Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"yook! it's a monkey!"

i have spent time in Illinois every year for at least 35 years... :) we head to a very small town called fairmount (population: 800 :)) and stay with my grandma every year. it's a special place for holds a lot of wonderful memories. :) it's not "the same" without my grandpa around, but it's holding new special memories when we're there visiting my grandma :)
my grandma is approaching her 90th birthday...she's an amazing woman. she lives in a huge house, which is also the funeral home that she and my grandpa ran for many, many years. she lives there, alone, manages the stairs and cooking simple meals...and doing her own laundry...she is 90! she has had a series of strokes that have taken her ability to read (she can see the letters but cannot "process" what the letters spell) and see well, but she's pretty incredible... :)
of course, when i became a momma, i couldn't wait to bring Katherine, and now, Hannah, to this little town... there's not much to do there...ok...there is nothing to do there...but that's kind of what makes it special. :) you have to find joy in simple going for a walk, watching the trains pass by, and seeing who is walking down the street... :)
this year, it was very, very hot when we were in Illinois, and unfortunately, the 100+ degree temperatures kept us inside for much of the time.
one afternoon we were sitting on the front porch (enclosed) just watching the trees move in the slight breeze... Katherine exclaims, "Yoooook!!! It's a monkey!!!"
i started laughing because i was wondering if she was starting to imagine things because she was so deliriously bored... :)
so we look out the huge window, and sure enough, walking along the power line was NOT a monkey, but a squirrel. :)
we praised her for her great eyesight but let her know that the little fella' she was watchin' along the wire wasn't a monkey, but it was a little squirrel...
to her defense, squirrels in VA are grey... but in Illinois, the squirrels are this pretty chestnut brown color... :) that might be why she was confused about the species :)

so we watched the "skerls" (as K calls them :)) in Illinois... my mom makes it a point to have the feeders full, so the little squirrels all congregate at my grandma's for the week :) there's a feeder, surrounded by 2 beautiful butterfly bushes, that we can see from the living was placed in front of the huge picture window when my grandpa was sick with cancer. he forever loved to watch the birds and butterflies float around the property. so my mom and uncle made sure that he could still find this simple joy as he was losing his fight at home in his hospital bed...

and ten years later, the feeder remains :)

on the day we left to head back east, this little guy was snacking at the feeder, and sweet Katherine spent some time in the living room watching...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

i need a new day......... :)

the last 2 days have been very "long" days for me...on Sunday, H was up before dawn and wouldn't go back to sleep...and today, Monday, K was up at 4 *ugh* calling for me...
i sat and rocked (and fell asleep at some points) in her room for about 2 hours...tip-toed out thinking she was asleep only to find her calling for me 2 minutes after i let out a huge sigh of contentment as i got comfie in my bed again... i brought her to my bed *out of sheer need of sleep* and she talked my ear off for about 2 hours... ry was up for work by then and i had him feel her head...i thought she felt warm but the thermometer read 97.something at 4... i gave her tylenol anyway...she was burning up.... i finally had to put her back in her bed after several warnings...lay down and go to sleep or else... she fell asleep at some point, but i got her up around 9 b/c i didn't want her sleeping the day away... sleeping is hard enough around here without having that as an interruption....
so today was spent with her fever, sneezing, runny nose...pale, bags under her eyes...seriously... now, call me a crazy person, but this coincides with a flu "mist" vaccine and a trip to the doctor for H's 6 month check up... she always seems to contract something or other when we're there... *sigh*
she barely ate dinner...running a temp of 100.3 with tyenol in her...she didn't want to go to sleep tonight...i put her down early (for her) in hopes she'd rest well...she cried and wimpered because she wants to sleep in my bed so badly, but it's rough to do that with her because then she wants to do that every night...even when she's feeling better... breaks my heart... :(
she's sitting up right's 1 AM...and she's been doing this off and on for poor sweet girl :(

i wonder if the discussion Ry and i had yesterday about the aftershocks from the earthquake we had a week ago has her freaked out a little but she doesn't know how to "say" that outright....and it's coming out in her sleep patterns? yah, we had 4 aftershocks on Sunday...............
i think we'll refer to the earthquake and aftershocks in code from now on... "hey, did you see the pickle jar anywhere?"

my computer HAD a doesn't any more because i had to shell out $245 (which is a year's worth of protection...) for the nice foreign man to remove it via remote access...took over my computer and cool... only took 2 hours during our prime dinner hours..... :-\
yah, my computer had 152 viruses on it........
"we think a lot of viruses is 5 to 7," he said....
had to reinstall the operating system again (translation: i lost all the programs i had installed and now have to reinstall them...also backed up my computer, all of that (pictures, music, files, etc.) had to get moved back into the "fresh" computer).........
and forget the fact that i have TWO virus and spyware doctor...they weren't working, obviously....
gonna hafta try to get my money back from those companies.... NOT happy with them... :-\

our car got inspected today...failed b/c it needed new tires... cha-ching again...
nice, new tires... :) passed inspection... goodbye even more money...........

but............. :)
i love my husband and girls...and am blessed to have needs and wants met in abundance... and we're safe... and have wonderful family...
and we have shelter...
and tomorrow, the sky will be a pretty blue again... :)
here's to a new day................................................................................................ :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

meals for the week 8.29.11 to 9.4.11

it's been a good week...interesting, but good...earthquake, aftershocks, a little of Hurricane Irene... :) hannah's 6 month check up, lots of shots (poor baby!)...lacking sleep from her restless nights... but, thankfully, we are safe and sound... :)

we have our meal plan ready to go! :) i'm trying to get myself together a bit because i know we have to grocery shop for a few things early this week... :)

can you believe we're greeting September this week??? wow! :) i'm ready, though...while i do love summer for it's relaxing and having Ry around pretty much full time, i'm looking forward to the leaves changing, crisp nights... :) yay! :)

here's what we'll be eating this week... :)

Monday: tacos :)
Tuesday: french toast casserole
Wednesday: leftover bbq chicken and corn on the cob
Thursday: leftovers (french toast casserole)
Friday: sandwiches and chips
Saturday: eat out? OR omelets :)
Sunday: bbq chicken, baked potatoes, veggie

kind of a simple week...but that's a good thing :) the weather is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL this week, so we'll be playing outside a lot...who wants to spend their time in the kitchen when it's sunny and in the 80s? :)

hope you have a fabulous week! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

hamburger helper

(i'm writing this post at almost 2 AM... we had a 4.5 aftershock about 30 minutes ago...shook the bed and scared me a bit...woke K, Hannah woke about 5 minutes before...Ry continued to snore...(sigh) while i'm not "scared", it's still scary to feel your house shake...especially when you know your house wasn't built for an earthquake ridden area... so, i'm posting...gotta get my mind off of the aftershock and hopefully back to sleep soon! :))

i had a hankerin' (hehe) for hamburger helper the other day... but, let's face it, i know it's not the healthiest of meals... while i'm not really worried about K eating something bad for her (she won't eat hamburger at all, so i knew she wouldn't have clogged arteries :)), i want to make foods that are good/healthier for my family... i know hamburger helper is full of processed "stuff," fake cheese, colors, preservatives....ick...
so i searched for a homemade hamburger helper recipe...
this was YUMMY!!! :) i couldn't wait for dinner... :)
so, next time you're going to grab a box of that "quick" meal off the grocery shelf, make this's cheaper and soooooooooo much better for you!!! :) and, i really think it tasted a lot better, as well!

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Make your "sauce packet" first (read below)
Brown up your ground beef. (I used about 1 lb. of lean beef. :)) Drain any grease/fat.
Then, to your skillet, add:
1 cup of hot water
2 cups milk (i didn't have enough milk, so i used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of half and half and water (about 1/2 cup of each to make a cup).
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (i added a little more and used medium shells)
prepare a "sauce packet" including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.
place all of these ingredients in your frying pan over high heat until the water/milk boils. Cover and let simmer for about 12 minutes, or until your pasta is done. Stir the mixture occassionally.
At the end, stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded. (i used about 1/2 cup of pizza blend shredded cheese and 5 slices of velveeta cheese.) Cover and let the cheese melt through the hamburger helper. After it's finished cooking, remove from heat, uncover, and let sit for a short time so the "sauce" can thicken a bit...
You can toss a 1/2 cup shredded cheese on top at the end, too, if you want.

The great thing about this is you can "premake" most of this meal... You can bag up some dry pasta and make a "sauce" packet in a little resealable baggie and then store it for later :) Seriously smart... :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

meals for the weeks 8.15.11-8.28.11

no more traveling...gotta get back into the has started (just professional days), so that means no more "loose" plans with dinner...the kids will grace Ry's room on Wednesday, so we'll call that the "official" beginning :)
but, i'm still not calling summer "done" until September when "Fall" is declared :) and quite frankly, i feel like summers get shorter and shorter with school demands...maybe it's just me?
here's our meal plan for the week :) and last week's plan, too, just for my records :) or for your inspiration/idea base :)

8.15 through 8.21
Monday: Chinese frozen meals (lo mein and orange chicken)
Tuesday: grilled chicken and potatoes
Wednesday: sandwiches and chips
Thursday: omelets and toast
Friday: homemade hamburger helper (fabulous! recipe to be posted later :))
Saturday: out to eat - TGIFridays
Sunday: scrounge :)

8.22 through 8.28
Monday: Open House 1-8 PM for Ry - dinner provided / whatever you want for K and me :)
Tuesday: Meg's meatballs, mashed, and corn
Wednesday: cook out (probably hot dogs :)), mac n cheese, veggie

Thursday: leftovers
Friday: spaghetti or skillet lasagna & garlic toast
Saturday: Yankee's Game in Baltimore/out to eat :)
Sunday: grilled chicken & cornbread casserole

hope your week is a great one! :) enjoy yourselves :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a momma's serenity prayer...

Oh give me patience when wee hands,
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes,
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion, or noise,
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come,
my house is still -
No bitter memories its rooms be filled.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

sometimes, you just need some chocolate... :)

today was one of those days where i wish we could have ALL gone back to bed, only to wake up a few minutes later in a WHOLE new attitude :)
it was a weepy day... a day of whining... a day of tantrums at frustrations... a day where play keys found their way into the toilet... it was dreary... we couldn't play outside because it was raining...
so i decided it would be fun to make brownies... after all, K's constant reply when you ask her, "what do you want for lunch?" or "what do you want for dinner?" is always, "ummmmm, brownies and mac and cheese!"

K helped me stir the brownies...
only after she bumped her head on the counter...
yep, more tears... :) and more declarations of, "i need a good nap" through the tears...
and the only thing that stopped her crying was a little chocolate syrup on her finger that quickly ended up in her mouth... :) instant smile... :)

this summer, i went through one of my mom's recipe boxes and found a recipe for brownies that my grandma used to make... today, i didn't make our brownies from scratch, but the recipe i found and copied has a thin icing that you can make to put on top of your brownies... it also calls for some chopped nuts, but no one here is a fan of nuts.

at one point this summer, i made the icing and poured it onto the brownies...they were literally the finest and yummiest thing i had tasted in a long, long, time....
and it was soooo easy :)

so the next time you make brownies, whip up some of this icing and pour it over your brownies...i promise, it will take you to a new place... :)
and on a day like today, chocolate was just what the doctor ordered.... :)
(unfortunately, Miss K did NOT partake in brownies this evening b/c she refused to try/eat her mac n cheese for dinner... :) how ironic!)

Brownie Icing

heat 2 T of water, 1 T magarine or butter so that it's melted. Add 1/4 t. of vanilla. add 1 square of melted baking chocolate until the liquid is smooth and combined.... add 1 C. of confectioners sugar to your mixture and stir, stir stir... i turn off the burner but keep the pan on the burner so that the icing gets nice and shiny and pretty :)
pour the icing on your warm brownies...

devine :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

slap in the face

i follow a blog called *320 Sycamore
i don't know the writer...although she does live in Virginia :)
and i don't know why i started following her blog...but i do...
every Sunday, she posts "courage for the week." a quote...a video...something that usually moves you...
while i don't share the writer's religious beliefs as my own, i do find her posts on Sunday to be fabulous... they always make me think... and, for the most part, they always hit a chord with a topic that i need at that given time... parenting, frustration...everything...
i love when that happens...
it's like a slap in the face..."snap out of it, Robin"
this week, i needed to read what she posted....
maybe you do, too :)

“I see women who are doing their absolute best in every way – but they keep track only of their mistakes. They make lists of things they haven’t done instead of the phenomenal amount of things they’ve accomplished. No matter what mountain of achievement they’ve just climbed, they stumble over molehills, saying things like, “But it’s not enough,” or, “I didn’t do it well enough.” The good news of the gospel is that who we are is okay. Our best is good enough. The Savior came for us –just as we are.

…perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.”

~Chieko Okazaki

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

hello again! :)

well, i've greatly neglected this blog...but i have good reason...
we spent 19 days traveling and spending time with family...
we traveled 2600 miles...yes...two thousand six hundred...
to my parents in Pennsylvania...
to my grandma's house in Illinois...
to my parent's house again...
to NJ to see my husband's side of the family for a short time...
and then to Delaware to see Ry's parents...
it was great to see everyone...
but i am so happy to be at home...i just miss it...the smells...the comforts...and that's not meaning that we weren't comfortable in our family's homes...but i just mean the simple comforts of home...
for my girls to sleep in their own beds...
for me to sleep in my own bed.... :)

i have a lot of catching up to do....
and ry goes back to school in a week.... *sniff*
i need to get our spare bedroom switched over so that Hannah can have her own room with the crib that Katherine is in...and Katherine needs to move to a regular bed... and that's not an easy task...moving beds, putting beds in our already full basement for storage...packing up books...
lots of changes...
i probably won't get it all done before ry goes back to school...but hopefully i can make huge headway so that it can be MOSTLY done... :) then i can finish it during naps...or at night...or when i have a free moment :)
i am making September my translated, that might mean by Christmas :) just kidding... it has to be done before Christmas....

soon, our normal schedule will begin... and we'll have to say goodbye to our summer...
i hate that........
you get so used to a new routine that it becomes normal...and now, it's time to change it up again...
but routine is good...

hello again :)