Ramblings from my life…

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Letters to you…

I have been writing hand written letters to my girls in a journal. Mostly I’ve been remembering the past because this blog is only 3 years old and there is no documentation of our lives before that. I hope to get the journals up to date soon so that I can write them a monthly letter. I just thought that it would be a neat gift to hand over to them on their wedding day… or when they have their first child.

I’ve also been meaning to scan in some of the girls recent art and class work. I figured that I can’t save everything… so why not scan it on the computer? It is fun to come across something old that the girls did that was long ago recycled. Here are a few of their recent pictures they made for halloween:

I actually think this one is quite hilarious… they are each thinking about their "loves"… by the 6 yr old

I'm not sure why the pumpkin is melting… except maybe b/c when she drew this, it was still quite warm outside? by the 8 yr old

It is interesting to see their perspective on holidays. One that I haven’t scanned yet is a picture of the caterpillar from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle… only his head is a skeleton head with a witches hat.

I can’t wait to find out what they come up with for Thanksgiving!!! Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is only 19 days away. Not only do I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal… but I love family time. I think this year I will have the girls write out what they are thankful for in advance and then have them read it to us on Thanksgiving day. Hm… maybe I will get hubs and I to do it too!

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Catch Up

Where have we been?

Life in this household has not slowed down. It seems that we go from event to event. Even when my calendar pages are empty, something comes up, like the 8 year old just started after school Enrichment in Chinese lessons. Monday we have Gymnastics. After the first session ended, the 6 year old has decided that it is not for her, so she is just going to take coloring and reading material with her. Every other Wed and every other Thursday we have either Brownies or Daisies (girl scouts). And of course the biggie… this is football season, so weekends are packed full. On top of the kids activities, I have taken up two jobs. I am substitute teaching again this year but since you normally don’t get a call everyday, I accepted a nanny job with my good friend. She works from home full time and needed someone to watch her younger two, so since I already know and get along with them – why not? It has been around 9 weeks with them and it is a dream job!

In other news, our HVAC just gave up and died, the fan has been on the fritz for about a year (producing hardly any heat and making an awful noise, then in the summer producing next to no cool air).  So since we needed a new system, we converted from oil to electric. The new system is working great!

A pipe in our septic system broke. I don’t know how long it has been broken, but my guess would be that it froze sometime during our major snow storm last year and burst shortly thereafter resulting in the need to be “pumped out” before we had an overflow issue. Hopefully the broken part comes in soon and can be repaired.

Did I mention that there seems to be a problem with our water softener? A few months ago our water started tasting metallic and subsequently our tubs and sinks started to stain. The problem seems to be off and on though, so we are putting off a new system until it completely dies.

I’m not sure that anything else could possibly go wrong with this house. I think we are done. You see, we’ve also had the roof replaced after much leaking…. and a few other things that I’ve mentioned over the years.

On the positive side, we have done some fun things like a surprise mission to Mimi’s house for her birthday, a crab feast and my husbands class reunion. I’ll leave you with some pictures of our adventures…

 

Stop the presses…

This morning I heard something that I have never heard before. My fashion princess asked ME what to wear. This is the girl who has taken pride in dressing herself since she was four years old. This is the girl who I go to when I’m not sure what I have on matches. Not to worry, she was just having a lazy moment. She is already back to her girly girl self.

Speaking of girly things, both of the girls are in Girl Scouts. The 8 year old is in Brownies and the 6 year old is in Daisies. I’m worried that when my Daisy bridges to Brownies at the end of the year, she won’t think it is girly enough. I mean, come on… we go from super girly, bright colors with a huge daisy flower on front to… brown? We recently had out Investiture and Rededication ceremony. The Daisies worked on cute crafts and the Brownies worked on a self life time-line. Could the two BE anymore different?

Perseverance to Perfection

She did it. My eight year old can now ride her bike without training wheels. I know, most kids do that around age 4. The problem is, you have to have commitment as the parent, to have the time and patience to run along with them, teach them balance and keep a positive attitude.

Two weeks ago we went to the park to try it out. After an hour of learning balance and riding with assistance, we went home. It was around 95* and she was starting to get frustrated. The six year old did not make it past 2 minutes without training wheels… that is a task for another day.

A few days ago we took the girls to the park again. Daddy worked with the 8 year old while I took the dog and the other child on a walk. After 40 minutes or so, we ran back into them and she was flying. He had her turning corners and braking without falling.

In other news, the girls started gymnastics. After much battle between what kind of sport/dance class to take… the girls finally picked gymnastics. The nice part is the beginning class is at the same time, but split up by age… so I only have to drive there once a week.

The girls continue to love school and their teachers. Last night was “back to school night”, where you get the low down on what the class will be learning, where they will go on field trips and how you can help your child succeed throughout the year. Once again I feel like the girls have teachers that fit their personalities. Amazing what a bit of prayer and patience can do…

Fly on the wall…

School started today. My kids are in 1st and 3rd grade. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet… but talking to them last night about their first day started to make me wish I could be a fly a on the wall. I mean, I know that they will be okay and their first day will go great – but part of me wants to experience it and see what it is like to be a kid in their class. Cheesy, I know. I don’t remember much from my Elementary days… so, I want to see how it feels to have the jitters/excitement of the first day of school, just so I can identify with them.

Ready to go!

The rest of my day will consist of cleaning. Sounds exciting, right? I want to have the house spotless when everyone gets home today. I think I might make the kids a welcome home sign. Last night my husband suggested that I make the kids a special breakfast today. They did not let me forget… so, french toast was served. I made the mistake of leaving a piece on the counter to cool before putting it in the fridge. When I got out of my shower, the toast was mysteriously gone and the one eyed puppy looked a little too happy.

What? What did I do?

In other news, I had a small basil cell carcinoma removed a few weeks ago. Apparently, these things grow really slow… in fact, mine has been present for around 7 years. I was born with a small bald spot on my head, known as a birthmark. About 7 years ago, it started to itch all the time. Even though it was annoying, I didn’t think much about it. Whenever I had my doctor look at it – they said it looked fine. So, I let this cancer grow on my skin because I wasn’t persistent about it. This year, I finally had enough. Having a spot on your head that itches all day long every day is very annoying. I told my doctor that I wanted it taken out. They sent me to a dermatologist and took a biopsy. The results came back saying that it could develop into basil cell carcinoma if it wasn’t removed. This was news to me, since my doctors had always said it looked fine… just a small bald spot, no big deal. After the spot was removed and sent to pathology, the results came back that it was indeed basil cell carcinoma.

Anyway, this is something in my life that is very private and I really didn’t want to share it with the world… but I feel the need, because left untreated… eventually the cancer would become a bigger problem. (Slow, yes… but progressing.) So… this now puts me at pretty high risk for skin cancers. I will never skip a day without sun screen anymore. I will also be that annoying itch that you have… telling you to get it checked out. The first sign is reoccurring itching. It doesn’t have to be all the time – but it is always in the same spot.

Summer days, drifting away…

I’ve been trying to be more relaxed this summer. Usually I’m worried about jamming in enough trips to the library, swim lessons and things that I forget to just enjoy the fact that we don’t have to do anything. I am a family girl. I’m not a huge fan of time away from my husband or kids. However, I haven’t been to my grandparents house in 9 years. I know, my kids are younger than that… which means they have never been down to visit. Thank goodness travel works both ways, as my grandparents have visited us several times over the last 9 years. So, this past week the kids and I jumped in my parents RV for yet another road trip adventure. When we arrived at my grandparents house on Friday morning, my grandfather was a bit taken aback. At first it didn’t click who these two little girls were standing at the door (my parents and I were hiding), but he knew that he recognized them. When we popped around the corner, it all fell into place. We then repeated the hiding as we entered the house to find Gran knitting. It took her a good hour to get over her initial shock! I can’t say that the rest of the visit was fabulous. There is something about living that long that gives you the right to be cranky. We’ll just leave it at that.

Thankfully, my cousin only lives an hour away and came to my rescue! We took the kids to feed some ducks and then took them to the mall to put on a fashion show for us. I’ve never let my girls in a dressing room alone before – so this was a special treat. They tried on outfits and then came out and modeled them for us.

This was a size 10 that she picked out… didn't try that one on!

We left a day early and set out to a camp ground, where we stayed for 4 days. The campground was on a lake and since over half of the sites are owned by people who keep their 5th wheels there… it was quiet. I took runs along the lake and swam in the pool for hours with the kids. The most memorable moment though was when my dad and I took a 3.1 mile bike ride to a local winery, did a wine tasting, and then rode 3.1 miles back to the campground with our purchase!

In other news, this weekend the family and I took a last minute day trip. The girls love water fountains… so we seek them out whenever we can.

Life with girls…

One word: Drama.

Anyone with more than one girl in the house can tell you that there is always drama. It doesn’t come it little spurts, but rather in large booms. Anything from screams, crying and growls to the Miss Prissy attitude… it is all there. You might have seen us out in public. We are the family with the two angels that never disrupt conversation or act rude. I mean it, no sarcasm there… but walk into my living room and another story develops.

I often wonder what life is like for my husband. Three moody girls and a dog. Lord help him the day the second kid hits puberty. I can imagine that the pinching, hitting and screaming episodes will calm down at each other… and the Mom is so not cool phase will start. I’m sure there will still be screaming, but maybe it won’t be as high pitched?

Obviously my girls can be sweet little angels at home too… but boy does it seem like they are at each others throats too often! Maybe because it is summer… maybe because the six year old finally has an opinion and wants to share it.

That's her, with her arms folded…

In the cooking world, I made three more appetizers to go over to a crab feast at our friends house.

Watermelon, Tomato, Basil Skewers (as easy as it sounds, with a balsamic glaze)

Black Bean and Mango salad (with red peppers, corn, basil and a lime dressing)

Smoked Salmon with capers and olive oil… garlic toast

All three are again from the cook book I am working through. I will post recipes over on my cooking blog. Tonight my sister-in-law is coming, so I am making a chicken and shrimp deal from the cookbook. Hopefully it turns out well!

Recycle, Reuse, Retire

As a family, we try to recycle as much as possible. Sure every once in awhile a paper towel will be thrown in the trash – but we try to be conscience of what we throw away. With the kids, I’ve started a statement with clean up time. We have our daily pick up of toys – which usually consists of them stashing things under furniture for the clean “look”. We also have our weekly mom sweep, which consist of me finding the proper place for a few things here and there…. and then we have the monthly toss out, which consists of my statement. “Girls, do you want to Recycle this, Reuse it (Something like construction paper that they rolled into a cone shape can be reused for a drawing.) or Retire it?” (which means, give away or throw away.) The monthly toss out takes about an hour and the girls have learned not to get frustrated or upset. I explain to them that old projects cause clutter and if they aren’t going to save it in their box, they need to recycle it. With toys, if it is no longer age appropriate, we decide if it can be given away or thrown away.

Another thing I’ve aways like to do is reconfigure furniture. I feel like it is easier to make a mess when things always stay the same. When you place your furniture in a different spot in the room, (or in a different room altogether) you can de-clutter and organize. When the girls started sharing a room a few months ago, their room became a tight space. However, the guest room stays clean and we only have one kids room to clean up now! Today I made the decision to move the reading chair out of the room and to the basement. The basement only has one overstuffed chair and a rocking chair, so it isn’t very family room friendly. We spend all of our family time up in the living room anyway, but now we have more options. Moving the chair out has made the girls room feel bigger – and taken away one more spot for things to get stuffed under.

In other news, I finished buying school supplies yesterday. I had some things left over from last year that the girls can use. They will also be re-using composition books. I will either tear out pages – or just leave it as is. The math journal had less than half used. I have two left over from last year too… in case she fills the whole thing up. Even with re-using, the supplies cost an arm and a leg. I’m gonna blame it on the pencils. Third grade asked for 8 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened and First grade asked for 4 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened. I know that my third grader will not use 96 pencils throughout the year. Maybe 30 – and I think that is pushing it.

Tuna sashimi from date night on the water! yum!

Speaking of food… I made three new dishes for my dad’s birthday party on Monday night. It took me 3 hours to prep them before taking them over to my parents house to cook. We have bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, grilled asparagus and melon salad and last, roasted tomatoes with garlic and gorgonzola. The last two are from the Giada cookbook and the first one was Giada inspired, as she has a procuitto wrapped stuffed date which is not cooked. I wanted to have the goat cheese melted inside the dates – and I love the flavor of the bacon with it. Since I used procuitto in my asparagus salad, I did try one of the dates with it and I didn’t like it as much. You can find all of Giada’s recipes over on my cooking blog. I forgot to take the “after” pictures – but here is the raw product!

raw bacon wrapped stuffed dates… almost yum!

Around the water cooler

Around our house you will often hear one or both of my girls singing or playing some tunes up in their room. They both love music, especially the 6 year old… it is not surprising since I am a singer and am always humming a tune or singing a song. They love all types of music from 80’s, 90’s, Jazz, Christian and more… but you will usually hear kid pop of some sort coming from their room, Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato or something from High School Musical. The funny part is, I like all of the music. I mean, the artist are good and their tunes are catchy. I’m not embarrassed to say that I know all the lyrics to Ice Cream Freeze (Hannah) or HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA’A (from HSM) but I’m not sure if my kids think I’m fun and cool – or maybe a bit crazy.

Today my 8 year old is writing another song. She most recently wrote, The Sea, the Ochan and the Shore (her spelling), which she added some more versus to today. Her new song is titled, Summer, so I’m excited to read the lyrics soon!

Speaking of summer… we only have four weeks left until school starts. I’m not ready to face the fact that my youngest child will be in 1st grade. Rumor has it that our school will have it’s only male teacher this year – and in 1st grade. I think it would be neat… but the 6 year old is not so sure. Wonder if the rumor is true? Our school waits until the week before school to give out teacher assignments. While I can understand why they do it, my stomach remains in knots until we find out. My kids have always been matched with the perfect teacher for them though… so I don’t know why I always worry.

my beauties

Arugula

Finally, what you’ve all been sitting on the tip of your seat for… the long awaited first recipe of my summer challenge! The reality of it is I would need to go shopping several times a week to keep up with the different recipes. So, we will have to take things a bit slower. For example, last night I made a new and improved lamb burger with roasted zucchini and yellow squash. Ground lamb was on sale and therefore I could not pass up the opportunity to make something with it. Basically I mixed the lamb with bread crumbs, one egg, kosher salt, pepper and fresh chopped garlic. We added our usual olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top, along with fresh tomatoes and arugula.

Anyway, my first recipe from the new Giada book was “Egg-white frittata with lox and arugula” which I completely over salted, since I don’t measure anything. I also used whole eggs because, come on… I’m not going to use egg yolks separately in anything any time soon… and I’m not going to waste them either. You can watch Giada perfect her frittata HERE on Food Network or copy her recipe from my cooking blog, HERE.

On the home front there is not much to report. The girls finished up their week of vacation Bible school and had a blast. We’ve been trying to make a craft a few times a week and have managed to get ourselves invited to a friends pool at least once a week.

In other news, it seems that something has happened to our water softener system. A few weeks ago we started having a metallic taste to the water and now our iron levels are so high that my tub and sinks are staining. We have never had a problem with this… sometimes when life hands you lemons, you don’t have any sugar to make lemonade.

the ONLY lemon that I like…