Monday, September 11, 2017

So full I had to unbutton my pants!

What did we do this weekend?

Well, let me tell you.

Friday night Dan and I dropped Peter off at Raven Knob for his Boy Scout Order of the Arrow Ordeal. The Order of the Arrow is a Boy Scout Honor Society but to become a member, candidates must survive an "ordeal".  All the details of the ordeal are kept secret but it involves a lot of manual labor, not a lot of food, and camping under the stars.

Peter was dreading this weekend, because, let's face it, it's called AN ORDEAL! No 14 year old in their right mind would want to spend a weekend doing this when there's a high school football game to attend, sleeping in, goofing off, and other weekend fun to be had.

But Peter also wants to be a member of the Order of the Arrow so he sucked it up and did it.

We stopped for burgers and fries before we dropped him off because he's my baby and I didn't want him to be too hungry.  Apparently most of the other boys had a very large dinner before hand as well. Mommas got to feed their babies.

Saturday was full of chores and normal Saturday stuff but it also happened to by our 17th anniversary!

Look how thin and wrinkle free we were!

To celebrate, we went to Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse.  It was really good and a very fun experience.  If you aren't familiar with a Brazilian steakhouse, they have gauchos walking around with meat on a stick and if you want some of what they have, they will gladly give it to you.

It's pricey but we were definitely full when we left.   I literally had to unbutton my pants during the meal.  We would definitely  go back again but for our budget, it's more of a special occasion restaurant as opposed to somewhere we would randomly take the kids for dinner.

On Sunday morning we headed back to Raven Knob to pick up a very tired and hungry Peter.  He survived the ordeal and is officially a member of the Order of the Arrow.  He was glad it was over but he was also glad he did it.

When we got back, we had Sunday lunch at my parent's houseand my mom had made us a big Birthaversary cake (because our birthdays are this week too).

After lunch, Dan had a Boy Scout committee meeting and then we headed to Mass and a confirmation meeting for Sarah.

And then we ordered a pizza and watched the boring Cowboys/Giants game.

And that was our weekend!

Friday, September 8, 2017

3 Favorite Sheet Pan Dinners

Do you guys know what sheet pan dinners are?  You probably do, but in case you don't, let me enlighten you.

Sheet pan dinners are meals that are all cooked in the oven on the same pan!  Which means, minimal clean up, and usually for us, a lot of smiles during dinner because they are so yummy..

Here are three favorites:

First up is Sausage and Potatoes and Onions and Peppers!

Here is the original recipe I started with.from  The first time I made it, I did not use the shredded cheese.  And we did not miss it at all! 

A few notes on this one because I've made it a lot:  Make sure you cut the sausage thick (not too thick - maybe about  1/4 of an inch or so).  You want to do this so the sausage doesn't burn while the potatoes are cooking.  I usually use a pack and a half of the the sausage because Dan is cutting carbs - which is why there are so few potatoes in this picture!)  I also added yellow and orange peppers because that what I had on had and they were a really nice addition to the onions!

Next up is Balsamic Chicken and Veggies:

The original recipe is found here  at Chelsea's Mess Apron.  I made this exactly as she states and it was really good.  Look at all those delicious roasted vegetables!

Next up is  Honey Dijon Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots. Even Dan (who while he appreciates the fact that I cook dinner every night is not usually quick with the compliments) said it was "really good". Y'all - that's high praise!

The original recipe can be found here on BuzzFeed. The recipe has you make your own honey mustard dressing to coat the chicken but if you were in a time crunch, obviously, you could use store bought.

I added broccoli to this one because I LOVE ROASTED broccoli.  And I also added onions to the potatoes because they add so much flavor.  I used fresh rosemary because we have a huge bush growing outside but please note - chop your fresh herbs finer than I chopped mine.  It was very rosemary forward but that still did not stop Dan from complimenting it.

  •  I always use parchment paper on the pan. It really does make clean up easier and when you stir your veggies during cooking they NEVER stick.  It's worth it to pick up a roll if you don't have any.  
  • I have a very large pan - it's 15x21 and it holds everything. 
  • And I ALWAYS plop the entire pan on the table and place serving spoons around it.  No need for serving dishes!  Like I said - easy clean up!
If you guys have any good sheet pan recipes, do tell.  You can never have enough good recipes in your box!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weekend update: storms, shopping and ziplining. Oh my!

On Friday afternoon, my phone started going crazy with severe weather alerts.  Apparently our county was under a tornado watch AND a flood warning.

Peter had gotten home early because they had field day.  He had a great time.  Each grade competes against each other and then against  the other grades and an official winner is announced.  The seniors won but the freshmen came in second so Peter was happy. I know most schools do field day at the end of the year, but his school uses field day to  promote bonding and getting to know your classmates early in the school year. 

As I was heading out to pick up Sarah I told him that if the sky got dark and the winds picked up, he needed to head to the basement.  He rolled his eyes, put his headphones back on, and went back to the computer screen he had been looking at before I so rudely interrupted him.  If a tornado was going to hit, I doubt he would have noticed until the roof collapsed on him.

I got Sarah without incident and we got home safe and sound.  But, later that evening before Dan got home from work, I looked out the window and noticed that to my left, the sky was very dark and to my right, a white sheetof water was coming from the tree line in the neighborhood behind us.

I snapped this beauty:

And about two seconds later, it was pouring down rain.
And the trees in the back were swaying and bending and the leaves looked all jumbled up and crazy blowing in multiple directions at once and I stood there watching and waiting for a tree to blow over or a funnel cloud to appear.

Not once did I heed my own advice and go to the basement.  And the kids didn't even realize there was a weird storm happening.

My dad apparently was watching from the front of his house to see if his 100+ year old pecan trees were holding up and to check for any funnel shaped clouds.  He didn't think to go to the basement either.

But, in my defense, the tornado watch was for a different part of the county (our county is very large and it was in the southern part and we are in the northern part) but still.   I'm about 50% sure if I had seen a funnel shaped cloud I would have hauled my big butt to the basement in record time.  I'm also about 50% sure I might have stayed at the window to film it.  Luckily that  wasn't an issue.

On Saturday morning, the boys did yard work (and helped my dad and brother clean up a Bradford pear tree that had fallen during the storm.)  Sarah and I went shopping for a few fall clothes for her.  My sweet girl had no pants that fit her.  They were all too tight and too short.  We found a couple of pairs of jeans at Target (20% off with the Cartwheel app) and then headed to Old Navy where she got a few shirts because most of those were also too tight and too short.

We grilled out on Saturday evening and then headed to Sonic for 1/2 price shakes after 8:00.  We do that all summer until they stop and go back to regular price.  And guess what?  They weren't 1/2 price BUT you could get a small one for $2 but the other sizes were regular price.  I guess summer really is over....

On Sunday we went to Mass and then had lunch at my parent's house and Dan fixed a leaky toilet and I did some laundry because I was behind thanks to his trip. When he gets home from a trip, I get a whole suitcase full of dirty clothes to deal with.

And then on Monday, we tried something new!  We went ziplining!

At the high school football game the previous weekend, we were talking to some friends who had taken their kids to Carolina Zipline Canopy Tours recently and had a blast  They've been several times and always enjoy it.

Dan has wanted to try it for sometime now and Peter is usually up for anything involving height and speed.  Sarah and I, on the other had, are both afraid of heights and we don't like going fast.

On Monday, while Dan was on his trip, I sent him a text and ask him if he thought Sarah could handle the zipline.  He suggested I ask her.  So before I mentioned it to Peter, I talked to her about it.  She seemed a little reluctant at first. But we checked out their website and looked at some of the videos they had posted.  It seemed very doable for both of us so I purchase a Groupon (definitely the way to go!) and booked our reservation.

We arrived Saturday morning, got harnessed up and headed to the course.  There were two smaller practice lines and we did those first. It took a little cajoling to get Sarah to step off the platform into thin air and go but she did it!  I was so proud of her.  Had we been there alone and not with other people waiting to go behind her, the outcome might have been a little different.

But ultimately she was glad she did it because she was able to complete the whole course.  And we all had a great time.  Honestly, the worst part was the first couple of times you had to step off the platform.  Once you got used to that and realized you weren't going to die, then it became second nature.  And smartly, they have it designed so you start small and short and work your way up to the higher 1000 foot line.

My dad asked if I would do it across a canyon or something really high up and I can honestly say the answer to that is a resounding NO!  I will always be afraid of heights and don't see myself jumping out of airplanes or bungee jumping anytime soon (or ever) but it was nice to be able to get out of my comfort zone and do something a little wild (for me) with my family.

Here we are heading off on one of the shorter lower lines:

My girl!

My boy!

And the day wouldn't be complete without a dorky family selfie!

Have a great (short!) week everyone!

Friday, September 1, 2017

The eclipse that never was (for us anyway).

I just realized that in all the excitement of school starting I never posted about the eclipse. Let me remedy that situation right now!

Unless you are living off the grid somewhere in Oregon or Montana or Utah or wherever it is people go to get off the grid, then you were aware that there was a total eclipse on August 21, 2017.

And where we live in N.C. we were going to see a 95% eclipsw but we only live a little less than 2 hours from totality.  So Dan planned to take off work and we were going to drive to somewhere in the path of totality and  park on the side of a road and watch the eclipse.

Y'all, I was so proud of myself, I even ordered glasses from Amazon.  But as luck would have it, we got a nice little message from Amazon a couple of days before the big event telling us not to use them or we might go blind.  Thank you, Amazon for refunding our money but a pair of un-blinding glasses would have been better. 

Unfortunately, I realized that the day of the eclipse was also the day of New Parent Orientation at Peter's high school.  I asked Dan if he thought we would be back in time and he said "probably but it would be close".  And that made me nervous.

And then the reports about predicted major traffic backups on the major highways we would be using possibly lasting hours and hours after the eclipse sealed the deal for me.

I know it sounds horrible but I really wanted to go to the orientation.  I had  questions and I wanted to get them answered before school which was a mere two days later and I didn't want to miss anything and I was nervous enough about Peter starting a new school that I really felt like I couldn't miss the orientation meeting.

So, we decided no big deal, Dan would take the afternoon off, come home and we would all experience 95% darkness at 2:00 in the afternoon together and that would be cool enough. 

Dan even researched and viewed all the models to see what it would look like and decided he was okay with that.

And then the time came for totality (and I now hate that word thanks to hearing in so much in August), and it was such a huge letdown.  All the models "showed" it would dark.  Everything we looked at on the internet made it look like it would still look dark. BUT NO!!!!!

It just looked cloudy and a little dim.  If you hadn't know there was an eclipse going on then you would have been thinking that the sky looked a little odd but that a storm was maybe moving in.  No biggie.  AND CERTAINLY NOT THAT YOU WERE IN 95% TOTALITY OF AN ECLIPSE.

And because we thought (how dumb were we?) that the cool thing would be it getting dark, I didn't even bother to go on the hunt for new glasses. (And based on the Facebook posts begging for glasses or announcing where you could buy them, they were available just not readily and you just had to get off your butt and go look for them. Wanna know something I'm not good at??  That would be getting off my butt....) So, we didn't even get to see it with glasses on.

And the worst part?  The new parent orientation was a great meeting but it was more of a pep rally/your kids are going to be fine than an actual information session.  As Dan and I were leaving we agreed that we totally (totality?) could have missed the meeting.  Hindsight....

But no worries, Dan has already decided that come hell or high water we were going to Buffalo, NY on April 28, 2024 to see one.  And I have decided that while we are checking off one of his bucket list items, while we are there, we might as well check off one of mine and visit The Anchor Bar and Grill - home of the original buffalo wing! 

Meanwhile, here are some pictures we took of the "eclipse".

Eclipse selfi

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Stream of conciousness....

The kids are back in school, Dan is in Seattle, so things are back to normal I guess.  It feels weird getting used to having my kids in two schools.  And the fact that Peter's school is 30 minutes away makes it feel weirder.

I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the car this year.  Thankfully the carpool to high school will only mean one day of the week I have to drive there twice in one day.

I am confident I will get used to it and in no time it will feel like old hat. When my kids went to public school, it was literally 2 minutes from our house AND they rode the bus!  I definitely enjoyed having zero morning/afternoon commute.

When they started at Our Lady of Mercy, the drive to school took about  17 or 18 minutes.  Some days I could do it in 15 if the stop lights cooperated.  The first couple of weeks driving that felt like I was never going to get to school and we were never going to get home.  But in no time, it felt like the quickest most natural drive in the world and I was wondering why it ever bothered me to begin with. Hoping that I feel the same in a couple of weeks about my drive to Bishop!

The people of Texas have been on my heart the last several days and I continue to pray for them.  This morning on our way to school there was a big electronic billboard that rotates different ads and one of them said "Pray for Texas" and had the outline of the state and a heart over Houston. 

Don't worry billboard - I have been! 

Yesterday Peter's school had a big summer reading event.  This year's theme was "Homegrown".  They had to choose a book from a list of about 15 that were either written by someone from North Carolina or was about North Carolina. While they were reading the book they had to find at least 20 quotes that spoke to characterization, plot, theme, etc. and tell how they thought the quote represented that. 

Yesterday they broke off into groups by book and discussed the book.  The upperclassmen led the discussion and teachers were taking note of who participated.  They also had two of the authors come to speak to the kids.  A BBQ lunch was provided and there was a small blue-grass band playing music in the background.

After lunch they broke up into groups and worked together to make 12 Free Libraries that will be placed around the area so that people can take a book and/or leave a book. 

Sounds like a fun day and a great summer reading project!

It's been unseasonably cool around here since this weekend.  Not ready for it to feel like fall yet.  Today in addition to being cool it is also cloudy with a little rain..  It will barely make it to the low 70s by 3:00 pm.  A little too cool for August if you ask me! 

Yesterday at Walmart, I found these little beauties!  After tulips, I would probably say that sunflowers are my next favorite flower.

The blooms are smaller than they appear in this picture and that makes them even cuter!  They had them at 4 for $3.97 but one of the blooms broke off in the car.  :(

And since Sarah can't resist taking a selfie - here's one from Sunday morning before we headed out to church!

Have a great Tuesday y'all!

Friday, August 25, 2017

First day of high school and 8th grade. Oh my!

The kids started back to school on Wednesday. Neither the,kids or I were ready for summer vacation to be over but what can you do?

 Peter is a 9th grader (my baby is a freshman!) at Bishop McGuinness High School and Sarah is an 8th grader at Our Lady of Mercy.

 Every year, the kids make me take a silly shot.  This year, they did not.  So, I did what any good mother would do and I requested that we do a silly shot.  (I'm a little sad that they feel too grown up for this tradition but they started it, so I'm going to finish it!)

Don't worry - those are shorts.  Sarah never wears a skirt without a pair of shorts underneath it! 

Since Peter's high school is 30 minutes away and in another town, we are doing a carpool with 4 other families.  The carpool leaves from Sarah's school so it is perfect for us since we will be going there anyway.

Here is the carpool crew!

This is a fine looking group of Our Lady of Mercy graduates if I do say so myself!

The first day for these guys was for 9th graders only.  It was a day long orientation.

When they got out of the car a large group of upper classmen where waiting on them with horns and bells and were cheering for them.  Peter said it was "awkward" but I think it sounds pretty cute.  The mom that was driving carpool on Wednesday said the looks on their faces were priceless. 

They started the day with a prayer service.  After that they met Big Brothers/Big Sisters (upper classmen) who showed them where all their classes were.  And they had games/icebreakers/getting to know you type activiteis in the gym.  They went briefly to each of their classes and basically got a feel for the school without the rest of the school being there.

Peter said he had a good first day but still seemed a little hesitant.  BUT - yesterday which was more of a normal day since all the students were there - he said was a really good day.

Sarah, who is a seasoned 8th grader, said her first two days were fine.  Nothing too exciting because, yawn, she's ready to go high school.  No surprise there because she's been saying she wishes she could skip 8th grade and go right to high school. 

Um - NO! 

So, that's our first day of school in a nutshell and now we are on to day 3.  I am hoping and praying for a great year for my kiddos!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cape Cod!!

When we last met here, Peter had finished up the written portion of driver's ed and I had taken Sarah shoe shopping for school and we were heading up to Cape Cod for vacation.

Dan got home at a reasonable time on Friday evening.  I had already packed and loaded up the car and off we went.

We drove to Chambersburg, PA and spent the night and were up bright and early to make the rest of the drive on Saturday morning.  We left around 7:15 AM and we hit no traffic and no road construction anywhere and it was lovely!  We made it to Yarmouth around 4:30.

On Sunday, Dan's brother and his family came to visit.  We spent the afternoon on the beach and then we played a round of mini-golf and then had pizza and ice cream!

Monday was cloudy and a bit rainy so we went off the Cape to visit the house Dan grew up in one last time.  It will hopefully be on the market in the near future.  The kids didn't think they were going to get to go into again so they were both excited and saddened to do it one more time.  They have a lot of sweet Christmas memories in that house.

Peter wanted to go to a record shop in Cambridge so we headed that way, walked around the campus of Harvard and got lunch at Tasty Burger.  It was as the name promised. Tasty!

Tuesday was also cloudy so we drove to Plymouth to see the rock and the replica of the Mayflower which was unfortunately in Mystic, CT where it is being repaired.  So we headed to Plimoth Plantation which is a living history museum.  They have built the Plymouth settlement exactly as it is described by William Bradford in his writings.  And they have people dressed in period costumes and they interact with you as if you were in their homes in the mid-1600's.  It was fascinating!

We spent time a lot of time on the beach on Wednesday and had a delicious lunch at Captain Parker's.  If you are ever in West Yarmouth (or anywhere on the Cape really) you should head to Captain Parker's.  They have THE BEST clam chowder anywhere in New England.

On Thursday we got up early and drove to Onset to take a three hour tour by boat of the Cape Cod canal but when we arrived we found out the captain had called in sick and the tour had been cancelled.  They gave us our money back and free vouchers for a 1 hour tour of Hyannis.  We had done that one in previous years but it was free and the kids wanted to do it again so we did.

On Friday we headed to Falmouth and parked and got on our bikes and biked 3.5 miles to Woods Hole where we had a nice lunch and then biked back to Falmouth.  There are many bike trails on the Cape Cod and they are all so nice because they are flat!  They follow the old railway lines and a portion of this one runs right by the ocean.  It makes biking (exercising) so much better when you have a beautiful view!

And might I also add that we ate ice cream out EVERY NIGHT!  That's SEVEN nights of ice cream.  I was very excited that when I returned home I had only gained 4 1/2 pounds.

Here are other random shots taken throughout the week:

It was a great vacation - very relaxing and peaceful.  Now we are enjoying our last week and half of freedom before school starts.