Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Reviews - Fall 2013

I've watched some unique movies on Netflix lately and some of them were really great so I wanted to share my reviews!
Product Details
Populaire with Romain Duris and Déborah François. This movie was delightful! Just like a classic from the 1950's (also the time frame it's set in) a young awkward secretary first impresses her boss with her typing skills and then of course they fall in love all while she is training for a world typing competition. If you love the romantic comedies from the 50's & 60's, you'll love this one! Warning: this film is french and does contain subtitles.

Product DetailsBe My Baby with Lacey Chabert, Brody Hutzler, and Julia Duffy. Rylee dupes married men into thinking they had a one night stand, that results in a baby, for the lump sum child support payment. But she meets her match when one of her victims is actually unmarried and wants to keep the fake baby. 

Product DetailsPretty Ugly People with Missi Pyle, Melissa McCarthy, and Josh Hopkins. What happens with you meet up with your college friends a decade later for an unplanned hiking trip? Some people have changed, some people think they have changed and some still want to change. I liked that this movie could delve into the decisions we make, and some that others make for us, and still be a comedy with a serious side.

Product DetailsSassy Pants with Anna Gunn, Ashley Rickards, and Haley Joel Osment. While this movie was awkward, both in acting and in premise, I had to cheer as Bethany figured out adulthood for herself. After living with an over-protective mother who home-schooled her through graduation, she is not satisfied with also home-schooling her way through college. She longs for relationships and to have a career of her own choosing. When she goes to live with her dad and his lover, she finds that relationships are complicated and the only person she has to count on is herself until her mom finally steps up and does what is right for her daughter and not herself.

Product DetailsThe Hot Flashes with Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim, Wanda Sykes, and Eric Roberts. What happens when former high school basketball champs, now middle aged women, form a team that challenges the current all-star high school girls basketball team in an attempt to raise money for breast cancer prevention? Oh so many laughs! At the same time they are overcoming old rivalries and forming new bonds because they realize the power of support.

Product DetailsThe Lake Effect with Kay Panabaker, Tara Summers and Ross Partridge. This movie had me at the "Welcome to Michigan" sign in the first 5 minutes! Filmed and set in Grand Haven, this movie takes places at the family beach house when Celia shows up on her father's doorstep 9 months pregnant at age 18. She challenges the relationship they've had and the one they will continue to have once the baby is born.

Product DetailsUnion Square with Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It's a very deep look into the lives of two sisters who had a troubled childhood. One sought to escape this by avoiding her family while the other was drawn into the chaos and lives that out in her personal life. While you are never quite sure who's recollection is correct, this movie does have resolution in the end as the sisters come to terms with their past and how it has defined their present.

Product DetailsThe Lifeguard with Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer and Martin Starr. I don't recommend this movie at all. I was so disappointed. I love Kristen Bell as an actress, but this movie had a spoiled end-of-20's woman who decided life wasn't what she thought it was, so she moved back in with her parents and takes up her high school job lifeguarding at a pool and ends up in an affair with an under-age boy. I think this movie was disrespectful to all the wonderful people I know in the 20's trying to make life work without having a "crisis" that is made-up. And the under-age affair? If it was the other way around "pedophile" would be yelled. Her friends also have similar "crisis-es" that are also stupid. People figure things out in real life without having sex with minors and doing drug/drinking alcohol with them.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Am A Woman

So, here are the two Facebook posts that start off this blog entry:

"Mom, there have been no women presidents."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Men are for menkind, girls are all Barbies and Hello Kitty."
Oh my...where to even begin.
(Btw, this coversation was with my 7 year old while my 10 year old was yelling at him not to go down that path).


And

Okay, so this is the theme of my day:
As I was on the exercise bike I saw a high schooler tweet about an ideal wedding dress, and I couldn't help thinking what a downer Pintrest, etc, was because I did not plan my wedding until I was actually engaged.
Then at work I read a report on the status of women in Louisiana and page 38 is how many thousands of dollars less women make than men in the same industries.
Then I am asked if my husband and sons want to go to a hockey game. WHAT ABOUT ME? I like hockey more than my kids do.
Then, the whole women president conversation.
I'm feeling bummed, because you know what - women can't have it all, but the worst part is the assumptions everyone makes about you.


First I want to say that I did not intend to be antagonistic. I realize now that my post may have offended the offerers of the hockey tickets. I assumed there were only 3 tickets available and that's why the offer was first made to the males of my house. This was not a criticism of you, but rather an observation that my whole day had had a gender slant on how I viewed things. 

But just as I made assumptions, others make assumptions too and when they are made along the lines on gender, they cannot always be applied to individuals. I prefer hockey over pedicures and whiskey over wine. Yes, you can probably make the argument that women on the whole prefer the opposite of me. And the problem doesn't occur on the hockey or pedicure level, but it does occur when someone assumes that a woman in her 20's would not be a good hire because she will probably want maternity leave. It occurs when we don't consider a woman running for office and there is no one to encourage her in the first place. 

I feel like I've been witnessing a silent backlash to women lately. I think it's being perpetuated covertly by media sources, but to a point where we're not really aware that it's happening. Take Pintrest for example. I love Pintrest, I love finding new recipes for all the local veggies we've been eating lately. But what I don't like is when younger women (high school and college age) have boards devoted to the perfect body. While men feel that pressure too, it is much more emphasized to women. The "wedding" boards of the unengaged bug me too. Now, I know it's nothing new for women to have a fantasy wedding planned out , but it's much more thought consuming when when you have the virtual tools laid out for you. While I spent a lot of time in high school and college thinking about guys, I spent more time thinking about my college and career choices. I worry that those are being downplayed to the younger generations. While I love "teen dramas" like Gossip Girl, I look at those shows as satire and I worry that those newer to this world will look at them as a guidebook. 

And the reality of women in politics? In the 2010 elections (from Women in politics stats)
For the first time since 1987, the United States made no progress in electing more women to Congress.
Women are still under-represented at all levels of government.
  • Women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress. (Source)
  • Only 22% of all statewide elective executive office positions are currently held by women. (Source)
  • State Legislatures are only 24% women. (Source)
  • Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor. (Source)
  • The United States trails behind much of the world—ranking 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. (*Note: The U.S. is listed as 73rd, but after accounting for tied rankings of other countries, the ranking for the U.S. is 90th. Source)
  • On average, male cabinet appointees outnumber women cabinet appointees in our states by a ratio of 2 to 1.  (Source)
  • 50% less women than men consider of running for office. Of those, 30% less actually run, with only a fraction seeking higher office. (Lawless, Jennifer and Richard L Fox. It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. New York: Cambridge UP, 2005.)
  • Women constituted 54% of voters in the 2008 elections, but only 24% of state legislators. (Source)
  • Women of color represent only 4% of Congress and 23% of women Members of Congress. (Source)
I am not saying that everyone is against women. What I am saying is that assumptions we all make affect so many different levels of our lives. I think we constantly need to be in dialog about the assumptions we make about women, race, economics and every level where there is disparity. I think we all need to advocate for choices for everyone. I read an article this morning on computer coding for girls that made the point that most schools do not even offer this to any students. I would love to see more programs for all students while encouraging those (girls or other minorities) to go into underrepresented areas. I am very vigilant, as the only woman in my house, as to what views my kids are acquiring outside the house as to what girls and women are. I have nothing against Barbie and Hello Kitty, but I have yet to make the connection with my 7 year old about what that has to do with being president? I think we all need to be alert as to the messages we are sending and receiving.  

Most of all, I think we need to get to know people as individuals. I really believe that when we learn more about each other and truly care about each other - change happens. For us and for others. Its our connectedness that makes us strong.

30 Days of Thankfulness: 2013

1. I'm thankful for my home, because that's where my family lives. Together.

2. I'm thankful for my dirty dishes, because we are well fed. I'm thankful for my messy house, because I have a house to clean and I'm thankful for my pile of laundry because we have so many clothes to wear.

3. I'm thankful for everything Alex and I share. Our lives for the last 20 years, our children, our tough times and our easier times...and like tonight, our ice cream!

4. I am so thankful for Greyson. He tries so hard to be helpful and I have depended on that at times! He is so much more patient than I am and makes friends wherever he goes. He is always thinking up a plan or scheme and I can't wait to see how all of these play out in his life. <3 that kid! 

5. I'm thankful for Grant! My physical kid gives the best hugs! His comedic timing is usually perfect. I love how he has my hair and Alex's eyes. He notices things that others miss. <3 this kid too! 

6. I'm thankful I've gotten to work part-time this past year and I've been able to be there for the kids like I hadn't been in a while. SO thankful not to be a single parent any more! Even though those 3 years showed me what great friends I had!
  
7. I'm thankful for 3-day weekends spent with my kids and Alex - Feel free to ask me Sunday if I still feel the same ;)

8. Tonight I'm thankful for pee on the bathroom floor. Yep, the same pee I complained about earlier. Because this means I got to spend another day with my kids. There are far too many parents missing a child, and too many children missing a parent. So, if the trade-off for midnight messes is hearing my kids laugh hysterically at 80's movies, I'll take that deal every time.

9. I'm thankful that for the first time in 6 years I have a sibling closer than 4 hours away!

10. I'm thankful my kids LOVE Sunday school! They also love the other extras like camping and volunteering...but not so much the services :)   I'm thankful that they think of church as a place of possibilities rather than limitations. I am also thankful that they know they have a whole community of people who care about them.   

11. I'm thankful for all the Veterans in my family. My Grandpa Laskos, my dad Stanley J Laskos Jr, and my brother Stanley Michael Laskos. And the MANY cousins on both sides of my family. Thanks! 

12. I was so busy last night communicating with my friends, that I forgot to say how thankful I am for them! You truly are a great group of people. I am thankful to have lived in the midwest where people are so nice and friendly and caring, because it does not come as naturally to other locales! I am especially thankful for those that have supported me through the recent stress of single parenting and relocating. I feel very thankful when I think about my friends! 

13. I'm thankful for all the things I took for granted today. As I dropped my kids off at school, I took for granted our public education system and that my kids would be safe. As we went shopping for dinner and dessert items, I took for granted that the shelves of the store would be completely stocked and that I could afford to buy what was there. As I cooked dinner I took for granted the the electricity and gas would work. And as we stepped out the door after dinner, I took for granted that I could take a breath outside without thinking of the air quality. I am so very thankful for all the things I take for granted. 

14. I feel like I rocked today and I am THANKFUL for that! You can only take so many days where you know life doesn't suck, but you're feeling like you suck at life.

15. As we get ready to go camping tomorrow, I am so thankful for the role United Methodist Camps have had in my life. I'm thankful for the lessons I've learned, the jobs I've had, the people I've met and the connections I've made. 

16. I'm thankful for family days! My heart always swells two sizes whenever my kids say they want to do something with me because I can't believe they want to do something with their mom! Loved canoeing with them today and watching them fish. So glad Alex is with us.

17. I'm thankful for my own bed! Its always so much more appreciated after being gone!

18. I am thankful for a night out, because it was needed!

19. I am thankful for hope. Hope that tells us things can be different and hope that inspires change.

20. I am thankful that for the first time ever both my kids' teachers recognize that they get bored, or start disturbing others, when they aren't challenged enough! And we are on the same pages as to where they need to improve (handwriting and explaining). Thankful that they will be pushed to improve and to go beyond their current strengths. 

21. I'm thankful the kids & I still read stories together every night, its usually my favorite part of the day.

22. Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And yet, I'm thankful for everything that made it terrible, horrible and no good: I had to work Fridays and I don't usually work Fridays, but I'm thankful for my job and that its been so flexible for me to work around the kids schedule. I had to go grocery shopping and got soaked putting the groceries in the car during a downpour, but I can't stay wet long when I have heat and air conditioning on demand at my house. No one in my family wanted to hear me read at B&N, but I am thankful that I could leave the kids with Alex, instead of having to drag them along. So I am thankful that even bad days show me how much I have to be thankful for.

23. I'm really thankful for today. I normally don't like Saturdays, not enough structure...yep, I know I'm weird, but I had such a great time taking Grant to the movies, shopping and just hanging out. Love that little guy and our time today!

24. I'm thankful for my parents - they just took the kids for the night! Seriously, I'm thankful for the foundation they gave me and the support that still continues. They are now on their 3rd 1,000 mile trip to see us in the last year & a half. They helped me out so much when Alex was down here before us. And I'm so thankful they helped me get through college with no loans! Looking forward to Thanksgiving & the week with them.


25. Today I'm thankful for our utilities. Today our electricity went out for a little while and I'm thankful that I usually don't have to worry about that!

26. I'm thankful for my life experiences. Even the hard ones which have taught me just as much about other people as they have about myself.

27. I'm thankful for opposites. I'm thankful that spring follows winter, that day follows night and that light follows darkness.

28. To steal a line from the childrens book This is the Turkey, "This is the thanks for all that's good: home and family and friends and food."



29. I'm thankful my husband is willing to spend so much time with my family 

30.  am most thankful for the last day of November, when both of my best friends were born! Happy Birthday Marie Laskos and Alex Jimenez! I hope your day is filled with love & laughter...and maybe a few other gifts

Monday, September 30, 2013

Books & Cookies: Part 2

We just finished up another session of Prime Time Family Reading Time. I don't know who is more excited for this program, me or the kiddies, but it's probably me :) 

 

This time, I had my first Pintrest Fail! I found apple pie cookies that were perfect for the book Down the Road, but when I made them they spread out and just looked unappetizing. However, we still used them at home with ice cream on top and they were yummier than they looked! 
  
 




The witch's broomstick cookies I made for The Widow's Broom turned out much better!  
 







 



The next week I attempted to make natural orange frosting for the book The Big Orange Splot. I added orange juice and carrots to homemade frosting. It tasted more orange than it looked :)


 
 
 




 In the book The Rough-Face Girl, the Invisible Being's bow is the rainbow, so I made Rainbow Cookies. I usually try to cook without dyes, but these cookies are so cute, I went for it anyway. The recipe is here.







 



For the final week, I broke out of the cookie routine to make "sky" jello with whip cream clouds. Although the recipe calls for whipping cream, I cheated and used cool whip, which worked just fine! Just remember to leave enough time for the jello to set!



I would recommend all these great books to those of you with kiddies - or those who like children's literature! 

As always, find the books and recipes - and more! - on my Pintrest Children's Book Character page. Some of the unused ideas are there too!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stolen

"This is the police department, we are at your home and it appears to be burglarized."
Not the phone call you want to get on vacation! We drove 10 hours to Tennessee, to spend one day and drive back the following day. The police had told us that our tv was taken, but they couldn't verify anything else until we came home and checked out our home. We spent a day and a half not knowing quite what we'd find when we got home.

The police had told us our house was secure, but we also had friends come by and further secure the broken door.

Thankfully when we got home we found that only our tv and a broken xbox were taken, and of course we'd need a new door.

I am overwhelmed by the response from our friends. So many of you offered words of comfort and encouragement. We had offers to check on our house and offers to check Craigslist for the stolen items. Every message and interaction we received means so much to me.

What we've pieced together: It seems it was just bad luck we were actually on vacation. The intruders broke in around 9am when they thought everyone, us and the neighbors, were at work. One neighbor, who owns a landscape service, came home to cool down and noticed a different car backed up to our house. When he came over to investigate, it scared off the two thieves who ended up only taking two items. Our bedroom was ransacked, but nothing was taken there.

Since then the police told us the same men also burglarized a house in the next neighborhood over the day before ours. The police and neighbors have been on the lookout for the "silver car with temporary plates."

And you know what I want to say to these thieves? I don't really care that you took our tv. I am laughing that the xbox you took was actually broken. I am annoyed that you ruined our vacation. But I am mad that you showed my kids what an ugly place the world can be. Even though they sleep in the same room, my 10 year old needed a parent to sleep with him the first night back because he was worried that you'd come back. Shame on you. I am sorry for whatever happened in your life that lead you to think that breaking into peoples house is okay for you to do. But like kindness ripples out into the world, so does evil and how dare you pass this on to my kids. Maybe you thought this was a victimless crime. That we would claim it on our insurance and end up with a bigger and better tv. But since our deductible is so high, this is all coming out of our own pockets to fix. But I want you to know something else too, the day after you broke into our house - the toothfairy visited, two nights in a row. So even you are not able to steal all the magic from the world.

PS, writting this post reminded me of The True Story of the Lost Wallet

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Wineries in One Day


It's been a few weeks since I've been back from my epic eleven day vacation without kids. So, I guess now that I've done some reflecting, it's time to post! 

On Wednesday July 3 my sister and I visited 3 wineries in one day. As soon as she got off the plane from Anchorage, Alaska at the Akron/Canton airport we headed to Barrel Run Crossing Winery for some lunch - and of course wine! Barrel Run has been a favorite of ours for years. I love that they grow their own grapes and make their own wine. And the food is GREAT! They try to use as much local meats, cheeses and veggies as possible and the freshness shows! We had their Red, White & Blue sangria (in honor of the 4th of July) and the goat cheese spread pictured here, as well as turkey & guacamole bagel sandwiches, brushetta and a meat/cheese/cracker tray. All of it was delicious! One of the absolute best part of this winery is being able to sit outside and gaze at the vines. Although, the inside is quite delightful in the winter too, and has air conditioning! A special mention must be made of their yummy new wine, All Aboard, that they *twisted* our arms to try ;)

 After we had rested up a few hours, we went to Halliday's Winery. Again, the food here has always been great and they have some tasty fruit & cheese trays. We ended up mixing their red sangria with the white sangria for a taste we all liked. While the winery is located on a lake, what could have been a scenic outlook was overshadowed by rain. However, we managed to stay until they closed the winery, which is 8pm on weeknights.

For our next stop, we pulled up at storefront in Lake Milton and I thought "No way this is a winery!" But that changed as we walked through the door. The owners of Lil Paws Winery greeted us at their tasting bar and walked us through a tasting of their sweet fruit flavored wines, then some of our group also tasted the dry wines. They make their own wine on-site from juice. While they only sell pre-packaged food, they allow you to bring in your own food - so we ordered a pizza and sat down to play board/card games that were waiting for us! The hospitality of the owners was beyond compare and their sweet wines were lovely.

That ended our winery visits for the evening, but 2 days later we visited the two wineries Put In Bay, Ohio has to offer. To me good wine is just the start of a winery, good food comes next and a good view is close behind!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My body is awesome!

My body is awesome. No really, it is! It produced two healthy, intelligent human beings, it gets me through each and everyday, it can jog 4 or 5 miles in extreme heat (southern or western), and while I can't wake up and decide to climb a mountain with no training, I *can* do most moderate exercise and activities without giving it a second thought.

Do you know it took me until AFTER college to feel comfortable in my own skin. And I didn't make peace with my body until I was 34. That's right, 34! It wasn't until my husband moved out of town for work and I became a temporary single mother and something HAD to go that I decided I wasn't going to worry about the number on the scale because my awesome body was getting me through the physical and mental challenges I faced each day.

I *know* 3/4 of the women who read this are saying, "Easy for you to say with a slim body like that." And the other 1/4 of you are saying, "Well thank goodness, I am thinner than you!" THAT STOPS NOW. We cannot keep comparing ourselves to each other AND especially to what we see in magazines. I am never going to be on the cover of a magazine for my body, and I am fine with that. What I am going to do is put my energy into being the kind of wife, mom and friend you all want to know and be friends with. My life is more than a what shows up in the mirror and the number on the scale.

I want each of you to stop reading and think of 3 things you like about your body. Now think of 3 things you like about your mind. And 3 things you like about your personality.

I know several young women who think its okay to tell me their exact calorie count each day as well as their exact amount of exercise. THIS IS NOT OKAY. If you want to have a conversation about being healthy or strong, I'm there for you. But no longer will I listen to talk about altering what is in the mirror or on the scale. I will comment on any post or tweet or saying you make putting your body down, because you are not only putting yourself down, but all women. and we all deserve better.

Everyone reading this is smarter and stronger than they know. Do not let  anyone make you feel inferior based on your looks or your intellect. You are perfect right now. And I want you to keep striving to be the best possible version of yourself. But please don't base that on a magazine cover. Base it on the qualities you want to see in other friends and families. We owe this to each other and to those who come after us. No one should wait until they are 34  to be comforable in the body they were born in.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Everyday sweetness

Remember when you got done with work and the whole evening stretched out before you?

Yep, before kids. A lifetime ago. Or in my case, two lifetimes ago.

Now when I get done with work there is: picking the kids up, letting them "relax" while I clean the kitchen & do laundry, help with homework, make dinner, eat dinner (sometimes a huge feat with a picky eater), clean up after dinner, catch up on bill paying/cleaning the rest of the house/preparing for tomorrow, get the kids in the shower, get them dressed and teeth brushed, read bedtime stories, lights out, spend some time with my husband, our lights out.

Our current bedtime reading selection
Still, there are moments when time seems to stand still, suspended in cotton candy like sweetness: Reading bedtime stories is one of my favorite times of the day.
Saying prayers and I hear the best part of the day was "bike riding with mom," or "when mom took me to the park."
My 10 year old still asking for a kiss or hug at bedtime.
Hearing my children read aloud.
The made-up songs rising above the shower.
Whispered plans for an imagined kingdom.

Even at the most tiring, monotonous moments I think my heart will burst from the sweetness of it all. Then I am called to referee the most recent fight and snap out of it. Until then though, I will keep the sweet moments as a buttress to the negatives that threaten to pull me down and be reminded of how good life really is.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Being a tourist in your own hometown - May edition

For the last week and half we had family visitors - my parents and my sister Marie.
We went to some old favorites and tried a few new places!

Saturday May 11: 

My sister-in-law Alison and I started the day with a Color Me Rad race and everyone was there to cheer us on. After getting cleaned up we had lunch at Juan's Flying Burrito, one of our favorites. Greyson and I have taken to sharing the jerk nachos because they are so big!


Sunday May 12

This was Mother's Day. We had a nice luncheon at home and then all headed out to the City Park Botanical Gardens. The kids paid a lot more attention this time with other adults there to point out the plants, trees, flowers, vegetables, greenhouses, miniature railroad and even a few cute baby ducks! We ended the afternoon by eating dinner at DatDog, another favorite!

 

Monday May 13

My parents took me to lunch at Emeril's. This was the 2nd Emeril's restaurant I've been to in New Orleans and as always, their service is superb. I had the yummiest whiskey upside down cake with sweet potato ice cream for dessert!

 

Tuesday May 14

Lunch with my parent's was at Felipe's, another favorite when we are going to visit the Audubon Aquarium or Insectarium - and we did end up at the Insectarium! Later I picked up my sister Marie from the airport and after picking the kids up from school we went to Midway Pizza.

Wednesday May 15

The kids have a half day of school every Wednesday so we headed to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which is free on Wednesdays! The kiddies always love to eat in their cafe and then we checked out the art, including the current World's Fair exhibit.

Thursday May 16 

While my sister headed on a field trip with Greyson's class to the French Quarter, I had lunch with my parent's at Salvo's since my dad was so impressed with it the last time he came and Alex took him. My parents both had crawfish and oysters and I opted for a grilled shrimp salad. Then we were off to the Aquarium. I've been to the aquarium more than a few times - but this time I saw an owl in the Louisiana display that I've never seen before!

Friday May 17 

While my sister Marie was doing a little shopping my parents and I went to the Cafe Du Monde location in the mall so they could try beignets. I even told my dad he had to order his coffee as Cafe au lait since that is what they are famous for! We then went to The Bulldog which is famous for it's fountain made out of beer taps. Afterward my sister, dad and I went on a tour of Old New Orleans Rum distillery. I've been on the tour before, but it is always informative and you get to sample all of their rums!
For some nightlife, Marie and I went out to the Hotel Monteleone and got a seat at their famous carousel bar. Yep, it really spins while you are on it! Stanley & Alison ended up meeting up with us later.

Saturday May 18

Marie, Stanley, Alex and I got a personal tour at Covington Brewery. It was very informal, but informative! They usually give free samples, but had taken down their taps to set up for a festival later in the day. We made our way over to Abita brewery which includes free beer for the hour of their tour, but I stuck with the yummy rootbeer!
After picking up Alison & the kiddies we headed back to Covington to eat at the Mellow Mushroom and then we went to the Taps on the Trace festival that Covington Brewery sponsored.

Sunday May 19

After enjoying food and music at the Bayou Boogaloo festival we started getting hot fast, so we hopped on the streetcar and headed back to the Hotel Monteleone for some rooftop swimming. We followed that up with another visit to DatDog to wrap up the adventure with visitors!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Science Funnies

Here is a collection of the funny things my kids have said lately. It seems there are quite a few on on a science theme.

April 25
"This is getting exciting!" Grant, in the middle of reading If You Give A Pig A Pancake.

April 24
Overheard: "Time machines are not toys Greyson!"

April 22
Greyson at play, "We have a sonic transmitter that will annoy mom, but dad won't be able to hear it because those over 39 can't." 

April 21
Me, "Grant if you flew off the Scrambler, do you think you could fly to the moon?"
Grant, "I don't think I'm strong enough to go through the earth's magnetic field!"

 
April 10
Me: Grant, I can't understand you, you're speaking whinese!
Grant: why can't you understand whinese?
Me: I think something happens when you grow-up and you just can't understand it anymore.


April 4
Me, "Well, if you don't like it, grow-up and move out and get your own place to do what you want."
Greyson (age 10), "No way! I'm living here as long as I can, moving out is expensive!"
 



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter

Easter was a pretty good day, so I'd like to share it with you!

We started out with the kiddies invading our room at about 6:30, yes the same kids I have to DRAG out of bed at 7 on school mornings! After they lay in bed with us for a while, Greyson says, "Get up so we can look for eggs and look in our baskets!" After thinking 'Yes! They know they need to wait for us so we can see the joy on their faces when they look at everything,' I say, "Go ahead and find the hidden eggs and then we'll be out."

Baskets held Michigan tee shirts, chocolate and a few small toys for the kiddies. After going through his basket, Greyson famously announces, "Is the Easter Bunny on a budget too? Easter seems smaller!" And the real truth behind that statement is Aunt Marie wasn't here to go overboard on candy this year! I'm hesitant to buy a lot of candy when the kids have ONE PIECE after dinner! But my husband also surprised me with caramel kisses and mini Heath bars.

Then it was off to church. I have to say that normally I enjoy a contemporary service, but holidays (Easter & Christmas) leave me longing for the older fashioned hymns. So, in my mind all day long I was humming the words to "Up from the Grave" and "He Lives!"

Church was also full of activities. An Easter egg hunt followed the service and Grant was super excited to fill his basket while Greyson had fun beforehand filling the eggs and hiding them. Then there was a balloon release which filled the cloudy sky with bright colors soaring upward. There was also a flowering of the cross which decorates a cross with ... flowers!

 After church we had a lunch of lasagna which turned out great. Everyone was happy, and that's hard to do at our house. Even picky Grant eat some for the first time ever.

After the kiddies got their "electronics" fill we ventured out to the Botanical Garden at City Park. We became "Friends of City Park" members this year and that gave us free admission. While it was very interesting, I will think twice before taking my kids again. They wanted to TOUCH everything! I'm sure you're not supposed to touch every cactus you walk by or try to plug the electrical outlets together outside. Oh my goodness, I'm tired thinking back to that day! It was also hot, bordering on 80 degrees, so I'm sure that helped zap the patience out of me too.

For dinner we followed our tradition of going to Magazine Pizza. Last year we drove around trying to find a pizza place that was open - to satisfy the kiddies - and ran across Magazine Pizza, although my husband had been there before. Grant declared it the best pizza in New Orleans! Both him and I finished our individual pizzas while Alex and Greyson only eat about half of their carnivore pizza.



And because it's the beginning of the month.....
I found I do much better with my fitness goals when I post them on here.
In March I ran almost 66 miles, my 2nd highest month! However, I am making it my goal in April to get more weights in. I do a circuit training video when I can't get outside (weather or no one to watch the kiddies), but I am going to make an effort to do that every other day and run on the opposite days.
I said last month I wanted to lose 1 pound and lost 2.5. Yea! So now I have 3 pounds to lose before we get an onslaught of visitors in May, which of course means eating out. This should equal losing 3lbs in 6 weeks, so it should be do-able!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Funny Week with the Kids

While I do have funny kids, this past week seems like that have outdone themselves. I've compiled all the snipits I've posted on Facebook for a little laugh when they start to drive me crazy and I can remind myself they really are cute sometimes!

3/23/13

This morning-
Grant, "Mom, can you help me?"
Me, "In a minute"
"....okay, its been a minute! One....Two....Three! Mom, you just lost electronics for the rest of the day!"
LOL, be careful what you say because your kids WILL repeat it!


Greyson, "Free lunch tastes good!"

There is some beatbox rapping going on in the backseat of my car by two little boys.
I'm laughing on the inside ;)


3/22/13

Today the kids had a fundraiser for the 8th grade trip to Atlanta. They could pay $1 to dress down (no uniform) and there were snacks to be sold at lunch.
They never asked me for money, but instead asked what chores they could do to earn money! I would have just given it to them, but I told them I would pay for the dress down and they could earn money for snacks.
Greyson did 3 chores and Grant did one and I ended up giving them each $2 plus an additional dollar for each chore they did.
Then I find Grant at the bus stop with a pocket FULL of nickles and pennies. I counted them and came up with $.98 and a Canadian penny. LOL, of course I gave him an extra nickle!
 


3/22/13

Greyson, "In your spare time, can you invent something Mom?"
His plan for us to be millionaires so that he can have his own laptop.
 


Yesterday Grant got sunburnt on his field trip.
Today after school he said, "All my friends were asking why my skin was red, so we had to talk about it in class."
"What did you talk about?"
"Sunburns and how white people get sunburnt before black people."
It's a whole different world to me. Of course little kids are going to ask about it!


Eating a grapefruit for breakfast that Grant picked yesterday on his field trip to a citrus farm.
He said, "it was pretty much like having recess all day!"
 
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Leprechaun Lunch and Owl Moon

I've had a ton of fun cooking lately and wanted to share some of my recipes!

The day before St Patrick's Day we had a "leprechaun lunch" and I made green muffins and green mac & cheese and served it on rainbow plates! I try to stay away from dyes in my kid's food, so the muffins were made with peas and the mac & cheese was made with spinach! The muffins were really yummy and you could not tell they were made with veggies! The mac & cheese however did have a distinct taste which I loved, but I love spinach, and Greyson said, "tastes like pesto!"
Green mac & cheese recipe
Green muffin recipe

One of our PrimeTime books last week was Owl Moon. I found the cutest owl cookie recipe that uses coconut for the "feathers." The only difference in my recipe was instead of using yellow chocolate wafers for the eyes (not in the regular grocery store) I used large chocolate chips and used "eyes" from World Market.
Owl cookie recipe

Everything was easy to make - and I am glad I have the time to do cooking projects like this now!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Books & Cookies

I mentioned a few posts ago how my family attends Prime Time Family Reading Time at the kids' school. Each week in Prime Time we receive books to take home and read with our family. This session I have been motivated to match the books with a cute cookie that we take as a snack for everyone to enjoy. It's been fun matching the books with recipes! Below are the two most recent books and cookie recipes.
At the beginning of March we had 2 books on rabbits. In one book rabbit stole honey from lion, so I modified a bunny carrot cookie (find the original recipe here) to include honey. It did turn out a little sticky, so if I made it again I might do half honey/half sugar, but the bunny shape is just too cute!

Carrot Honey Bunny Cookies
1 cup honey (sugar may be substituted
1 cup butter softened
1 egg
4 cups flour
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine honey, butter and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add all remaining cookie ingredients. Beat until well mixed.

To shape bunnies, roll dough into 30 (1-inch) balls, 30 (3/4-inch) balls and 60 (1x1/4-inch) logs. For each cookie, place (1-inch) ball onto ungreased cookie sheet; top with(3/4-inch) ball and 2 logs for ears. (Make sure dough pieces are touching so that bunny is formed during baking.) Bake for 14 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.



This past week our books were Jumangi and The Elephant's Child. Since both had elephants in them I made Elephant Ear cookies. Again, I modified the recipe a little and the original is here. 
 
Elephant Ear Cookies


1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. Melt butter and set aside. Stir flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in milk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter until dough forms.

Sprinkle surface with flour. Turn dough onto surface. Knead 10 times. Roll dough with rolling pin or pat with hands into a rectangle 9X5 inches. Brush with remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with mixture of 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll dough up tightly beginning at narrow end. Cut into about 10 equal pieces with sharp knife.

Place cut sides up on cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
I'll be sure to post next week's creation! But in the meantime, you can check out my Pinterest page for the recipes I'm considering - and the ones I didn't end up using!






Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Being a Tourist in your own hometown - March edition

Last weekend we were delighted to host my brother Stanley and his wife Alison as they looked for houses in Slidell, north of New Orleans.
Where is the absolute first place we took them? For a po'boy at Parkway. Parkway has served po'boys since they were invented in the 1920's to feed the striking street car conductor and is a popular tourist destination. In fact, I had a craving a few weeks ago for one - but when we went the line was out the door because of all the Rock & Roll Marathoners in town. So, I finally got to fulfill my craving!
On Friday night we went to dinner at DatDog, a restaurant we were introduced to by our friend Katy last October and have frequented ever since. It's one of the cheaper places for family eats in the area and the atmosphere is great with their colorful picnic tables set up outside. Also, the entire family can find something they love from the choices of dogs & toppings. Of course Grant still only gets cheese on a bun, but he's also branched out to cheese fries! We topped off the eventing with a trip to Creole Creamery for some yummy ice cream.
Beignets at Morning Call
Saturday morning we took a trip to the City Park Sculpture Garden and ended up at Morning Call where we munched on this city's famous beignets. This was our first time eating there and the beignets were just as yummy as Cafe Du Monde, with the added benefit of a sunny park view.
Stanley and Greyson petting sting rays
After lunch at home we took the streetcar to the Audubon Aquarium. We are members there, so we end up going a lot, but it is always fun to show off the huge tanks of fish as well as the specialties, like petting a sting ray. Afterward we stepped down the street for a visit to the Insectarium. It's hard to imagine that an attraction based on bugs is fun, but it is! Stanley and I were also the only ones brave enough to sample ALL the insects available in the cafe. Our favorite were probably the ones with taco seasoning.
On Sunday we had brunch at Cafe Navarre, which is just down the street from us and where Greyson has been dying to try. I had a yummy spinach artichoke panini. Then we were off to the Audubon Zoo. Again, we go there a lot because of our membership, but it's always a nice day when the weather is nice to walk around and look at the animals.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blindsided: Sometimes, things aren't about you

Have you ever been blindsided by a person you thought was your friend? Someone you support who you thought supported you until the day they blow up and tell you what a mean person you are. How you are rude and mean to everyone. How you are a horrible parent who only yells and is mean to their kids.
So after the shock and horror wear off, you have to think, is there any truth in what they said? It's easy to dismiss it all and say they must be crazy. But there is a niggling, what if they are right? You feel horrible, because why would anyone make this up?
Honestly though, I don't think anyone else would describe me this way. I didn't think this person would describe me this way. I'll be the first to admit I yell at my kids, but I am also the only person who is there 100% for them. I'm coming off a 3 year stretch of being a single-full-time-working parent. And if there is anyone out there who knows how to get through a day without yelling at  6 & 10 year old boys - I'll be the first to sign up for lessons from you. I even decided to ask my kids if I ever yell at them for no reason, "No, we're always doing something we shouldn't when you yell."
I ask those who know me best, "am I really the way this person said I am?" And I can't get anyone to confirm the accusations.
So it comes down to realizing that sometimes, things aren't about you. You just got to be the person they took their frustrations out on. It's hard not to take it personally though. But I'm not going to buy into someone else's pain and bitterness. Our realities and perceptions are probably not the same. And I know I am far from perfect, but I am not the monster you made me out to be. I am truly sorry your life is rough right now, but I am not the person to shoulder that for you when you try to bring me down with you.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Skipping the Cleaning


I think one of the best days in February ended up being the day I skipped cleaning the house and made cookies for Primetime Family Reading Time. Primetime is a family reading program where we go to the school, have dinner, have books read to us and then have discussions on them, take the books home and read them all week, plus there are "door prize" drawing each week. Last fall we won a Dominos gift card, the game scrabble, a Halloween gift pack with books/stickers/candy, and a crate of building blocks.
Our family at Primetime Family Reading Time at John Dibert School
Last week we brought home Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse and when I was looking at the pictures I thought, "I could easily make a cookie mouse that looks like Alexander!" And so I did. I really wanted gray mice, like the artwork, but when I stopped at Rouse's on my way home from work they did not have any black coloring, so I thought "Mice can be brown!" and good thing because the chocolate frosting made them. I used a sixlet for the eye and a gum drop cut in half for the ear. The tail is made of pull-apart Twizzlers that I found in the Easter candy section. I also made two kinds of purple pebbles (from the book): cookies with gum drops and some with food coloring.

The cookies turned out to be a big hit and I was told I was the first parent to ever bring a snack. Of course I'm already working on ideas for next week's snack! Another side effect was that the kids wanted to make their own cut-out cookies and that made for a nice Saturday project.

Updates on our budget (New Year's resolution). Month 2 was good. I am happy we can stay on budget with food - that is the hardest part! We saw we needed to add a category for "housewares." Just things we need around the house. Our shower was redone and the seat/shelf was taken out, so we needed to buy a new shelf and there was no category for that!  We are hoping that congress can work things out so that Alex isn't furloughed one day a week starting in April. That will take some serious paring of our budget if it happens.

Alex won the weight contest losing 4lbs. I lost 1/2lb, but at least I was consistent! My goal for March will be to double that and lose an entire pound ;) Now Alex gets to plan date night as his reward.

I missed 4 days of my devotion book, so I guess that means I missed about once a week. I'm going to try and keep that up for March also.

I didn't have a goal of running in February, but I ran 72 miles over the month! I've been averaging around 50 miles a month since I started keeping track in October. I'm chalking the increase up to no visitors/no visiting! I also ran a 5k for church yesterday, the Skeeter Run, benefiting Image No Malaria. My time was 30:20. I haven't run any 5ks since 2009 and I don't think I've ever had a time under 35 minutes! So all those miles must have paid off. I am looking forward to running the Color Me Rad race in May with my sister-in-law Alison.