Monday, August 31, 2009

Pool update & more 1st day of school pics

We're on the final stretch of pool installation. The dirt is all filled in around the pool and the electrical work is party done. Today the concrete guys came and layed the forms for the concrete to be poured around the pool. We asked for a little bit extra than the 3 feet that come with the pool. That just didn't look like enough. We'll still probably add a little sitting area for lounge chairs and things. Tomorrow the concrete will be poured and the electrical will be finished. Then the pool can be turned on and start running. Of course the water is completely filthy from all the dirt being moved around out there so after the concrete is poured and even more mess is made, the pool will be cleaned. So it looks like we can actually jump in sometime on Wednesday.
Today was Zachary's official 1st day of school. He was so happy to get to go with Alex. Yes, he did wear the cowboy boots. He loves them and it's not worth it to try to argue with him. Everybody always comments on them when he wears them out - very funny.

Take me out to the ballgame.....

Zachary likes to sing. He's pretty good too. I'm not sure why he's dancing around like this but he kept singing over and over. Very cute!

Menu Plan Monday - Aug 31st

After a long long absence from menu planning I am back! When we came back from our vacation in June I started a diet (I HATE that word) and so menu planning became difficult. My poor family has suffered since with numerous meals of pb&j, frozen chicken nuggets, or scrambled eggs & pop tarts. I've sprinkled in a few "real" meals here and there and have found a few low-calorie meals online as well as added up the calories in a few old favorites that I think will work for me. So, for any of you calorie counters (like me) I'm including the calories for the meals if I know it. Just remember that the calories will vary a bit depending on the brands of ingredients that you use. Most of this week's recipes came from a site that I cannot link to but I will be happy to pass along recipes to anyone who wants them.

Monday: Crispy Ranch Chicken (246 calories per serving) and green beans

Tuesday: Lemon Chicken with Pasta & Artichokes (426 calories)

Wednesday: Orange-Sesame Pork Chops (370 calories - doesn't include the noodles which I'm not making) and rice

Thursday: Chicken Croquettes (131 calories) with Easy Zucchini Parmesan (52 calories)

Friday: Beef & Broccoli (453 calories) with rice

For more great recipes go to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pool progress

Wow! The pool guys made great progress today. The pool is actually in the ground. The boys thought it was pretty fun to watch the big crane lift the pool off the flatbed truck and put it in the hole. Tomorrow the crew comes back to finish hooking it up to the pump, filling in the hole around the pool, and do the electrical work. It might even be ready to for us to take a dip by the end of the day. Next week the concrete guys will be out to pour the walkway around it. We're thinking about asking them to pour a little extra deck space out beside it to put some chairs and maybe a table. Also tomorrow, we've got two fence companies coming out to give us estimates. The plan is to chose one of them before the weekend is up and get the fence built ASAP. I can't wait until the whole yard is done.

The view from our deck. The small part on the back is the tanning ledge that will run down into the main pool.This is the deep end of the pool - all the way to 6 feet. You can see the seats built in along the end. There is also a little ledge around most of the pool that you can stand on.The shallow end of the pool starts at 3 feet. That's still a little deep for our guys but I'm sure they'll be swimming in no time! There's steps built in at this end along with another seat. You can see the saltwater pump in the background.
*I couldn't resist posting a picture of Alex on his first day of school on Wednesday. He picked out his own clothes (he likes to do that almost every day).

A little snag

I had the ARD meeting with Zachary's speech teacher this morning and the meeting went fine. However, after I turned in all of his enrollment paperwork the school nurse wanted to talk to me. I had a feeling I knew what it was about..... You see, when the boys came home and had all of their bloodwork and other testing done Zachary had a positive TB skin test. He was sent for a chest x-ray which came back clear so he doesn't actually have TB. His vaccination records from Russia show that he was given a TB vaccination so that's likely what caused the positive skin test. He took the required 6 months of precautionary medication and life went on. Except that he will have a positive skin test for the rest of his life and probably a new chest x-ray every so often just to follow up. Why, oh why didn't I ever think to ask for a copy of the clear chest x-ray? Why wouldn't I want proof that Zachary didn't have this disease? It never even crossed my mind. Now the school needs some sort of documentation showing that he's clear before he can go back.....on Monday. Yeah. I did call his new pediatrician as soon as we got back and they think they have all of his old medical records (otherwise I need to call the old pedi) but they have to have a nurse look through the records and call me back. I'm hoping that they call in the next few hours and can fax the record to the school (and maybe put a copy in the mail to me) so he can go to class on Monday with Alex. If not, we're going to have one unhappy boy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Schools and pools

Yesterday was Alex's first day of school aka speech class. (Chris took my camera with him on an overnight trip so I have no pictures to post.) His teacher called a few days ago with class dates and this year he'll be going twice a week. I think that's great and even better is that Zachary will get to go too. He just had to wait patiently to turn three first. The speech teacher evaluated him at the end of last school year but we don't have our offical meeting until tomorrow. That means that Zachary wasn't going to start on the same day as Alex. Can you say upset boy? Woo-hoo! He was not happy even being told that it was only one day that he would miss. I bribed him with a trip to the library but he stubbornly didn't want to go. I told him that we could go pick out a new backpack while Alex was in class......well, maybe that would be O.K. Lucky for us, when I dropped off Alex at school the teacher said that there were no other students for that first day (in his particular class) and that Zachary could stay too. He was over the moon happy! Now on Monday I'll have to take 2nd day of school pictures since he wasn't in the first ones.

Today the pool company dug the hole for our new pool. I didn't get to ask them if it's done but it looks pretty big. (Again, no pictures because no camera.) They also poured the concrete slab where the pump will go. Tomorrow the pool should arrive and I guess be put in. I know they will still have hooking up to do and there will be 3 feet of concrete poured around the whole pool. All I know is that the pool will be up and running very soon....even before it's been officially approved by our home owners association. SShhhh, don't tell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Las Vegas

We got back from our trip to Las Vegas on Saturday night. Well, back to my parents house anyway. (They kept the boys for us while we were gone.) Sunday we stopped at our friends house on the way home for a birthday poker game (I know - more gambling, right?). So it's taken me until today to get things together and get pictures downloaded for a post. Our trip consisted of seven people - my husband and I, both of my sisters, one brother in law, and two of our friends. For most of the trip we were separated into guys & girls. Us three girls walked up and down the strip, shopped for souvenirs, played penny slots, and ate a ton. The guys on the other hand rarely left the casino except to walk to the casino next door. They stuck mostly with tables games and sometimes did pretty well and sometimes not. Lets just say that none of us came home rich from this trip.

Our trip started with a limo ride from the airport to our hotel. It was way faster than the shuttles would be since it took us directly there. We didn't really think about a taxi which was cheaper - we took at taxi on the way back though. We got to the hotel so early that only one of our three rooms was ready to check in. So we stored all of our luggage in that one room and headed out. The guys had already discovered a poker tournament at the hotel next door (Chris had printed out a schedule of all the poker tournaments before the trip) so they went there. It was lunch time, at least in Texas time, so us girls headed to Margaritaville for burgers and what else, cold margaritas!Then we were off to the penny slots! We liked the penny slots because our money could go farther and the risk was small. We sometimes hit "big" pots and made $5 - $10 at a time. Boy did it sound like we were rich as the music played for those 500 pennies! I can't leave out the food! Our first night there we had reservations at Mesa Grill run by Bobby Flay (from the Food Network). One of my sisters had eaten at his restaurant in New York and was dying to go back. The food was really good but spicy. It also didn't come with sides so it didn't seem like alot of food for the money we spent. I was still glad to have gone. We took pictures of all of our food but I was spare you that.Since so much of the trip revolved around food (everywhere we went we saw another place we wanted to try) we had to stop at Serendipity 3 for an afternoon snack. We ordered their famous frozen hot chocolate and a sundae with a big piece of chocolate cake in it. The two desserts were so huge that the three of us couldn't even finish them. That frozen hot chocolate was wonderful and worth every calorie!!We saw two shows while we were there. The first was called Tony & Tina's Wedding. It was hilarious! This show was picked by us girls and all of the guys didn't go. It was as though we were invited to this Italian wedding as guests. It included a buffet dinner, wedding cake, and champagne. There was even a dance floor and people would get pulled out to dance with the actors during the wedding reception. Great! On our last night we all went to see Le Reve. It was like a Cirque du Soleil show but in water. There was a big pool in the middle of the room (the seats were around it in a circle) that had platforms that would go up or down when they needed them. Very cool! When that show was over it was decided that we would walk from the Wynn hotel where the show was, down to the Stratosphere. The walk was long and not much to see on the way except for construction and the not go great part of the strip. Unfortunately the rides on the top of the Stratosphere were closed because of high winds but we did get to go up and check out the view - not too shabby.

Of course we also hit all the free shows too. The Bellagio has a water show with their fountains out front. We made sure to stop by there at night when it would be the prettiest. We also saw a volcano errupt at the Mirage and the pirate ship show (they call it the siren show now) at Treasure Island. It sure made to lots of extra walking but it was so worth it.

This is the first big trip we've ever taken with other people and would love to do it again. We're old pros at Vegas (this was our 4th trip) but I know that we'll go back again.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I broke down...

and we bought a pool. Not just any pool - an in the ground pool. Chris has wanted a pool ever since we moved into this house, well before that actually. It's just that we didn't have the room at our last house. The pool is fiberglass so they will just have to dig a hole and put it in. Well, it might be a tad more work than that but at least they don't have to pour concrete and wait and wait for it to set. Fiberglass is supposed to last alot longer. We're also going with salt water. There will be a lot less chemicals and it will be cheaper to maintain. We had looked at pools a few weeks ago and just couldn't make up our minds. Then, yesterday the pool store was having a big one day sale that we just couldn't pass up.

Here are Chris and Zachary standing beside our pool...and yes, this is exactly ours. All the pools were on the lot like a car dealership. In our style we could choose between this light blue one or a tan colored one. The pool is pretty big, 14 x 32 feet, and starts at 3' 6" deep and goes to 6 feet deep. As part of the special it comes with a "tanning ledge" which is basically a little kiddie pool that holds anywhere from 3 - 6 inches of water for you to lay in and tan or in our case for little kids to splash around in if they don't want in the "deep" water. Someone is coming out tomorrow to check out our yard and help us decide where to put it and how much digging it will require (we've got tons of rock, remember). Once we get back from vacation next weekend they should be able to get the digging done in two days. So, we could have the pool up and running at the end of this month or early September. I know we did this backwards by getting the pool at the end of the summer but that's probably why we got the deal we did. Also, being in Texas means we can have a little more pool time than other places. We can't wait to get it here!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Texas persimmons

When we bought the land for our home it had quite a bit of trees on it. We asked to keep as many of the trees as we could (with the exception of gross cedar trees - who needs cedar fever). This means that we have a ton of oak and also persimmon trees. When you drive through our community you don't see many people that have kept persimmon trees. I'm not sure if they just didn't have as many as we did, thought they were too small and slow growing, or didn't like that the female trees grow messy fruit. We didn't know what to expect from the fruit because we don't know anything about the tree - haven't ever seen one before that we know of. My mom remembers having an aunt with a persimmon tree and it made pretty reddish orange fruit that they would set out in a dish and could only eat when it was very ripe or it was very tart. Well, that's not what we have. I've now found out that we have Texas persimmons and that is quite different. A Texas persimmon makes berries that grow to be around 1 inch around. They start green and turn black when ripe. They will fall from the tree and splat on the ground (that's why they're so messy). Deer, birds, and other wildlife may eat them but they are edible for humans too. They ripen from July to September and I hadn't paid much attention to the trees until Chris told me a few weeks ago that they were ready. Sure enough - some are.The black, ripe berries.I picked almost 2 dozen and Alex and Zachary thought they were blueberries. They are very soft and almost a little bit fuzzy like a peach. I washed them off and we tried them.First I tried to eat the skin but I didn't like that. I never found instructions on how to eat them so I didn't know. They were slightly sweet but not a ton of flavor - not bad though. The boys each tried one but didn't ask for more. They also have very black fruit and juice inside and are used also to make dye! Every time I ate one I ran to the bathroom to make sure my teeth weren't turning black! I think they might be worth it to pick if they can be made into a jelly or a wine where we can just cook/squish them up and don't have to peel them. Or just eat them with the skin.

A change of plans

It looks like Chris will probably be deployed some time next year. That means that we can't start an adoption right now. Looks like baby #3 is a little farther down the road than we thought. We are leaning towards going back to Russia if things are still moving along there when we're ready.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A full day

The first thing that Zachary said when he woke up this morning was "I want to go to the museum". Well, that wasn't going to happen but we did several other fun things to make up for it today. This morning we painted on the back porch. Not just painted but finger painted. Although I'm not a neat freak (by a long shot!) I just don't like for the boys to get all gross and messy. I loosened up a bit though and let them go at it, with their shirts off of course. Alex thought it was funny and was fairly neat about the whole thing. Zachary, well he ended up with paint on both hands, his wrist, his arm, and his nose (he likes to smell everything!). It was nothing that a little water couldn't take care of.

Our next project was brownies. I don't know why I decided to make them since I don't plan to eat them but I did. I made them in tiny muffin pans and then covered them with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. The boys thought they were so cool!

After naptime I surprised the boys by taking them to the library. We haven't been in a very long time and I thought they'd really enjoy it. Zachary stayed glued to the train table most of the time. Alex kept going back and forth between the computers (set up with kid games) and me, sometimes bringing a book or two and sometimes just sitting. He said he didn't really like the library but then said that he did like the computers. I think I need to look into a train table for Zachary or at least the pieces and we can play it on the floor. He really loves it and gets so upset when we have to leave. Too bad I didn't think of it before his birthday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Children's Museum

This morning I took the boys to the Children's museum here in town. I've heard really good things about it but I've never been to one anywhere. We had a blast! There was so much to see and the boys could touch & play with everything in there (& not get in trouble). There was a big train table that Zachary loved, a hospital section, a space shuttle, a hospital and ambulance with flashing lights, a stocked grocery store complete with bakery section & meat market, a bank, a house, a campsite with tents and a cave.......and more. Plus, outside was a huge water table under a patio! Zachary needed to be just a tiny bit taller to really reach the toys but he and Alex both managed to get plenty wet anyway.
We stayed for 1 1/2 hours and could have stayed longer if our tummy's didn't start to grumble. We might want to look into a year membership if we plan to go often otherwise it could get pretty pricey. I definitely think we will go back again!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love a man in uniform!

I know that Chris wears a uniform (and I love him) but that's not who I'm talking about today. I ordered a reflective address sign from our fire department and they came today to install it. It's nothing fancy, just a blue metal sign. Three firemen came to install it. They didn't bring a firetruck but did bring an ambulance. They let Zachary and me get inside the back and look around. (Poor Alex was still napping and missed the whole thing!) They gave him a little stuffed monkey dressed in a Santa suit (I'm sure it was all they had), said hello to him over the speaker, flashed their lights for us, and sounded the siren as they drove away. It was cool and they were so nice to us! Once Zachary figured out what the ambulance was for he kept telling me that he didn't want to go to the doctor. I had to remind him that nobody at our house was sick or hurt so we didn't need to go. Now Zachary is getting out his toy firemen to play with.

Thank you firemen!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mini vacation

My sister and her family were in our neck of the woods for a wedding last weekend so they decided to come our way and have a few more fun days with the kids before school starts back up. On Monday we all went to SeaWorld for the day. It was hot but we all had fun. We saw a few shows (can't miss Shamu!). We tried to ride a few rides but the ones we wanted were either broken or had too long of a wait for inpatient kids. We spent part of the day at the water park there which might have been the biggest hit of the day. Well, until we came home and went to dinner (Clear Springs - yum!).

The last few times we've gotten together Alex (3) and Hannah (4) seem to be great buddies and play together well. This time they got into trouble together well too. Chris found them in Alex's bathroom with half a tube of toothpaste squirted into the sink and both the kids hiding in the closet. We still don't know who did it - Alex says it was him and Hannah says it was her. See true friendship - somebody is trying to take the blame for the other!

Yesterday Chris had to go back to work but the rest of us went to Natural Bridge Caverns. We thought this would be a nice cool thing to do since we were so hot the day before. Wrong! The cavern is around 70 degrees but with the humidity were told it would feel 80 - 85. That plus hiking up and down steep hills, often carrying a small child.......lets just say that we were hot and sweaty yesterday too. Everybody had to go home after that but we can't wait to visit again!

This is the "bridge" that the caverns are named for.The kids couldn't wait to climb on the big dinosaurs outside.