Monday, August 30, 2010

Soccer weekend

This weekend my nephew Tyler had a rec soccer tournament in our neck of the woods so he and my sister spent the weekend with us to cut down on their travel time. It was a good thing too because one of the games was at 7:30 in the morning. I cannot believe they would do that to us but they did. I wasn't sure if Alex, Zachary, and I could get up in time for that one but miraculously we did and without complaint, from the boys at least. The team didn't do so well with two losses and one tie but we still have fun. We always bring soccer balls for Alex and Zachary and they like to play on the field during halftime and after the game. This time we also packed up cleats.

Go, Tyler, go!!

My guys in action.

Friday, August 27, 2010

One week down!

The first week of school is almost over. Alex and Zachary are doing great. I really think they enjoy it and have no problems being dropped off. Never once did they cry or cling to me. It is tiring for them though. I thought it might be. Although they "nap" at school I'm not sure that the boys actually sleep. Alex says he does and Zachary sometimes tells me he does too but I really doubt it, especially for Zachary. He has fallen asleep on the bus ride home a few times and on Wednesday he fell asleep on the couch watching cartoons and napped for about an hour. Alex seems fine after school but hates waking up so early in the morning. I'm with him! The first day was fine but every day after has gotten worse and worse with him snuggling back under his covers or putting the pillow over he head and telling me he wants more sleep. Zachary is just the opposite. The first few days he popped right up when I walked in his room. Yesterday and today he came out himself when he heard me packing lunches in the kitchen. I'm hoping he'll let me and Alex sleep in tomorrow at least until 7:00!

It's been weird and really quiet at home without them. I have gotten stuff done but also had some "me" time watching some DRV'd shows, reading, and hanging out on the computer. I took the dog to the vet and myself to the dentist, all on my own. I'm trying to get some house things done and took a print to be framed and hung a few things on the wall. It's going slowly but I'm getting used to it.

All in all a good first week for all of us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

1st day of Pre-K

Well today was the big day. It started off with Zachary coming to our room at about 5:45. Nope, not time to wake up. Go back to bed. When I did go to his room to get him he was all smiles and ready to go asking about his lunchbox. Alex, not so much. He saw it was still dark outside and told me "It's not wake up time. Go out and let me sleep one more time." Poor guy. I wish I could have slept a little later too. Once he got up, he was just as excited about the big day as Zachary. They were ready!!

We got to school a tad bit early because I didn't know what first day of school traffic would be like. I wasn't the only parent that took a picture outside of school!
The Pre-K and Kinder kids all go to a big music room to wait for school to start instead of the gym where the bigger kids go. The teachers said that it actually cuts down on crying kids because it's not the "final" destination or something. Alex & Zachary sat in the row designated for their teacher - not together. Alex sat right down and clammed up. He went into his shy mode and wouldn't even turn around to take a picture or tell me goodbye.
Even though Alex wouldn't look at me both boys were fine. I stood outside the door for about five minutes and kept peeking in!
It was such a weird day without the boys. I did go to the grocery store, which is about the only thing open at not quite 8 in the morning. But the house was so quiet. I got to watch a show I had on DVR. I washed Alex's sheets and swept the floors. I put together some rolls, cinnamon rolls, and a loaf of bread to rise. (I just took the last one out of the oven.) I'm going to have to start pulling out some big projects soon. FINALLY it was time to go and get my guys! I was way early to the bus stop but again, being the first day and a brand new school, I just didn't trust the bus to come at exactly when they said it would. I was right, kind of. The bus wasn't on was a little late. There was one other Mama waiting with me. The kids were hot and sweaty when they got off. Zachary said he fell asleep on the bus and he looked like it. Two out of the three other kids had been sleeping too. That mom had to go on the bus to get them off.
The minute we got in the house they wanted a snack. When I cleaned out their lunch boxes I noticed that Zachary didn't eat most of his - the turkey and cheese. He only ate the goldfish crackers and strawberry newtons. He said the teacher said it was time to go. He really is a slow eater. It figures that he started with the snacks first. We'll have to work on that. Alex & Zachary had a good day. They seemed to have had fun and are ready to go back tomorrow. Now that the first day is under our belts I feel better too. I didn't even cry today like I thought I might.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Meet the Teacher

Yesterday was our "Meet the Teacher" day for Pre-K. Chris was actually able to come too which was nice. It was scheduled for 11-1 so I don't know how all the working parents manage that. The boys were so excited to go and we had to keep reminding them that we were only there for a visit and didn't need lunch boxes and backpacks. The school is very nice but then again it's brand spanking new. The boys will be in different classes but they are right next door to each other. The classes will be together for lunch and for recess so Alex & Zachary will be bumping into each other throughout the day. They don't seem to have a problem about being separated though. We did find out that they will have a nap or resting time even though a mat was left off the school supply list. Both teacher actually said that maybe a small blanket or something would be better (because of lack of room for 22 kids to sprawl out on the floor) so that's what we're going with. I've got two crib sized quilts that will work for that. While in Alex's classroom we bumped into a familiar face. One of the boys from their speech class last year will be in Alex's class this year. That was a nice surprise. They will continue their speech at this new school even though their teachers didn't know anything about it yet. Maybe the speech teacher (who wasn't there to meet) just pulls them out when it's their time? I'm sure it will get figured out. As for Monday - the boys can't wait! We've figured out that when I take them in the mornings that we go to a music room where both Pre-K classes and Kinder hang out and wait for their teachers to come and get them. Then after school I'm letting the boys ride the bus home. I was really nervous yesterday but feel pretty good about it all today. We'll see what happens on Monday!

Just to leave you with a few cute pictures...... The boys and I visited our friends one last time before school starts and went for a swim in their great neighborhood pool.

Bye bye summer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh so cute cookies!

This months Parents Magazine had the cutest cookie recipe that I just had to try. They are very summery and a change of pace from our usual (and still much loved) chocolate chip cookies. It's called Lemon Slices but I think Pink Lemonade cookies fit better since they're pink and, well, made with lemonade mix. If you want the actual recipe from the website you can find it here. However, the recipe posted below is the same one - not altered.

Lemon Slices - aka Pink Lemonade Cookies


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered lemonade mix
1 egg
8 drops red food coloring
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup pink decorating sugar
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, combine butter, granulated sugar, and lemonade mix. Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and food coloring; beat well. Gradually add flour and salt; beat until dough begins to cling.

2. Gather dough into a ball and shape into a 7x2 1/2-inch log. Wrap in waxed paper. Chill 3 hours so it's firm enough to slice.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place decorating sugar in a shallow bowl. Remove waxed paper from dough. Brush outside of the dough log with corn syrup. Cut log crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices. Lightly roll edges of the slices in the pink sugar. Place on cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Cut some cookies in half, if desired. Score the top of cookies with the back of a small knife to make them resemble citrus segments.

4. Bake about 8 minutes, or until edges are just firm. Let cool on a wire rack.

5. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice; place in a resealable plastic bag. Snip a small hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe icing onto scored lines and add dots. Let stand until icing is set.

The only slight variation I made was not having fresh lemon juice. I used the kind in the bottle. I also didn't score all my cookies figuring that since I was icing them I didn't really need to. You make the call on that one. One of the reviews on the website had said that the corn syrup brushed on the outside made it too gooey to cut and work. I just now realized that I brushed mine with oil instead of syrup! Ooops! I don't think it affected the taste.

Alex is always ready to help in the kitchen.
Ready for the oven.
The finished product.

They would probably be cute just left yellow and with yellow sprinkles although they wouldn't be as showy. I think this cookie is a keeper. The boys and I all liked them and although Chris hasn't tried them yet I think he might agree.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

School is almost here!

I still don't know what to think about it. I'm kinda nervous for some reason, and a little sad. I'm going to have all this free time to fill. I've already got a dentist appointment and a vet appointment scheduled during school hours next week. It was nice to be able to schedule those things without worrying about what days Chris would be home to watch the kids or having to take them with me. We've got all the school supplies and a lunch box for Zachary (Alex already had one). We've bought some new school clothes. I've talked with transportation (they are eligible for the bus). I'm going to be taking the boys to school in the morning but letting them ride the bus home in the afternoon. It will give us about 40 extra minutes of sleep in the mornings. I finally got the teacher assignments and Alex and Zachary are in different classes like I thought. I told them about it and they didn't seem to care much which is good. I think it will be good for them to be seperated. Friday we have a meet the teacher night at school and get to see their rooms. I guess I'm ready. I know they're ready.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Hubby is going to have some late nights at work this week so I've tried to plan meals that will re-heat well when he gets home.

Monday - Homemade pizza (I use the dough recipe from here.)

Tuesday - Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli with sauteed zucchini & squash

Wednesday - Comfort Meatballs (aka BBQ Meatballs depending if you're looking at Pioneer Woman's blog or cookbook), rice, and roasted asparagus

Thursday - Lasagna Roll Ups with garlic biscuits (I'll probably freeze some of the roll-ups for another day.)

Friday - Easy Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas with black beans

If you're in the mood for a dessert I made a Strawberry Brownie Torte for a party over the weekend. I've made it many times and it always gets rave reviews.

Strawberry Brownie Torte
1 (21.5 or 23.6 oz) pkg brownie mix
1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup cold water
1 (4 serving size) pkg instant vanilla flavored pudding mix
4 oz frozen Cool-whip
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Grease two 9 inch round layer cake pans. Line with wax paper, extending up sides of pans; grease wax paper. Prepare brownie mix as pkg directs for cake-like brownies; pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Cool. In large bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and water; beat in pudding mix. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Place 1 brownie layer on serving plate. Top with half each of pudding mixture and strawberries. Repeat. Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any!).
**Variation** Although this dessert is very pretty like this I don't usually have the patience for all that greasing and wax paper. Plus, if you're taking this dessert somewhere you'll probably need to use toothpicks to keep the layers from slipping around. So I cheat. I cook the brownies in one 9x13 pan and crumble them into chunks. Then I layer the whole thing in a trifle dish (or any clear bowl will work). That way you can still see the pretty layers but it's much easier for traveling.

For tons of great menu ideas go to

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I think we're going to be around all week this week so here's the plan. I've got a few new things on the menu so we'll see how they turn out.

Monday - Crunchy Onion Chicken, loaded baked potatoes, and green beans

Tuesday - Pork fried rice

Wednesday - Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini - This is a veggie and a meat (ground chicken) all in one so I'm not sure if I'll add another side with it or not.

Thursday - Bacon-Wrapped Maple Pork Loin, rice, broccoli 'n cheese cups, salad, and dinner rolls

Friday - Honey Game Hens (I've had this once before and it's delish but I'm using a chicken instead of the hens this time. I thought the hens were a little greasy.), brown butter & balsamic ravioli, and sauteed squash

Even though it's not on the menu for this week I'm sharing a recipe for a super easy and really yummy Tiramisu Bundt Cake that I made a few weeks ago. It's basically a box cake with melted ice cream and a few eggs for the liquid. It turned out so good but I'd also like to try it with other cake mix/ice cream variations.

For tons of great menu ideas check out

A howling good time

Last week we took a quick little trip to Grapevine, TX. More specifically to the Great Wolf Lodge. We didn't have much time to take a big trip but wanted to do something as a family before school starts up and before Chris deploys. It also happened to be our anniversary week. We'd heard lots about the Great Wolf Lodge and boy did it deliver! It was impressive even from the parking lot. That's Chris really tiny with our luggage in the background.
There is a huge indoor water park. It has a great kids area, wave pool, two body slides, two tube slides, and a lazy river. I think the body slides were the boys favorite, especially Zachary. He wanted to go on it over and over. One of the slides was a little bit faster or something and would make him flip around on his way to the bottom. You can see the water park through a huge window in the lobby.
Then there's also an outdoor waterpark with two more slides and a big pool area. We mostly stayed indoors because Zachary wasn't tall enough to ride those slides and Alex could only ride one but we did keep going out there to get some sun and warm up when we got too chilly inside.
There are restaurants and things there so that you don't really have to even leave the hotel but we decided to get out for dinner (we stayed two nights). One night we found a Rainforest Cafe so that was extra fun for the boys too. Alex had a little trouble with his eyes on the second day. We put the regular body sunscreen on his face instead of the more sensitive one and so it ran into his eyes. That, along with the huge amounts of chlorine in the water park, did him in. He wanted out and no more swimming. I did get out with him and we found something else to do but we did get him back in again. We played a really neat magic game in the hotel that you buy a magic wand for. Then you run all over the hotel using your wand and going on quests and adventures. Fun!! Here is Alex using his wand to open a treasure chest.
The whole place is really kid oriented with a room where they do kids crafts (we went there once to play bingo) and they have story times in the lobby and an animated show. Zachary got to sit by the group leader while they were singing.
The boys learned to make paper wolfs. There was howling everywhere! When we first walked in the hotel to check in Zachary howled and the man behind the desk howled back at him. I didn't take my camera into the actual water park but here are a few other random pictures taken during our stay.

We had a great time!