photo p1_zpsc8a7232f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p2_zpse73671a0.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p3_zps456abd62.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p5_zps95486d0f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p4_zps481d5f13.png

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Isn't she lovely?

On Saturday afternoon, Sarah and I went with my mom to the shop where I purchased my wedding gown to see if they had anything that might be suitable for Sarah's 1st Communion.

We headed back to the section where they kept the flower girl dresses and as soon as I laid my eyes on it, I knew!  This was it.  The one.

"I love it!"  I screeched as I reached for the dress closest to me.

"I know!  Isn't it gorgeous?" said my mom.  "That's my favorite too!  I came in here last week to see if they had any cute dresses and this is the one I picked out!"

Luckily Sarah loved it as much as we both did.

You can't really see it from these pictures but it has some bead work on the top and the reason Mom and I both loved it so much is that it reminds us both of my wedding dress.

We ordered the dress in white.  The sample dress below was ivory. 

Other than the necklines, very similar dresses!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shiny new halos are the latest in fashion accessories!

Sarah made her First Confession on Saturday morning.  As I was driving her to the church, she said several times, "I'm nervous."

"That's okay, sweetie.  All the kids are probably nervous.  In fact, grown ups are usually a little nervous when they go to Confession as well."

"Telling me that doesn't make me any less nervous."

So we prayed that God would give her courage and that he would take away her fear.

"I only have two things to tell the priest!" she declared.

"Only two things?  Do you think you need to examine your conscience a little longer?  There will be some quiet time before we get started."

"No.  I think these two are perfect.  I'm a pretty good girl after all."

After she came out of the room with the priest she exclaimed, "That was easy and now I feel like I've been washed clean and I'm wearing a shiny new halo!"  

Washed clean and wearing a shiny new halo - that's exactly what it feels like when you know your sins are forgiven and the light of God's grace fills your soul.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A real whodunit.

I swept, vacuumed and mopped the kitchen floor on Wednesday afternoon.  By Thursday afternoon, I swept the floor again and look at the amount of dirt, dust, grime, and crumbs in the dust pan.

I have to sweep the kitchen floor daily or it looks like the floor of a barn.  Although, I believe there are a few horses and cows out there that might take exception to that as they would claim they don't live in filth like apparently we do.

I was highly annoyed and extremely frustrated that less than 24 hours after sweeping, vacuuming and mopping the floor it was dirty again so I set out to figure out who I should blame for this mess so that they could start cleaning it up from now on.

I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, got out my notepad and began to solve this mystery.

There are 5 of us living in this house.

My husband has been out of town all week so he could not possible be the one tracking in all of this dirt and dropping all of these crumbs.  Scratch him off the list.

My 92-year-old father in law, although at home all day long, rarely goes outside so in all likelihood it is probably not him messing up my pristine floors.  Scratch him off the list.

My two kids, who are high at the top of the list of suspects, spend 8 hours or more away from the house at school and various other activities.  So chances are slim that it is them tracking dirt in the house all day long.  Darn it - scratch them off the list.  I was really hoping I could place them blame on them!

That just leaves one other culprit.

The person that stays at home all day long, going in and out of the dirty garage countless times per day, and up and down the stairs to the filthy basement a couple of times a day, and out the front door through the front yard to get the mail.

Yep.  You guessed it.

It must be me!

I must be the one making this huge mess on my floors. 

So I guess it's only fitting that I'm the one that has to clean it all up.


Friday, January 27, 2012

PSA - "We're basically bathed in feces as a society."

Lately, in fast food restaurants, I have been disgusted at the drink fountain. Why, you ask?  What is the cause of your disgust, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you go for a plastic lid to cover your drink, you accidentally pick up 5 or 6 because they always stick together?  Seriously, can you honestly think of a time when they did not stick together?

This lid-sticking-together phenomenon  not only happens to you, who I am sure has just washed your hands or at least most definitely washed your hands the last time you used the restroom, but this also happens to everyone else when they pick up a lid.

And by everyone else, I mean all the people who did not wash their hands after using the toilet.
And by everyone else, I mean all the people who did not wash their hands after sneezing into them.
And by everyone else, I mean all the people who did not wash their hands after picking their noses.

Not to scare you or anything, but just think about all of the potential germs and general grossness on all of the other people's dirty hands (because you know your hands are perfectly clean!) that has been transferred to your drink lid!  

The very same drink lid that you will be touching right before you eat and the very same drink lid that will be coming close to your very own lips!

Lately, in an effort to get a clean lid, I have been picking up a large stack of lids and using the one at the bottom of the stack.  In doing this, I hope I am eliminating a large part of the GAGG (germs and general grossness) that might potentially be on my lid.  Of course, my hands are clean so this is perfectly okay.

But I guess I really shouldn't be too worried about this because according to this study, the soda machines are actually dispensing fecal bacteria.

But take heart:

"Wherever man is there will be representation of feces," said Philip Tierno, director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

"We're basically bathed in feces as a society," he said. 

Well, that makes me feel better.

 I'm off to shower now.

And to get a new bottle of hand sanitizer for my purse.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Well, I am older than she is!

Sarah:  Mommy, you look just like Mrs. Jennwa

Me:  A lot of people say that.

Sarah:  Well, you look just like her except you have way more wrinkles than she does.


In my defense, I am 4 years older than her.  That counts for a few of the wrinkles, right?  I mean she's still in her 30's for Pete's sake!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You've seen one pile, you've seen them all!

Still on Monday's quick-cleaning high, yesterday I decided to tackle my dresser.  Once again, 20 minutes was all it took to get rid of all of the old clothes and to refold everything.  I tossed just as much as I kept.  It is amazing how I like to hold on to old things just because I might want to wear it again.  After looking at the toss pile, I realized most of the items hadn't been worn in 2 or 3 years, much less the recommended toss-after-1 year-if-you-don't-wear-it limit.

Pleased with how quickly I got through my dresser, I decided there was no stopping me!  I headed into the master bathroom. I tossed lots of items from under the sink and then straightened the rest.  My husband has worn his hair very, very short for the last two year so why do we still have that half-empty bottle of hair gel? And that bottle of Excedrin. It expired 5 years ago.  5 YEARS AGO!  Yikes!

After that, I headed into the kids bathroom and purged most of the things under their sinks.  Nothing major but just a bunch of bath toys that I hadn't previously wanted to throw away because they reminded me of my sweet little babies.  But all those rubber duckies were taking up too much space. Bedsides, I have videos I can watch when I want to see my little ones when they were actually little.

So with less than 40 minutes of "work", I had cleaned out and straightened 3 different spaces.  They still aren't perfect - I don't have lots of pretty little, matching, color-coordinated baskets under my cabinets or precisely folded clothes in my dresser, but there is much less stuff and things do look much better. 

And also, one of the major projects I have been putting off is finishing since last year is my 2011 picture book.  I am only half way through the year and really hate hate hate hate hate working on it.  But I forced myself to work on it for only 20 minutes and I got through a good portion of July.

I'm pretty excited with this new 20 minute mindset.  I figure I can work on anything for 20 minutes.  If I get done, great.  If not, at least I will have made a little progress. 

And there are no pictures to go along with this post because really, if you've seen one pile of neatly folded underwear, you've seen them all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

20 minutes? That's it?

Yesterday after running a couple of miles, getting groceries, and doing 3 load of laundry, I tackled something that really needed to be done.

I cleaned out my husband's armoire.  Every time I put away a pair of his socks or a pair of his boxers I would think to myself, I really should straighten out these drawers.  And every time I folded up a sweatshirt or a sweater, I would think to myself, What a mess!

This weekend, my husband asked if I knew where a certain shirt was.   "Um, I think it's in there," I cautiously replied as I pointed toward the armoire.

"Oh," he sullenly respond, "I'll never find it then."

"Well, if you had a wife that didn't have a job and stayed home so she could take care of the kids and the house, then maybe she would clean it out."

I got a good laugh at myself as I said that because, ha! That wife is me!

So, yesterday, with nowhere else to be and no reason not to do it, I cleaned out my husband's armoire.

And you know what?  It took me less than 20 minutes.

20 minutes!  Why had I not done this before?

Well, other than I am extremely lazy, but really. Why had I been putting this off for so long?  I guess I thought it would take a lot more time than 20 minutes.

I would love to show you a before photo, but I wasn't planning to do this, I just sort of jumped in after putting away the laundry.

So here's the best before I can show you.  I'm funny, aren't I?

Here is the top of the armoire after I took out a lot of unworn items and refolded everything.  I am not a good folder so don't take off points for that.  If only I had worked at the Gap in college instead of a copy shop I might know how to fold like a pro.  I can make a mean double-sided copy though!

Here's the sock drawer. I even arranged the socks by color - athletic, grays, blacks, browns!

And here's the underwear drawer - boxers on one side, tee shirts on the other.

Here is the pile of clothes that will be going to Goodwill after my husband goes through them.  I learned a long time ago not to send anything of his to the GW without his approval. 

I'm so pleased with this quick clean-up that I am going to go find another drawer or cabinet that needs organizing or some other task that I've been ignoring.

Let's see what else I can accomplish in 20 minutes!

Pioneer Woman's Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries - A Review

I recently made a recipe from the Pioneer Woman and wanted to give an honest review from a cook that has a lot to learn but still wants to make good food. Sometimes I even want to make fancy food so that's what prompted me to try Pioneer Woman's Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries.  I'm sure Ree would say that these aren't fancy but around this house, any vegetable that didn't come from the freezer is considered fancy.

I've made it twice now and here's what I've learned. 

The first time I made it, I did not have the cranberries so I just left those out.  Instead, I added bacon because I was afraid the sprouts were going to be a little too sweet.

I think the bacon added a nice bit of saltiness and helped me to coax my meat loving people that they should eat some of the little cabbage looking things I had placed lovingly on their plates.  Telling them that there was a sugary glaze coating them also made it easier to try.

I should mention here that I goofed on the balsamic sugar reduction.  I let it cook too long and by them time I got the reduction on the Brussels sprouts, it was starting to harden.  Half the Brussels spouts had a hard candied glaze on them making them hard to chew.  The glaze on the other half had not hardened and was delicious.

Even with my goof on the glaze, I thought these were really, really good.  My father-in-law had several helpings and my husband even managed to get down a serving and commented "not bad". (My husband is a meat and potatoes and don't expect me to eat a lot of green things kind of guy.) The kids barely managed to get down one Brussels sprout.  But they did try them.

I thought they were great and couldn't wait to make them again.  The next time I made them though, I was going to use the cranberries just like PW calls for AND I was going to get the reduction right this time.

I made them on Saturday night.  I still added the bacon and I added the cranberries.

But, once again, I had trouble with the reduction.  This time I didn't let it cook long enough and it didn't thicken up.  And because it didn't cook long enough, the balsamic flavor overpowered the Brussels sprouts (Does anyone else find it annoying that it's Brussels and not Brussel?  It's driving me crazy while typing this post.) and was too tangy.  And the cranberries?  They didn't add a thing!

I will make these again even though my husband and kids won't be thrilled.  Next time I make them, I will add the bacon, leave out the cranberries and make sure that I get the glaze done properly.  I have the hardest time getting all of the dinner components on the table at the same time without something being undercooked, overcooked, or just plain cold.

Aren't they pretty?

Check out PW's site for really pretty pictures and step-by-step instructions.

Pioneer Woman's Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Glaze.


  • 3 pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Dried Cranberries

Preparation Instructions

Trim/clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half if desired (or you can leave them whole). Arrange on two baking sheets and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.
Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, then sprinkle on dried cranberries. Toss and serve immediately.

Pin It

Monday, January 23, 2012

She dribbles. She shoots. Luckily, she misses.

The little girl dribbled the ball. She took a shot.  It bounced off the rim.

Sarah was right underneath the basket and grabbed the rebound.  Sarah took a shot.  It bounced off the rim.

Thank goodness it didn't go in because Sarah was playing defense.

Oh, sweet Sarah. 

After weeks of telling her she needed to be more aggressive and go after the ball, she finally did it.  In her excitement, she forgot she was on defense and should have held the ball and passed it off to the point guard.

She was annoyed when I tried to talk to her about it after the game, but on Sunday afternoon Dan and I worked with her.  We practiced getting the rebound and holding it.  Hopefully that will help her in the next game.

I took a ton of pictures from Saturday's game.  In almost every picture, you can see swarms of girls from both teams going after the ball, trying to get their hands on it, trying to be a part of the game.  And in almost every picture, Sarah is in the background watching the activity - doing everything in her power to keep from touching that ball.

I can't decide if it's disinterest in the game or if she is just nervous because she's afraid if she actually gets the ball she won't know what to do with it. 

I guess all we can do is continue to work with her and hope with more practice she understands better what she's supposed to do.

What's everyone doing over there??

Is mom still taking pictures?

She loves to run up and down the court.

Her sweet coaches giving her a five and a good job for trying to take a shot!

On a positive note - she did score a point during her half time shot! And it counts so she did contribute to the final score!

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Is it Friday again?  Already?  Let's see what drivel I have to share with you guys today.

1.  My husband has been out of town all week so I tend to let some things slide.  Every evening after I kiss the kids good night and head downstairs, I can hear them playing in their rooms.  This isn't a big deal. Typically Sarah will draw or write notes and Peter will read after I have tucked them in.  But this week they have been playing together!  I know!  It's a post-Christmas miracle.  So I've been calling for lights-out a little later than normal just because I love hearing them laughing and playing - TOGETHER!

2.  Sarah got a real camera for Christmas and it has video capability.  So guess what they have been doing together when they should be trying to sleep?  That's right - filming themselves singing, dancing, and running around.  Everything but calmly preparing for a peaceful night of sleep.

3.  Last night before I left Sarah's room, she held up her camera and said she was going to take a picture of me so I stopped and posed and kept right on talking.  I noticed that she still had the camera up so I posed again.  I did this a couple of times before I realized that I never saw the flash go off.  I didn't think anything about it until Sarah started laughing hysterically.  She had been filming me the whole time. 

I looked at the video and it was the most ridiculous thing ever.  I am walking around talking to her and stopping to pose mid-conversation.  And these aren't regular posing for the camera with a cheesy smile poses.  No, these are turn to the side like you are a model poses.  And the thing that makes it all the more ridiculous is the fact that I am wearing ratty pajamas and no make-up and my hair looks greasy and I look tired.

If I wasn't wearing ratty pajamas and no make-up and if my hair didn't look greasy and I didn't look tired then I might think about posting the video just so we could all share a big laugh together.  But since I don't have a snazzy video editor with a "make the old lady look like Giselle Bundchen" function it will never see the light of day. Ever.

4. Dan isn't a huge fan of American Idol like I am but he is a good sport and will watch it with me. His favorite part?  The audition weeks.  Since he's been gone, I had to DVR the first two episodes so we can watch them together this weekend.  Awwww....aren't we sweet?

5.  We will also be watching the Patriots play the Ravens this weekend. Go Pats!

6.  Peter was playing video games online yesterday and called me in to the room.  "What is SOPA?" he questioned.  I did my best to briefly explain it and asked him how he knew about it.  Apparently the owners of the games, wrote STOP SOPA NOW into one of his games and in another game one of the teams he was battling against was called SOPA and you got extra points if you killed SOPA.  I'm trying to understand SOPA and what it would mean for us but it's all very confusing. When I told Peter it might mean that YouTube would be shut down he almost lost it!  He was still rambling on and on about it this morning while he was getting ready for school.

7.  I went to Mass this morning at school.  Sarah's second grade class was leading the liturgy.  Sarah did a great job reading her prayers.  Nothing makes me happier than to see 220 kids being reverent, respectful and quiet for one solid hour.  

And the cutest thing is seeing the kindergarteners and the first graders sitting with their 6th and 7th grade buddies.  But even cuter than that?  Today the preschoolers joined the rest of the school at Mass and sat with their 8th grade buddies.  Those 8th graders had their hands full  keeping the 4 year olds quiet and still but they did a great job!

For more 7 Quick Takes visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

He's not a genie in a bottle.

The kids did not want to go to school on Tuesday.  They had enjoyed their long weekend and wanted it to continue so at bedtime on Monday night, they were putting cotton balls between their toes, putting spoons underneath their pillows and putting ice cubes in the toilet, all in an effort to get it to snow so that school would be cancelled.
Now before you think my kids are totally crazy I should inform you that for the past couple of years, the teachers at their old school would tell all the kids to sleep with cotton balls between their toes to get it to snow the next day.  Of course, the teachers would only do this on nights when there was a very large chance of snow falling and it always did.

So Peter and Sarah tried  the cotton ball trick on Monday.  Not exactly sure where the ice in the toilet and the spoon underneath the pillow come into play but they were giddy with excitement fully expecting school to be cancelled on Tuesday.

As I was tucking them in, I told Peter that their little tricks probably weren't going to work so not to be too disappointed when they had to go to school on Tuesday morning.

Peter's response?  "Don't worry Mom, I prayed about it!"

My response?  "God isn't a genie sweetheart.  It's not going to snow."

As I was helping the kids get ready for school on Tuesday morning, Peter told me that he was nervous to go back to school after a long weekend.  I told him that any time he's scared, he should pray to God and ask God to walk with him so he won't be nervous.

He looked at me for a minute and said, "But that won't work.  He didn't answer my prayer about the snow so he probably won't answer that one either."

"Well do it anyway because there are some prayers that God will always answer the way you want him to and that's one of them. Now quit stalling and get your clothes on!"

For I am the LORD your God
   who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
   I will help you. - Isaiah 41:13 NIV

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If I ever invite you to dinner, just say no! There's no telling what you will find in my kitchen!

What happens when you open a reusable sandwich Snack Packer, place a piece of bread in it, close it, place it in a drawer, forget to use the bread in it the next day as planned, and open it approximately 5 weeks later?

What happens after you discover that the slice of bread is now covered, covered I tell you, in tiny black mold spores (and two fingerprints where you accidentally touched it while fumbling around in a dark kitchen trying to make lunches without waking up two crazy cats who want to come in the house as soon as they see a light on) and stinks like spoiled milk?

At least the last science experiment we did with mold was planned!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Discovery Place - Mummies of the World

On Monday we had to head to Charlotte to pick Grampa up from the airport.  Since the kids were home from school and Dan was home from work, we decided to make an afternoon of it!

We drove through our old neighborhood to see how much it has changed in the last 6 years and we drove past our old house.  We drove through the town down lived in before we got married and were shocked at all the new stores that have been built since we left.  Then we headed to Discovery Place in Uptown Charlotte.

Discovery Place is an awesome science museum for kids with lots of hands-on activities and lots of exhibits and an IMAX theatre.  But we went to see one thing in particular - Mummies of the World.

According to their website, Mummies of the World is the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled.  This compelling collection, presented with reverence and dignity, includes ancient mummies and important artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years.

And I have to say, this exhibit did not disappoint!   I loved this exhibit.  Human mummies from 200 years ago all the way back to 6,500 years ago!  And wow - were some of these mummies ever preserved - teeth, hair, toes, and um, other appendages. 

The exhibit rooms were dark.  The only lights were small lights that were shining on the cases with  the mummies.  As you enter the exhibit, you are asked to be respectful of the mummies as they were once living, breathing, walking, talking  human beings.  They had quiet, eerie music playing and no one was talking.  Any talking that was done was done through whispers. 

At one point, Peter came up to me and whispered, "Is it okay if I have nightmares tonight?"

It said it takes 90 minutes to go through the exhibit but it only took us about 50.  If it was just me and Dan, it probably would have taken that long but the kids didn't want to stand and read all the signs on all of the exhibits, and quite honestly, for them I think after a while it was "ho, hum, you've seen one mummy, you've seen them all!".   Not for me, though.  I could have looked at mummies all afternoon!

When you buy your tickets to this exhibit, you buy them based on a start time.  However, if you have a 2:00 ticket, they will let you go in anytime during the 2:00 hour.  We (and everyone else with a 2:00 ticket) were crammed at the entrance at 2:00.  So the exhibits were jam packed the whole time we were going through.  If we would have gone in at, say, 2:30 or 2:45 with our 2:00 ticket we would have had much more room to view the exhibits as most of the 2:00 people would have been out of the exhibit or at least at the end of it.  And, it did not appear that they were monitoring people.  So, if you did go in at 2:30 with a 2:00 ticket, I don't think they would have kicked you out at 3:00.

I'm glad we went and I know that Peter will probably excitedly be telling his friends about all the cool mummies he saw.  And in case you are wondering, no, he did not have nightmares last night!

A ticket to see the Mummy exhibit also gets you into the rest of the museum.  We had a little bit of time left before we had to head to the airport so we played for a few minutes.

If you are interested in the Mummies of the World exhibit, it's only at Discovery Place until April.  And if you go, make sure you can stay the whole afternoon so that your kids can enjoy the rest of the museum!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And it's not over yet!

New England Patriots win! (Sorry Tim Tebow.  I think you are a sweetheart  but I had to pull for the Pats!)

Pepper Jack Pimento Cheese Toasts shared with my husband.

Basketball (Sarah actually touched tried to shoot a couple of times and passed the ball a couple of times. Her confidence is growing with each game.)

Jenga, Old Maid, Connect Four and Candy Land.  (When will that girl tire of Candy Land?)

2 episodes of Winter Wipeouts (Jill we miss your sarcasm.  Vanessa Lachey isn't snarky enough for us.)

Date night with my husband. (We quickly plowed through a very nice gift card given to him by his manager - filets and double decker cheesecakes will do that!)

And the good news? We still have a full day left in the weekend. I love weekends but long ones are even better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

If I'm no help, then why do they keep asking me?

Sarah:  "Mom, what should we do? We're bored."

Me:  "Well, you could paint a picture, write a story, play Sing It on the Wii, play Just Dance on the Wii, watch TV, draw with the colored pencils, swing on the swing set, shoot baskets, color with chalk on the driveway, play dress up or play Hide and Seek."

Sarah:  "Let's go Cheyanne.  Clearly Mom is no help."

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes

It's Friday again so that means it's time for 7 Quick Takes.

1. Peter has had 4 tests this week.  4 tests!  A religion test (memorizing and spelling correctly the Luminous Mysteries), a science test (memorizing all the bones, he gets extra points for spelling them correctly) a math test, and a 20 word spelling test.  Whew!  It's been a busy week with homework and studying but he has handled it all like a pro.  He continues to come right in and get to work before doing any playing and has done this with no whining!

2.  His teacher sent him home with extra homework on Wednesday.  Peter's cursive writing is horrible but I guess that's what happens when you teach yourself.  His teacher emailed me and told me she was sending an extra practice sheet home and wanted him to complete that as well as redo some of the words that were illegible from an assignment they did in class that day.  Peter was overjoyed with the excitement of having yet more homework.  Okay, overjoyed is probably not the right word, but he did it with  minimal complaint.

He will be really excited when he finds out that I emailed his teacher to ask if she could have him work with the 2nd grade teacher to improve his cursive.  He will probably be mad at me but if it helps his writing, it will only make his life easier in the long run.  I have seen the work that Sarah has been bringing home while she has been learning cursive and I think he could definitely benefit from getting some lessons from someone who is trained to teach handwriting.

3. I must mention my Garmin Forerunner watch one more time.  I've been using it this week and I really love it.  It beeps every time I hit a mile and I can glance at it to see how fast I ran that mile.  Then when I come home from my runs, I can easily download the data onto the computer.  I can see my pace for each mile, how many calories I burned, a map of my run, the elevation, etc.  I have been running a little faster knowing that my time is being tracked and yesterday I ran 5 miles!  My goal this year is to consistently run longer and faster. 

4. I won't be able to run this morning because I will be attending Mass at school with kids.  The third grade is leading the liturgy and Peter will be saying one of the prayers.  He's nervous even though his class has done this before.

5.  After Mass I will be heading to Target and Kohl's to do a little retail therapy!  I am looking forward to wandering around the stores with no agenda and some gift cards.

6.  Dan and I are having a date night this weekend!  My father-in-law is spending the weekend with my brother-in-law and my parents will be watching Peter and Sarah. For Christmas Dan got a gift card from his manager to a nice restaurant.  A free dinner that I don't have to cook and uninterrupted conversation with my husband!  I am looking forward to it.

7. It's a long weekend and on Monday we will be spending the day in Charlotte.  My father-in-law returns from his weekend with my brother-in-law and will be in Charlotte to pick him up from the airport.   Dan is excited to drive around our old neighborhood.   But that's not going to be too thrilling for the kids so I need to plan something fun for us to do.  Googling "fun things for kids to do in Charlotte" is my next stop on the computer.

7 1/2.   As much as I have enjoyed watching Tim Tebow and the Broncos, I have to pull for the Patriots this weekend. Go Patriots!

Head on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Because it's more than a silly old computer game.

He loves computer games. And when he finds one he loves he plays it all the time. And when he is not playing it, he wants to tell me about it.

All about it.

About how it works, about what he can do in the game, about the tutorials he's found on YouTube that explain how to play the game better. About all the minutia of a game that I don't understand and don't really even want to understand.

And he talks. And he talks. And he twists his hair while he's talking about it. He follows me from room to room talking about it. He even talks about it through a closed bathroom door. He keeps talking.

And I keep listening. Even as I am folding laundry, or making dinner, or taking out the trash, I am listening.

I usually don't understand a word he is telling me but I listen. I, honestly, am usually bored by what he is telling me. It's just a silly old computer game after all.

But I try to stop what I'm doing and look him in the eye and shake my head up and down while I am listening. I want him to know that I am listening.

And he continues to talk.

Why do I let him babble on and on about something I don't understand, something I'm not even too interested in?

I do it because one day I hope he will come to me with that same excitement and intensity and tell me about a science experiment he just did at school, or a joke a friend told him, or about a math problem he figured out all by himself.

I do it because one day I hope he will come to me with that same trust and expectation and tell me about something that a friend did that he knows isn't right, or tell me about a girl he's falling in love with, or tell me about a girl who has broken his heart.

I do it because one day I hope he will come to me with that same enthusiasm and confidence and tell me about an interesting class he's taking in college or tell me he thinks he's figured out what he wants to do with his life or tell me how that job interview went.

I keep listening now because I want him to keep talking later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Works for Me Wednesday - Put a Pin It Button at the end of your Blogger posts.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to put a Pinterest Pin It button on your pinnable Blogger blog posts.

Please note, there are other tutorials out there that show you how to put a Pin It button on every post automatically.  That tutorial is nice if you have a lot of pinnable material and don't want to go through these steps each time.  However, the tutorials I have seen don't let you control what picture comes up with each pin and this one does.

I am going to stick with this way for a while.  It isn't as hard as it looks, I have just included every single step. Do it once and you will get it!

  1. Open your blog in Blogger.
  2. Write a fantastic blog post.
  3. Make sure to include a picture that relates to your post. Pinterest loves good pictures and your post has a better chance of being pinned if it has a good picture.
  4. Click on Publish Post.
  5. Open another window in your browser and go to the Pinterest/Goodies page.
  6. Scroll down this page until you see "Pin It Button for Websites". 
  7. Go to the main page of your blog and click on the title of the blog post you just posted. You need to make sure to do this because you want the Pin It button to direct people to this particular post and not to the main page of your website.
  8. Highlight the URL for this post.  Copy it by hitting "Ctrl" and "C".
  9. Go back to the Pinterest/Goodies page and paste your blog post URL where it says "URL of the page the pin is on".
  10. Go back to your blog post and put your mouse on the picture in your post.  Right click with the mouse.
  11. Click on "View Image Info".
  12. The URL for this picture will already be highlighted.  Copy it by hitting "Ctrl" and "C".
  13. Go back to the Pinterest/Goodies page and paste your picture URL where it says "URL of the image to be pinned".
  14. Then type a quick description of your post for example "20 steps to posting a Pin It button on your Blogger blog" or "Quick and Easy Enchiladas".
  15. Then highlight all of the code that has been created in the box underneath the description.  
  16. Copy the code by hitting "Ctrl" and "C".
  17. Go to "Edit Posts" in your blog and click on the blog that you are creating the pin for.
  18. Click the "Edit HTML" tab in the upper right of your blog post.
  19. Place your mouse at the end of all the text from your post and copy the code from Pinterest/Goodies by hitting "Ctrl" and "V".
  20. Click "Publish Post" and your Pin It button should be there in all of it's glory!

For more (and probably shorter) Works for Me Wednesday helpful hints, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family!

Pin It

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anyone notice a theme?

These are a couple of pictures I took during Sarah's ballgame last Saturday.

She's in second grade so she can totally do this on her own.   I think she just likes to be waited on! 

What we mothers must suffer for our children.

We have been enjoying Cuties since before Christmas.

Cuties are, as their website puts it, Mandarin oranges that are super sweet, easy-to-peel, seedless, and kid sized.

Last week I ran out of Cuties and swung by the grocery store to pick up another bag.  But they were out!  No biggie, I thought.  I'll just grab a bag of tangerines.

The next day, I sent one to school with each of them as usual.  When they got home, they both started in on me.

"Were those Cuties? I don't think those are Cuties?  The one you sent me had SEEDS in it!  Those things aren't as sweet as the Cuties."

Message received. 

The next day, I went to Wal-Mart and stocked up on Cuties for the kids.

So guess who's been eating old-fashioned, seeded, not-as-sweet, tangerines?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beth's Spicy Sausage Lentil Soup

If you've been to Carrabba's then you've probably had their sausauge and lentil soup.  And if you've had their sausage and lentil soup then you probably love it.  And if you love it then you probably want some more of it!

I took a recipe that I found online at and made a few changes based on what I had in the pantry.  We love it!

Beth's Spicy Sausage Lentil Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion,chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, mild and in bulk
  • 1/2 cup ham , diced
  • 7 cups water
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes


  1.  Heat olive oil in large soup pot.  Add onion, carrot, garlic and sausage.  Saute for 8 minutes stirring frequently. Break up the sausage but not too small - be sure to leave some large chunks. 

  2. Add ham and cook for another minute.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.

  4. Before serving use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. Do it long enough so that about half of the lentils are pureed and the other half are still whole. (I do this because we like a smoother soup. You can skip this step if you like your beans whole.)

I served this with bread that was fresh out of my bread maker. All you need to make it just like being at Carrabba's is the oil and vinegar and spices for dipping - and I've got a recipe for that too!  I'll try to post that later on in the week.

Pin It

I really should consider saying "yes" more often.

My best friend, Jennifer, invited us over on Friday night after dinner to roast marshmallows around a bonfire.  Well, actually Jennifer's girls invited us over on Friday night after dinner to roast marshmallows around a bonfire.

They invited us on Friday afternoon while they were over at our house playing.  I told them they needed to call their mom first to make sure it was okay.  I just love how kids make all these plans without ever even thinking about asking their parents.  And my kids do it all the time too.  I don't remember ever doing that as a child. But then again, I don't really remember anything about my childhood except that I was perfect. ahem.

So the girls called their mom and she said, "of course!".  Which I knew she would.  She's a good mom that way.  Whenever my kids do something like that to me I am full of excuses and reasons why we can't do it. 

And when people invite us to do things, I'm also full of excuses and reasons why we can't do it.

But I'm so glad Jennifer isn't that kind of mom. 

We walked over there, with gloves and hats and flashlights, around 7:30. The moon was full and bright and the sky was full of stars.  The kids were excited to be doing something different and to be spending more time with their friends.  I was just excited to be out of the house. 

When we arrived, they already had a big fire going in their fire pit and  had marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey bars and roasting sticks laid out on a table. 

I pulled up a chair, sat by the warm fire, ate gooey marshmallows and enjoyed the company of my best friend.

I really should consider saying "yes" more often.

Friday, January 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - Running Down a Dream

After a two week running hiatus I am back on track.  Get it?  Back on track? I crack  myself up sometimes!

Anyway, I thought I would do my 7 Quick Takes about running since it is the new year and it seems that everyone loves to talk about exercise in January.

1. We don't normally exchange gifts but my husband surprised me with one of these for Christmas:

It's a GPS watch!  I run laps through the neighborhood and now I don't have to count them anymore!  I can just hit start and the GPS tracks my miles for me and tells me how fast I have run each mile.  I can also download the information onto the computer and track it that way but I haven't done that yet. 

It's a little big - I guess because it has a GPS in it - but it feels very light on my wrist so I don't notice it when I am running. 

2.  One of my running goals for this year is to run a 10k.  I've done 4 5ks since I started running almost 2 years ago. I regularly run 3 miles with no problem now so I have decided it's time to set another goal.  So, next up, 6.2 miles. 

3.  Last year, I stopped running after Thanksgiving and due to cold weather and using that as an excuse, I basically took the winter off and didn't start running again until last March.  During my running "vacation", I gained 5 pounds.  I stepped on the scale right before Christmas and have finally, finally, gotten those 5 pounds off. 

I am determined not to let that happen this year so even though it was 23 degrees on Tuesday morning, I ran anyway.  And even though it was 19 degrees yesterday, I ran anyway.  So this morning, when it was 33 degrees, it felt balmy and I didn't even need to wear a jacket when I ran anyway!

4.  The following items help me to stay toasty when I am running in the cold weather:

The Champion running hat has a little hole in the back for my pony tail.  How cute is that?  And usually after about 2 miles, I am ready to rip the hat and gloves off because I am so warm.  However, on the 19 degree day, I was wishing that I had a ski mask!

5.  I am a very slow runner.  When I am doing my morning runs through the neighborhood, I do about a 12 minute mile.  However, when I do the 5k races I usually run about a 10 minute mile.  Not much better but it is still an improvement.

During the races, my adrenaline is pumping and I just automatically go faster.  Also, there are always slower people ahead so I spend a lot of time speeding up to get past them.  And then, there is the fact that it is a race and I want to post a good time.  

I know that I can do better. If I am going to do a 10k without being the last one to cross the finish line, I need to work on my speed.  According to what I've read, running sprints (speeding up and then slowing down, speeding up, slowing down, etc). is supposed to be a good way to train your body to get used to running faster.  I'm giving that a try to see if that works.

6.  I saw this on Pinterest and this is my new running motto:

(photo courtesy of

7.  And as a little inspiration to run or to work out or to eat healthier foods, here is another great thing I saw on Pinterest:

(photo courtesy of

No excuses! 

For more 7 Quick Takes please visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good job kid!

Yesterday after school, guitar, lessons, and allergy shots, Peter came right in and did all of his homework. 


With no prompting from me.

And with minimal complaining.

He usually starts his homework right after school and it is my goal for him to finish it every afternoon before he plays.  However, he has a lot of homework every day so I typically let him take a break before he has completed it all.  So the fact that even though we didn't get home until 5:15 and he came in and did all of his homework (it took him an hour) without stopping was huge!  I was very proud of him.

Dan is always telling Peter to do his work first so he can be free to play without anything hanging over his head.  Yesterday he said he wanted to be "just like Daddy".

This is a trend that I would love to see continue! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lexington and Concord - Where it all began!

While we were in Boston last week, we also visited Lexington and Concord.  There is a new visitor's center in Lexington with some good exhibits according to Uncle Bob but it was closed.  So we proceeded to Concord and the North Bridge.

The North Bridge was the site of the first battle in the Revolutionary War.

Grampa and Sarah outside of Buttrick Mansion which is the Visitor's Center  at the Old North Bridge.

Peter in front of the Hancock Cannon.
 Can you see the Old North Bridge in the background?
 Better shot of the bridge from the distance.
 Me in front of the bridge.
 Sarah on the bridge.
 Me and my little people on the bridge.
 Peter on the bridge.
 The Minute Man statue.

It was a chilly day but the kids had fun running around the bridge and learning a little about the start of the Revolutionary War!

(And don't you just love my eloquent descriptions of all the pictures?  Seriously, I think we all could have figured out the pictures without them!)