12/30/11

I Feel So Small

One of the most peaceful moments I enjoy happens in the late evening.  When it is dark.  The kids are in bed (of course, I said peaceful, right? haha!)  It doesn't depend on the season.  I'm more likely to be outside at this time during the warmer months, but these moments can happen any time during the year.  I step out onto my patio when the sun is down for the day. Behind our house, is a large landscaped hill.  On top of the hill, is a house and huge trees.  In this near-perfect moment, I am looking up at the sky.  The stars are clear and I can hear the wind blowing through the large trees above me.  There is just something so special about these moments.  The night is so quiet and I feel so small in such a big world.  At this moment, I usually start thanking God for the very many blessing in my life.

What does your near-perfect moment look like?

12/29/11

Get Rid Of Those Smells

I've already mentioned that I am very concerned about living in a house that smells like I have 2 kids, 2 cats and a dog.  I am almost finished with my first bottle of home made room spray.  I use it often and I am looking forward to coming up with a new scented combination.

I've been researching other home remedies to see what else I can try.  I discovered a great idea and had to share.  Imagine this...you are preparing a great meal.  It is going to be very tasty, full of many flavors.  Maybe onion, or garlic, or even better, onion AND garlic ;)  Dinner smells so good and you cannot wait to sit down and finally eat.  What is the downside (other than bad breath)?  The lingering smells in your kitchen for the next few days.  So here is the little trick I found...

While you are cooking that yummy dinner, place a small dish of vinegar next to the stove.  That's it.  Pretty simple.  Honestly, I haven't given this a try yet, but I am definitely going to use this the next time I cook a stinky, uh, I mean a tasty meal.

Let me know if you give this a try.  I am curious to find out if this works.  Thanks!

12/28/11

Thanks!

I just wanted to say thank you for such a great response to my post yesterday, "I'm not ready for this". It was great to read the thoughts of other people on this topic. It was fun for me and I got a chance to learn about a few readers. Please feel free to comment any time, I'd love to hear from you.

Dawn

After Christmas Play

Te presents have been opened and a few days have passed. Now is the time to see which gifts were a "hit" and which were only good in theory.


The princess tent was a hit :). My girl has been climbing in there to read, to draw, to play and to sleep. This is a cozy place for her to go and have fun in a private spot.


The easel was another winner. My little girl loves to play school and spends lots of time drawing. This easel is frequently used for both jobs :)




This is my son playing his new game for the wii. It is a NHL game. For months I've listened to a football game in the background of my house. Now I am hearing an ice hockey game. I'm not complaining. I was tired of the football commentators :)




My little man is a huge fan of Legos. He ha wanted the police station for about a year. He started it yesterday and has made good progress. He'll be finished with the whole set soon.

We are very blessed. It makes me happy to see my kiddos enjoying the gifts they were given. There were other presents and some of them have had a lot of use so far buy I didn't want to take too many pictures. This was a very good Christmas for these guys. And while I'm thrilled to see them use the gifts they were given, they both know that the presents are nice but Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday.

What were some of the "hits" at your house?

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12/27/11

Not Ready For This...

Andy is a hunter.  I don't like it but this is one of his only hobbies.  It is only a few weeks each year.  And he does eat what he "gets".  Knowing that he is a hunter, I have dreaded the idea of my children being hunters.  Even before they were born.  The idea of my babies walking around with a gun just goes against everything in me.

I realize that when the time comes, my son (and daughter if she cares to) will be very well trained to use the gun.  But that will not make me feel much better.  Accidents happen.  That is why they are called accidents...no one plans for them to happen.  I only get one Boy Mini and one Girl Mini and it seems stupid to me to let them traipse through the woods for hours on end where they can get lost, hurt or shot. But I know the time is coming.  And as much as I dread this activity, my husband is really looking forward to the day he can take his son hunting with him.   In my defense, I worry almost as much each time Andy goes out too.  

Yesterday, I had my first taste.  Andy had a few hours so he decided to take off into the woods and give hunting another try for this season.  Then he asked our 7 yr. old if he wanted to go along.  He was eager to join his daddy so off they went.  I threatened my son and told him that if I find out he touched the gun, then he wouldn't be allowed to go with daddy for a long, long time.  They were gone for hours.  But it seems they had a good time walking through the woods.  They saw deer paths, deer tracks, tree stands, an arrow that was shot from a crossbow and a dry lake bed among other things.  They came home all muddy, with a few scratches but wearing big smiles with shared memories.  To me, it sounds like a perfect afternoon walk in the woods.  No gun necessary, right?  Why can't they just hike on a regular basis?  Ugh! 

 I know mommies all over the world have to wrestle with watching their little boys (and girls) learning to hunt.  I'm thrilled that they had a great afternoon together.  I will encourage similar outings but I am still going to pray that my son will never feel right taking the life of any living thing and that he decides for himself that he doesn't like to hunt.  Time will tell...and I guess I will have to be prepared for both of my boys heading out each year.  But that doesn't  mean I have to like it.


12/23/11

Can You Make A Grape Float?

I can. My son got a really neat book on experiements for kids. This morning, as I was cleaning the bathrooms (the bathroom cleaning fairy must have run off with the laundry fairy) my son came in asking if we could do one of his new experiments. I said sure. I had no idea what I was in for. And science was not really my strength in school. But if both of my kiddos were workin together (they were gathering the materials needed) while they waited for me to finish cleaning, I was going to give it a try.

The experiment was a lesson on density. It was also very simple to do. It was fun spending the time together. I enjoyed asking their predictions and hearing what they were thinking. Both of the Mini's were pretty amazed. Just so you know, a grape is more dense than water so it sinks to the bottom of the cup. Sugar water is more dense than a grape so the grape will sink to the bottom and them float to the top of the water. Then we mixed water with sugar water and guess what happened? The grape sunk. You have to have way more sugar water than water to make the grape float.

This only took a few minutes of our morning. I am so glad I agreed to see this through with my kiddos. What a fun way to start our holiday vacation together. Maybe we can do a few more while the Mini's are on break from school.

12/22/11

The Magic of Hot Chocolate

I'm an equal opportunity warm drink person. I love my coffee. But I also enjoy a cup I hot tea. And one can never go wrong with a cup of hot chocolate.

Most nights, as the house settles down I tend to reach for my cup of comfort. The kids are tucked in bed. My face is freshly washed. And I'm sporting the PJ's of choice ;) Then I make something warm to drink. Sometimes it is tea but most nights it is hot chocolate.

This is my evening goody. I usually pass on dessert after dinner and look forward to my cup of liquid dark chocolate sprinkled with the perfect amount of marshmallows. A wait of a few minutes is necessary so I don't burn my tongue. But once I am able to drink my hot chocolate, I can just feel myself start to relax. The house is quiet. I've made it through another day.

This is a very common ritual for me. I look forward to settling down with my warm drink and a book. Maybe the TV will come on. This is a calm part of my day. It has occurred to me that I wake up early specifically to enjoy quiet moments with coffee and a book. And I end each day in a very similar way. Huh, I wonder what that says about me.


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12/21/11

Getting Ready For Christmas

Tonight we didn't have to rush out the door after dinner. We had a relaxing evening stretched before us so the kids and I got busy.

Year after year I struggle over Teacher Gifts. What should I give? Is it enough? One year I tried to make fudge. That was three batches of disaster. I have no idea what I did wrong but it definitely didn't turn out.

This year, I thought of our gift idea a few months ago. It was so simple. I am going to give my homemade granola to the teachers this year. Tonight I got the Mini' set up at the table to make Christmas cards for their teacher. While they were busy creating their card, I made my granola. When we finished with those jobs, the kids each made an ornament to give their teacher. This was a fun way to spend our evening. Both of the kiddos enjoyed making something to give their teacher. I loved listening to them while they worked on their projects. Thursday is the last day of school before the break. I know they will both be so excited to give their special gift to their teachers. And I know that I don't need to worry this year about the gift that comes from our house. That is a huge relief.

12/20/11

Non-Scale Victories Are Important

The Holidays are here. Over the next few weeks, people wverywhere will be eating way too much food way too often. If you have more self control than most and you can keep your indulging the sweet tooth to a minimum, that's awesome! But for most of us, it is so hard to be around all the food without partaking in the yumminess.

Something I learned when I began my weight loss journey, was to look at the holidays with a goal in mind. A realistic goal. Basically, do you want to still have a loss when the festivities are over? Are you just hoping to maintain where you are? Or are you truly ok with a temporary gain? There is no right answer. Your response will then determine the work you have cut out for you as you hop from party to party.

Remember, non-scale victories are so important. I am someone who can become obsessed with the number on the scale. And when I feel myself becoming consumed with angst over that number, I have to force myself to think in terms of non-scale victories. This morning, I remembered a very real NSV that happened to me about 6 years ago. It was this time of year. I had been on a roll with my weightloss. And I had to buy a dress to wear to a New Years Eve wedding. I remember taking my best friend and feeling the very familiar dred of clothes shopping. Nothing ever fit right. Nothing ever looked how I wanted it to look. But this time, we went into JCPennys and I pulled a black dress off of the rack. I tried it on and I was really happy with what I saw. This dress was a size 14 and I couldn't have been happier! This was my first major NSV and I still feel a small rush of excitement as I think on this moment.

Your NSV may be different. It may be focused on what you do or don't eat at one social event. For example, "today I will take one plate and take a little of everything I want. But then I am finished with the food.". That is a common one for me. I love food. I am a grazer. I have a hard time staying away from a few bites here and a few bites there. But if I set that goal and am successful, it is an amazing feeling.

Whatever you do, don't give up. If you mess up, forgive yourself and move on. There will be other opportunities or success. Keep your long term goal in mind.

Maybe you will just stay active. You will find some way to exercise each day you have a social event. Whatever the goal is for you, setting a goal and seeing it through is so empowering. When setting your goal, make sure you know what you want the final outcome to be(loss, maintain or gain). Take small steps to make that happen. Enjoy the time with family and friends. An celebrate ANY non-scale victory you achieve. The holidays are stressful enough without adding the concern of what we eat.

12/19/11

Christmas Bells :)

My church has a Children's Bell Choir. The kiddos play twice a asrsrseyear; around Christmas and Easter. When my oldest was born, I couldn't wait for him to turn 4 so he could participate. Those kiddos stand up there and ring the bells with such gusto. I love it!

My son has played the bells since the golden age of 4. My daughter, has not. She is very introverted. Being in front of an audience is not a natural fit for her.

I was surprised when this year she said she wanted to try the bells. Today was the big day. I was a little nervous for her but I was very excited to see the whole group perform for us. The front pew was filled with children patiently waiting for the cue to stand and grab the bells.

As the children line up and begin to play, I noticed that my girl is holding the bells upside down. Whoops! I thought it was adorable but hoped no one would point it out. It was so hard for her to be up there in the first place. Next thing I knew, she was turning the bells around. I held my breath as she maneuvered the bells hoping she wouldn't drop them. Again, I kept thinking about how upset she would be if she was embarrassed. But the bells were righted, and she never missed a step.

I was so proud of both my kiddos and I enjoyed listening to the "joyful noise" the whole group made. And I'm sure I had that Silly Mommy Grin the whole time.


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12/16/11

Random Thought

                                                          

I had a revelation about myself the other day.  It's not exactly earth shattering but I have found myself thinking about this new insight ever since the discovery.  I love journals.  There are such beautiful journals out there to be bought, brought home.   Thoughts and memories are to be recorded in these journals and they are a written history of a person's life, from that person's perspective.  What a treasure.

Some people write in a journal to pass down their experiences to the next generation.  Some people write for themselves, as a way to process their world around them.  Page after page is filled with  words that describe emotions and problems and dreams and failures.

I have quite a collection of journals tucked away in different places in my house.  But the thing with me is that I don't write in those journals.  I seem to like the idea of a journal.  Actually writing in a journal is something I never keep up with.  I was cleaning out my nightstand last week and I found three different journals that had just a few things written in each.  What a waste.

I don't know why I can't keep up with a journal.  I really do like the idea of writing in a journal.  And I always find myself looking at new journals when I am in certain stores.  I'm not sure what my fascination is all about.

So the revelation?  I was thinking about my many unfinished (barely started) journals and I realized that Java Talk is like my journal.  This is where I write down my ideas, my concerns, the things that make me laugh, etc.    It isn't as pretty as having a nice book to flip through and pass on to my children one day.  But the process is still there.  I really enjoy writing my blog.  It is therapeutic to some degree and yet it is just fun.  This is my creative outlet and I am very thankful for this opportunity to write and share my ideas.  With that in mind, I believe I write Java Talk for myself.  I would write it even if no one ever saw these entries.  I am touched that there are people who are interested in what I have to say enough to read my blog regularly.  Thank you for taking the time to read Java Talk, I appreciate your support.

12/15/11

Delete!

I confess to being a shopaholic. I spend too much at most any time. It seems the more I try to control the spending, the worse the impulse.

The upside to this is the Christmas shopping has been done for a while. I like to shop in a store as well as shopping online. I'm an equal opportunity shopper.

The downfall to shopping online is that then you get bombarded by emails from the shops you already shop from. And of course these emails announce all the special deals that are available.

I'm sure your inboxes are flooded as well. I have had to start deleting these messages without opening them. It is too much of a temptation if I see the image of whatever the "great deal" is. Seriously, I check my inbox and hit, "delete, delete, delete, etc". It's annoying but I can't bring myself to unsubscribe to these sites for fear that one day I will miss out on that Most Amazing Deal.

I know, I'm an advertiser's dream. It is what it is. It may seem silly to fight this online shopping temptation several times a day. But I am proud to say that since I've finished the gift shopping I haven't continued to buy for the recipients which is very easy to do.

I expect these emails to continue through the beginning of January, when everything is "blowout" pricing. But that's not too far away and my poor delete button will get a break ;)


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12/14/11

Big Girl Time

What has cheese, garlic, protein, chocolate and laughter together? Dinner at The Melting Pot with the ladies from Book Club. We don't make a habit out of eating sooooo much food. But the Holidays are among us so we checked our calanders, made our reservations and drew names for a Secret Santa gift exchange. All the prep work was done and we were ready for some Big Girl Time.

We had so much fun! We are a small book club, only six of us. But this is a nice size. We had a table in a semi private room. The restaurant is a fondue restaurant. There were two burners at our table. So for each course we got to choose two types of cooking flavors. Two cheeses, two cooking broths, and two types of chocolates! Yum! No way to go wrong there.

We had a great night together, laughing and celebrating. We discussed the book that we read this past month. We joked about the amounts of food we consumed (who knew such tiny bites of food could be so filling?) and talked about our Christmas plans. It was a great night out with friends. I'm so thankful to call these ladies my friends.

12/13/11

The World Through My Son's Eyes

My son is 7 and a really good reader (forgive my proud Mommy Moment).  Lately, I've had to smile at his innocence as he reads something and makes an incorrect interpretation.  For example, tonight I am going out to dinner with some friends.  Andy told the Mini's they were going out to Arooga's for wings.  My son responded by asking, "Can we go to Hooters for wings?"  Um...no!  Now, just to lay down the facts, my husband does not eat at Hooters.  Our son just remembered reading the sign that they sold wings and it stuck in his mind.  Cute, huh?  Not to this mommy.

  I previously wrote about how we as parents chose to keep the Sandusky scandal from his little eyes.  That means that we kept the newspaper from him for a few days.  We wanted to protect him from some of the ugliness in this world.

Recently we saw a Billboard while driving around.  He saw the baby who was clearly cold and read the reference about Daddy not having the heater serviced before the cold weather moved in.  I forget the actual joke of this ad, but it was funny to me that he was so literal and missed the point of the commercial. I realize he is only 7 and the HVAC company really doesn't care if my son misunderstands the ad campaign, but this is just another example of how my son takes everything in and tries to understand the world around him.

The older he gets, the more we have to work  to protect the innocence in our children.  I don't want my kiddos to live in an unrealistic bubble but I feel they are too young to experience a lot of what is bombarding us from all angles.  Now, I not only have to choose what is appropriate for the Mini's to watch on TV (which I think is tough enough), but I have to worry about what they can read.  Read in the paper, books, on T-shirts, and now on the signs that pepper the streets.  The job of a parent doesn't seem to get easier.  It changes all the time as each stage brings on new challenges.  I'm not complaining, just sharing my observations.

This topic has brought a cute story to mind. This memory takes place my Boy Mini  was in kindergarten.   It was the first time I ever heard him sound something out without being prompted.  We were visiting my in-laws in Erie.  We were stopped at a red light and I heard my Little Man saying "KaFaCa, KaFaCa".  I was confused and so I turned to him.  He was very serious looking.  Then I realized we were stopped in front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken and the sign out front only said KFC.  The poor guy finally decides to sound out a "word" in the real world and it isn't a real word.  I laughed a lot over that one.  



12/12/11

The Worst Part

If you have known me for at least one holiday season, you know I LOVE Christmas!  I love the music.  I'd listen to it all year round if it didn't get me such crazy looks (I believe in the message all year so why can't I sing to it?).  I do wait until Halloween to pull out the Christmas music.  The pretty lights make me feel relaxed.  Our tree went up the night before Thanksgiving.   And I wouldn't have it any other way.  If I haven't started my shopping by mid-October, I feel panicked.  And whats not to love about the many occasions to visit with friends and family and enjoy yummy holiday treats?  

                              
                                                        

The worst part for me at any gift giving occasion is the wrapping of the presents.  I do not like to wrap.  At all.  No fun for me.  The shopping is fun.  I love thinking about what to give to the people I love.  The wrapping is worse than a chore.  Yep, I'd rather clean bathrooms then wrap presents.  In fact, I often find myself with an unwrapped gift that has been purchased and sitting in the bag for a few weeks.  I have managed to avoid wrapping the gift for those weeks.  And wrap it within hours of the gift being opened.  The whole time I am wrapping, I am thinking, "Why bother?  It is just going to be ripped open in a few hours."  Of course, this is a problem of my own making, not the gift recipient's.  And yes, I feel gift bags are still an act of wrapping.  

So this year, as my closet has become overrun with gifts and boxes, the guilt has been plaguing me.  This little inner voice has been saying, "you really should start wrapping". But I don't wanna! (insert whine here) So I came up with a new plan this year.  My sister comes home at the beginning of Christmas week.  The Mini's are still in school for the first few days of that week.  So Sis and I are going to have a Wrapping Party.  There will be paper, and presents and bags galore.  There will be music and coffee or maybe hot chocolate a plenty.  There will be laughter (that's pretty much a guarantee when the two of us get together).  And I'm hoping this is just what I need to put some excitement into this dreaded chore.  For now, the annoying voice telling me to get busy wrapping has stopped.  And I am looking forward to this afternoon with my Sis.  Maybe this can become a new holiday tradition for us.  Although, I feel it's only fair to warn Andy if this plan doesn't work, he may be Head Wrapper starting next year!

12/9/11

Friday

This is not a normal Friday. This is an early dismissal from school Friday. On days that the kiddos have rely dismissal, the school district buses the kindergarten kids in early and feeds them lunch. That seems like a waste of money to me but no one asked me.

Knowing my youngest would be at school by 11:30 am, I decided to checkout what classes the Y offered at this time. I was pleased to find a Zumba class available. That meant I could sleep in this morning (yay for me!) and I got to get my Zumba Groove on ;)

So my day has been something like this...

Take Son to school.
Run home.
Take daughter to gymnastics.
Stop by the mall to buy daughter a new winter coat (her zipper broke yesterday on the old one)
Take daughter to school and we were almost late because we had to run back to the house to get her backpack (of course it's library day so if she doesn't return the book, she can't get another)
Then I drove straight to Zumba.
Sweat like ice in a glass.
Drove home.
Showered crazy fast and got ready.
Picked the Mini's up at the bus stop and drove to meet some friends so we could enjoy our early dismissal to the max.

It is almost 3 pm and I'm exhausted! I am so glad it's Friday.



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12/8/11

Why Exercise?

It's no secret I enjoy my exercise. I'm not obsessed with it but I truly enjoy that hour five days a week that I set aside for my workout. And I pity the person or circumstance that gets between me and my exercise.

I don't need to tell you the physical benefits of regular exercise. The key to sticking with exercise for me is variety. Variety and a class environment. There was a time a class full of people would have freaked me out but now I thrive on the energy in the room. And when it gets tough, someone is always there to say the right words to motivate you through the moment.

I do cardio interval, muscle works, kickboxing, boxing, Zumba and even some Pilates. I use fun toys like, weights, Weighted bars, medicine balls, exercise balls, steps, bands and mats.

Zumba is a great cardio workout. And as a woman, it makes me feminine and sexy. Boxing is awesome because I feel so strong and my body is changing without weights and a million reps ;)

I'm not into big muscles an some women fear these forms of exercise because they don't want to look manly. These types of exercises are great for shaping and toning. And that is what most women would like.

I often hear mom's say they feel guilty about taking the time away from their family to do something for themselves. While I would agree there are some activities that should not come before family, your fitness is not one of them. I am a much better mommy when I take care of myself physically. I feel better. I have burned off steam. I am setting the example of the importance of exercise. And I hope they see that I am an important member of the family too and so this is one thing that gets done for mommy. When the kiddos are older, I look forward to them joining me at the Y.


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12/7/11

Daily Frustration of Mine

Sometime over the past year I have really begun to enjoy making dinner for my family.  Sometimes I don't like thinking of what to make, but that is where my planning ahead comes in handy.  Just check the  menu for the week and see what I feel like eating and prepare...

So, I spend the time planning meals.  Running to the store for something I forgot to get at the store.  Preparing the meal (while juggling assisting the Mini's with homework) and getting a healthy, tasty meal to the table for my family.  I get bored easily so I don't like to make the same thing too often.  Sometimes I take requests and that is when I make " favorites".

I really do ENJOY this process, most nights.  Really I do.  I sit down, feeling good about myself and a job well done.  Then so quickly, that content feeling is whipped out from under me.  Not intentionally, of course, but its gone nonetheless.  Someone starts complaining.  My daughter is famous for, "how much do I have to eat?"    And my favorite is, "can we have dessert? (I know, this isn't a complaint, but if you've barely touched dinner, why do we need to think about dessert?) The thing is, I know what my family doesn't like.  I rarely make something with ingredients I know they do not like.  I think it is more habit than anything else for them to find something they don't want to like.  I realize I am no kitchen goddess and I do not expect a gushy chorus of how wonderful dinner is.  But I would love to sit down, and have the people I love, just eat what I have made for them.  We could enjoy our dinner conversation as we eat what has been prepared for the evening meal.

I realize this is probably happening in homes across the world every day.  While there is some comfort in being a "normal" family, it doesn't make this daily matter any less frustrating.  It would be so much easier to plop microwaved frozen meals in front of each person.  But that is no longer the wife and mother I am.   I don't expect my kiddos to appreciate the effort I put into their lives until they are much older.  But a "thanks mom" or "this is yummy" every once in a while would be great.  They say it takes 10 positive comments to counter balance 1 negative comment.  I believe it.   I will continue to prepare healthy, tasty meals for my family, no matter what they do or don't say.  Making these meals are one way I feel I am showing them I love them.  Some day, they will think back on dinner time and they will get it.

12/6/11

Homemade Air Freshener


I am so excited about this new idea. I have two cats, a dog, two kids and one husband. I am always worried that my house smells like animals or something worse. So I buy lots of air fresheners and sprays and candles, etc.

I found this simple recipe online and couldn't wait to try it. It was simple and worked great! Andy says its very strong but it's just a matter of getting the right balance. No biggie. And there is nothing harmful in these simple, natural ingredients.

All you need is a spray bottle, water and 30-40 drops of whatever essential oil scent you wish I use. I mixed Sweet Orange an Clove Bud. I love that sweet and spicy combination. Add it all together. Shake it up. Spray. Smell your wonderful, homemade room spray.

If you give this a try, leave a comment and let me know what scent you made. Give us some ideas for future sprays.

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12/5/11

The House That WE Built

This Saturday was a beautiful day. We spent some time outside, the kiddos enjoyed riding their bikes now that everyone has moved away from training wheels.

We spent a little time shopping. I was surprised how quickly we ran into the toy store and the mall and found what we were looking for. Holiday surprise for me :)

When we got home, we pulled out a gingerbread house kit and got to work. Daddy and I assembled the structure. And if you look closely one of the walls is leaning in. I'm gonna claim that Andy was responsible for that side, hehe.

Then we let the Mini's decorate. They will in Sugar Candy Heaven! Runts, Nerds, Bottlecaps and SweetTarts, oh my! So not my kind of candy. Although, I was definitely in the minority.




Sweetpea having fun with some icing.




The Boy Mini was determined to make a pattern. Red, green, red, green...




This is the house that WE built. Not too fancy, not to difficult, but the perfect way to spend an afternoon together.

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12/2/11

Dinner Hit!


Last night was the final night the kids and I were on our own for dinner.  Our Daddy has been away  for his week of hunting.  I was really impressed with this meal and the Mini's made quick work of their food, which is always a good thing.

Homemade sweet potato fries and chicken tenders with a side of green beans was on the menu at our house.  This was the first time I made the fries as well as the first time I made the chicken tenders with this method.  I will absolutely be making these again.  I will admit, the green beans came from the can but you have to cut me a break, I was trying two new recipes as well as helping with homework.  

Sweet Potato Fries:  I peeled and cut two sweet potatoes to look like fries.  Then I placed the "fries" into a ziplock bag.  Put in a little olive oil and tossed.  Spread the fries on a baking sheet (preheat oven to 400*) and bake for about 40 mins.  Keep an eye on the fries to make sure they don't over cook.

Chicken Tenders:  I cut  my chicken breasts into tenders.  In one bowl, I put 1Cup of whole wheat flour.  In another bowl, I put the equivalent of four eggs.  In a final bowl, I put 2 1/2Cups of Panko Bread Crumbs.  Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs.  Place on a baking sheet.  Cook for about 20 mins.  Internal temp. should be 165*

Both of these new recipes were very simple and well worth any work that was involved.  The chicken tenders were very crunchy without being fried.  I like any recipe that the kiddos are happy to eat without any fuss.  




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12/1/11

The Power of Music

The kids and I were in the car and the Christmas song, Sleigh Ride was on the radio. I was merrily singing along when I had a flashback of myself in kindergarten.

Today in school, the different areas of learning and play are called "centers". I'm not sure what those places were called "back then" but this memory takes place in the "Listening Center".

I remember how I loved to go over to the record player ( I know, I just dated myself). I would put on the headphones and just listen to the music. My favorite album was a Mickey Mouse and Friends Christmas album. And Sleigh Ride was my favorite song to listen to. This song was sang by none other than Goofy! Loved this song! Im not sure what the draw was but I have often thought back to that song on that record that I would listen to in the corner o my classroom.

Back to tonight. I was singing along. Smiling to myself. And remembering this little piece of my early years. So I decided to share the memory with the Mini's. They enjoyed hearing my story and shocked me by knowing what a record was. I have no idea how they knew that but their collaborative description was pretty accurate.

Isn't it amazing what a song can do? It can trigger memories and bring back emotions. I was reminded tonight that I have always loved to listen to music and I enjoyed sharing this happy memory with my children.

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11/30/11

That Just Sounds Gross!

                                                           


Ever decided you wouldn't like a food before you even tried it.  We all have.  Some of us are more adventurous than others when it comes to the food we eat, but we've all been there.  I once felt this way about pistachios.  This tiny little nut, just sounded awful to me.  The only fond thought I had of this food was the scene in Mickey's Christmas Carol where the Ghost of Christmas Past showed up and asked Scrooge if he wanted a pistachio.  Cute scene.

Fast forward many years and I managed to avoid these tiny wonders.  Most nights, after the kiddos go to bed, my hubby will sit down with a bowl of peanuts or pistachios.  For years, I sat beside him as he cracked away and ate those nuts all gone.  I had NO IDEA what I was missing.  Being a Pistachio Snob was pointless.  I wouldn't even try them.  I mean, they are green and wrinkled and what kind of name is Pistachio?  

About 2 yrs ago, I was packing my son's lunch.  He was not a Pistachio Snob and so I was cracking them for him (he was still in preschool) and for some crazy reason, I was inspired to taste one.  WOW!  That tiny nut was amazing.  it was crunchy and salty and so tasty!  I couldn't stop eating them.  Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed at the image of me standing over the trash can dumping shells as fast as I could get them open.  Oh well, I had a long time many years without pistachios to make up for ;)

Pistachios have lots of health benefits so they make a great snack.  Of course, this is when I remind everyone that portion size is important.  But these little goodies are a good source of protein, fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.  

I don't eat these all the time.  Every once in a while I will have them with my sandwich and an apple for  lunch.  I love these little nuts.  I wonder what else I'm missing out on by not giving the new food a chance.  

Have you ever tried a food you never thought you would like but found you were surprised after the first bite?  Leave a comment below sharing what that food was.

11/29/11

Here We Go Again.

By "we" I mean "me".  I read a writing prompt today, When have you dreaded returning somewhere? This took 2 seconds for me to form a response.  As I sit her with this extremely uncomfortable pain in my hip, I am unable to forget my trip to Hershey Med Center today for a special type of MRI on my hip.

A little background...In 2008, I had surgery on my right hip to correct a problem called Hip Impingement.  I had this special MRI in 2008 to determine the amount of Laberal damage was in my hip joint.  The test confirmed, lots of tearing so I went to surgery to fix the impingement and fix the damage that was done.

It is now nearing the end of 2011 and I am experiencing more frequent pain and discomfort in my left hip.  I have already seen the Bone Doc, and he sent me to have this special test today.  What makes this test so "special" and very painful is that in an effort to inject a dye into my hip that will show up on the MRI, they have to do much more than just poke me with a needle filled with color.  The process took about 20 mins.  Even with local numbing, it was extremely uncomfortable.  Then, they had to start over at one point.  Apparently, 10-15% of patients have their Bursa in the way, so the needle needs to move around to get below it.  Guess who fit into THAT unlucky category?  I vaguely remember a similar situation with the other hip last time.  Not the specifics but that they had to start over to get a better angle.  All of this BEFORE I am led to the huge machine that swallows you up and bangs all around while your toes are taped together and you aren't allowed to move for 30 minutes.

I have been through this before.  The initial visits to the Bone Doc.  The special MRIs.  Even surgery and recovery.  And I am happy to say that my symptoms are no where near as progressed as they were the first time around....YET.  But the frequency has definitely increased.   I have dreaded this whole entire process.  I'm not sure why it is so upsetting to me.  I have been here before.  But I've healed and been better for all of this too.  So why am I so full of dread and angst over the possibility of walking down this same path again?  I'm very frustrated with myself with these feelings.

I have to wait about two weeks until I see  the Bone Doc again and  discuss the results of this test.  I need to be prepared for another trip to the OR.  But I also need to decide if it should be sooner or later. Part of me says put it off as long as you can.  But part of me says, if I'm definitely having the same problem, lets fix it before it gets so far progressed I can barely walk up the stairs.

This is not my typical happy post.  But I'm not feeling like my typical happy self right now.  Tomorrow will be a better day, once this discomfort subsides.  Not sure what the experience of reading this was like, but writing these thoughts down have helped me feel a little better about the whole thing.  For now at least, while I wait to see what's next.  

11/28/11

Feeling Festive

So the tree is up.





I love my Christmas tree. All those twinkling lights. So peaceful. So relaxing. Sitting in an otherwise dark room lit by my Christmas tree is my "happy place" for the next few weeks.

My front door is decorated.




Again, I think the lights change everything about this doorway. I made the Santa about 6 yrs ago alongside my mother-in-law. Before kids, she and I always worked on some creative project over the holidays. My son was a baby when I made this. I think this was our last project.

Last night I made the wreath.




Nothing too fancy. But it was fun to throw together and finish off the look of the front door. I stopped at the craft store to pick up some ribbon for another project and this idea for a wreath popped into my head. I quick grabbed the supplies (I only spent $11.00 on the entire project!) and couldn't wait to get started.

Until recently, it had been a long time since I've been in a crafting mode. Now that I've been creating a few things I feel like I need to find a new project. There is just something about having an idea and then making it happen. Often it comes out completely different from my first idea but it never seems to matter to me. The sense of accomplishment while looking at a finished project is a terrific feeling. I wonder what I'll get into next...

Have you started or finished decorating for the holidays? It seems that people are really starting early this year. Personally, I love it. (remember my happy place). Is it still too soon for all the holiday pretties? Share your thoughts.



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11/25/11

A Good Day

I hope your thanksgiving was a very nice day spent with the people you love. We had a great day at our house.

We had a relaxed morning. Andy went to a nearby town to run in a Turkey Trot. He was 17 out of 150 in his age group. Hooray Andy!


While he was gone, the kids and I finished our putting out the Christmas decorations. This year I placed a few things in different places. Changed it up a bit. I love it all! When the decorating was done, I did my workout at here at home.

My contribution to our dinner was the apple pie and the sweet potatoes. Andy made the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies. I warmed the green beans and put out the cranberry sauce.

The Turkey was done early. The family arrived right on time. We had a great time around the table. The Mini's had a one track mind...focused on the pies!

We kind of cleaned up as we went along so there was never too much to do at once. The weather was warm so the kids were in and out throughout the rest of the day. Football was on in the living room. In the kitchen, the ladies grabbed a cup of coffee and looked through the sales flyers while we talked and played several rounds of the game Racko.

We ended this great day with goodbyes and making plans to spend tomorrow together. Our Daddy has to work tomorrow, but my sister and both of my parents have off tomorrow. So the kiddos and I are going to make the most of this holiday and get lots of family time in while we can :)




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11/23/11

A Moment To Be Thankful

                                                 


This November is a good month for reflecting on the things we are thankful for since it is the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Many of my friends on Facebook, have taken this month and posted every day one thing they are thankful for.  I thought this was a great idea, but I for some unknown reason, I did not jump on this opportunity.  I may not have shared a daily post on what I'm thankful for in my life, but I have enjoyed reading what the people in my life, both near and far are thankful for.  

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I made my first apple pie a little while ago.  That was fun for me.  Holidays can be so stressful.  We look forward to spending the time with people we love but often run ourselves ragged trying to prepare for the event.  Between cooking and cleaning, throw some kids, a husband, two cats and a dog in the mix and things can get pretty tense.  I decided to make this pie ahead of time so I have one less thing to do tomorrow when there is so much to be done.  So today, I am going to list the things that I am thankful for in mental preparation of the holiday we will celebrate tomorrow.  

I am thankful for...
  • my children
  • my husband
  • the health of my family
  • my Savior died for me
  • my friends
  • that I can walk and exercise and love to exercise
  • that my sister lives on the East Coast now so we will see her more often...on Thanksgiving for example ;)
  • our parents are great with the kiddos
  • we have a wonderful home
  • we have food to eat
  • Andy has a job where he is able to provide for us
  • I am able to stay home with the Mini's 
  • my church family 
  • we have the extra car (that's paid for no matter how much I dislike driving it)
  • I have sight so I can see the beauty that God has created
  • my children are doing well in school
This list could go on and on.  I don't want to bore anyone.  Probably no surprises on this list.  Your list may look very similar.  Being thankful is something that comes pretty naturally to me and I like that.  I hope my children learn how to be thankful and appreciate the things in their lives.

What is one thing you are thankful for?  Leave a comment below.

11/22/11

Where Will You Be...

...At midnight on Black Friday?  I had to laugh yesterday when I was at the mall and more than one sales associate shared that the stores would be opening at midnight on Black Friday.  I smiled and responded to both women, "That's nice, I'll be sleeping in my bed at midnight on Black Friday".  I do not get the circus that Black Friday has become.

Don't get me wrong, I am a shopper at heart.  I have LOTS of experience when it comes to shopping (haha!).  Shopping for others, shopping for myself.  Even shopping for strangers.  And saving money is always great!  For two reasons....1. I get to tell my hubby "it was on sale" and 2. I get to buy more things with the money I saved on the sale item ;).  But I have never been out to shop on Black Friday.  It all seems so crazy.  Seeing on the news about grown people fighting over items (usually toys) on the shelves.  Standing in lines that wrap around the store.  Uh-uh, not for me.  Who has the patience for that?   Again, not me.

When my second child was born, I discovered online shopping.  What an amazing invention.  Of course, it is very easy to get carried away but truthfully, I get carried away in the stores as well.  Sadly, I must admit I am a spender.  I hang my head in shame as I type these words.

I realize it is a tradition for some.  But as each year seems to get crazier in the stores, I don't think I could bring myself to start this particular tradition.  I am quite happy to start my shopping early (October-ish) and tuck them away as they come to my front door.  I've learned a few tricks to save on shipping, which helps.

Please don't read too much into this opinion.  If you enjoy the crowds, traditions and great price breaks, that's great.  Just know I am one less person you will have to battle the crowds for that "perfect gift".  Is Black Friday shopping a part of your Holiday traditions?  Leave a comment and share if you will be one to brave the crowds this year.

Just Because

We took our Christmas pics this past weekend.  This is not the one we selected for the card but I like it anyway.  It's more of a candid shot.  I'm thrilled we got our Doggie Girl in the picture.  At 13 yrs old, who knows if she will see another Christmas.


The tree goes up some time this week.  I am so excited to celebrate the season! The cold months can drag on but I love celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas  Holidays :)  What a special time of the year.

11/21/11

Fall is Here


This is our birch tree. Two years ago, Andy and I thought it wasn't going to make it and we were ready to toss it to the curb and get a new tree. But we decided to give it another season. So glad.

This tree has become my favorite tree in our yard. It has grown so much and fills in so beautifully.

Yesterday I passed by the window and noticed all the leaves had fallen. I didn't see this happening. Must have been a few dropped here and a few there but now my tree is bare.

I know this is the way of nature but it's still a little sad. The dreary, cool months give us some terrific holidays to spend with family but I'm going to look forward to seeing this tree spring back to life!

What says "it's Fall" to you?

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11/18/11

Book Review

I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson.

I finished reading this book last night.  I really struggled through most of the book.  Not because it was badly written or because I hated the plot.  As I mentioned earlier this week, reading the thoughts of the main character was very hard for me.  It wasn't necessarily the content of the thoughts, it was the breakneck pace that these thoughts seemed to run through her mind.  I was so tense and at time felt like it was hard to breathe.

We met for Book Club yesterday afternoon.  I was only 80% through the book.  That is not normal for me. I usually finish the book with weeks to spare.  Anyway...as talk of the book progressed, something caught my interest so I decided to finish the book.  I'm glad I did.

I had already begun to see a slight shift in the main character's thoughts by 80% and wanted to see how this story ended.  I do not want to give anything away but I will say that the main character definitely learned a few important lessons.  Around 80% she was beginning to see things differently but there is a difference between seeing what needs changed and making some changes.

I will end this by saying, that I am glad that I finished the book.  This is not my favorite book but I would probably recommend this book to a friend.  With the warning that in my mind, it was the end that made the book.  I can see that this book is not for everyone.  That's what is so fun about Book Club.  One friend identified with the main character and enjoyed the book.  One friend also connected with the main character on some level and for that she didn't like the book.  Another friend, thought the story was good but she didn't like the main character at all.  I think that is very interesting.  For a small group of women (some who work outside of the home, some who work from home, some who do not work) to read the same book and have such different experiences is intriguing to me.  To see  how others filtered their experiences through the same same story is very revealing.  And I think we learn a little more about each other through this experience.

11/17/11

Totally Random Thought

                                                            


The moment when I feel best about myself each day is probably when I just finish getting ready for the day.  Now, this is NOT early in the morning.  This is after the kiddo is at school.  Homework with the little one is done.  My workout is done and maybe a few other things as well.  After I get out of the shower, get dressed, style my hair and put on my makeup...this is probably my best moment.  I finally feel put together and confident.  I am ready to face the rest of the day.  Sometimes, this feeling flits away by the time I get downstairs.  Other days, this good feeling may last a bit longer.  But there is just something about that one moment when I look in the mirror and think, "I'm done.  I'm ready now."

The next moment of my day that I truly look forward to, takes place many hours later.  This time, homework with the big kid is done.  Dinner is made and cleaned up.  Lunch is packed for the next day.  We have prayed and tucked the Mini's into bed.  This moment is when I have put on my jammies and have washed my face.  No matter what kind of day I've had, when I wash my face and change into my comfy PJs, its like I get to start all over again.  In this peaceful state of mind, I go downstairs and make a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows or enjoy a biscotti with hot tea.  Ahhh...the next few hours are mine.  This is time that Andy and I catch up.  We may watch a little TV.  But most nights, I just curl up with a book.

Of course I look forward to many, many moments in between these daily rituals.  I find it interesting that I get a similar sense of satisfaction from both putting myself together  as I prepare to face the day as well as washing it all away as I unwind from that very  same day.  

And there you have it...my totally random thought!

11/16/11

Book in Progress

This month, I am to be reading, I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson.

                                                                  

This book has been made for the Big Screen and is in theaters now.  I will admit, I am only 26% through the book (you know, I'm reading it on my Kindle) but I have had a few thoughts on this book already.

This book is about a  professional working mother of two.  These pages chronicle her constant battle between being successful in a "man's" world while she provides most of the family income and being a mother/wife.  She has issues with the Nanny who is hired to take care of her children.  She both caters to and resents this young woman who comes into her home and does what the main character cannot.

So far, I am unimpressed with the husband.  He does help around the house which is nice to see.  But he doesn't seem to understand the pressure she places on herself to do everything.  So far, I want him to make her sit down and talk about how she needs to relax and enjoy life a little.  The main character loves truly loves her job, but doesn't like that at work she is expected to not have a life outside of work.  And at home, she feels she is always falling short of the domestic success she feels she should be.

Being a Stay At Home Mom, I didn't think I would be able to identify with the main character at all.  In fact, I have heard that there will be a few times in the book that she will have harsh words/thoughts against women who choose to stay home.  I have not come across those parts yet.  What struck me was how manic her thoughts are from page to page.  It is a constant list of do this, then that, run here, clean that, check this, finish that...and so on.  There have been parts that I have began to feel  frantic while reading.  This mindset is something I can identify with.  I may not be juggling work, but it is the constant going, never resting, physically or mentally that I understand very well.  I will say, in recent years, I have had a less frantic attitude and that is a relief.

Working Mom or SAHM, I do not think it there is one choice that is right for every family.  Each family has to figure out what works best for them and make decisions accordingly.  I do not think less of any mommy who chooses to work, because she needs to or because she wants to.  What I don't like is when it feels like we have to be in separate camps, "Us" vs. "Them".  We may face different challenges but I feel its safe to say being a parent is hard for us all.

Since I am not even halfway (50%) through this book, it is too soon to decide if I like it or not.  I just found an interesting connection.  It wasn't a positive connection but I a connection nonetheless. It also made me realize that most days, I don't feel that kind of mental shuffling that constantly left me exhausted.  And for THAT, I am thankful.

Have you read this book?  Seen the movie?  What are your thoughts?

11/15/11

Cooking up memories

Last night my Girl Mini and I made cookies together. I've been telling her for days that we were going to do this but our schedule wasn't cooperating. So after dinner was cleaned up, we tied on our aprons and got to work.

We made chocolate oatmeal raisin cookies. The most exciting part for me was that I let her be an active participant throughout the whole process. I've mentioned in the past my aversion to big messes. I usually start a baking project with my little helper full of good intentions but if I'm honest I must admit she ends up being a companion while I work.

This has always left me feeling very guilty. She wants to cook with me. She wants to get her hands in the mix. I want these things too. I just have trouble keeping the smile on my face when the ingredients end up all over the counter and floor.

But I'm thrilled that last night was different. I'm not sure why the difference. My mood? My kiddo is getting older and more capable? It was a Monday night? Who knows? I don't. And I don't care either. I'm just happy I was more relaxed because we had a wonderful time making these cookies together.

I measured, she poured. She cracked the eggs (no shells!) I mixed first then when the batter got wet, I let her mix. I filled to cookie scoop, she squeezed the batter onto the pans. We were a great team. And while we were working together on these cookies, we just talked. She counted cookies on the pan. I explained 12 makes a dozen. We talked about school. And recipes and lots of other stuff.

I was really blessed by this time with my SweetPea. At the end of the night when it was time to say our prayers, my heart smiled when she thanked Jesus that, "me and mommy made cookies tonight". I'm looking forward to many more opportunities to bond with my Girl Mini in the kitchen :)


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11/14/11

Picture story

This weekend Andy and I had a chance to go away. The Mini's went to my parents' house and had many adventures while the hubby and I took off to Baltimore, MD for two nights.

It was relaxing for us. It was fun to walk around an unfamiliar city. We found some nice spots to eat. And of course, there was sightseeing.

When we got home Sunday, we wanted to have fun with the Mini's and enjoy the rest of our weekend.

We took them to practice riding their bikes. And then headed off to a park. Here is a collage I made on my IPhone. Literally, I took the pics on my phone then created this collage.





It was great to get away and I think it's important for parents and kids to get a break from each other. But its also great to be back together again.


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11/11/11

1/3 of Americans do this...

I read a study today conducted by Kellogg (there is your hint). I was surprised that only 1/3 of Americans eat breakfast each morning. Wow! I knew some people skip that meal for one reason or another, but 1/3? I didn't expect that many.

I cannot imagine not eating breakfast. It is too much a part of my quiet, Mommy Time routine. Eat breakfast, drink coffee an read...ahh! Mommy bliss :).

Of course, I can't imagine being awake and not eating for hours either. I actually eat twice before lunch. Breakfast first thing and a healthy, smaller snack about mid-morning after my workout that replenishes my energy and ties me over until lunch.

Do you eat breakfast? I'm curious, is seems I am definitely a minority.

Thanks for reading Java Talk. Please share your thoughts below.

11/10/11

Can't get away from the ugliness

All week, the talk from all types of media has been about the Sandusky Scandal.  I cannot fathom such evil and have to work very hard to avoid too many details of this case because it is being shared every where you turn.  This post is not about the Monster and what he has done.  This post isn't about how I feel about the moral failings of the Penn State employees.  Today, I am talking as the mom of a little boy who is obsessed with sports.

Before my Boy Mini could read the words, he had a morning routine of "reading" the sports section of the newspaper each day.  He might not have understood the words on the pages but he did know numbers.  He did know what the teams symbols looked like so he could tell you who played who and who won.  He has never been exclusive, not by team or by sport.  He loves it all.

Today, I write as a mom who has decided along with his Dad, that he was not to see the newspaper today.  There is too much talk of this scandal and these are things that my little man does not need to know about at this young age.  I'm sure he wont understand much of what is written which will lead to questions that will lead to more questions and I am not ready to expose him to such ugliness yet.

Andy wasn't even sure how he would take the news that Joe Paterno was retiring from coaching.  He didn't question much, I guess the fact that this man is so old makes it easy to make an assumption as to why he would leave.  But that was last night.  This morning, it is announced that Joe Paterno is fired, effective immediately.  I'm not sure if that information is necessary to share with our little guy but if we do, we will need to have some explanation ready.  Obviously a watered down version.

I guess what I am trying to say is that this is the first time, we have had to make a judgement call to remove the newspaper from his morning routine because of the content.  This makes me sad.  Until this morning, most of the information has been in other sections of the newspaper, so my kiddo has still gotten to read the Sports Section.  This may seem like a small thing to you but to me it is the big picture that counts.  As a parent, it is my job to protect my children and explain to them the good, the bad and the ugly of this world.  I love my children and I will do what it takes to preserve their innocence while I can without keeping them in a bubble.  This scandal is too much.  It is too ugly.  I only want to answer specific questions they bring to me (or more likely Andy) and I want those questions answered as simple as can be.

This world can be such an ugly place.  This newspaper this morning was a stark reminder.  It makes me sad that as parents we felt the best choice was to forgo the entire paper for today.  But that is a call we chose to make.  I'm glad Andy and I felt the same.  **Note to self** Make sure the TV stays on Disney XD for the next few days and keep my little man away from the sports networks as a precaution.  

This will pass from the media.  Some day, he will learn the truths.  But for today, because Andy and I love him too much, we will protect him from the things that he cannot understand.

11/9/11

RIF

                                                        

About a month ago, one of the ladies in my gym class and I were talking.  We already made the connection that our kiddos go to the same school.   And, she is the PTO president for our school.  In a second, I saw a spark in her eyes and I thought to myself, "uh-oh, what is she going to ask me to do?"  I wasn't wrong.  She did turn to me and ask if I would be interested in taking on some responsibility.  Lucky for me, the job she had in mind is right up my alley :)  She didn't know this and seemed a bit surprised at my willingness, but its a perfect fit.  What is my job you ask?

I will be the person in charge of the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program for our school.  As it is this year, this program is offered to our first graders, three times a year.  RIF is a program where every child (in first grade for our school) is given a brand new book, for free.  I remember when I was in middle school, we would go to the library and there were RIF books set out on the table and we would get to pick one out to take home.

I love books.  I love to read books.  I love to read books to entertain myself and I love to read books aloud to children.  I am so happy to be a part of a program that is providing new books for the first graders in our school.

Today was the first RIF event of the year.   It was so fun to watch the kiddos walk through and look at all the covers.  Then they got to walk around the tables the second time and take the book that they wanted to take home with them.  A few kids didn't really seem to care.  But most were thrilled.  They looked like they felt special (and of course, they are).  I'm so excited to be a part of this program.  I am helping out this year.  But next year, a friend and I will be running the show ourselves.  We will order the books, schedule the dates, and man the events.  What a great way to be involved with the kiddos of our school!

11/8/11

Confessions of a multi-tasker

Everyone is busy. Life never seems to slow down. So what do we learn to do? Mult-task. Some people are better than others. Sometimes I feel proud of all I can accomplish. Other times I feel overwhelmed. And still other times, I feel guilty. I've gotten so used to doing three things at once, I have a terrible time getting myself to stop juggling tasks and focus on one task or person.

I love music. Always have. When Andy and I started dating, he hated that I was always singing to the radio while we were talking. In my mind, I was singing which I found relaxing and enjoyed AND I was involved in a conversation. In his mind, I wasn't listening. I learned to turn the radio off.

I was ready yesterday about how to teach your children to become good listeners. Rule number 1...set a good example. Oops!

Of course I listen to them. While I'm reading, cooking, talking on the phone...but how often to I just mumbled,"uh-huh" or "really?". I say "hold on" or "give me a minute" way too often.

I'm not saying every time my children speak I need to drop everything and eagerly wait for every word they want to say. But I need to do a much better job of giving them my full attention. When you have the full attention of the person you are trying to speak to, you feel important, like what you have to say matters. To my Mini's, Mommy is very sorry and I am going to work on being a better listener. I get annoyed when my Boy Mini is focused on the wii and I can tell he isn't hearing what I am saying. That make me crazy. I need to change how I listen to them so they will listen better to me.

To my family and friends that can tell my attentions are divided while we are talking. I'm sorry. I'm aware that I struggle with this. I am going to try to be a better listener to you as well. Please be patient with me. I'm definitely one who feels the more I accomplish, the better the day I've had. But I do love you and want you to know what you say matters to me.



Thanks for reading Java Talk. Please share your thoughts below.

11/7/11

White Chicken Chili

I've had several requests for this recipe, so here it is!

Cooking spray
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit size pieces
2 C finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves minced
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
1 t ground coriander
2 (4.5 oz.) cans of chopped green chilies, undrained
1 C water
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and dried
2 cans of fat-free chicken broth
1/2 t hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 C shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 C chopped green onions

Heat large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add chicken to pan; cook 10 mins or until chicken is browned.  Stir frequently
Heat a large Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add onion to pan; saute 6 mins.  Add garlic; saute 2 mins.  Stir in cumin, oregano, and coriander; saute 1 min.  Stir in chiles; reduce heat to low, partially cover and cook 10 mins.  Add chicken, 1 C water, beans and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 10 mins.  Stir in hot sauce.  Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with cheese, cilantro and green onions.

Serves 8  1 Cup servings

Menu Monday

I'm back on the Menu planning bandwagon.  It really doesn't take much time to put together and it makes week night dinner prep work so much easier.  This week I did a little something extra.

I googled, "menu planner template" and found exactly what I was looking for.  These templates can be as simple or detailed as you are looking for.  Do a quick search, spend a few minutes finding one that suits your needs.  I wasn't looking for much.  I found a template at orgjunkie.com.  There is a space for each day of the week.  There is also a spot to jot down the recipe source.  This is great for someone like me who finds recipes from an ever-growing pile of cookbooks, cooking apps on my iPhone as well as any magazine that inspires a meal.  Also included is a space to list the groceries you need to make these planned meals.  Not much to it.

For this week, I am looking forward to making:
Pork w/ hot pineapple glaze and zucchini fries
Ravioli Vegetable Soup
Fiesta Chicken Casserole
Homemade Chicken Nuggets with a salad
Turkey Meatloaf with Balsamic Roasted Veggies

I was smart while I did my planning for this week.  I didn't actually use the Grocery List on the menu planner.  I keep a running list on the fridge throughout the week so when I realize I need something I just add it to the list.  I grabbed my  list and as I planned out my meals, I wrote down any ingredients I am going to need.   So in about 30 minutes, I found a menu planner template, planned 5 meals, and wrote my grocery list.  That seems like a very efficient use of time to me.  If any of these meals sound interesting to you, just leave a comment and I will be sure to post the recipe.  Thanks!

Intimidated No More


This is a picture of the back of the box of my apron kit. I want to show you what it looked like when I bought the kit. It was all one sheet of fabric with these patterns on it.



This is me sporting my new finished apron. For some reason, both Mini's and Andy had a difficult time taking a picture that wasn't fuzzy. Sorry about that.

I spent almost 4 hours on this apron today, but it's finished :) I was determined to figure my new sewing machine out...and I did. Slowly, but I did it.

It was pretty neat to actually see how I improved as the hours passed. My lines became straighter and my speed picked up. All in all, I'm thrilled with the finished product and I am happy with the purchase of my very own sewing machine. I have no idea what I will use it for next but I'd like to find something to do.
It's a good day when you get to do something that gives you such a sense of accomplishment.


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11/5/11

Stay tuned...

I faced the sewing machine head on and was victorious! Check back on Monday to see how I made out with my apron project. Pictures will be included.

11/4/11

The Intimidator


Last week while my Mother in Law was here, I bought a fun craft kit. I am making an apron. Not just any apron, a cute one with beads and bling of course.

I love making new things. There is such a sense of accomplishment once I've completed a project. Since I've had kids though, I have been creating less and less.

So I bought this kit to make an adorable apron. And I decide I have to have this because at the end of the month my church is planning a women's retreat where the theme is "the Tie that Binds" and everyone is supposed to being their apron. I'm so excited.

I do not own a sewing machine (or didn't until three days ago). I was off to a great start on the apron and I was seeing by hand. I finally got to a point where UFO was going to see by hand, it was going to take me weeks to do the edging. I decided to purchase an inexpensive sewing machine. Who knows what I can use it for in the future so I saw this as a wise investment.

It showed up three days ago. And it still sits. I am so intimidated by this thing I don't even know where to begin. So I haven't. I haven't used a seeing machine since I took Related Arts class in 9th grade (1991).

I am going to spend this afternoon and this weekend trying to figure this machine out. I want it to be super simple, but I admit, I'm overwhelmed and scared.

Wish me luck! And be sure to check back because when the apron is finished, I'll post a picture.





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11/3/11

Time

We are all busy.  We are busy with family, with work, with our homes, with church and many other things. It's no wonder we often say, "I wish I had more time in a day".  I do not have a way to add time to our day.  What I have to share is a new appreciation for how and we spend that time.  I'm sad to say that this has been brought on by a very tragic event.

A local boy was hit by a car while he was trick or treating and he did not make it.  The driver was not at fault.  It was a mistake that took a moment, and has changed the lives of so many.  Over the past week, I have often found myself looking at my kiddos and my heart hurts for this family.  My children make me crazy, mad, proud and they make me laugh.  But they are mine.  It is when I have these moments, I find I have a little bit more patience.  I read another book.  And I give hugs until the Mini's get squirmy, haha.

I say my kiddos are mine, but I know they are a gift from God and only He knows the number of days that my children, my husband and I will have.  This is a very scary thought to someone who is such a control freak (Me).

I am not writing this to be depressing.   I'm sharing this to urge us all to recognize who and what are really important.  We are not guaranteed to have dinner together tonight much less have tomorrow.  Of course there is not such thing as living in perfect harmony (not here on earth) but love is real, forgiveness is real and time spent with those we love is so important.   Think about how you want to spend your time over the next week and make it happen.

11/2/11

This is for real.

I am standing in a Barnes & Noble slowly perusing tables of books. The first book I pick up is this...



I flipped through the pages and smiled because Boo is pretty darn cute.

It was when I put this book down, I stumbled across...this.



Really? Ewe! I love cats and I find the idea of using cat hair to make boxes and bookmarks disgusting. I cannot be the only one. On the cover, kitty is investigating a finger puppet made from his own hair. Creepy!

I don't know, I may be able to say that now I've seen it all.

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11/1/11

Little Brother


Meet Little Brother. Yes, it's a football. But it has practically become a part of our family.

Fortune past several months, this has been attached at the hand to my son. Surprisingly, he doesn't sleep with it.

He parts with his Little Brother as I've taken to call this ball, when he sleeps, play wii and when he eats. When he sits at the dinner table, LB is on the floor by his seat.

What does my Boy Mini do with his LB? He tosses it in the air over and over and over and over... He dives across the floor to catch it.

When he was playing soccer, he was known to kick the ball around the house but it was nothing like his attachment to LB.

I think it's funny. I think it's kind of cute. I hope it's normal. But LB is responsible for slowing my kiddo down ALOT. He tries to do everything with one hand. It doesn't seem to cross his mind to drop the ball and do the task before him.

Having been one of two daughters, I never know what to expect from my son. Sometimes LB gets on my nerves. But most of the time I find it amusing and I know it will end eventually when my Boy Mini picks up a new hobby. For right now, I'm going to secretly enjoy each toss, dive and catch I see.


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10/31/11

I survived my first football season

We did it.  Our first year as parents of a football player is over.  Three 2-hour practices a week plus one game are over.  Making my son come home from school and immediately do his homework so he can eat and rush off to football is no longer necessary.  The breakneck pace of homework, dinner and running out the door at 5:30 has finally come to an end.  This mommy is so relieved.

Today is the first day of this freedom.  Homework will be done.  Dinner will be made.  But now, I get the bonus of spending time with my kiddos.  We get to enjoy our dinner as a family.  We no longer have to shovel our faces full of food and then divide and go in separate directions for the night (usually boys go to football and girls do something else).  I am really looking forward to tonight.  I am looking forward to enjoying our meal together.

By the end of the season, my son was enjoying football.  I can say I am truly happy about that, for his sake. Honestly, I'd still rather he play a sport that is less time consuming but I do want him to be happy.   Tonight I want to celebrate.  Being home together for the whole evening is something that I wont be taking for granted.   I am so ready for our lives to slow down again.  Tonight, I am going to look around the table and listen to what my family has to share.  I am going to smile as we eat and then clean up.  I plan on enjoying each NOT rushed moment with these special people in my life. I will be a very Happy Mommy tonight, feeling content and very blessed.

10/29/11

Which season is it?

It is October 29th and Central Pennsylvania is experiencing snow. For some people, that is nothing new. But for us, this is strange.

I will admit that I kind of like it. Although, if it were here to stay, it would grow old quickly.

As I sat at the table with my Girl Mini, I kept seeing this image and wondered, "what season is it anyway?".


I'm no photographer, but I had to go out and take this picture. Here it is. What do you think?


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