Monday, June 30, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ June 30th


FOR TODAY

Outside my Window... it's partly cloudy (or is that smoke?) and cool for the moment. The deer are running around like crazy on our back hill, and my window is open, so I can hear all the birds chirping! We are expecting some more thunderstorms this afternoon, which is fine, as long as they leave my power alone this time, and don't start any fires--at least here! :)

I am thinking...about how much work it is to have a yard sale!! We had our first one ever on Saturday, and even though we live a little ways from town, we still had some people show up, even though the "city people" took down most of our signs... Now why would they do that?!

I am thankful for... the fact that Regina is moving. Do you know that she actually had the nerve to go through the pictures on my camera and delete all the ones I took of her? Argh!!

Actually, I am still really going to miss her and her family... Regina, you guys CAN'T move!!!! :(

From the kitchen... lots of leftover brownies and cookies from the boys snack and drink stand that they set up at our yard sale.

I am creating... or trying to create a plan for this coming school year.

I am going...to take the boys to their swimming lessons this morning.

I am wearing...my jammies. (I really should be getting ready to go!)

I am reading... Education Is. The free E-book that Elizabeth Foss recommended! Then, I hope to catch up on all of Elizabeth's posts discussing the book.

**Oh! I just clicked over to Elizabeth's blog to get her link, and noticed her Daybook for today! She is actually reading the book I have been reading the last couple weeks!! I am so glad you are enjoying it Elizabeth! I have just about finished my copy, and love love love it!! Archbishop Fulton Sheen really has a way of writing that totally captures your attention. I am so glad that they are looking into his Cause for Beatification and Canonization! He was such a holy and inspiring man.

I am hoping.... to use my new ice cream maker to try and make my own Coconut Bliss. It is delicious, but way too expensive to buy often! So... I am going to make my own!

I am hearing...the wash machine spinning and my hubby getting ready to leave for work. All my kids are still sleeping!

Around the house...there is tons of laundry to get caught up on (The kids daily swimming lessons always make me fall way behind.). There is also lots of leftover yard sale items that need to be boxed up and donated.

One of my favorite things...is getting together with friends! On Thursday we had these friends over to celebrate a special girls birthday! Then, yesterday, we were invited over to these friends home after Mass (along with these friends--who are visiting for the month!) and stayed all day... I hope we didn't overstay our welcome, but we had a great time, and got to meet our soon-to-be newest Goddaughter!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Swimming lessons Mon-Wed; Captain's Auditory Processing class Tues-Thurs; and then Mass & Benediction on Friday in addition to any and all errands that need to be done while in town. I also hope to get my house back in order... It sort of fell apart this weekend with everything we were doing. It looks like it might be another busy week!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing for you...

These little guys were running all over the place Saturday during our yard sale, and were just too cute! This picture was actually taken by my neighbor. Isn't it darling?

To see more Daybook entry's, click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sisters

For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.
~ Christina G. Rossetti


On Sunday, I had a rare opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening with my mom and most of my sisters! (I am the oldest of 12, and I have 5 sisters and 6 brothers... My sister Jamie lives on the opposite coast, and was dearly missed!)

Mom, Me, Mary, Jennifer, Julianna and JoAnn

About 3 years ago, my sister Jennifer (who is only 14 months younger than I) moved away, and I have only been able to see her a couple times since. This past weekend she was up visiting. It was so nice to see her!

We all met up at Mucho Gusto for lunch. It was so yummy!

We then went to see a movie. It is so hard to find a decent movie anymore, and they weren't too interested in seeing Prince Caspian, so we watched "Get Smart."

Have you ever taken someones picture in a dark theater, while you are waiting for the movie to start? The flash is BRIGHT!!! It caught Julianna (and Mary) by surprise!



After the movie Jennifer showed us a house that she is considering buying since she is hoping to move back!

Then we all headed over to my brother Brian's house to say "Hi!"

I got there first and snapped a couple photos (surprise!):


He was like, "What are you, the paparazzi?!" No... Just your favorite big sister! ;)

We had such fun visiting, and then mom took another couple pictures of us girls...

I sure am starting to look older... Especially when I am in between my 16 year old twin sisters! I can't believe that I am practically TWICE their age! No wonder I look wrinkly! At least Jen can still say she is in her 20's!

Nevertheless, I had a great time, despite my age! ;)


Before we left, we had to get a picture with Brian as well:

Yes, I am the only normal self-conscious one! Oh, and you should see all the pictures I am choosing not to show you... I promised to be nice!

Here's a better shot:

Numbers 10, 1, 7, 6, 2 and 9 of 12 children!

After mom took this last picture I said to her, "Can you believe this is just half of your children?!"

Big families are AWESOME!!!!!

Thank you mom and dad for being open to life and giving us each other. Now, if we could just get together more often!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Strategic Air & Space Museum

I can't believe that it has taken me so many posts just to tell you about the first 3 days of our trip to Nebraska... Unfortunately, I am not planning on speeding up the process any time soon... Sorry! ;)

On day 4, our first full day in Lincoln, we took a little trip, a bit further east on I-80, to Ashland, Nebraska, to visit the Strategic Air and Space Museum.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum is a museum focusing on United States Air Force military aircraft and nuclear missiles. It was formerly the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum at Offutt Air Force Base before it was moved to this 300,000 square foot building in 1998 and renamed in 2001. This museum is regarded as having one of the top collections of strategic aircraft!

I was so busy worrying about where we would be staying come Friday, that I forgot my camera back at the hotel. Luckily, Rascal had his camera (a little disposable -- that we gave him right before we left, and which he had been carrying around everywhere!) with him, so we did get a couple photos...

This is a picture of us (taken by Rascal) in front of the SR-71 Blackbird:


The boys had a blast exploring everything,



and Hubby and Captain even flew in the Flight Simulator!

Not to be left out, Rascal and Snuggles flew in a child size "flight simulator" as well.


We saw B-29's, F-16's, and one of the only two XF-85 Goblins ever made - a 14' long plane meant to be carried by a bomber and used for missions that exceeded the distance of land based fighter planes.

The boys were disappointed that they didn't have their bomber jackets with them, but before we left, they each got to turn a penny into a souvenir, which they totally loved!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birthday Highlights

Snuggles turned one on Saturday! We were going to have some friends and family over for a BBQ, but due to a couple of our kids still being sick, we had to cancel. We still had a nice little birthday party just the same. Here are a few pictures from his big day.

The Birthday Boy:



A Turtle Shaped Cake:

Or rather, a whole bunch of cupcakes decorated to look like a cake! ;)


All 5 of our children:


What IS that?


Snuggles needed help blowing out that candle:


Did you notice that concerned look on his face in the last picture? Was it just too much attention on him? Or maybe my awful attempt at cake decorating scared him... He wasn't too happy about getting the frosting on his fingers! Whatever it was, he did NOT like it. It took about 20 minutes for him to calm down and taste his cake!


He did however love his presents, especially the tissue paper:


Happy Birthday my little one year old!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ June 23rd


FOR TODAY

Outside my Window... the weather is absolutely beautiful! The sun is shining. It's hot, but not humid... Perfect!

I am thinking... that I can't believe my baby is already one!!!

I am thankful for... finally having groceries in the house!

From the kitchen...there is lots of banana bread, muffins and smoothies! For dinner we will be having home cooked flour tortillas, pinto beans topped with cheese, rice, and corn. Plus, leftover cupcakes for dessert!

I am creating... a Blog Book using Blurb BookSmart. It is so much fun!

I am going... to drop the older boys off at their first swim lesson of the year, and then the 3 little ones and I will be going to a funeral this morning for a friends father. He passed away last Friday at the age of 61. He was such a good man, and actually oversaw the addition to our home a few years ago. May he rest in peace!

I am wearing... a knee length (black white and burgundy) skirt, black tank camisole and matching sweater with black beads on the neck and cuffs, silver hoop earrings, and a pair of black pumps made by Mudd.

I am reading... or rather, still reading: Archbishop Fulton Sheen's St. Therese - A Treasured Love Story. I need to make more time to read!

I am hoping... that Snuggles is ok. He has a weight check Tuesday morning, and I should get his lab results then as well. He seems to be doing better, for the most part.

I am hearing...the children rummaging through their dresser drawers, looking for their swimsuits.

Around the house... I have found over 8 dead black widows outside. I am so glad we had the house sprayed right before our trip. I would rather not have a "bumper crop" of Black widows... Eeewww!!!

One of my favorite things... is blogging! Isn't it so much fun?

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...

We will be going to a funeral this morning. Then it is swimming lessons, Monday-Friday, for Capitan and Rascal. Captain will be working with his auditory processing tutor Tuesday-Thursday. And, as I mentioned above, I will be taking Snuggles to the doctor tomorrow. So it looks like it is going to be a totally crazy week! Oh! And not to mention, that we are hoping to have a yard sale on Saturday... Is that an unrealistic goal?

Here is a picture thought I am sharing:


I meant to post this Monday morning, but ran out of time!!! With my schedule this week, I'm not surprised!

To see more Daybook entry's, click here.


I hope you all have a simply wonderful week!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

No Room at the Inn

We arrived into Lincoln, Nebraska at about 4pm on May 26th. We had reservations at the Embassy Suites downtown. However, when we arrived a number of things went wrong.

Prior to the trip, I called many hotels looking for a place to stay that would work well for a family our size, and yet still be affordable. My hubby works for the Government, and so often times hotels will offer us a government employee rate. Initially we had booked a room at the Comfort Suites (since my hubby's relatives would be staying their as well), but we decided to see if we could find a bigger room. When we called Embassy, we told them we were vacationing, but asked if they would still offer a discount for government employees. They said sure, and so we changed our reservation to them since we could get a 2 room suite for the same cost as over at Comfort Suites. We then canceled our reservation at the Comfort Suites.

Well, apparently, the woman that gave us this rate was not suppose to, and when we arrived they said the best they could do was reduce their rate to $139 per night! This was DOUBLE what we had been quoted. Not to mention, there was NO parking downtown, and we were going to have to pay parking fees or valet fees in addition to the room rate.

We went back out to the car to figure out what to do. I had the number to Comfort Suites in my binder, so we called them up to see if we could still stay there instead. The man on the phone said he had a room available until Thursday night. We decided to take it for that night at least, and then call around for another hotel for the rest of the week that was more in our price range.

We headed over to the Comfort Suites and they actually gave us their largest room, which would work out great. Unfortunately they were still saying we would have to check out Friday morning. Friday morning was the Ordination!

So, I got on the phone and started calling hotels. I soon found out that practically EVERY ROOM IN LINCOLN was booked. All I was able to find was a couple hotels that had a "smoking" room with a king size bed. That wasn't going to work. It turns out that ALL the Public High Schools in town were having their Graduations, in addition to a number of other big sporting events, that particular weekend. I seriously called over THIRTY hotels Monday night, and then again Thursday morning! How could every hotel be booked like that in a town the size of Lincoln? We even tried getting the room at Embassy back, but it had already been taken.

Anyhow, I guess God was trying to teach me that I really am not in control, and remind me that I need to trust in Him. Unfortunately, I failed miserably, and was totally stressed out. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!?!? I had put so much work into making sure everything would "run smoothly!"

I was pretty upset, especially since I had verified beforehand that it was alright since hubby wasn't "on the job!" There was no way we were going to be able to afford the difference in the rate, especially since we planned to be in town for a week.

It was hubby's turn to be the calm one and told me not to worry, it would all work out...

That night I thought about getting online and asking for prayers... But instead said a few of my own, asking for the intersession of St. Joseph. I did get online to check my emails, and briefly mentioned our dilemma briefly to Tracy while responding to a question she had emailed.

Wednesday morning, I got back online to find an email from a brave soul, a friend of Tracy's that happens to live in the Lincoln area! She was willing to take all 7 of us in for the weekend!!! Plus, it just so happens that this friend also went to school with my hubby's sister. I can't believe what a small world it truly is! (So, there you have yet another benefit to blogging! Thank you Tracy and Anne Marie!)

In addition, as soon as I got off the computer, I received a call in our room from the front desk saying they had just had a cancellation, and we would be able to stay. Thank you St. Joseph!

Hubby was right, there was no need to worry after all!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our Baby Boy Is ONE Today!

Today our little guy is turning one! I cannot believe how quickly time goes by... Here are a few photos from his first year of life:


Happy Birthday Snuggles!! You have been such a blessing to us, and have added so much joy to our lives. We love you so much!

If you could all please say a prayer for him today, I would really appreciate it. He has had a rough month. He hasn't quite gotten over the flu that he had on our trip, or else he has caught another, and so I took him in to see his doctor yesterday. His weight has dropped drastically, and he is only weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces, which is way below the zero percentile for his age. (At birth he was my biggest baby, weighing 8 lb 5 oz.) The doctor will be running a few tests, and I will be taking him in for a re-check this coming Tuesday. Thank you so much!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! God Bless!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Next Stop: Cabela's

Monday morning, May 26th, we ate breakfast at the hotel and got back on the road. Hubby & I were ready to arrive in Lincoln by this time, but the boys really wanted to stop at Cabela's and see the "North American Big Game Display." (This had been one of our stops on our last trip to Nebraska, and the boys loved it!)


Here are a few more random pictures:




Back on the road, we only had another 5 hours or so, till we arrived in Lincoln. So far, everything was going just as planned... Little did I know, that was about to change! ;)

**I can't believe it has taken me 3 posts to tell you just about the drive out! I hope I am not boring you to death with the details! Hope you all have a great weekend!

What happened to Weight on Wednesday??

It looks like the Weight on Wednesday group pretty much fell apart while I was out of town... That's why I didn't give you my weight gain/loss on Wednesday.

So, since some of you have asked how my diet went while traveling, I thought I would give you an update anyways.

It was really hard to eat well PERIOD while traveling, let alone stick to my diet, but overall I did pretty well, considering. I decided to just try and avoid the items that I am either severe or moderately intolerant to, and not worry about the mild category. This opened up quite a few foods that I could eat.

I found that it was much easier to pick up something at the grocery store for myself, versus eating out, and so I did that quite often.

However, I still gained... But only 3 pounds during those 3 weeks, so I am not that upset about it. I'll lose it now that I am home again, and not sitting in the car so much--just at the computer! ;)

I actually deserve those 3 pounds, since I totally cheated a few times.

On the drive out we stopped at a Starbucks, and trying to follow my diet, I ordered a Sugar-Free Hazelnut Soy Latte. It was disgusting! Not to mention, it cost a small fortune... So our next coffee stop on the way home after dealing with the flu, I splurged and had a Venti White Chocolate Mocha. It was delicious! (Though I didn't feel too good afterwards.)

Also, when we were in Stockton/Lodi, CA on the last day, before leaving town, I talked my hubby into stopping by Cottage Bakery. I have very fond memories of this certain bakery from my childhood, and was so excited to hear that they were still in business, though they had moved locations.

One particular memory includes my Grandmother showing up, while my mom was in labor with my sister Jamie, with Coffee Cake and Sparkling Apple Cider, and we had a little celebration as soon as Jamie was born. (My mom had mostly home births.) Oh, how I miss my Grandma! She passed away at the young age of 61 when I was only 12. I was her oldest grandchild, and we were very close.

I ended up buying a few different Coffee Cakes, some Dutch Crunch Rolls, and a dozen pastries. Oh, and a couple more mocha's too, one for hubby and one for me! I am sure all 3 pounds are a result of this one particular stop.

As we were driving home that day, I complained that I was hungry and reached for another pastry, and hubby said, "there's still some more grapes..." I replied, "Oh, that's alright, I can't have grapes..." We both started laughing at the irony of it all, as I sat there eating a cream filled pastry. :)

So there you have it... My WoW update for the last month.

Here is my summary:
  • Weeks thirteen to sixteen: +3 pounds (though I have already lost a pound since Wed.)
  • Total lost in WoW: -5 pounds
Goals for this week:
  • Go to the grocery store today, and get back on my diet!
  • Oh... and pick up some more Coconut Bliss!

I would send you over to Regina's to see everyone else's results, but she hasn't posted this week... Sorry!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Going Bananas


This morning a friend of mine brought me a HUGE box of ripe bananas. They needed to be used soon, unless I wanted them to start looking like this, so I opened my cupboards to see what I could bake.

You know, I have yet to make it to the grocery store since our trip. Thankfully, my hubby has been picking up a few necessities (milk and eggs) since he works in town, and in the meantime I am trying to be creative with what is left in our cupboards. My goal is to put off shopping till Friday so I can run my errands during our trip to town for Mass. Anyhow, my point is, I am even out of flour!

Luckily I did have a couple bags of Pamela's Baking Mix which I had ordered from Amazon last month, and so I got busy whipping up a triple batch of Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Banana Bread, and then another triple batch to use for muffins, using the recipe from the back of the bag. They are actually very delicious! I guess it's too bad for me that I am severely intolerant of bananas...

Banana Bread (or Muffins)

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar or honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup banana, mashed
1-3/4 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Beat together butter, sugar or honey, eggs and banana. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Pour into a large greased loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (For muffins, bake for 20 minutes in a greased muffin pan.)


In the meantime, I decided to make some Frozen Banana Pops for my kids. They were actually very easy to make and the kids loved them!

Frozen Banana Pops

6 large bananas
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup topping of choice (I used rice krispies and coconut on some of them, and mini m&m's on the rest, but you really could use whatever you have on hand including: toasted and sliced almonds, candy sprinkles, small chocolate or peanut butter chips, graham cracker crumbs, crushed candies or cookies, etc.)
12 wooden popsicle sticks
Wax paper

1. Cut bananas in half lengthwise.
2. Place one wooden popsicle stick in each banana half so the banana is supported-about 2 inches.
3. Spread the topping of your choice on a piece of wax paper.
4. Spread peanut butter over banana halves so they have a thin coat of peanut butter.
5. Roll each banana half in topping until it is completely coated-you make to use your hands to slightly tap the topping so it sticks.
6. Freeze until firm. Serve.


I ended up spending most of the afternoon and evening in the kitchen (in fact, I just finished all the dishes!), and I still have all these bananas leftover:


I guess I will grab some freezer bags and start peeling... Oh! If you have any great banana recipes or suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Natural History Museum

On the second day of our drive to Nebraska we were able to get on the road bright and early! We started in Nevada, had breakfast in the car, and spent the morning driving through the Great Salt Lake Desert of Utah.

However, I misread the map assuming there was one last town before that vast area of nothing. Convincing hubby that the town was near, we darn near ran out of gas. During this surreal moment along the salt flats, we noticed a neatly dressed man on the shoulder of the freeway determinedly hauling his luggage behind him. Fortunately, we made it, all 70 miles, to the next gas station. After hubby finally exhaled, we stopped to pick up coffee and lunch (for later) at Starbucks/Safeway just before crossing over the border into Wyoming.

We planned to stop for a lunch break at the Natural History Museum of Western Wyoming College. My children's pediatrician use to live in Omaha, Nebraska, so he told me the couple worthwhile places to stop along the drive: The Museum and Cabela's!

The Natural History Museum of Western Wyoming College specializes in prehistoric specimens like life-size dinosaur replicas, fossils and artifacts, all gathered from various sites in Southwestern Wyoming. To prepare for all the dinosaur excitement we spent the morning listening to tons of dinosaur songs!

The boys had been excited ever since hearing their doctor tell me about the museum!

It was actually really cool and since it was a Sunday afternoon, we were pretty much the only people at the museum.

It was really dark inside, so my pictures didn't turn out very well at all... This was a consistent problem on our trip, but here are a few photos anyways:



The College also had an exhibit of exotic animals:



Chiquita wasn't sure what to think of it all, especially the lion:


We then ate our lunch in the Tyrannosaurus Cafe:




And then got back on the road heading to Laramie, Wyoming for the night.


The weather in Laramie wasn't that great, but, thankfully, it was much better than a couple nights prior!