Sunday, January 31, 2010
We lunched at Rosie's on Saturday (I mean, it's a must right to take out of town company there to experience the yummy food :-), and then Laura and I took Grant and Lucy to EarlyWorks. THis was actually our first time there too. They loved Biscuit's Playhouse best. The dads took the "Jacks" home and caught the basketball game between 'Bama and Auburn (War Eagle!) I think that made their afternoon to not only get to skip out on the kids museum, but squeak out some sports-viewing too :-)
But my very favorite moment of the weekend was the kids were doing arts and crafts at the table Saturday morning -- something was causing Lucy much frustration and thus, much whining ensued...Grant announced, "This girl sure whines A LOT!" Hilarious!!! True, true, Grant, very true! Thanks for calling her out!
Here are some snapshots from the weekend:
Lucy woke up to find a visitor in her room Saturday morning!
Decorating Cookies for Valentine's Day!
Lucy was really into the sprinkles!
Grant has long since left the table, but Lucy's still enjoying the mess and cookies! Look at all the sprinkles! Hehe Even Toby couldn't handle the "cleanup" all on his own... :-)
The little "Jacks" got in on the action!
Friday, January 29, 2010
I've got some Valentine's themed arts and crafts for the older kids, Grant and Lucy, to do tomorrow, and I thought frosting homemade cookies would be fun too. Here's a pic of Lucy helping me make the dough (she's is in a phase where she INSISTS on wearing either her "princess dress" (a dress with a tutu) or her purple tutu. As you will see...
And as far as sleeping arrangements, Lucy's not even three and she's shackin' up with a boy! Grant is sleeping in her room on the trundle bed. :-)
Should be a very fun weekend with our friends. I think this will be the first company we've had in this house that isn't related to us...
Exciting things were also in the works this week as our family has celebrated the births of two beautiful babies...My sister-in-law and Jason's brother, Justin, welcomed baby Sophia Wednesday, and Jason's cousin Lisa and her husband Josh welcomed baby Olivia. Everyone is doing great!
Monday, January 25, 2010
So, in the spirit of a meal that you could throw together with very little effort but get super results (like you'd feel like doing if in my shoes :-), here's a recipe for "Taco Pie." I stole this recipe from my good friend Casey, who thankfully introduced it to me at some point in the last several years.
Casey's Taco Pie (makes 4-6 servings)
1 lb. ground beef
1 12-oz jar chunky salsa
1 C. sweet corn, thawed and drained
3/4 C. mayo
1 tsp. chili powder
2 C. crushed tortilla chips
2 C. monterey jack/colby cheese, shredded
Preheat to 350. Brown meat, drain. Stir in salsa, corn, mayo, and chili powder. Layer 1/2 of each: meat mixture, chips, then cheese in a 2-qt casserole dish. Repeat layers. Bake 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top w/ shredded lettuce and chopped tomoatoes, sour cream, etc. if desired.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
And because, really, 13 hours of sleep is quite adequate!
Yes, 13 hours, but we had good reason to call it quits a bit early last night. The process in getting here was enough to cause grey hairs to prematurely sprout from our heads. Mainly, the godforsaken Atlanta traffic. We left my folks' house two and a half hours before our flight, in PLENTY of time. Well, plenty of time anywhere EXCEPT Atlanta. It was a rainy morning, and as my dad always says, "Atlanta and rain don't mix well." Well, it proved very true, for some idiot caused a wreck on the interstate, causing us to creep along at 5 mph for the majority of the trip to the airport. "Atlanta traffic, I believe, is Satan's doing upon mankind." It is truly evil!
As we reached exactly one hour before our flight was scheduled to leave, and we still had at least 15 miles to go, I burst into tears and couldn't make myself stop crying. There was one flight a day to Key West, and the next flight wasn't for two days (Key West is a new destination on Airtran's destination list, so there aren't many options available). If we didn't make it, we'd have to fly to Miami, rent a car, and drive the rest of the way. Not a horrible option, but one that would cost us our nearly full day on Thursday on vacation. And I'm a "Planner," a devout one at that, and anytime something does not go according to my plan, let alone my first trip alone with Jason, a surprise birthday trip no less, well, I just couldn't handle it. I completely fell to pieces.
But, Jason kept reassuring me that the rain would likely cause our flight to be delayed (even though the airline was still reporting it was on time for departure), so when we arrived at the airport parking lot, with a mere 29 minutes till takeoff, I started praying for God's intervention and Jason and I started RUNNING!
We ran to security checkpoint, mumbled to Jason something about perhaps begging for someone to let us cut, Jason shouted out, "Will anyone let us cut in front of them?!?" and I echoed, "It's our first trip away from our kids in over two years!!!!" Several people chuckled and let us in front.
Hauled ass to the train, and once inside, devised a plan where Jason would take both carry on bags, and I'd run free fast as I could all the way to the gate - D2- which if you're familiar with the Atlanta Airport is at the very END of the very LAST terminal. Of course.
Nearly puked from running so hard, but made it there, out of breath, sputtering out our names to the gate person. Jason soon arrived, and the lady told us with a pitying smile that we could walk down the breezeway to the plane - we were fine. We plopped down, breathless, with 9 minutes to spare. Thank you God! It was only 9:11 am, but we both ordered rum and cokes for our beverage.
So, you can see why our morning yesterday kept us from making it any later than 9pm... ;-)
But, we're here, loving every second of it, grateful for the time away. It's so easy to get so wrapped up in being "mommy" and "daddy," forgetting you were even "Kelly and Jason" before kids even came along. It's nice to have a chance to revisit a little of that time again. And especially fun for us being here in Key West where it all started for us. Last night, we went to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, then watched the Famous Rondini's show (He's still here performing!). Same things we did back when we were here on our college Spring Break trip.
And while we do find ourselves chatting about Lucy and Jack often, more of our conversations revolve around figuring out ways we can make this happen again! Perhaps if we name our next child after a grandparent, they'd be willing to take off work or school to watch the kids? Or what if guaranteed more regular visits? Really, name your price, we'll make it happen ;-)
My mom and dad said Jack and Lucy are doing just fine, not appearing to miss us at all. :-( I joke, but really, I'm glad they're not sad. I'm thrilled they're having such a good time with their grandparents (last night's activity was Chuck E' Cheese). At a bar last night, we chatted with a couple from Buffalo, the wife still wiping her eyes after getting off the phone with her 4 year old back home, who she said was crying inconsolably the whole conversation. She felt terrible being away, apparent by her order of diet coke, which she slowly stirred with her straw. I felt bad for her, while also feeling glad I'm not sharing her sorrow. This is a great situation for everyone involved. Jason and I are getting some much-needed relaxation, Jack and Lucy are making great memories with Papa and Lady, and Key West's economy is booming from all the tourists who came here to do exactly what we're doing. Everyone's happy!
Well, I should close down the computer for a while...it's time to go try out a place mentioned in a magazine for the island's best key lime pie. Like I said, I have lots of important things I need to be doing.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've surprised Jason today with his 29th birthday present-we're heading to Key West, FL tomorrow! And we're going ALONE! My parents are kindly watching Jack and Lucy for us while we're gone. What will we do with ourselves?!?
We've only been on one trip by ourselves since having Lucy, two and a half years ago -- a camping trip. Loved the company we were with-a big group of our friends all headed out together- but HATED camping (and the strong storm system that killed several people in Arkansas making it through our camp was the worst of it -- soaked us through the ENTIRE first night there).
I had been camping before, before I started college, and after that didn't think I'd ever do it again. But this camping trip came up with our Huntsville friends and it was going to be my first time away after nursing Lucy for a year, and I was ready to go anywhere, even camping! ;-)
So, anyway, Jason and I will really benefit from some away time, alone! And Key West is a really special part of our story of "Us". We met freshman year in college at Auburn, but with Jason co-oping every other semester, he was there, then gone, there, then gone. Well, we bumped into each other while out celebrating St. Pattie's Day during our Senior Year. Spring Break was the next week, and lo and behold, both of us were going to Key West with our friends. So, we got to begin dating in Key West. And you know how the story goes from there...happily married, two beautiful babies, and hopefully more in the next year!
Can't wait to revisit this place! We're staying a block away from Duvall Street, in this adorable house. I'm looking forward to celebrating Jason's birthday in a way we'll not get to do for many more years! Happy Birthday, Jason! I love you so much!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Of course I had to stop by...I found the greatest things!!!!! Let's see...
*I got a Vera Bradley tote bag (pretty pink and green paisley pattern) for $3 (It was missing a button and she said she didn't know how to sew)
*Lightweight Champion Black Coat for Jason, new with tags, $5
-Princess twin set for Lucy $2
- two white shams with cool pattern for guest room $3
- box pleat full bedskirt which will eventually go on Jack's bed $3
- a custom made pink, yellow, and green bedskirt $4
(Just happens to be all the colors in Lucy's room, and her current bed skirt had several holes in the bottom where it had torn in the seam allowance; it was driving me crazy, yet I hadn't managed to get a new one- not a problem now!)
*three pieces of clothes for Lucy, including her little mermaid dress pj's (which she LOVES!) for $3 total
*a pretty topiary $4
Anyhow, I was super excited! Even more excited when Lucy twirled around in her new jammies. My precious girl.
cute little fairies sheets and pretty new bedskirt!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
It started with a planned trip to Walmart after church. As opposed to most times I venture into Walmart WITH the kids (which I try to avoid if possible), having a negative attitude and little hope of avoiding one or both kids crying about something, today I actually had a bright outlook. I thought the trip would be a breeze...I had brought a candy cane for the kids to split. I figured while they were sucking away I could pick up the few items I needed in no time flat since we wouldn't have to be stopping to handle any meltdowns.
Well, my "breeze" of a trip turned into a bit of a tornado.
Jack and Lucy absolutely devoured the candy cane before we had been in the store even three minutes. My kids were like starved sea creatures sucking up their food, while a mixture of blue colored saliva mixed with candy cane food coloring dripped down their chins.
And their cries when I sheepishly announced that I didn't have anymore were worse than their cries ever could have been if I hadn't brought a candy cane at all. There were lots of tears from both of them. And Jack, who loves food more than anything else in the world, was absolutely inconsolable.
I thought about heading to the candy aisle and breaking into a bag of goodies, but I decided I had already caved once -- bringing candy to the store in the first place, bribing my children to behave; I wasn't going to do it again. They'd just have to "put their big girl panties on" and deal with it.
So I was "that mother" in the store today. But you know, it really only lasted a few moments before they figured out I couldn't make candy canes magically appear. And like all tantrums and fits, it was over pretty quickly as soon as they stopped getting any attention from it.
And really, how long can you stay mad at a face like this:
Before heading out to church this morning, I thought she looked so adorable. This was her refusing to look at me for a picture, but the shot turned out kind of neat...
Friday, January 15, 2010
I know people commonly quip that they hate their job, but lately, I've begun to doubt that there are many -or ANY- people out there who actually do enjoy their job.
After many months of struggling with his dissatisfaction with his job as an engineer for the Army, Jason is now actively searching for a new job. I know the flexibility, vacation time, and widely-known fact that it's basically impossible to get fired from a government job make it appealing to many - and Jason sure appreciates the first two aspects, but he's grown so unhappy with parts of his job that simply aren't going to change, it's imperative he make a change.
His passion is computer programming and writing code, so I hope and pray something will work out in that arena, for I sincerely look forward to the day he comes home happy and fulfilled from the work part of his day.
But I've digressed...my question: "Is anyone happy with their job?"
I have lots of girlfriends that are engineers, many of whom dislike their job; and I can't think of a SINGLE male friend who's an engineer who enjoys what they do. But it's not just "engineers" in general, either. I know several teachers I've worked with who left the field of teaching permanently. Likewise, I am friends with several stay-at-home-moms who have no interest in returning to work once their children are a little older, and not because they don't need the money, but rather because they don't miss what they did at all!
Fortunately, I'm lucky enough to be in the group of people who really enjoy their work; honestly thought, I'm not so sure what I can attribute that fact to. But, I absolutely LOVED teaching (except for that God-awful year at Harvest School the first year we lived in Huntsville -- that year truly was a "just-get-through-the-day" job EVERY DAY). And I love being home with my kids now, and wouldn't trade it for anything, but I really do look forward to the day I can return to the classroom. I miss teaching, for sure.
And my dad, I think he likes his job. My father-in-law, I think he may like his job too, but I can't be sure. I know my mother-in-law works tirelessly at her job -- I'm not sure how much she likes it or not...My mom is a full-time student now, a "job" she's actually really enjoying. We'll see what happens when she joins the work force with a new degree under her belt. I'm pretty sure she enjoyed substitute teaching before she went back to school.
The idea of working is so unappealing to one of my brothers, he's never actually tried to get a job, and I'm not sure what my younger brother will do with his degree from Bama when he graduates in a few years.
So, for the most part, people are very unhappy with their jobs, a responsibility that accounts for the majority of peoples' days, most days of the week. Why is this?!?
Is it because we're too young when we go to college to be able to responsibly choose a life-long career? I don't know? But a friend of mine remarked recently that she wasn't even really sure why she majored in what she did; that when she worked it was just a job she did, not something she loved.
Are too many people choosing paths that please their parents but not themselves?
Are we just an unthinkably lazy generation that would honestly rather not work at all, no matter what the job?
Are businesses today run so poorly that no one can find enjoyment in their job?
Do we not think hard enough about it when we're in college, taking classes in a certain field?
Were "Career Days" in Elementary School a complete waste of time! ;-)
Where does the blame fall? I'm not sure at all...
I've been thinking about it so much lately, wondering nervously at times will there be any job that Jason will enjoy, is there a profession out there that has the best chance of making people in that field happy, how can so many people settle so easily...
This is so sad to me...
I've been praying for Jason and his job search, and I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to extend my prayer to include a larger group than just him...I want all of my friends to be happy, every day, in whatever they spend their minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years doing.
I'm very curious about this...if you've read this post, and you'd be willing, please post a comment -anonymously if you'd like- regarding your satisfaction with your job. What's your story? Is there anything we can learn from it!
If you're a SAHM now, but worked before, were you happy in that job?
I'm really interested in finding out what people have to say!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
and in the afternoon, when daddy comes home -- he takes off his work clothes and we love to play dress up!
who wouldn't hire me!?!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Jack tried to do forward rolls, too!
I just think this is a funny pic!
at the bar!
Check what Jack's 'checkin' out!' :-)
one of lucy's favorite parts! the parachute!
even daddy gets in on the monkey jumps!
Monday, January 11, 2010
I think I forgot to do a meal post last monday-LOL! Forgot that was what I dedicated Mondays to ;-)
Anyhow, food is on my mind anyway today. I had the Cooking Party this past Saturday night, and I think it went GREAT! Eight girls were able to come and the meals we made look so delicious! We prepared freezable entrees in 8 X 8 casserole dishes. Here's what we'll be enjoying over the next few weeks:
*Chicken Pot Pie
*Sausage and Wild Rice
*Lasagne with Herbed Sauce
It took about three hours to assemble all the meals, and we thoroughly enjoyed each other's company in the meantime! Our freezers are stocked, and I'm super excited to not have to cook many an evening over the next few weeks!
I found it to be very cost-effective as well -- shop a store when your main ingredient/meat goes on sale (or go to Costco like I chose to do) and you can save a lot. I spent about $45 for all the ingredients I needed for the 8 dishes of BBQ meatloaf. Considering I had 8 dinners by the end of the night for that cost, that's a little over $5 a meal. I can save a lot of money preparing dinners this way! I love those Dinner places like "Dinners By Design," but a full size dinner costs $24.50 and a half size (which is about the size we made at the party) is still $15.50. So, huge savings!!!!
So, for today's meal recipe, I'll post Tiffany's Swiss Chicken. It's super delicious and very simple to make! Try it this week, you'll love it, I promise :-)
Swiss Chicken Casserole-
-Swiss cheese (grated or sliced)
-1 can of Cream of mushroom soup
-1 cup of sour cream
-2 tbsps of milk
-1/2 tsp of thyme
-1 package of stovetop stuffing
-1 stick of butter
Take a 9x13 casserole dish. Grease pan. Place uncooked chicken in dish first. Top with swiss cheese.
Mix in a bowl mushroom soup, milk, sour cream and thyme. Pour over cheese.
Mix stuffing and melted butter together. Pour over casserole.
Bake covered for 30 minutes on 350 uncover and finish baking for 30 more minutes!!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
First, two adorable things to share; little things that Lucy said over the past few days that just tickled me.
Lucy loves writing on the dry erase board on the fridge, and she was writing names of people she knew. She wrote Audrey's name of course, and then she scribbled another picture and said, "That's your name, Mommy, 'Mommy Martin'" So cute!
The next day at breakfast I had Lucy's current fav cd playing, Ziggy Marley's "Family Time." I was singing to it, and Lucy said, "Turn yourself up, Mommy, turn yourself up!" Unsure that she really wanted me to sing louder (I may have a few things I do well, but singing is NOT one of them :-), I asked her if she wanted me to sing louder, and she nodded and repeated herself, "Yes, turn yourself UP!" How precious!
So, while in Steamboat over Christmastime, I worked on our digital photo family album for 2009. I can easily spend ten hours or more total working on these photo books -- there are hundreds of fun backgrounds to choose from, lots of photo layouts for organizing your photos on each page, photo borders to choose, not to mention color tones and effects. So, Colorado was a great time to work on it a little at a time.
In 2008, I changed the albums Jason and I will keep from "paper" scrapbooks to digital ones. That year I made an album on Snapfish which reviewed our year in pictures and journaling. I ordered from Snapfish because at the time Oprah had offered that special with Snapfish for a free 8 X 11 album, and I'm not one to pass up something free like that! Anyhow, the album arrived, and it was of good quality.
Well, this year I decided to try ordering from Shutterfly and see how the quality compared. It wasn't a free album (guess Oprah's feeling the change in economy ;-), but the photo books were 20% off, and that was good enough, I guess. I wasn't patient enough to wait until a better sale came around.
Our book arrived two days ago, and I LOVE it! Superior to Snapfish's quality by a landslide.
Just my two cents...(You can see the album above this post).
Next bit of randomness...we're changing from Comcast cable to The Dish Network...after reviewing our '09 budget and how we did, we decided $170 a month for cable, internet and dvr was way more than we actually needed to be spending. We wanted to increase our "vacation budget" for 2010 and our Comcast bill seemed like a good area to take money from. (A few of you have asked about our summer trip we've booked...here's a link to the place we're going, "Splash" in Panama City, FL.
Jason spent a lot of time this weekend pricing options from DirectTV, The Dish, even buying our own cable box and some sort of option that came with that, and it looks like The Dish will be a great way to go. We'll still need a separate service to provide Internet, but we're going to go with a slower speed, and BellSouth has a service that provides internet for around $40 a month I think. The Dish with the"Bronze Package" as well as local channels and DVR/High Def will be about $45 a month for the first year. (We'll have to sign a two-year agreement, and the second year's prices go to $60 a month), but overall, it amounts to a substantial savings. Wish we had done this sooner!
We have a nice, easy week ahead, not too much on the calendar-looking forward to it! Just hope it warms up a little; I'm quite tired of dealing with temperatures in the teens! Yikes!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Anyway, the verse is Ecclesiastes 4:6 --
"Yet a very little food eaten in peace is better than twice as much earned from overwork and chasing the wind."
I think there are lots of ways you can apply it to your life and situation -- "workaholics" perhaps, people being way too busy with unimportant things and thus, disconnected from intimacy with family and friends, moms who keep the calendar far too packed (I'd fit in this category, for sure).
For me, I think I'm genetically predisposed to want to "GO, GO, GO!" -- never waste a moment's time. And while you can certainly be very productive living that way, I think it's easy to find yourself being productive in ways that don't necessarily improve the quality of your life, so to speak. I want to spend my time growing closer to my husband and kids, learning ways to be a better parent, laughing with my girlfriends.
Business keeping a house constantly cleaned doesn't help me achieve that, enrolling my kids in five sports at one time (we're not there yet, but I know the time is near when that feels like what we should be doing) certainly won't allow for family dinnertime eating together, or having a spouse who works long hours and travels frequently (and we know I'm not talking about "government" workers - i.e. my husband ;-) could certainly strain a marriage I'm guessing.
I don't really "do" new year's resolutions, but I am keeping conscious of this verse; acting on it will be my "resolution". I certainly hope I can be more successful living this way than I have been with past years' resolutions. :-)
One of the greatest things about being a stay at home mom is that I don't have to be on anyone's time table. My kids and I can spend entire mornings in our pajamas if we want to, lunch dishes CAN be piled on top of the breakfast dishes -- the house won't spontaneously explode as if saying, 'how dare you!' --and Jack and Lucy can get out every toy they own and play with them all day before we put them away. (Because, seriously, cleaning up toys when the kids are napping, just so they can pull them out when they wake up, must be the #1 way to WASTE YOUR TIME. ;-)
I especially need to focus on the first six words of the verse, and that would do me well! ;-)
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I have a wonderful recommendation to make for anyone who needs someone to watch their pet while they're out of town.
We used Cindy Forrest, owner of C & S Pet Care, for the first time this Christmas while we were away. She came twice a day to our house to care for Toby. Her rates are super reasonable, actually the best around ($13 for a 15 minute visit, $18 for 30 minute visit, which includes walk) and the best part, is that she brings in your mail, takes out the trash, turns different lights on and off as well as opening and closing blinds so your house isn't obviously "still and empty" for robbers to take note of.
Our vet charges $20 a day for boarding, so when you consider your pet is comfortable in your own home - which is being looked after- I think this is a much better way to go.
Cindy came to our house for a meeting before we left town, to go over her services and meet us and Toby. She is very warm, professional, and THOROUGH. She had thought of things we hadn't even though of!
She left a detailed log of what she observed during her visits, gave Toby his heartworm medicine when it arrived in the mail, and called us several times while we were gone with status updates.
So, keep her in mind for your future vacations; I highly recommend her!
Monday, January 4, 2010
But, beyond just me enjoying it, I've discovered an added benefit of having one now...it's a free babysitter.
Lucy will watch the pictures rotate and change, endlessly, until we tell her it's time to go do something else...
So, thanks Barbara...I love my gift and the minutes of peace I get when Lucy gets entranced :-)
Another favorite gift I received this Christmas was from my mom (who is a wonderful gift giver, who files any little comment you may have made from even LONG, long ago, about a certain thing you may be interested in) who gave me a portable warming tray. I'm excited to use it this Saturday night at our Cooking Party.
I think Lucy's favorite gift was her Super Why little "computer" toy, and Jack just loves turning any of his toys into a hammer and banging things. ;-)
Hope your Christmases were just as wonderful as ours!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
We're unpacked, Christmas tree and decor is packed up, and we're drooling over the prospect of getting in our own bed for sweet dreams tonight! Jason's taking a half day tomorrow so we can finish up any little things that are required for us to be officially back in the swing of things! I'm very grateful for the help!
We snapped some really great shots of the kids while in Steamboat, and I attempted one last little photoshoot before heading out.
Although I didn't get quite what I was aiming for, I did, nonetheless, get some priceless pics. Lucy, ever the bossy rule-follower, was quite willing to pose, but once she started ordering Jack around, he fell out of spirit right away.
What resulted is quite clear, as you can see...poor jack!
Lucy, going in for the kill..."Come here, Jack, for picture" (repeated over and over) :-)
Jack's eyes pleading, "Mom, can't you do SOMETHING?"
Oh, so funny...and Lucy really was trying to be loving. Gotta love it!