November 11, 2008

Canning Weekend 2008

This post is intended to chronicle exactly what I did for this year's apple canning season so that I can repeat or improve upon my process for next year.

I purchased about 17 pounds of mixed variety apples from the grocery store for .99/lb. This was the same price it was at the local orchard for pick your own apples when you picked greater than 20 pounds. I opted to skip the actual picking this year...maybe next year I will do it with the kids just for the experience. A few years ago, I took Sara (then about 15 months) and picked about 60 pounds of apples. Did I mention that it was only me and Sara...and 60(!) pounds of apples? Not the brightest idea I've ever had, and probably the main reason I skipped it altogether this year.

In addition to the store-bought apples, I bought 2 big boxes (24 pounds each) of apple seconds from the Catoctin Orchard in Emmitsburg. They were $6 a box for a total of $12. I was not exactly sure what I was going to be getting with "seconds" but I was pleasantly surprised! The apples were not the prettiest things. There were lots that were misshapen, too big, too small, or with a small defect on the peel. But they were all most certainly edible and you can't beat .25/lb! Also, I was able to have the orchard make up my boxes of seconds with the kind of apples I wanted...I only specified red vs. yellow/green, but I think next year I will ask if they can avoid adding certain varieties of apples. (I will have to figure out the type, but there was one kind that was a very soft fleshed apple that totally fell apart when cooking.) For next year, I will definitely go with all apple seconds and no store bought. I think

After I got all the apples home, I cut them into about 6 pieces each and tossed them into this big tub that Sara so (un)willingly let me borrow from her toy room. It didn't occur to me to take a picture till we were well underway, but at the beginning the bin was very full!

In the midst of chopping, I began cooking the apples. They needed to cook for about 15 minutes, so I had a sort of rotating schedule of starting each pot about 7 minutes apart.

When one pot of apples was done cooking, I processed them down to sauce using my Kitchenaid mixer and some amazing attachments (the food grinder and the fruit & veggie strainer)! Sara was a big help with this step mixing and pushing the apples down the chute to be processed. She also dubbed the waste coming out the end of the strainer the apple poop. She thought that was hilarious!

The next step in the process was to cook the applesauce with sugar and cinnamon and then to process the jars. For the applesauce I added about 1/2 c sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon per quart. This was not scientific at all. It looked more like 2 c sugar and a heaping hand full of cinnamon added to the pot on the right in the picture below. As for the jars, some people run them through the dishwasher to get them sterile/hot, but I decided to boil them empty in the canning pot for about 10 minutes before filling them with the hot applesauce. After the jars were filled I processed them in the canner for about 20 minutes. It worked out well once I got my system going. 20 minutes of processing time plus 10 minutes to prepare the next set of jars was just the time I needed to cook up another pot of applesauce. Rinse, lather, repeat...and repeat, and repeat, and repeat...

So here's the final tally...I canned 15 quarts and 13 pints of applesauce and 11 pints of apple butter. Why both quarts and pints of applesauce?? I really have no idea. I wish I had a good explanation...I had enough quart jars to do it all in quarts. At first I thought I would only do the cinnamon applesauce in the smaller jars, then do plain in the quarts but I liked the cinnamon so much I did it for all of the jars. I am wondering if it will work out OK throughout the year to have some smaller jars to use when we don't want to refrigerate leftovers. I will have to see how it goes and plan better for next year.

A note about the apple butter--pick a recipe that starts with cooking the apples in cider vinegar. Don't add too much (if any) of the cooking liquid back into the processed makes it take forever to cook down again. Spices to be added include ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice. The more the better in my opinion!

So now let's talk about cost effectiveness. I will preface this by the fact that I already had the quart-sized jars and I bought the pint jars for $3 a dozen at a local thrift store. Because they are reusable, I am not going to count them in the cost. Also, the rings are reusable so I won't be counting them either. It wasn't a huge money-saver, but it was alot of fun!

lids $2/dz (x4)
apples $29
Extra ingredients for apple butter $10
TOTAL: $47

This compares to a retail value for similar products of:
Applesauce qts: $2 (x15)
Applesauce pts: $1 (x13)
Apple butter pts: $2.50 (x11)
TOTAL: $70.50

I am adding this post to the Works for Me Wednesday series over at Rocks In My Dryer...go over and check out some other great ideas!

November 10, 2008

Babywearing--Crazy Name, Amazing Results!

In another realm of the blogosphere, Adventures In Babywearing is having a fun little contest to win a new baby sling. A stipulation of the contest is that you link to the company donating the slings, so here goes: Nonni&Boo. I had trouble getting the pictures on their website to load, so I will admit that I am not sure exactly what it is I stand to win, but I do love Love LOVE my baby carrying accessories, so I am happy to write a post about my experience...well, my second post on the topic's the first.

When I had my first baby (pictured above) I was a basket of raw emotion, and admittedly, not all of them were good. I felt very useless sitting around all the time just holding my baby in my arms. (So naive I was! That's probably the most important thing I could have been doing at that very moment!) It is shocking really how such a tiny baby can make your arms/shoulders/back ache after all that holding.

When I finally got my wits about me after about 10 weeks of moping, I started doing some research on baby carriers. I found several very helpful sites with information that really spoke to what my heart already knew about the importance of holding your baby as much as possible...for the baby's sense of security, for the mother's ability to sense when she needs something. One of my favorite sites was Mamatoto. I especially liked the pictures explaining how to use each of the different styles of carriers.

Ultimately, with my first I decided on a ring sling. When I looked for one to buy, I found their prices to be outlandish for the simplicity of them. I decided I could definitely make my own and got the pattern and the weight-tested rings (this was very important to me) from SlingRings. I learned that for the best result, you should choose a fabric that doesn't have a "wrong side". I love brightly colored batiks and they worked perfectly! Sara, in the picture above is wearing her doll baby in my first sling that I carried her in from about 10 weeks until about 2 1/2 pretty much every day.

When Rachael was born, I couldn't wait to bring out the sling! It was such a lifesaver with Sara and an absolute necessity with more than one child in the house. My beloved sling did have a drawback though. While I did have use of both hands, since it only goes over one shoulder, I couldn't use both arms equally. This proved to be a major challenge while chasing a toddler! I picked up a BabyBjorn for cheap at a thrift store but felt that it wasn't quite right for me. I didn't use it for longer than a month or so. After the recommendation of a friend and an opportunity to try her carrier out in person, I *invested* in a BabyHawk carrier. I do not use the word invested lightly--it was very pricey in my opinion. However, with two small children, what little time I thought I had was officially gone for good (or for at least 18 years) so I resigned myself to buying instead of making. Now that Rachael is walking, I find that I most use it when we are out and it's only practical to have the 1-kid stroller. (I think I have a collection of strollers to rival my collection of baby carriers!)

All in all, I love all of my carriers for different reasons...I can't wait for the opportunity to use them again!

November 5, 2008

WFMW: A sibling...the best toy ever!

Over at Rocks in my Dryer, this week's WFMW series is all about the best toys. In my embarrassingly overindulgent middle class house, we have seen our fair share of toys come through...if only they would make their exit in the droves that they seem to come in! When we just had one child, the toys that we *stockpiled* (Little People...AHEM!) were admittedly more for me than for Sara. Now our basement overfloweth...there is no space for variety, and the Little People have lost their splendor...with Sara too.

Now that we have our second beautiful baby, we are really feeling the space crunch...more kids, more toys, right? But here's the truth--the girls really prefer to interact (read poke, sit on, hug, carry, wrestle, etc. all with the grace & gentleness of a 3 & 1 year old) with each other than with most toys that are so widely available...hmm, littering...our home. I have come to realize the more kids you have, the less toys you actually need.

What's the toy that my kids enjoy the most? It's each other!

Fall Means Fun!

When was the last time you stopped to admire the beauty of God’s creation with your child(ren)? Almost every day during the fall, I am amazed by nature…a bright orange and yellow tree that hasn’t lost it’s leaves quite yet, the cool breeze that blows in a gentle reprieve from the summer’s heat, the apple trees at our local orchard whose branches are so heavy with fruit I for the life of me can’t figure out why they don’t break under the weight.

Preschoolers are naturally observant and mine in particular has really been receptive to my directing her attention to the things that make fall…well, fall. This past weekend, while my husband was home caring for our sick baby, I was able to spend some one on one time with Sara. We took a “nature walk” around our little suburban block and talked all about the trees and the leaves. We found deer footprints and collected pinecones to make birdfeeders. When we ran errands in the afternoon, we bought about twenty pounds of apples that I am hoping she will help me can as apple butter later this week. We have been reading several fall-themed books as bedtime stories over the past several weeks.

While I have not personally tried any of these yet, I have been thinking about a few more ideas to infuse a fall theme into our ordinary routine.
--Make leaf rubbings with leaves found in our own yard
--Have Sara participate in fall chores like raking the leaves and cleaning out the garden
--Roast one of our Halloween pumpkins and eat it for dinner

I would love to hear what your family is doing to celebrate fall!

October 10, 2008

Only one more day...

So tomorrow is the big day...the 1/2 Marathon. I have run about 10 miles per week for the past 4 months with several longer runs in there too. (I choose to not think about those!) I did a local 5K just to see what organized running is all about. I feel physically prepared.

Yesterday I picked up my race reminded me of my experience at the one and only bridal show I could stomach. You think for a minute that you are about to do something that makes you unique, then you enter this twilight zone where everyone is doing the exact same thing you are, and for that matter probably about to do it even better than you ever could. I find it humbling to say the least.

To get myself in the spirit today I am wearing my race shirt to work...good thing it's Friday! I have my "13.1" sticker posted on my computer monitor and the map of the course posted right above my phone. I am looking forward to a day full of eating so I can have lots of energy...who doesn't love that?!

October 1, 2008

Aldi Menu Planner Link

You might remember how much I LOVE I am loving it even more! Check out MomAdvice for a great Fall/Winter Menu Plan using ingredients available at Aldi. The recipes look fairly easy and family friendly. Most make a ton of servings, so I am guessing this plan could last my family about two months. She even includes a grocery list with prices so you will know about what you might pay. (As an aside, I have also been working on a price list for the Aldi stores that I tend to frequent...maybe I will share it in a future post.)

September 29, 2008

This made my day!

I stopped by the post office to get stamps and they had these! They put an instant smile on my face!

Last Long Run

On Saturday, I did my last long run around BWI Airport (10.6 miles) before the Baltimore 1/2 Marathon. It was the longest distance I have ever run and a real learning experience more than anything. I am prone to low blood sugar so the longer distance gave me an opportunity to practice eating while running. Eating was not something I ever thought I would need to "practice"!!! The running gels were totally gross, but the upshot was I didn't pass out. I guess these are the trade-offs we runners must make. I got to run some nice hills too. Where I normally run is very flat and not representative of the actual course, so the hills did me some good. I ran for just under 2 hours straight, with only three brief stops to to figure out where we were, one for a friend to answer her everloving cell phone, and one because I inhaled rather than drank my water (not recommended BTW). Overall, I feel much more confident about my ability to actually complete the 1/2 in my annoyingly consistent 10 minute mile pace. The next two weeks will be spent recovering my aching legs by x-training for the next few days, then back to running about 3 miles per day.

September 16, 2008

Run, Mommy, Run!

I am all registered to run the Baltimore 1/2 Marathon, so being that there is less than one month(!!!) till the race, I decided that I should actually enter an organized running event to see what they are like. This past Saturday, I ran a 5K to support St. Michael's youth group summer work camp projects.

There were about 70 runners...a very small town event. It was less intimidating that way, so I was happy. As it turns out, the fewer runners there are, the more likely it is that you might win. I got a medal for being 2nd in my age category! Sara also participated in the kids fun run. She was so so cute! The run was 1/2 mile around a field and the church. She was most interested in the cows that were mooing at us as we ran-walked-skipped past. (I did mention small town event right?!) The best part of the whole day was when another little girl who ran the fun run came and met Sara about 100 yards from the finish line and took her hand and ran with her till the end. So sweet and such a great display of sportsmanship!

September 15, 2008

Help for the Working Wounded

That's me...the working wounded. I have just learned that the part-time schedule that I have enjoyed since returning to work after maternity leave will not be approved to continue beyond the end of this month. There are many reasons for this, all logical on the part of my employer, and none having to do with my actual work performance, so there's nothing really worth discussing further here. It is what it is, and while it doesn't make me happy, I do understand. I have spent alot of time grieving over this, but it's not helping me come to terms, nor is it going to change the situation. So as of now, I must decide to look at this for what it is; a God-given opportunity. Did you read that?...God-given....opportunity. In my mind it seems so contradictory to the situation, but in my heart I know that it is true. My career is a perfect example of the work of God in my life. I am actually doing the work I went to college rare is that?! I am affording a single family house for my family...a fullfillment of a childhood dream. I actually like what I do at work, but more importantly, I like the people I work with and for. I can afford my bills...and even the rising gas prices! God has blessed me with a great job!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be home with my children for the extra time that my part-time schedule allowed. As I return to my full time schedule in October, I see this as an opportunity to continue to thank God. I thank God for my husband who is the primary caregiver during the week. He gives me the security I need to leave home and go to work without spending all day stressing over the wellfare of my kids. He is a loving, devoted, protective father. I thank God for my mother-in-law who will be caring for the girls one day a week. She adores Sara and Rachael and it is such a gift for them to spend so much time with their grandparents. I thank God for the extra income that will come with full time status. Although not needed to meet our regular expenses, I am praying we will find a purpose for it that seeks to advance the needs of others over ourselves.

Please pray that as October approaches I will adapt well to this change and become content in the fact that I am doing work that is pleasing to God.

September 5, 2008

Motorcycle Mom learns a lesson

Between each of my children, I have made it a point to accomplish a life goal. Think "bucket list" but without the morbid connotation. After I had Sara, in typical Stanley style, a whole group of us took a motorcycle course. BIL Pat, SIL Kate, SIL Julie and I made up half of the class! I am proud, if not a little scared, to tell you that I got my motorcycle license while having only actually driven a motorcycle for less than 20 miles. Around a parking lot. Never exceeding 20 mph. Are you worried yet?! I can say with relative confidence that I do not have any intention of ever riding a motorcycle again. (You can start breathing now...)

The experience of completing the class was the end goal for me. I did something that scared me to death and I didn't quit. It is a few and far between opportunity to do something like that in one's adult life. Without anyone there to force you into a challenging situation except for yourself it's all too easy to wimp out. But as a parent, in the coming years I will be encouraging my children to do just that...grow and learn and try new things. Taking the motorcycle class was a great way to remind myself of the feelings that go along with that...fear, uncertainty, doubt, worry. May I strive every day to encourage my children with a compassion for these emotions as they are meeting life's challenges.

July 2, 2008

Summer means Sno-cones!

Myfriendconnie, who blogs over at Smokity Frocks, invited us to share our favorite sno-cone flavor in hopes of winning a good summer read from her here goes!

I love our local sno-cone is owned by the wife of one of the members of our local fire department. Since Scott's an officer there, we know the family pretty well. In fact, the stand sits in the parking lot of a shopping plaza in town that is owned and managed by another member of the department. I do love small town living! I only hope that in the not so distant future I too will be able to contribute to my community in a meaningful way.

Ah but enough musing...on to my favorite flavor... it's called Fire & Ice and it's a mix of cinnamon and spearamint...yum yum! I love the marshmallow topping too! I never knew this, but adding the marshmallow topping might be a regional thing...I had some friends in college that were totally grossed out by the idea...I can't imagine! The more marshmallow the better, if you ask me! The trick is to pace yourself so there's enough marshmallow for the last bite.

June 23, 2008

Sara's First Haircut

Forgive me for the posting of old news but Sara got her very first haircut EVER last month...She got about 8 inches of sweet baby curls cut off. Right before my very eyes she's making the transition from toddler to her looks, in her interests, and in her behavior. We are so blessed!

Garden Update

Spring is my most favorite season. I love the break from the long cold winter. I love how everything slowly comes back to life. I love the vibrant colors of Spring found in new leaves, flower blooms, and growing grass. Recently, alternating bouts of heavy rain with warm sunny days have really made everything in my garden just explode! The incredible rate in which everything seems to be growing has really caught Sara's attention. She often asks to go watch the garden grow. The past few weeks almost makes it seem like you could see the plants actually growing if you stood there for a minute! Sara is learning that plants need sun and rain in order to grow. I tell her this is just like her needing food and rest to grow. We checked out a book from the library called Inch by Inch that is a sing-song rhyme about growing a garden. She can practically sing the whole thing by herself. We sing it together when we are working in the garden or flower beds.

Here's how my garden looks now...please don't mind the decking materials, etc, in the background...that may be a topic for another post. Remember that my garden is only 4ft by 8ft and that I loosely plant according to the Square Foot Gardening method. According to this method, I really could have fit a lot more plants into my garden...I just ran out of ideas and the stores' supply dwindled as I decided I really could fit some more.

Here's an inventory of what I planted this year...
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 bush cucumber
2 bush beans
2 yellow bell pepper
2 red pepper
4 green pepper
3 cherry tomato
6 regular tomato
5 okra (1 of one kind and 4 of another)

Oh, and GREAT news! My sister-in-law has caught the gardening bug too! I am looking forward to her success!

June 20, 2008

Babyhawk Carrier

I am so crazy for my new Babyhawk baby carrier! I ordered it upon the recommendation of a friend who blogged about it here. Since it is pricey, I knew I needed to try it out first before I shelled out the was a big hit! Rachael fell asleep in minutes! Maybe it was just timing, but any Momma can appreciate a device that will sooth those little ones into a snugly slumber. I raced home and ordered my very own the next day. Since I HAD to have me one IMMEDIATELY because of its sleep-inducing properties, I chose one of the patterns they had in stock. For those who can stand to wait two weeks, the company has a great selection of patterns to choose from.

This is Maria and I with our youngest babies.

Here's another thing I just love...I can just as easily carry my 2 1/2 year old as my 8 month old. Either child does equally well on the front or on the back.

So if you are a new Mom or a Mom to many little ones, give yourself a treat and check out the Babyhawk baby carrier!

June 19, 2008

Give Her Time

Yesterday, my sister-in-law and I were chatting and she asked me what I would do with a time all to myself. My first thought was that my husband had put her up to it so she could report back and he could surprise me with a great day out. While that would be nice, that wasn't at all her motivation for the least I don't think so. She really, truly wanted to know. What would I do with time all to myself?

A great question from a Mom to another Mom. I admit it...I sometimes feel desperate for time alone. Sometimes I feel exhausted, emotionally spent, and behind on almost everything in my house. (The being behind part is more than a's REALITY!) But even as I daydream about how nice it would be to have Scott send me out of the house with instructions not to return till after nap times, I am struck with a sense of loneliness. I simply adore the company of my children. They are sweet and energetic, funny and inquisitive. They make sure my full attention is on them...exactly where it should be.

But lets face it, there are things that are easier done sans 2 year old and 8 month old. Should the opportunity ever arise for a several hour period without children and I enter a bumbling state of deliriousness in my driveway at the endless possibilities, I have made myself a list of possible ways to spend my time...
take a quilting class (I actually checked into this one but it will have to wait till fall)
browse the library (My current strategy is to request books online and pick them up right as we are breezing through to check out the last unchewed cardboard book in the county!)
try on clothes (Though I have to admit...watching Sara try on my-sized bathing suits with me the last time I attempted clothes shopping with kids was awfully cute!)
clean my house with no one else there (Would this even make a difference? I'm willing to think it might!)
grocery shop (No more super duper school bus cart for's the four wheeled cart or BUST!)

How do you spend your time away from your children?

June 16, 2008

Budget Busters or Blessings?

Budgeting is something I have never really had to do. There always seemed to be enough money to pay the bills, and that was all that mattered. Money came in. Money went out. Not a whole lot went into savings, but we were getting by very comfortably.

Around the beginning of this year, we had decided that the fact that we were still paying on school loans given our income was kind of silly and we really just need to get rid of them. To that end, we have been making substantial additional payments each month. I am proud to announce that we paid off Scott's loan as of last month! WOOHOO, does that ever feel good! We still have two of mine to go and I was all ready to put the additional monthly payment toward the next loan...but...

we had a car scare on the way home from a trip to NC two weeks ago...think 105 degree heat, I-95, no AC, a car that won't go above 30, a toddler, and a baby. You get the idea...not pretty. The car that we were planning to replace in about a year became the car that now must be replaced in a month.

Fast forward through an entire week of car dealership hell...don't get me started--I don't even want to go there...and we are now the proud new owner of a 2005 Ford Expedition.

Sooo, now the real question comes back to the remember, that never-to-be-written-down style of financial planning that has sufficed for the first 5 years of our marriage...I think I might have to pick up the pen and paper and do some work. Can we manage the car payment in addition to the additional payment we are sending to school loans? Are we willing to give up anything to continue to afford both? How in the world were we even doing the extra payment before?

I am a truly blessed person to even be faced with this I write down a budget for our family for the first time in my life, I will be in thankful prayer to God, asking for the best way to use the blessings He has provided.

My Daddy is...

I am not one to buy cards for really any occasion. I would much rather put the several dollars toward to present. My Sweet Sara, however, just loves to pick out cards (read: rearrange the cards and throw as many as possible into the cart). A quick trip to the grocery store turned into a time management black hole as I set to indulge her in choosing a card for her Daddy for Father's Day. She found a card with a cute little animal on the said Daddy is my HERO! Good enough so far. Below it there was a place for the child to fill in the blanks...think Mad's what Sara came up with...

My Dad is...
stronger than a puppy dog.
smarter than a toothbrush.
braver than a lion.

So there you have it...according to Sara, Scott is officially smarter than a toothbrush!

June 9, 2008

May SHARE Package

I have talked in posts before about the SHARE Food Network so I wanted to share with you what came in the SHARE package for the month of May. Yes, I know that was soooo last month, but better late than never, right?! The first pic is the regular package, and the second was their monthly special. The food in each of the pictures costed $18.00 a piece, for a total of $38 for all the food pictured.

The distribution site is a church about 25 minutes from my house. A very nice gentleman always meets me at the door of my car to help me shuttle the girls inside and then helps me carry the food/kids back out to my car. Cheap food and great can't beat that! Well...maybe cheap food, great service, and a more timely post about the whole experience might be better :) I will work on that for next month, as well as I am hoping to begin a series on how I incorporate the food I get through the SHARE program into our menus throughout the month.

Word of the Day: Foodtude

food·tude (noun)
a negative or hostile state of mind due to lack of adequate sustenance

Readers beware, I am often prone to much so, it seems, that this state of being got its own new word in the English language courtesy of my dear husband.

The first step in dealing with something is to give it a name...

June 4, 2008

Port Discovery Pics

Several weeks ago, I took the girls to Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore. I was loving how even Rachael had a great time! I was afraid she would still be too little. And of course Sara had a blast as usual! Enjoy the pics!

May 25, 2008

Me being beautiful just like you Momma

Ahh, from the mouths of babes...

May 23, 2008

Getting caught up, in two minutes or less

So it's been entirely too long since I have posted last...I had all intentions of doing a Menu Plan this week and show pictures of the SHARE package I picked up on Saturday. However, that effort was upstaged by a great trip to Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore. Ever been? We love it so much, we actually splurged for the year-long membership. I like to go about once a month to make sure we are getting our $$ worth! I would love to share some pictures so you can get a sense of what it's's so cool!!! (Did I mention that already?!) It's great for kids from baby on up...even Rachael enjoyed herself in the room designed especially for babies and toddlers.

Speaking of Rachael, she turned 8 months old this past week, and I really wanted to post about that too. She's now crawling pretty well, and her new favorite thing is to wave. She waves at absolutely everything! She is still as vocal as ever, and I believe she and Bella had their first fight over a toy. All Kate and I could do was laugh at them as they were shrieking and casting the evil eye at each other. In the end, it turned out neither really wanted the toy and they went their separate ways to go drool on something else.

Sara is making progress in the potty training world. We checked out this video called "Potty Power" from the library...what a riot! I highly suggest Mom and Dad preview the video don't want your uncontrolled laughter to in any way distract said 2 year old from the great message of getting Potty Power! But I do have a it really considered being potty trained if said 2 year old is sitting on the potty and yet still manages to pee all over the floor...nearly every time?! Maybe so much bathroom cleaning is the reason I haven't gotten around to posting! Now the new lesson is "Potty Posture" aka how to sit so the pee actually goes into the potty...she keeps correcting me..."No, Mommy...not Potty have Potty POWER!" Apparently the lesson is lost on her.

So hopefully over the long holiday weekend I will have a chance to post some pictures and write something insightful as opposed to this general rambling. Keeping fingers crossed, but definitely not holding my breath...

May 16, 2008

Congratulations Kate!

I have some news...big, exciting news! In contrast to my nature, I had to refrain from talking incessently about it, because the news wasn't mine to tell. So patiently I waited till the time was right. Dear readers, you are in luck because today the wait is over...

WOOHOO!!! My sister-in-law, Kate, is EXPECTING Baby #2!!! YIPPEEE!!!

If you have any creative names you called your precious babies before they are born, stop by her blog and leave her a comment. The ones we have used for our girls were Seahorse and Jellybean.

May 14, 2008

They won't go to kindergarten diapers...will they?!!

Santa brought Sara her very own potty for Christmas and there it sat...unused and lonely for months and months. We even put it away for a while because we were tired of tripping over it whenever we were in the bathroom. I didn't push the issue at all. My goal in life is to control the frequency and severity of the crying happening in my house, so packing up the unused potty seemed tantrum-inducing pressure on Sara and no whining from Scott as he kicks the blasted potty for the um-teenth time. While I was cleaning out a linen closet last week, Sara spotted the potty and out it came...without any parent-induced fanfare. There was no explanation of how it worked or what it was for. It just appeared in the bathroom again. Several times that day she wanted to sit on the potty, but nothing happened. I got all anxious because I certainly don't know how to potty train a child...good grief...she's 35 pounds and still wearing diapers...there's only Depends from here on out, folks. (But Pampers now makes a Size 7...thank you, Kate, for that great bit of trivia.) In something that could be described as a panic, I requested probably every toilet training manual, children's book and video that the public library carries. I picked a few up from the library over this past weekend, and before I had even made it through chapter 3 of Potty Training for Dummies, my little girl is calling me...from the potty...the potty containing product! Sara was giggling and laughing. Bladder control is apparently very funny to the 2 year old mind. All day yesterday we were diaper free except for nap time and bedtime. Today's looking like another big success! My baby girl is growing up and leaving her Momma in a delirious state of diaper-free amazement...

May 12, 2008

No Menu Plan this Monday

I am totally stressed. I can't seem to finish anything I start and what I am working on seems to turn out mediocre. I have been working off of the same Menu Plan for three weeks now and haven't even cooked all of those meals yet. Oh and did I mention next Saturday is another SHARE pick-up?! We have a ton of food just in time for me to be unmotivated to actually cook anything decent. What luck. Do you remember from my "100 Things" post that I really really want a housekeeper?!

Update on the Accidental Watermelon

I told you all how I accidentally came to own a watermelon plant that is described to produce 125 pound fruits. Because I bought it, it became mine and because I have no space in my yard for such a plant, I set out on a mission to find a fitting home for my accidental watermelon. I wanted someone to love it and grow it like I would if I'd only had the space. Then the thought occurred to me...what if the girls gave it to their Meme (Scott's mom) for Mother's Day?! She has the space (they have grown pumpkins in years past) and she would certainly not want to disappoint the grand-babies by letting the watermelon die. A brilliant idea if I do say so myself! I hope to provide you more updates and photos as the accidental watermelon grows.

May 8, 2008

It's Not Whether You Win or Lose...

I received a phone call from my nephew who was just bubbling over with excitement! He called to tell me his baseball team had lost 11-12! He lost, you say? But why would he be excited about that? He gave me the rundown of the entire he had three (count-'em THREE!) hits into the outfield and that after the first hit the other team's coach had the outfielders scoot back when he was at bat again. I can only imagine what this does to a young boy's ego! He told me how this was the most runs his team had ever scored in a game, and while he himself didn't score, he did contribute an RBI or two.

I am incredibly proud of my nephew and have been so blessed to watch him grow up and mature. Through his one simple phone call to me, he demonstrated so many admirable qualities. He found joy and satisfaction in a job well done, even if the end result wasn't a win. He recognized his contribution to the team as a whole. He showed that he values his family enough to call us to tell us about what is important in his life. I am truly honored that he thought of me as a person he would want to share his successes with. Thank you, Danny!

May 7, 2008

The Accidental Watermelon

So...I may have accidentally bought a watermelon plant....that I may have somehow thought was an okra plant... I am a very novice gardener to begin with, but then I thought it wise to do a whirlwind trip through the Home Depot at 7 am on my way to work. Apparently, I was not fully caffeinated and in the morning sunlight my mind saw okra. In the car on the way to work I noticed the picture of the bright red juicy fruit pictured on the plant tag. Curious, I thought as I pulled the tag out of the plant. Then I flipped it over to read about my not-an-okra watermelon and the first line read..."Mammoth fruit can reach up to 125lbs!" Did I mention my garden is only 4ft x 8ft. The one thing it is definitely not is mammoth. Oh, what to do with my accidental watermelon!

May 6, 2008

Mother's Day Flowers fo ME!!!

WOW!!! My husband is such a great Daddy! Yesterday at work, I received a special was a beautiful floral arrangement that Scott had sent to me from the girls for Mother's Day. He had specially requested two sunflowers (my favorite!) to be included in the bouquet to symbolize each of our daughters. When I saw them, I knew exactly what they were there for. What a thoughtful touch! I will keep them at work with me all week, then bring them home on the weekend. I am using the picture included in this post as my wallpaper on my computer at work so I can enjoy them for a very long time!

May 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: May 5 - May 11

I am a planner by nature. I love lists. I like to know what to expect and to look forward to. Only recently, and with the help of my husband, have I learned to relax a little...or in the case of this week...alot! Ordinarily, I would be frustrated if I spent the time to create, say, a meal plan and then we didn't stick to the plan. This past week, we tossed the plan to the wind and did lots of eating out and accepting unexpected invitations for meals. It was a total blast! And the best reward of all is that I get to recycle last week's meal plan for this week, with no extra grocery shopping!

We went to my sister-in-law's house for homemade pizzas last Friday. This is one of our favorite dinners! We do it probably about every other week. She does the dough in her bread maker and adds yummy Italian spices to it for a little extra flavor.

Sara's favorite part is to "roll roll roll."

We all bring over toppings to share and everyone (even Sara!) gets to make their own!

In the summertime, we cook the pizzas right on the pizza stone that is placed on the grill :)

Here's what's on the menu for this week....again....


Macaroni & Cheese
Turkey Sandwhiches
Grilled Cheese
Meatball Subs
Leftovers (Lasagna, Potato Leek Soup)

Fruit (Apples, Oranges)

Monday--Spaghetti & Meatballs
Tuesday--Chicken Tenders, Rice, Sweet Potato Patties
Wedenesday--Grilled Brats w/Peppers & Onions, Baked Beans, Potato Salad
Thursday--Salmon, Salad, Baked Potatoes
Friday--Leftovers or Pizza
Saturday--Dinner w/Mom at her house
Sunday--Breaded Fried Pork Chops, Green Beans, Stuffing