Travel Clue #3: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Soldier Field
Travel Clue #4: The New Millenium Millenium Park
Travel Clue #5: Old Navy. Navy Pier

Speaking of Navy Pier, we went.  Of course it was fun and we lucked out with the weather. Right by the lake is crazy cold, but we were living it up in the high 50's.  Amazing weather while we visited!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chubby Cheekers {9 Months Edition}

Travel Clue #1: Abraham Lincoln
Travel Clue #2: What you talkin' about Willis?
Travel Clue #3: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Travel Clue #4: The New Millennium
Travel Clue #5: Old Navy

It's really hard to believe that I'm inching closer to that one year mark.  It seems like yesterday I was playing in the toilet.  Oh wait.  That was yesterday, but that's not the point.  The point is I'm getting older.  

Mommy keeps telling me to slow down.  I'm not sure if she's speaking figuratively or literally, but my gut is telling me it's both.  I am doing things way faster than Little Man or Little Miss did.  I'd like to think of myself as a baby genius.  I find all of my adventures as real feats, but Mommy doesn't always give me the accolades I seek out.  For example, I crawled from the living room to the bathroom in 3.8 seconds while Mommy was giving brother a bath.  Then I real sneaky like pulled up on the toilet. Since the lid was closed, I figured out how to lift the lid by inching my way around the potty.  When Mommy saw what I was trying to do, she gave me the mean face.  Geez!  No "Way to go, Buddy".  Nothing.  Just the mean face and she sat me down next to the tub and brother.  

I didn't really want to be there, so I crawled back over to the potty, but this time I spotted something white and fluffy and it was just dangling there by the potty.  I reached up to feel it except when I tried to grab it, that white fluffy stuff started coming down.  Cool.  I pulled and pulled until a little brown roll showed up. I thought it was a lot of fun, but Mommy just shook her head and said to leave the toilet paper alone.  I now know what that stuff is called.  Toilet paper.  How fun!  Can't wait to try that again.

Using my massive muscles, I have also mastered turning on and off the water in Mommy and Daddy's bathroom.  What other baby does that, huh?  I'm nine months old today, and technically, I could run my own bathwater.  Sheer awesomeness.  People, just get used to it.  I'm going to do big things everyday for the rest of my life.  I need a shirt that says, "Sheer Awesomeness Right Here".  In fact, I should have had that shirt in this picture.  

{This is me, busted by Mom, but oh so proud of myself}

Chubby Cheekers

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Because I Don't Have Enough To Do

Where are all my guessers for where we're going over Thanksgiving???  Have I stumped you, or is it just too obvious?  Remember, each clue has a keyword that gives you hints to our destination.  Anyhoo, here's the next clue...

Travel Clue #1: Abraham Lincoln
Travel Clue #2: What you talkin' about Willis?
Travel Clue #3: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Travel Clue #4:  The New Millennium 

About two years ago I got a wild hair in my butt.  That hair told me to make a rainbow birthday cake for Little Miss.  Actually, I stole the idea from my gal pal, Jamie.  She did one for her sweet little thing.  It was the cutest cake ever.  Seriously, her's was the cutest thing ever.  Mine was, well, just cute.

Anyway, how cute or not cute the rainbow cake was, is not the point.  The point is every year after that cake, I have made Little Miss' birthday cakes.  Her third birthday was a Pink-n-Purple Party.  Her cake was a six layer pink and purple striped cake.  Little Man watched me make the entire thing, which is quite time consuming, and then let out a question a mom never wants to hear.

Mommy, how come you don't make me a birthday cake?

Ouch.  I felt so horrible.  That night I promised Little Man I would make his 6th birthday cake.  That's where this all started.  I had to step out of my Rainbow Cake world.

Thankfully, Wilton came to the rescue.  Wilton's Football Cake Pan, that is.  It saved my life.  However, it wasn't going to be enough to serve all of our guests.  I thought about making a two layer rectangle cake to make it look like a football field and then stacking the football on top of that, but I wasn't sure about the weight of the football.

Then I was searching Pinterest.  Gosh, I love Pinterest.  I came across these mini rainbow cakes.  It involved baking a large rainbow cake and then using circular tube to press out mini cakes.  It got my wheels spinning. What if I made two layer orange and blue mini cakes?  Yep, that would work perfectly.  Here's what I did...

First I made a white box cake (gasp...yes, I made a box cake!).  Then I divided the cake mix into two bowls (I eyeballed it).  Little Miss and Chunky Monkey helped me stir in the Wilton's gel coloring.  

Aren't they cutie pies???

The next part is is simple.  Actually, it all is.  Just pour the blue cake mix into a 12 count muffin pan and the orange in a 12 count muffin pan and bake.  Allow them to cool, then chop off the muffin top. Now you are ready to dirty ice.  I learned this from Jamie.  Basically, you ice a thin layer all over and let it 'dry' so when you do the real icing, it seals the crumbs in.

After dirty icing all 24 cupcakes, spread a layer of icing on top of the color you want to be on the bottom.  I wanted the blue on bottom and orange on top.  So a thick layer of icing went on the blue.  Next, flip the orange cupcake on top like this...

If I had all the time in the world, I would have taken a bread knife and made each mini cake uniform cylinders, but let's get real.  I don't have a ton of spare time.  

The last part was the most time consuming.  Icing all 12 mini cakes.  Holy Moly.  I was in the kitchen forever!!!  My biggest problem was icing each cake while they were all so close together, and then adding the detail along the bottom with the decorating tip.  I just couldn't work with everything in such a tight space. This is precisely why I am not a cake decorator.  Nope, if I ever have to go back to work it will have to be teaching.

Anyway, this was the final product.  Not to bad, but not too good anyway.  

My biggest 'Ah-Ha' moment was I had twelve mini cakes, and guess what??? Chicago Bears has 12 letters.  Man oh man, did the heavens open up for me that one.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Football Training Camp Party

Travel Clue #1: Abraham Lincoln
Travel Clue #2: What you talkin' about Willis?
Travel Clue #3: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Immediately after Little Man's 5th Birthday, The Outdoor Movie Party, he already had his sights set on his 6th birthday bash.  He wanted a Chicago Bears party.  Now I could have just purchased Chicago Bears cups, plates, and napkins and called it good, but what fun would that be?  Yeah, none.  So Steven and I came up with a Training Camp Party.  It was a lot of fun for kids and parents.  I will surely do it again when Chubby Cheekers gets older.  Here are the details if you have a little guy who loves football.

Schedule of Party:

  • Players (party guests) get checked-in.  This is where you hand them their player passes and apply their blackout tattoos.
  • Players are then guided to the field outside to make their team pennant.  This allows some filler time while you wait for all guests to arrive.
  • Once all guests have arrived the coach (my husband) blows his whistle to begin the training camp.
  • Drills are as follows:  Speed Ladder, Broad Jump, Pass Accuracy, and Shuttle Run.  Kids' times, jumps, and throws are recorded on their player passes.
  • Cake and Presents Break.
  • Then the after party game begins.  Our original plan was to have Jock Jams playing and each 'player' introduced so they could run onto the field in style, but I forgot to get out the iDock.  Would have been a super cool touch though :(
  • Kids play flag football.
  • Kids go home with a Gatorade and Snickers bar for their party favor.
  • The end.
What You'll Need:
  • Lanyards for Player Passes (Oriental Trading Co)
  • Cardstock for Player Passes (Hobby Lobby)
  • Foam Pennants (Oriental Trading Co)
  • Foam Stickers and Markers (I forgot to set out the markers too. Bad Mommy.) (Oriental Trading Co)
  • Spray Paint for the field. (Lowe's)
  • Speed Ladder 
  • Hula Hoops for Pass Accuracy
  • Cones and footballs for Shuttle Run
  • Gatorade and Snickers Bars 
  • Tables for Pennant Projects(Oriental Trading Co)
  • Blackout Tattoos (Oriental Trading Co)
Party Pics (I feel all sorority like):

{Player Check-In Station}

{Player Passes}

 {Broad Jump}

{Shuttle Run}

{Pass Accuracy}

{Speed Ladder}

{Cake Break on the field}

{The Game}

{Inside Decor...excuse the sign that was thrown up there 5 minutes before guests arrived.  It was either spend time on the sign or give Chubby Cheekers the Milk Twins.  Chubby Cheekers won out.)

{The Cake...I'll share how I did it tomorrow}

That's really all there was to it.  Super fun for little boys, and super fun to plan!
Feel free to steal.  Goodness knows I've stolen lots of ideas over the years. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday, Little Man

Travel Clue #1:  Abraham Lincoln
Travel Clue #2:  What you talkin' about Willis?

My boy turned 6 last week.  Since we were all down with the stomach bug, we didn't get to celebrate in our usual fashion on his day.  Instead, we all healed up and focused on his party day (more on that tomorrow).  Today I want to celebrate him.

{Little Man, age: 6}

Gosh, he's handsome. He is a small replica of his father which is totally a good thing.  We need more men in this world like Steven and Little Man is rising to the challenge.  There are so many things that are special about him.  Things that make me proud to be his mother.

Little Man is a rough and tough boy, but he is a METRO MINI MAN!  He likes his clothes clean and crisp.  His father irons his school clothes every night with his work clothes.  They both like creases.  He wants to smell good and thanks to his Grammy Yoly, he does.  She buys him cologne or body spray every year for his birthday.  He cares about his appearance.  Every morning before school he washes his own face and makes sure I get his hair just right.  

On the inside he's even better.  One thing that is big in our house is how you treat others.  Little Man has his moments, but he treats his siblings with love.  If he receives an award or special treat, the thought of keeping it for himself never happens.  Almost instinctively, he passes half to his sister.  When it comes to Chubby Cheekers, he is a protector.  He makes sure he's taken care of and entertains him when he's sad...or mad.  He contains such compassion for others, it astounds me at times.  Definitely one of his God given gifts.  

Little Man, we love you very much.  You were created special.  You make us proud!

Mom and Dad

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Monday

This week we leave for our Thanksgiving trip.  I am so excited.  Although, I'm not going to share where we're going, I will give you clues.  All the clues will be something or someone familiar to you, and will reflect places of interest in our city destination.  So put on your thinking caps.

Here's your first clue...

Clue #1:  Abraham Lincoln

Do you know where we're headed???  Kidding.

Here's the short menu for this week.

Monday-BBQ Chicken Quarters, Baked Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli
Tuesday-Fried Chicken Salad and Honey Butter Croissants
Wednesday-Sloppy Joes and Potato Wedges
Thursday-Chicken Noodle Soup with Grille Cheese Sandwiches
Friday-Dinner with the McMullen's (thanks Erica!)
Saturday-WE'RE ON VACATION!!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Haters Be Hatin'

Generally, I don't like to share things about my life that would spark jealousy.  I've experienced jealousy and it's not a fun emotion.  I'm glad I learned to tune out of that stage of my life.  Sincerely I hope you have to because what I'm about to share could really strike up some jealousy issues.

I'm sure you noticed my blogging hiatus.  Er, maybe like a two day leave.  Well, I would like to share what I've been doing.  I've been...

  • Doing Laundry
  • Cleaning up puke from floors
  • More laundry
  • Cleaning up puke from beds
  • More laundry
  • Cleaning up puke from carpet
  • More laundry
  • Sanitizing
  • Laundry
  • Deep cleaning
Jealous?  Oh.  You're not.  I can't imagine why.  Actually, I can. Our past two days have been no fun at all.  I was hit with the stomach bug early Monday morning.  I had to miss Little Man's Rise and Shine singing performance.  I missed Little Miss and Chubby Cheekers' Well Check-Ups.  I was in bed.  I felt like a gigantic truck ran over my forehead, and my stomach was cramping.  By the end of the evening, I was able to pull myself from my sheets to see the kids.  

I got to Little Miss first. She immediately started complaining that her tummy was hurting.  Not 15 minutes later, as I was running her bath water, did I turn to see her barfing on the tile.  Great.  Then she threw up in the toilet.  She said she felt a bit better.  Good.  Got that little thing in bed, and she fell right asleep.  An hour later, she puked in her bed.  Wonderful. Steven and I get her sheets stripped, rinsed, changed, and her cleaned up when Little Man stumbles out of his room.  

His stomach hurts too.  Twenty minutes later, he comes in my room and pukes on my carpet.  Fabulous.  I get him and the carpet cleaned up and get him into the bed under his bed.  An hour later, he comes back to get me (with the bowl I gave him), to tell me he puked in the bed .  Perfect.  At this point, Steven is no longer getting up to help.  I put two and two together.  He's down for the count as well.  I get Little Man all cleaned up, sheets stripped, new ones on, and get him back in bed.  I am so exhausted from trying to recover from my own stomach bug that I don't even start the wash.  I just rinse the sheets, toss them in the laundry room, and close the door.

When dawn finally makes way into my room, I check on the kids.  Little Miss is feeling better, but Little Man looks terrible.  It was his birthday too.  He made one more grand finale of throwing up, then flopped from his bed, to our bed (with Steven), and back to the couch all day long.  He did open presents from us, but barely touched them to play.  It was so sad.  To top it off, Chubby Cheekers gets the diarrhea.  Diarrhea so bad that it burned up his booty.  My boys were breaking my heart.

For the remainder of the day, I worked on sanitizing the bathroom, Little Miss' room, the hardwoods, washing sheets, changing diapers, soaking a certain baby's booty, and getting as many fluids in the sicklies at possible.  It was a long, hard day.

I Lysol-ed the couch, put some sheets on it, and fell asleep immediately.  Steven took to our bed, and I wanted to give him space.  Space to sprawl and get better.  When Wednesday rolled around, I was beyond thankful to hear kids requesting breakfast and a husband who asked what he needed to do.  Ahhhh, people on the mend.  I likey!  Steven's first assignment was to take it easy, then I took to stripping our sheets, Little Man's sheets, and sanitizing any and every surface possible.  Our house is CLEAN!  In fact it reeks so much of Pine Sol and Lysol that is makes me gag a bit, but better than regurgitated green bean casserole (I don't think I'll be able to eat that for a very long time).

Alas, today, everyone is where they should be.  Little Man is at school.  Steven is back at work.  I am back into the usual Thursday routine, and could not be any happier.  Life is good.  We are healthy.

Now, this Saturday is Little Man's party and we are going to do it up RIGHT!  Poor guy had the stinkiest 6th birthday ever, so we're going big on his party day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Monday

That grocery budget got me this week.  Yikes.  I needed quite a few toiletry items this week and that zapped over half of my $100/week budget.  I did pick up some more fresh fruits and vegetables so I should be super skinny after this week ;)  I kid. I kid.

Thankfully, I have some freezer meals to pull from and some friends to mooch off of  so we won't starve to death.  Not to mention a certain little boy around here is turning 6 tomorrow.  SIX!  That means we're taking him out to eat. His choice.  Lord, please let him not choose Mc-Ba-Donalds (McDonalds).  Amen.

Anyway, I don't have a menu for you today.  However, I'm sure you have some friends you could mooch off.  Just don't let it be me.  You for real would starve then.

Have a great week!

And just because these pictures make me smile, here ya' go...

{Little Man, Little Miss, and Chunkey Monkey}

{Mr. Fluffy Pants and Chubby Cheekers}

Friday, November 2, 2012

We Don't Need A Dog

For the longest time I've had the cutest little people ask if we can get a dog.  Steven and I had a dog when we were first married up until we built our house.  Four months we lived with my FIL, so we found our dog a new family.  It was a hard decision, but the best one.

Now that the kids are older, they are asking for a small house dog.  I usually enjoy making my kids' dreams come true, but I'm not budging on this one right now.  No dog.  I'm such a meany pants.

However, when we tell the kids they can't do or have something we generally offer replacements.  That's were Chubby Cheekers comes in...

Photo: ROAR!

Chubby Cheekers is so much like a dog it's uncanny.  Here's the rundown...
  • He chews on shoes if we leave them out.
  • He picks up crumbs under the table if it's not swept up.
  • He plays in the toliet if the lid is up.
  • I have to clean up his messes (pee and poop).
  • He strings his chewed up toys all throughout the house.
  • He growls.
  • H drools.
See?  Just like a dog.  If only my oldest two could understand how logical this all is, then I would be saved.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

He's Selfless

When you live with a person you tend to overlook the amazing things about them.  Your days get filled up so fast and stopping to recognize the attributes in your spouse falls to the wayside.  I admit.  I'm really bad about this, but I really believe in the 'Better Late Than Never' policy.  So here it goes.

One of the reasons I married Steven was because of his heart towards the establishment of family.  We both have strong beliefs on spending time together as a family.  Because of those beliefs, we have little time for our personal hobbies.  However, there are two things that Steven enjoys doing more than anything.  Thing #1:  Competing.  Thing #2:  Football.

One of the things Steven competes at is running races.  He doesn't just run for the enjoyment of the race, but to win.  He has yet to place first, but he is getting closer.  Just check this out...
Photo: That's my husband!

Yep, that would be my husband coming in 2nd in his age group.  He was 37th overall in the 5k race. 37th out of 2,619 runners.  That's a pretty big accomplishment for an old man with three bambinos.

Although I'm extremely proud of his accomplishment, what makes me even prouder is his selflessness.  When wanted to run the 15k, then he looked at the calendar.  It was Little Man's last flag football game at 10am.  He knew there was no way he could do the 15k that began at 9:00am and make it to the game in time.  So he signed up for the lesser race.  No questions asked.  No complaining.  Nothing.

Later that evening we attended our church's Fall Festival for the kids.  There were blow-ups, bonfires, marshmallow roasting, hay mazes, corn dogs, and lots of other things.  The festival began at 7pm.  You know what else began at 7pm?  The Notre Dame/OU game.  We aren't really OU fans.  We root for them, but have no connection to the school.  Notre Dame, however, is a different story.  That is Steven's go-to college team.  They rank right under the Chicago Bears (which Bears game days are sacred moments at our house).  

When I realized the Fall Festival was the same day as the ND/OU game, I cautiously asked Steven if it would be okay to stay after church for the kids to do some of the activities.  He didn't even bat an eye.

Of course.  Why wouldn't we.

Uh, obviously he didn't realize the scheduling conflict.

Babe, it's the same time as the game.

I watched to see if his face would get all wrinkly.  It didn't.

I know.  The kids will have fun at the festival and I can get updates on my phone.

And that is precisely why I tricked him into marrying me.  He is pretty selfless when it comes to things he wants for himself.  He knew how much going to the festival meant to the kids.  The memories were way more important than sitting in front of the TV.  

{Steven on the left. Rene on the right.}

So I guess I'm here to say that I appreciate you, babe.  You make me a proud wife.  You are selfless.  I love you.