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Friday, September 29, 2017

Hernias and coordinating outfits.

Dan made it home last night from his trip to Tucson.  His travel schedule this year has been much lighter than last year.  If you will recall last year, he was gone for the majority of the end of summer and into fall and don't forget that he was gone the ENTIRE CHRISTMAS season - from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. 


That was a long season and an especially long December.  Thankfully it doesn't look like that is going to happen again this year - just regularly schedule normal length trips.

However, poor Dan has an inguinal hernia and is having surgery on Wednesday to repair it.  It should be outpatient if all goes well and then he will be taking Thursday and Friday off to recovery.

Taking care of a sick man is always so much fun!  Really, though, Dan is typically a good patient.  His problem will most likely be wanting to get up and do too much too soon.  He can't stand just sitting around the house doing nothing.  Luckily he has hours and hours of history documentaries saved on the DVR so he should be good. 

The PTO at Sarah's school is doing a neat fundraiser to make money to pay for a special  holiday luncheon for the teachers.  One of the moms at school has a photography business and she is offering free (with donations accepted by the PTO) mini-sessions at Old Salem.  It has been years - 10 to be exact - since we had professional portraits done so I immediately signed up.  Now the fun of coordinating outfits begins.

Sarah has a really cute dress that we got from Target (clearance section for the win!) last week that will be perfect. Coordinating Dan and Peter should be easy - solid colored polo for Peter, plaid dress shirt for Dan.  It's me that's the problem!  I need to find something that will not only look good with everyone's outfit but will make me look 15 pounds lighter.  I'm thinking head to toe Spanx and head to toe black. 

Speaking of dresses for Sarah...we were out shopping for a dress for school pictures when we got the dress from the clearance rack.. It is really cute but it's off the shoulders and it will not work for school. 

Why so picky about the dress code Catholic school???? 

So even thought she couldn't wear it, it was cheap and looks super cute on her so we got it but we couldn't find an appropriate school picture dress.  We found a really cute shirt though and I said, "Why don't we get this and you can wear it with your black pants for the school picture?"  (Because you can only see above the waist anyway.)

But what Sarah heard was, "Why don't we get this and you can wear it with your black pants?"  Apparently the whole "for the school picture" was lost on her because yesterday when I reminded her that school pictures were on the 10th, she asked, "What am I going to wear?"

Needless to say, we exchanged words.

She was horrified at the thought of wearing pants to school on a day when every other girl would be wearing a dress.

So, guess who gets to go to the mall?

Pray for me y'all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mid-week ramblings...

Peter starts his in-car driver's ed this weekend.  I'm glad for him but a little nervous for me.  While waiting for him in the car rider line at high school a week or so after school started, I noticed another student approach his mom's car and instead of getting in the passenger's seat, his mom hopped out and he got in the DRIVER'S SEAT.

And then it hit me.  Once Peter gets his permit, he is going to WANT to drive.  And not only want to driver, but HAVE to drive in order to actually get his license when he turns 16.

I will admit that I did start to sweat a little at the thought of him driving me around and I just can't help but to think that my newborn can't be ready for all of this because I know I'm not.


In other news, I made this yummy broccoli salad the other day for lunch:

I even made the delicious lemon poppy seed dressing that goes with it.  The recipe is here if you are interested. The only change I made was using Splenda instead of sugar and I left out the almonds because I didn't have any.  It was really good and it's very filling.   

It's fall so that means Sarah is swimming.  I wish we could do it more than two nights a week but our schedule and my sanity don't allow for it.

Peter is enjoying his high school.  In fact, yesterday on the way home from school he even said, "I like my high school!"  When I asked him what he liked about it he said, "The fact that there's so many kids, (only about 400 in the whole school but compared to his middle school where there were only about 60 it seems big), the teachers, and the cafeteria (they have Taco Tuesday with all sorts of different Mexican treats weekly so what's not to love!). 

Dan's been in Tucson this week so guess what that meant for me last night? 

I got to watch This Is Us in real time instead of watching it the next day like I normally do!  Gosh, how I love that show!

Last night's episode did not disappoint.  Except now every time I see Jack, I think I know how it's all going to end. But knowing this show, it's not going to be anything like I expect!

That's all from me for now.  There's a load of laundry in the dryer just begging to be put away! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I guess if I can't tell embarrassing stories about my kids, I might as well tell one about myself.

I had decided that once school was back in session, I was going to be a better blogger.

So far, that has not occurred. Probably because my kids don't want me to  post too much about them (nothing personal or embarrassing anyway - and really, those make the best blog stories) and also because my life is really,really boring lately.  Feels like all I do is take the kids places and bring them home from places.  But I suppose that's the life of a stay-at-home mom with teenagers.

In an effort to get back into blogging I am really going to attempt to come here more frequently and write about the boring stuff because (thankfully) life is mostly boring stuff.  And some of my favorite bloggers are people who write about their every day happenings.

So here goes...

This weekend Dan and Peter went with the Boy Scouts to the Virginia Creeper Trail.  They've been before with the troop several years ago and Peter also went in 7th grade.  Sarah went last year with her 7th grade class so that makes me the only one who hasn't been. 

Dan assures me that even though it's a 17 mile bake ride,  it's more coasting than pedaling because it's all downhill and I'm almost sold on going as a family BUT every trip includes a story about several people in their group falling off their bikes and getting hurt.  Not sure what to make of that except that if someone is a group is going to fall off their bike - it's me.

I even fell off my bike when we were doing the Shining Sea Bikeway at the Cape this summer.  And this trail is perfectly flat.  I guess if I can't tell embarrassing stories about my kids, I might as well tell one about myself.

I was behind the rest of the family and we got to one of the few spots where the bike path crosses a street.  The signs say you are to stop, get off your bike, and walk your bike across the street.  However, no one else was doing that - except me.  I am such a boring rule follower.

Dan and the kids reached this particular point and crossed the street where there was a car stopped to let them pass.  I, as usual, was trialing behind and could see that the car was going to wait for me to cross as well.

So I decided in order to save time I would slow down (not come to a complete stop), hop off my bike (because - rule follower), and cross quickly so as not to hold up the car any longer.

I was able to slow down but it was the hoping off while the bike was still moving that was the problem.  Instead of gracefully throwing my right leg over the bike and walking it across the street as I had planned, I ungracefully threw my right leg over the bike and someone managed to fall face down on to the bike path landing unceremoniously on top of my  bike and the pavement.

The kids and Dan could hear the crashing sound so they stopped to turn around just in time to see me hop up as fast as I could, grab my bike and run it across the street without even glancing at the car that was waiting patiently for my sorry ass to move things along.

Other than a bruised thigh and a bruised ego, I was fine.  While we were eating lunch before completing the bike trip back, Sarah told me that if it hadn't been me, she would have laughed.  I told her that if it hadn't been me, I would have laughed too. 

All this to say that when Dan tells me that a 17 mile ride coasting down a mountain is easy, I have to pause and wonder how much damage I would do to myself and the rented bike. However, Dan said that there's a really good diner halfway down the trail that serves excellent burgers  so I might be persuaded to take that chance.  I'll do almost anything for a good hamburger - even fall off my bike a couple of times!

Here's a picture of Peter and his troop at the start of the trail:

Friday, September 22, 2017

The cut.

If you've been reading here for a while, you know my love hate relationship with my hair.  Well, mostly hate, but still.

Go to the search bar on the blog and type in hair cut and way too many posts regarding my hair (and the state of my children's hair) will come up.

I typically wear my hair two ways.  Long and stringy (because it grows fast and it's thin and the exact opposite of luscious) or in a bob (because hair my thickness and texture really only looks good in a bob. Don't even talk to me about layers.)

For the last 6 months or so I have been losing a lot of hair.  I'm blaming it on hormones.  So may hair has been even grosser looking than normal.  I talked about getting my hair cut short at my last appointment and my stylist got a look of fear in her eyes.

Y'all, she knows me.  I get it cut short, am happy with it for a few months and then I start growing it out again.  It's a cycle of addiction that I just can't break and I've been with this stylist since 2008 so she knows...

This morning after lots of discussion, we decided on a graduated bob. It's longer in the front than in the back.  She said I have a long neck and she didn't want to cut it too short because then I would like like a bobble head and nobody wants to look like a bobble head. 

Here's my lovely before: (please note my apparently long neck!)

Why is it that your hair always looks good right before you get it cut?  And yes, this is "good" for my hair.  See the stringy dry ends?  Me too.  That's why it had to be cut.

And here's the after:

And that's enough about my hair!  Happy Weekend and Happy Fall!

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