Year End Gifts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I made the kids year end gifts for their teachers last weekend because they have one more day next Monday, but our weekend is way too full for me to get it done. Shockingly, I planned ahead for once instead of staying up til 10pm finishing them. Instead, I worked on them until 8pm tonight. Apparently I still need to work on my planning skills.

I am pretty pleased how they turned out. I did a version of my Valentine's buckets that I have made in the past. This time I made them easier on myself. I eliminated the frosted butter cookie and dipped store bought marshmallows instead of homemade ones. However, Murphy and his stupid law had to show up to keep things from running completely smoothly, and allowing me to get an inflated ego. So thank you for that, Murphy.

The first thing I made were dipped oreo cookies that looked like an apple. I found them on Pinterest and they were super cute and seemed very easy. They were the bane of my existence on Sunday. Unfortunately I tried 3 different types of sticks, but the cookies kept breaking and then I kept cursing them. I googled them and found a site that gave me a trick to get the sticks in without breaking them. Then I wrestled with the "leaves." I found some green Now & Later's that apparently my kids were saving for "later" from Halloween. I could have really used a third hand to get them on the "apple", but I managed to succeed with two.

Aren't they pretty cute?
The second thing I made was the ganache for the truffle pops. Sigh. How can two ingredients create something so sinfully delicious? I made it the same way I have always made it, but after the ganache had chilled it was much too soft to roll. I wasn't sure if it was because it was so hot outside or if something went wrong. I decided to see what happened if I melted it back down and added more chocolate to thicken it. Thank goodness it worked or else I would've had a breakdown.

The last major bummer was today. I dipped the marshmallows yesterday after I dipped the truffles. Apparently when I reheated the chocolate it got out of temper, so when I got home today i discovered they were all swirly. Ugh. I didn't feel like dealing with chocolate melting again, so I decided to come up with a new kind of marshmallow. I flavored some almond bark with peppermint oil and then dipped them in crushed candy canes. Halfway through I decided to crush some dark chocolate chips too, so a couple of the teachers will get those--they are slightly luckier :)

I stuck them in some floral foam in the buckets and tucked a small giftcard to Dunkin Donuts in, and called it a day. I am kind of annoyed that the pictures didn't turn out great, but apparently we live in a cave with no light. That, and it's 8:00 at night, so there really isn't any light anywhere :) But trust me, they were really cute--it's a good thing I have Murphy to keep me from being cocky.

We Chose Joy

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our family was very much looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend. We had fun plans for each day of the weekend. Unfortunately, Friday night, Brendan came down with a fever. He also was crying that his mouth hurt. We hoped that he would go to bed and wake up feeling better. He wasn't any better. We took him to the doctor and found out he had hand, foot, mouth disease (not to be confused with hoof and mouth :) ). Unfortunately that meant that we were quarantined for the weekend. I was especially devastated because some friends of ours from Croatia were going to be at a barbecue and we were going to celebrate Suzi's birthday. I haven't hardly seen them since they got back to the states and they are leaving again in a month. I was really crushed.

I told the kids that we were going to have to stay home and cancel our weekend plans. Their initial reaction was to cry about it. But then I decided that this was an excellent opportunity for us all to learn something. We could choose to wallow in our change in plans, or we could embrace it and have a good weekend. I told the kids that we couldn't change Brendan's sickness, but we COULD decide how we were going to react to it. We could choose joy in the midst of our disappointment. We all agreed to do just that. And honestly, we had a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, the big kids played with the neighbor girls in the back yard with the slip n slide while Bill snuggled Brendan. Yesterday, I decided that Rori and I needed some special momma/daughter time. We went to a fancy outdoor mall that Rori had never been to. We went to Crazy 8, which I had never heard of, but apparently they are owned by Gymboree with the same quality, but more affordable. Rori was in HEAVEN looking at the clothes. I decided to buy her a few things since they were the same price as some of the tops I had just bought from Target the day before (those are going back). Then we went to Anna Shea's for chocolates and ice cream. She loved that they had couches and fireplace to eat at! Then we stopped at a few more stores and picked up some small trinkets :) I was smiling the whole time, watching her. She would try a hat or a purse on and pose in it, and then swish over to the mirror to check herself out. It was ridiculously adorable. When we got home, we discovered that Brendan was 100 times better so the neighbor girls came over again and they all enjoyed the sunshine, pool, sprinkler, and slip n slide. I got to work on some of the parts of my year end teacher gifts, which I was trying to figure out when I was going to be able to get to. Last night, Bill and I got to have an impromptu date night. Bill's mom came over to watch the kids so we could go to the movies.

Today was filled with more family time and smiles. I think what made the weekend so great was that we were all together. I felt like Bill and I got to enjoy quality time with each other. Even though he's home at a reasonable hour every day, sometimes I feel like we get caught up in taking care of the kids that we don't get to talk as much as we'd like. I also got to have great  one on ones with each of my kids--which is hard to come by as well. So, while we didn't get to choose the hand we were dealt, we did get to choose how we reacted to it. I am so incredibly proud of my family for their attitudes.

The Zoo

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I have been meaning to post this for a while, so it's kind of old news, but my blog, my rules right? I have been really busy and when I say really busy, I mean, falling asleep on the couch at 9 pm and when I say 9pm, I mean 8:30...

Anyway, I had the opportunity to be a parent helper for Rori's field trip to the zoo. I enjoy getting the opportunity to do these kinds of things because I always remember my mom helping in my classes. I had visions of Rori and I holding hands walking around the zoo, enjoying the beautiful weather. However, the day was not nearly as smooth as it went in my head. I should have taken one of my airplane Xanax before we went. We were each assigned 4 kids and were told to go off on our own and just meet back by the bus when it was time to leave. I also got to carry all of their lunches. My shoulder was killing me by lunch time! Thank goodness they didn't all have large bottles of water. There were some things that the teachers asked us to try to see because they've been learning about them in class. We were given maps. I am horrible with maps. The only place I can get around is the city of Chicago. That's because it is laid out super easily. Unfortunately, I am not that familiar with the zoo. I had to ask for directions twice. I felt like Joey on Friends when he's in England and needs to "get into the map" in order to read it. It's seriously a disability! The kids I got were good kids, but there were 3 girls and one boy. The boy didn't want to hold hands with a girl throughout the zoo. I can't really blame him. The zoo wasn't horribly crowded but whenever there were crowds of people I would start to panic. And then count heads. The whole day was spent saying, "Justice, come back here." "Jocelyn, stay with the group." "Heaven, hurry up." etc., over and over. I was sick of my own voice by the end of the day. I was thankful when it was time to find the bus. Which I was unable to do. Thankfully I saw another group from the class and followed them to the bus. Fortunately I did not lose anyone's small child, and I think the kids genuinely liked me, but alas, that was one of the nights I was in bed by 8:30.

A week or so later the school had a volunteer parent appreciation breakfast. I wasn't going to go because it was on a day that I worked, but Rori's class was going to sing to us. When I found that out, I wouldn't miss it! It was really nice. The teachers thanked us all and said what wonderful, involved parents we were. I left feeling pretty good. An hour later, my mom called me at work. I had forgotten to give Rori her lunch and snack and she had called from school. Ah, the irony...

I also wanted to post the picture of the last teacher appreciation gift I gave--mostly so that next year when I try to remember what it was that I made, I can come back and look :) I am so resourceful. The kids each picked out flowers and helped me plant them into the little pots. I printed out the signs and just plopped them in. Easy Peasy.

Tin Can Treats and Pretzel M&M's

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Well, mom and dad, since I am blogging so much, I don't know what we will talk about on the phone now. I guess you can tell me about your day :) Every other blogger tells you about their day and some of them are not particularly interesting, so I will just join in with them.

This morning I made my new favorite breakfast. I latch on to one food for breakfast and then eat it until I am sick of it or the next thing comes along. For awhile it was Fiber One cereal, while I was pregnant, nothing was better than Raisin Bran--sigh--I can still remember how happy it made me, most recently it was Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal. For the last month, however, it has been Green Monster Smoothies!!! They look and sound gross but honestly it's seriously the best breakfast ever!! I feel like I am eating a shake for breakfast--not to mention the incredible health benefits. Don't ask me what they are--I just know they are incredible because that's what everyone on the internet says and I believe everything I read on the internet ;)

After Brendan and I took the big kids to school we did our grocery shopping and then I set to work on tomorrow's teacher appreciation gifts. I made these last year and honestly thought they were the cutest things ever! Yesterday when I mentioned that I could use scissors, I forgot to add that I can also wield a glue gun with minimal self-burning. I got the idea and templates from my girls at Our Best Bites. They have made me look good many times in the last few years. I have been trying to plan ahead so that I wouldn't be running around this week, so a few weeks ago I bought a couple of medium size bags of pretzel M&M's. I bought pretzel ones because they take up a lot of space and I don't have to worry about nut allergies. However, in my attempts to plan ahead, the pretzel M&M's disappeared. The bags are empty. I'm not sure how this happened as Bill and the kids don't like them. They are my arch-nemesis. (nemeses? nemesis's?) So, I picked up some Hershey miniatures and some Rolo's. While I made these last year, I must have forgotten this little tidbit. The lids are some type of metal. Metal conducts heat. The lids get hot while you are hot gluing them. Other than that, they are right up my craft alley. I think they turned out adorable!

When Bill got home I went to the gym and did my 8:34 mile. Unfortunately I had to get off the treadmill after 1 mile because the guy next to me smelled soooooo bad. I think it was my punishment for judging the lady lifting weights in jeans and the man working out in khaki's with a belt. It looks seriously uncomfortable. I did the elliptical for a bit and then got back on and ran one more 8:34 mile. I probably smelled by this point and the person next to me was probably grateful that I only did a mile. Then I headed home to make dinner.

I don't have a witty closing line, except for the kids are in bed and my husband is waiting for some personal attention to tell me about his day. So goodnight for now.

Vomit, Teacher Appreciation, and Wheezing

Monday, May 7, 2012

How's that for a title? Mom and Dad, you're getting two posts in two days--don't expect me to be witty too. Yesterday Rori wasn't feeling well all day. She finally ended up throwing up right before bed and then five minutes later fell fast asleep for the night. I wasn't sure how she was going to feel so I had her stay home from school today. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, it is Teacher Appreciation Week. Last year I gave Rori's teachers a gift each day during that week. So, darn, I guess I only have to do four days :) (that's the fortunate/unfortunate part). Rori has two teachers because they have a student teacher and Liam has one teacher and two aides. For those keeping count, that is 5 teachers total. I am not a crafty person, but I can copy other people pretty well--and I can use scissors :) I found these on Pinterest earlier in the year and pinned them for this week. I also used my brother in law's discount at his work to get cheap Lipton tea mixes to put in the cups. Each teacher got 10 individual tea mixes. The kids are excited to bring them to school tomorrow. I hope their teachers like them for their first/second day gifts!

Now for the wheezing part. All day I felt kind of nauseous. I was worried I was getting whatever it was that Rori had. I am a firm believer in sweating out the germs! So I went to the gym and ran intervals on the treadmill. The humidity was horrific. I go to one of those really cheap gyms--I am pretty sure that our memberships do not include air conditioning. About 2.5 miles in, I was feeling tired and struggling. I couldn't concentrate on doing intervals so I decided to see if I could run at 7mph for a whole mile. That's an 8:34 min mile. I had several days of birthday cakes to make up for. I made it exactly .6 miles when I could hear the wheezing OVER my iPod. Once the wheezing turned to full out gasps (at .75 miles) I decided it was time to call it a day for fear of passing out on the treadmill--I imagine that is even more embarrassing than flying off the back (which almost happened once whilst trying to wipe the sweat out of my eyes). Next time I will make the whole mile at that pace (I will be smart and do it first). So there you have it--vomit, teacher appreciation, and wheezing.

My 5K and my Birthday

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Both of my parents have pointed out that I appear to have quit blogging. I feel like I am at a place where I keep waiting for something of interest to happen that is worth posting about. However, I have probably missed some of the little things in anticipation of big things that haven't happened. So...I will try and post more...key word being try. :)

Let me start at the first celebration of my birthday. We like to drag out our birthday's as long as possible. A few weeks ago I ran my first 5K of the year. I have been trying to work on my speed because I almost always end up doing a 10 minute mile. My goal was to finish under 30 minutes. My friend and running partner, Leslie, gave me some new music to listen to and I think it really helped. I put on my new tunes and tried to run to the pace of the music. About three minutes in, I thought I might die. I contemplated walking. Then I decided that was ridiculous--I just ran this distance on the treadmill two days prior. So, I persevered. I ran until my lungs burned. Every time my iPod changed songs I could hear some poor person wheezing, thank goodness it was only for a few seconds before the next song started again.  Poor soul--I always had different people near me, so I have no idea who it could've been...  ;) At the end of the race, you're supposed to sprint. I didn't think I had anything left in me. But then Ke$ha started to sing, or whatever it is that she does--(I make fun, but I secretly enjoy her music), and I found one last burst of energy. I crossed the finish line in 27:29. That averaged a 9 minute 27 second mile. I was super happy! Out of 2900 runners, I finished (I can't remember exactly so it's give or take 2 places) around 330. So I am pretty happy with that. Granted, as I was walking to the car, I saw some old ladies crossing the finish line in their power chairs from the Scooter Store, so I am not sure how tough the competition was...but I'm proud anyway.

After the race we were celebrating my birthday with Nicki, my sister in law (our birthday's our a couple weeks apart) at Bill's parents house. She gave me some really cute running shorts and socks--perfect for my next race and Bill's parents gave me some new dishes because I hate my old ones. You put them in the microwave for 10 seconds and burn your hand pulling them out. They are of the devil. We had a lovely time--yummy food and cupcakes. Nicki is always good about bringing crafts for the kids--Rori especially loooooves anything craft related!

My actually birthday was this Saturday, but I got to celebrate a little early again. On Thursday I ran to my friend Leslie's house and then we ran to the gym. We worked out and then ran to her house. It started to pour about 2 blocks from her house. She offered to drive me home and said she had something for me for my birthday. She made me this awesome cake! It has chocolate chip cookie dough in between the layers and then chocolate chip cookies on the outside. I am so glad her love language is food too! Since I have zero self control, I dug in as soon as I got home--pre-shower. I am classy like that. I did put it on a plate  and used a fork. I am not a complete animal.
Leslie--this is how much I am thankful for you--I posted a picture of myself sweaty and rain soaked :) 
 Saturday my family came over and we celebrated my birthday, Juliana's birthday, and mother's day. It was a lovely day, we had sangria, Jenna and Ryan made minion twinkies for the kids, mom made me a strawberry cake, Ryan made his famous salad (do you think food is important to us?) the kids played, we exchanged gifts, Grandma Rose asked if we planted the dandelions in the backyard because there were so many, then more sangria was had, you know, typical family time :) After my parents left, Jenna, Bill, and I sat in the living room playing DrawSomething with each other on our iPods and Kindles. Jenna and I enjoyed making fun of Bill's inability to spell. Ryan was sound asleep in the family room. We are party animals. Seriously though, I love my family. I love that we put effort into the things that matter to each other. I honestly think that every person in my family is good at making each other feel special--going out of our ways to do things for each other. I am so thankful to be a part of it.

My gift from Bill