Life is an adventure.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I need more time

24 hours is just not enough. I cannot possibly get done all I have to get done with only 24 hours. Life has gotten so hectic over the last couple of months. I feel like we have something going on every night of the week! My house is a wreck, my Christmas cards didn't make it in the mail, presents need to be wrapped, groceries need to be bought, dishes need to be never ends. I started working on my New Year's Resolutions the other day. At the top of the list is to slow down and get more organized. In a perfect world I would never forget to do something I needed to do, I'd be on time to everything and I'd have enough time to get it all done. Ugh! I wish I could write more, but I don't have time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I love me some Facebook

Do you Facebook? I don't even know if that's the correct terminology. I've never been too hip with the sayings...I'm guessing it's not hip to use the word hip anymore. Anyway, a few months ago I got an email saying one of my MOPS mom friends wanted to add me as a friend on Facebook. I have a Facebook account? I believe those were my exact words. After several failed attempts, I finally located my password buried deep in the part of my brain where I like to store stuff I'll probably never use again. And the rest, as they say, is history! I am a total addict. I check it several times a day every day. If you don't have an account run, don't walk...or type really, super fastly, whatever, over to and open an account. Then add me. I love having friends!
Lately I have been adding friends from grade school...we're talking waaayyy back when we all had to wear those tacky plaid dresses to Catholic school. It's been a lot of fun catching up with old friends and even some people that I wasn't so chummy with in school. Most of the girls I'm finding are married with kids and living a million miles away from our hometown. As I'm taking trips down memory lane I'm wondering if they have changed. Some of the girls were snotty or nerdy or very friendly or very, very smart. I'm wondering if they are the same way now? Then I got to I the same way now? I don't know how I would define who I was then but I am fairly certain I am different today. I've had children, been married, dealt with death and moving and the good times that are high school and college. How could we not all be different? And how cool that we have this awesome medium to reconnect?!
I have to admit, I am enjoying seeing people who are now not as skinny as they once were, people who aren't as pretty as they once were and people who are much nicer than they used to be. When I was in grade school and just learning to use the computer we didn't know anything about the internet or Facebook. I am amazed at how far technology has come. I can't wait to see how far it is when my children are my age.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grandma Erwin

Growing up my Maternal Grandmother and I were pretty good friends. Some of my earliest memories include my Grandma Erwin. As Christmas approaches I can't help but think of her. Every year she would take my brother and I out Christmas shopping. She allowed us to pick out whatever we wanted, within reason, and that was pretty much our Christmas presents. She took it all home, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Some years we would go so early in the year I'd forget what I had chosen, which made Christmas morning even more fun. I clearly remember going to Benetton and begging her to buy me a shirt. All the kids had one! She was reluctant because they were a bit pricey but she agreed to buy a peach colored shirt with Benetton in different colors. After one wash it shrunk up so much my doll almost couldn't wear it. She marched right back to the store and got her money back. I had to go with and was never more embarrassed!
I spent many nights sleeping over at my Grandma Erwin's house. She lived, with my Grandpa, in a small house in Iowa. It was the house my mother grew up in and the house I would eventually call my own. Even today I will smell something that reminds me so clearly of that house. It had a particular smell that I just loved, and still do. We would open Christmas presents at home, my mom, dad, brother and I, and then we would go to Grandma Erwin's for breakfast. I can vividly remember the first Christmas morning when we realized she was sick. Christmas breakfast was cancelled and Grandma went to the hospital. She had shingles and then we later found out she had a brain tumor. Now that I'm an adult I long for those Christmas breakfast mornings. Life was so simple and predictable. My Grandpa always had Juicy Juice out of a can ready in the fridge. If I close my eyes I can see us all there sitting in the kitchen at the table. I can see the tan and pink stripes on the carpet, the green lamp hanging from the ceiling and the bell that hung in the doorway. I can see my mom and dad and my Grandpa in his blue, plaid flannel. Hmmm, I don't see my brother, wonder where he is. Oh I'm sure he's there, I just block it out of my memory! Only kidding.

My Grandma Erwin died August 27, 1996. Her brain tumors finally got the best of her and she ended up in a nursing home. I never visited her as much as I wanted to. It was difficult for me to see her. She was clearly not the Grandma I had known all my life. Close to the end she didn't even know who I was. She would occasionally call me by my mother's name, which made the visits almost unbearable. So I stopped going to see my Grandma. It was a decision I now regret more than any other bad decision I've made in my life. She was at the nursing home only 18 months, but it probably seemed like a lifetime to her and to my Grandpa. I did go see her the day she died. She was thin and weak and not the person I remembered as my Grandma. While it was very hard to see her that way, I'm glad I was there shortly before her death.
She was the best friend I have ever had. She played Uno with me for hours without complaint. She would call me up out of the blue and say, "Lets go shopping!" As I got older we would go to Weight Watchers together and then promptly out to lunch at the Chinese place we both loved so much. She let me drive her Escort while I was learning to drive and never flinched! She was part of a Birthday Club that met once a month at a restaurant for lunch to celebrate the birthdays of the group for that month. Even after my Grandma's death I remained close with many of the woman in that club. When the gambling boats came into town she would always be sure to share her winnings with my brother and I. And when she lost big she'd always say, "Don't worry kids, it's just your inheritance!"

While cleaning out my Grandparent's house after the death of my Grandpa, I found this little box filled with post cards sent to my Grandma's father back in 1912 and 1913. There were a few that were sent as a Christmas card but most of them were birthday post cards. I thought it would be fitting to add those post cards to this post. They remind me of simpler times. They were simply addressed to Earl Allicks Letts, IA. No specific address. It amazes me that they arrived to the correct destination. I can't imagine addressing a letter today with the name and the town and then having it arrive to the correct house. We have certainly grown and evolved.
This Christmas I would like to spend some time remembering my Grandma Erwin. I hope to show pictures of her to my children and tell them stories about sleepovers and Chinese food. It makes me sad to know that my kids don't have the opportunity I had to spend time with their Grandmothers. I think we'll play a game of Uno with the kids in remembrance of my Grandma Erwin.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Mall

Bryce had parent, teacher conferences Friday which meant no school for Bryce or Hannah. My husband had to work so I had to find something to keep us busy. I don't know why, but when my husband is gone time seems to tick by at an exceedingly slow speed. So we decided to have lunch at the mall. Our mall has a great softish play area surrounded by the food court. I decided to allow the kids to eat and then I had lunch while they played.

While I was eating and watching the kids play I was remembering how often we came to the mall when we first moved to Wisconsin. Hannah was not walking yet and Bryce was only 3. I had diapers to change and strollers to park. As time went by, Hannah learned to crawl up the steps and go down the slide. The first year or so I would need to be near her so she didn't get trampled by the bigger kids. As time went by, I was able to sip a coffee while sitting on the sidelines. Soon enough, having lunch at the mall was something only Hannah and I did because Bryce was in school.

Our time spent playing at the mall has certainly evolved into something quite different today. I sat outside of the play area and ate my lunch with no worries of my small child escaping through the entrance. I didn't have to remind Hannah to go down the slide and up the stairs, not the other way around! I was able to look down from my children, take a bite, jot down a note or two and not fear my daughter had pulled someone's hair or my son had run around knocking other kids down. My kids are growing up.

The saddest part is, my kids are growing up! Soon enough we'll walk through the doors of the mall for lunch and neither kid will ask if they can play. Soon enough the soft play area will be part of our past. As each day passes I'm reminded more and more how my life is preparing for a shift in seasons. The days of play dates and mall play areas are almost gone. I'm sad to some degree. However, I'm mostly excited to see what the next season of mothering has in store for me and my family.

Thanks for the good times mall play area. Our time with you might be gone but will never be forgotten.

Monday, November 3, 2008

For Uncle Jimmy

Flag football season has come to an end. Bryce was a total all-star! They designed a play specifically for him. He played center AND receiver. They would fake a hand off and Bryce would be way out in the field all alone, and the QB would throw it. It didn't work very often, but it was cool when it did!

This kid can run! He has the best eye for where the ball is. At the last game he captured almost all of the flags. When the opposing team was blowing past three and four kids at a time Bryce would be the one to pull the flag. Amazing!

Ok, so sometimes he got a little bit rough. He likes to tackle. I've had a House Rules sign up in our house for almost 3 years now. The #1 Rule is Keep your hand to yourself. Do you want to take a guess at how many times a day I say "Keep your hands to yourself, Bryce!"? Lets just say I say it more than once. He was kind of the Brett Favre of flag football. He broke a lot of records and one of them was getting the most penalties for tackling.
I'm already looking forward to what next year brings. One of the parents was hanging kinda close to us at the last game. He finally said, "So, what school does Bryce go to?" The kids go to different schools, and I could tell this dad was a little upset. He went on to say, "Not all kids have an eye for football, but you know when a kid's got it, ya know? Bryce has got it." I just smiled, but inside I was thinking..."I know!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This one's for my scrapbooking Peeps!

I started scrapbooking about 7 years ago. I had no idea what I was doing, so I went to the Hobby Lobby and bought a scrapbook magazine. I found a layout I liked and went to the scrapbook store in search of the EXACT same things I saw in the magazine on this layout. It was a bath time layout. Once I found the paper and stickers I needed I searched for pictures. My oldest, who was also my only child at the time, was still relatively young. We took a million pictures of him in the tub, so finding bath time pictures was not difficult. I sat on my bed with the magazine flipped open to the correct page, I carefully placed all of the paper and sticker around on the bed. I picked up my first picture and my scissors and cut a circle, just as they had done in the magazine. The only problem was the circle was all jagged and looked like a preschooler had cut it out. I could not figure out how the ladies in the magazine cut such a perfectly round circle. It took me several weeks, if not months, to realize there are circle cutters. So, my first page was no where near perfect, but I liked it anyway. This sparked a huge desire within me to scrapbook.
Fast forward 7 years and another child later and I am stuck. I have so many scrapbooks I can't look through them anymore. I can't even store them nicely. And now I've come to the place that a lot of scrapbookers come to. How do I separate my albums? I was doing one album for my son, one for my daughter and a family album. I felt like I was always behind and I found myself scrapping the same pictures two or three times. It was very draining. Scrapbooking was no longer fun to me. Every time I'd get with people who scrapbook I'd ask them how they arrange their albums. I quickly realized I wasn't alone. Lots of people had the same problem I had.
Then, one Friday night in whole life changed. I was talking with my friend Sara and I asked her the question, "How do you arrange your albums?" That's when I learned about Photo Freedom and Stacey Julian. Sara gave me just enough information about Stacey Julian's system to make me run right out and buy her book Photo Freedom. The basic concept is you don't have to scrapbook in chronological order. Ok, take a deep breath, I know this is hard to swallow. Also, she doesn't do books for her kids, she does books for herself! What a concept. She has her scrapbooking broken down into four main categories...People, Places, Things and Us. Most of her pages will fit into one of the four of these albums. She is not "caught up" and she does not scrapbook in order. She picks up the pictures she feels motivated to scrap and away she goes. It might be a birthday from 4 years ago. It doesn't matter! Once the page is done it goes into the appropriate album and you move on.
She also has these things called category drawers. It basically stores all of the extra pictures. You know how you took 400 pictures last Christmas and you tried to cram ALL of them on your two page spread? Well, you can stop doing that now. Find the best ones that really represent Christmas and scrap them on the Christmas page. Then store the others in your category drawers. Maybe one goes in the tab just for a specific child. Maybe another one goes into the tab specified for me and Mom. Then, one day down the road, you flip through the drawer and find several pictures of the same thing, probably not taken on the same day, and you scrap a page that represents what's going on in those pictures. It's pure Genius!
Are you lost yet? Here's an example. We carved pumpkins tonight and my husband, God bless him, was sitting at the table all alone carving the last pumpkin. This happens every single year. Bryce could care less! Hannah has a short attention span. And I go out and start taking pictures of the ones we've already carved. So, I took a picture of him. I know that I have several pictures of him, all alone, carving the last pumpkin from several different years. So, when I feel motivated to scrap those pictures I'll be able to tell a story with bits and pieces from several different years. And the best part is, I don't have to scrap it tomorrow, I can wait until July of next year if I want. Then I just put it into the appropriate album and move on.
These are my new albums. Aren't they lovely? Each of them will be given a specific task of People, Places, Things or Us. Once I assign a colored album a category that category will always be that color. So if I fill a green album and it's assigned People, the next People page I scrap will go into a new, green album. It's a lot of fun organizing all of the pictures I have, pictures I thought I'd never scrapbook. Now I'm giving them life again. Even if they sit in a drawer for four years, I know I will eventually get to them and it's ok! So now, go out and buy her book. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend Review

What a great weekend we had! The weather was pretty decent, no snow...yippee! Although the flakes were flying yesterday. But we're not going to talk about snow until AFTER Halloween. Friday my hubby was off work. It's nice to have him home. Hannah had preschool, so it was extra nice having him home in the afternoon. It's very rare that either one of us is home and the kids aren't. It's even more rare that we are both home with no kids. The house seems to smell better and it stays clean for more than 5 minutes....I love my kids, but I like an empty house every once in awhile.

Bryce's final flag football game was scheduled for Friday night, under the lights, but it had rained in the morning so it was rescheduled for Saturday. A free Friday night,, no. He went to hockey practice instead. I love watching him skate. He's getting so good! While all the other kids are dropping like flies around him he's the one skating circles around everyone. I cannot believe how far he's come in such a short amount of time. I'll have to remember my camera for the next practice.

Saturday morning the boys went to pick up cans for the Boy Scout troop. They also got haircuts. Thank goodness. They were looking pretty shabby! They went to Sports Clips which is a salon for dudes. They got massaged and a hot towel on their face. I think my men are getting a little too girly...tee hee. So then Saturday night we had the final flag football game. Bryce scored two of the three touchdowns. One was off of an interception! That boy's got some skills. I was so proud of him. Several parents, the coach included, told us how great he was and how much natural skill he has. I know he's only 7, but I think they are right. He's excelling in hockey too, he's just a natural. He must get that from his mommy ;) His team ended up taking first place. He got his first trophy. He is so proud of it and so am I!

Sunday was church. Man oh man did we have a great sermon. The pastor finished his sermon with tears in his eyes. My pastor is a national figure, which sometimes bothers me a bit. I guess it's human nature to think maybe he's not living the life he preaches. Sunday proved to me once again he is exactly the man you see every Sunday. He made me realize that I have a lot of resentment built up inside that I carry around like a baby. His philosophy is to punt kick those babies out of your life! Good idea Pastor Mark! If you've been wronged or hurt by someone and you are carrying around resentment or you're still bitter, forgive them and move on. I guarantee your life will prosper from it. And, it's something Jesus told us to do it! Your life will change. He also made me realize I haven't had my nose in the bible lately, so I'm going to try much harder this week to read a bit everyday.
Have a great week everyone. If you scrapbook and you're ready to change the way you scrapbook, check back later. I'm going to highlight a book by Stacy Julian called Photo Freedom. It's changed the way I look at scrapbooking...I feel so free!!!! ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Too cute hats for sale ;)

I have this terrible habit of getting totally involved in crafts I have no idea how to make. These hats are a prime example of that. I found them at a craft show and thought, "I can make that!" So I went looking for cheap fleece and then worried about how I was going to make them. I finally had some time today and pulled everything out to make the hat. Oh, by the way, I don't know how to sew and these hats require sewing. I had all of my stuff out on my island and started cutting. Then I sat down at the sewing machine. I had no idea what to do. So I called my husband. It's weird he knows how to sew and I don't, I realize this. He tried to walk me through threading the machine but it only got me more confused. I found a good illustration in the instruction book and gave it a shot. It worked! The thread came out three times and I successfully fixed it each time. So, this hat is my finished product. I started with the least attractive fleece I had just in case it didn't turn out so well. The light coming through the front door was awesome and I wanted to try some new techniques I learned for my camera so I asked Hannah to model for me. She was less than thrilled! I, however, am tickled at how well the pictures came out. By the way, I plan on selling the hats on Etsy for around $4 or $5. Let me know if you'd like one! wink wink

Friday, October 17, 2008

Would you if you could?

If you could, would you hit the rewind button on your life? Not so you could change to be better in your current life, but so that you could be something completely different than you are today? If you had the chance to go back pre-husband, pre-kids, maybe even pre-college, would you? I’m sure the knee-jerk response from all of us would be an emphatic YES!!! But stop and really think about it for a minute…no husband, no kids, a possible shift in career. How different would your life look to you? I can remember when I was in high school wishing for the “perfect life”. Here I am, about to turn 35 and I have a different perspective. That “perfect life” I wished for way back when has become my reality. Guess what? It ain’t so perfect! It is, however, exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be married, check, have kids, check, and stay home with them, check! Mission accomplished…sort of. What I don’t recall wishing for was rocky times throughout my marriage(s) including divorce and a second husband, children who are rude, disrespectful, stinky and apparently allergic to picking up their toys, and the ability to never watch my favorite TV show from start to finish without hearing “MOM!” yelled from someone’s bedroom. Ahhhh, ain’t life grand!

Last Sunday the family and I pulled into our favorite restaurant in Green Bay for lunch after church. I happened to notice a cute couple preparing to board their motorcycle and ride off into the sunset…no children in toe. Then I realized I knew the female part of this cute couple. I hadn’t seen her in well over a year. Last I heard she had filed for divorce and moved out with her child. I guess I assumed she would never date again because I was shocked to see her with another man! As they zoomed past me I made two realizations; one, that was indeed my friend and two, man was I jealous! Here she was with her beau on a Sunday afternoon, having a quiet lunch (read, no loud children) then riding off into the sunset holding tightly to the man she loves. I was quickly snapped back into reality when I heard, “Wow, you have a lot of hot friends getting divorced.” What?! Ok, whatever.

Fast forward one hour. We’re sitting in the bar so we can watch the Packer game and my husband says to me, “That’s one thing I miss about being single.” To which I replied lovingly, “What’s that dear?” “I miss sitting in the bar screaming at the TV when the game is on.” I thought for a minute and said, “Sitting in the bar screaming at the TV with your wife and children just doesn’t do it for ya, huh?” Then we heard this shrill scream from across the bar. Every head in the place turned towards this hideous noise. Then I saw this woman with both of her arms in the air, one hand tightly holding her Bud Light, screaming loudly at the TV watching the game. “Oh yeah, I sure miss those days,” I said to my wonderful hubby. We both rolled our eyes and giggled. Guess it wasn’t as much fun as he remembered.

So, it got me thinking, would I go back in time and rewind what I have done to be a totally different person today? Never in a million years. I am working on a new scrap booking process called Library of Memories by Stacey Julian (I’ll post more about that another day) and so I was flipping through old pictures of my son last night. One photo in particular just struck me. He was probably around 2 ½. He was sitting in the car in his seat and he seemed to be looking right at me, into my soul. I began to cry a little bit. How could I ever go back to a life without my husband or children in it? Do they drive me crazy daily? Absolutely! Do they make me want to pull my hair out? Every single day. Do I love them? More than words can express!! So, even though I’m still jealous that my friend has Sundays with her man and their motorcycle without children I love my life and the people in it. There will be no rewinding for me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Apple Bread

Apples have been taking up space on my kitchen counter for far too long. I remembered finding this recipe on a website I frequent called 2peas in a bucket. The recipe comes from someone who posts on that site. She has said that this recipe is so well liked she renamed it "Done to death apple pie" because she has made it so many times. This was only my second time making the bread but I'm sure I'll be making more in the future. It's a very simple recipe and it helped to deplete my apple stash by 6 apples! Only 4,390,980 to go!

Apple Bread

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make sure to generously grease the pans/tins you are using.

Mix Together:

3 eggs, slightly beaten

2C. sugar

1C. vegetable oil

1T. vanilla

Add and mix well:

3C. flour (I usually use 2c. all-purpose and 1c. whole wheat flour)

1t. baking soda

1t. ground cinnamon

Add and mix well:

4C. peeled and chopped apples

1C. chopped pecans (optional)

The mixture will be very goopy. I use my Kitchen Aid to mix it all together and that seems to work wonderfully! This recipe will make two large loaves of bread. I made one loaf and 6 mega muffins. I think it would be fun to make several small loaves and then freeze it. I have not tried to freeze this recipe, but the word is that it freezes beautifully!


Friday, October 3, 2008


My mind is going a million miles a minute today. I'm amazed I've accomplished anything at all. Well, technically, what I have accomplished doesn't amount to much. The rummage sale boxes that have been sitting in my bedroom are now in the basement, the dust bunnies are gone and my youngest child made it to school on time. That's about it. So much has been running through my mind and I don't know why. I've been thinking about health, food, healthy food or lack thereof, exercise, scrapbooking, photography, crazy schedules, birthday parties, TV shows, the upcoming election, building a new house, builders, selling the current house, family, my car, my husband, my children, what's for supper?, why am I craving Mt. Dew all of a sudden, do I really like the new quilt on the bed?, what if we don't have enough people to play bunko?, why did I agree to host bunko with all the things we have going on?, why do we have so much going on....honestly, the list goes on. Oh, and on top of all of that, I thought it would be fun to work for ChaCha. Don't know who that is? Check it out here. It looks like fun, but it's yet one more thing to add to my never ending list of things that don't seem to get done. Ugh! My head hurts today.
So, in the spirit of trying to clear my head I thought I'd steal something I read on another blog today. I'd love to hear your answers. Finding my own answers caused me to do some thinking, but at least it was streamline thinking and not spaghetti noodle thinking....cause that's driving me crazy!
1. In Citizen Kane, the main character's last words before dying were "Rosebud" which is discovered later to be the name of a favorite, childhood sled. The idea is that this rich, powerful, hated man, in his last moments, finds himself thinking of happy, innocent times. If the film were about your life, what word might you utter in similar sentiment?
GRANDMA...although I'm not 100% sure why. I guess, thinking back to my childhood, I had the most fun with my Grandma and I regret not spending more time with her while she was dying.
2. In Freaky Friday, a mother and her daughter who have difficulty understanding each other find themselves living the other's life (occupying the other's body and everything). If this were to happen to you for similar reasons, who's body would you wake up in?
MY HUSBAND...although we love each other very much and agree on several subjects, we have a very hard time communicating with each other. Even when we're thinking the same thing, we verbalize it differently and the other person is usually left feeling like there is a disagreement happening, even when we fully agree with each other.
3. In Raider's of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones has to jump into a pit full of snakes, the one thing that freaks him out the most. "Why did it have to be snakes?" he asks. If the movie were about you, what would be at the bottom of the pit?
SCORPIONS...DEFINITELY SCORPIONS. EWWWW, that's all I have to say about that.
4. In Parenthood, the main character explain to her husband that she loves the ups and down of family life, she finds it exhilarating and says, "I happen to love the roller coaster!" Do you love the roller coaster or would you rather ride the merry go round?
MERRY GO ROUND for sure. However, life is more like the roller coaster...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Does this clutter make my butt look fat?

Have you ever seen Peter Walsh on Oprah? I haven't watched a full season of Oprah in well over a year, but he used to be a semi-regular on her show. While I found him incredibly annoying he managed to charm the socks offa me! I love his accent and his beautiful, blue glasses. More than once he had the lady of the house storm off in a fit of rage saying, "Whatever!" under her breath. Several times I watched him back the homeowner into the corner of their kitchen while they were hyperventilating because he wanted them to throw away 12 of the 13 spatulas sitting in the drawer.

Peter Walsh wrote a book entitled "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?". I really should pick up the book and actually read it. Everytime I try to organize my house I repeat that phrase to my husband and end it with...."yes it does!". I wish I had a dollar for everytime I have re-organized my house. Do you have any idea how many bins and baskets and whatnot I have to organize all of my stuff? Several!! And yet I keep buying more stuff. I don't quite understand why.
I am coming to realize that all of this stuff doesn't mean anything. It doesn't make me smarter, prettier, skinnier, more does, however, make my butt look fat. I find it very hard to concentrate knowing a tornado just blew through my basement. Knowing toys are here, there and everywhere makes it hard for me to breath. I use cleaning and organizing almost as an excuse to not play with the kids or even to just sit down and relax. I have to be cleaning and organizing. The only problem is, I never finish. I start and then things look worse than before and then I say forget it! Then I usually go shopping....but we don't need to go there just yet!
I'm having a rummage sale next Thursday. I have no choice. I have too much stuff. My husband and I are discussing building again and I refuse to move stuff from this house into storage into a new house, stuff that I haven't even put my hands on in more than a year. If it doesn't sell, it's going to Goodwill. I have several rooms totally organized and I'm really loving that. I have my bathroom linen closet totally neat and tidy. Everytime I open a drawer in my bathroom I smile. It's been a week now and it's still organized! I'm finally tackling the basement tonight. What a huge job!!!
I found this website the other day and it is full, I mean full of blogs from women who are neat freaks and super organizers and major meal planners!! Be careful though, reading it can be very addicting. The website is

Dutch Apple Pie a la MOPS

I took Hannah apple picking with the MOPS moms the other day. It was a beautiful day and we had a great turnout of moms. Now I have several pounds of apples to bake! I thought it would be fitting to post a recipe that I got at a MOPS meeting. We did this as a craft for one of the first meetings I attended here in Wisconsin. It was a great idea and the pie was de-lish.
The first thing you need to do is lay out a pie crust on the bottom of a pie plate. I made this crust myself. I was determined to make the entire pie from scratch. Whenever I look for a recipe I head straight to It has a very extensive database of recipes. Other posters can post photos of their version of the recipe as well as a review of the recipe. The best part of this site is that it has a function that allows you to type in ingredients and search the recipe database for recipe that only include those specific ingredients. There have been a few recipes I remember making years ago but couldn't remember the name or the specifics but I did remember a few of the key ingredients. I would just go to the website, type in those ingredients and find the recipe I was looking for! Try it, you will not be disappointed.

This crust recipe was very soft and did not require rolling. I was very leery of how it would turn out but It was very light and flaky. It's OK if you'd prefer using the frozen variety. Believe me, if I would've had some in my freezer I would definitely be using them for this!
You'll need around 6 apples for this pie. Peel, core and slice somewhat thinly. Add the apple slices to a large bag. Measure into the bag some flour, sugar and cinnamon. (See the recipe below for exact amounts.) Shake and make sure each and every apple slice is coated with the mixture. This is a great way to work out your aggressions. Speaking of anger and aggressions, make sure to attend next month's MOPS meeting. We'll be talking about anger and how to deal with it.

Pour the apples onto the crust. If the you're thinking you need to add some apples, go ahead. I won't judge you.
Then you need to combine butter, flour and brown sugar in another bag. This becomes the topping. Throw that other pie crust back into the freezer. Work the butter into the flour and brown sugar until it is crumbly.

Bake in the oven until done and enjoy! This is the simpliest most delicious dutch apple pie I have ever tasted. I like to throw it in the fridge for a day and eat it cold, but I'm weird. You do whatever floats your boat. Oh, and don't forget the vanilla ice cream!!!


2lbs. apples

1T. lemon juice

2T. flour

3/4 C. sugar

1t. cinnamon

Core apples and pare. Slice thin and put into large bowl with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Toss lightly with apples. Put in pie shell.


2/3 C. flour

1/3 C. brown sugar

1/3 C. butter

Combine in a bag until crumbly.

Sprinkle on topping. Bake at 400 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Let me just say for the record, the Packers looked horrible tonight. And, let me add to that how pitiful it is that I watched the entire game even after I rented "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas". And now I'm too tired to watch it, darnit! It's not so bad...I could be a Bears fan.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I finally started the daunting task of going through all of the boxes in my basement. There are several boxes that were packed up when I had to clean out my Grandpa's house and have not seen the light of day since. We're talking about making some changes to our living situation and I thought it was time to downsize some of the boxes.

I started with boxes that had "Jennifer's Grandpa's House" written on the outside of the box. If you've never cleaned out the house of someone who has just passed away I don't think you can really appreciate the need to declutter your house. Who needs twelve years of Christmas cards from random people? Nobody, that's who. My Grandma and Grandpa traveled alot and they held on to every single map and every pamphlet from every city they ever visited. For whatever reason, I felt like I should hold on to them. So they've moved from Iowa, to Illinois, to the first house in Wisconsin, to the second house in Wisconsin, to Texas and then back to Wisconsin. It's time to let them go. I also found several old pictures of my Mother's family and a scrapbook my Mom's Great, Great Grandma put together of their first trip to California. Very cool.

As I was going through all of this stuff, I had to decide what to keep and what to throw away. My Grandmother had all of the ribbon from the gifts she received at her baby shower for my Mother. She had all of the sympathy cards she received after my Mom passed away. She had about 30 pairs of earrings from the 80's still on their cards with the price tag intact. Papers, papers and more papers. I don't know what's worse, the fact that she held on to all of this stuff or the fact that I have moved it to not one, not two, but four different states five times! So, into the trash it all went.

As I was looking through my Mom's report cards from first grade and reading her accomplishments and finally flipping through her year books I realized my children have no clue who my mother was. They know she's in Heaven and they know I had a Mom at one time, but they don't know her. August 11th was the 20 year anniversary of her death. Most days it seems like only yesterday. Why haven't I spent more time telling my kids about their Grandma? I can't believe it's not something I thought about before today. I want my kids to know how great she was, how caring and honest and selfless she was. I want to know that when I'm gone and they are going through my things they recognize her in pictures. Last year we had a woman speak to us at MOPS about scrapbooking/preserving memories. I'm so sad that everyone on my Mom's side of the family is gone. I would love to sit down with someone and hear the story of her family.
I've had a lot of death in my life. My paternal Grandpa was the first, then my great-Grandma, my mom was next, my maternal Grandma, my first born son, my maternal Granpa, my uncle and most recently my ex-husband. In order to honor these people I'm going to try and do a weekly or bi-weekly post here about each of these people. It will be good for me to go back and dig up memories I most likely have forgotten. Even though I can't see any of these people today they will always be in my heart. It's important I never forget them and it's also very important that my children get to know them through my stories and memories.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Remember that roasted garlic from the other day? Mine is still in my fridge. I forgot all about it actually. I'm cleaning and organizing my house like a crazy person lately and totally forgot about the lovely garlic just sitting in a bath of EVOO. So tomorrow I will make hummus, if I remember. Just to get me in the mood I thought I'd post my recipe for hummus. I have searched high and low throughout the state of Wisconsin to find tahini paste to no avail. I have heard that traditional hummus has tahini paste. So because I'm Polish and because I can't seem to locate this tahini past stuff, this is the Polish hummus recipe. I love being Polish if for no other reason than to use it as an excuse for my shortcomings!

So, once you've roasted the garlic you're ready to go. I've also made this with roasted red peppers. It's equally as yummy, I just don't happen to have any red peppers at the moment. You will need a can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), the roasted garlic, EVOO, and kosher salt. You can also add a little lemon juice if you need, I usually omit it because I never have lemons.

Drain the can of beans and empty into a food processor.

Then add the garlic. I use a ton of garlic just to keep the vampires away.

Use as much as you'd like.

Next sprinkle in salt. How much you sprinkle in is totally up to you and your taste.

Put the top on your processor. Turn the food processor on and start to stream EVOO through the top. I don't have an exact amount here when it comes to the olive oil. What I do is run the food processor for a few minutes and check the consistency. If it's still thick and lumpy I run more EVOO into the chickpeas. I continue to do this until it looks right. It's a very scientific procedure. Try your best!

This picture is a fairly decent representation of what it should look like when it's done. It should be thick but not too thick and definitely not lumpy. Just when you think you've used too much EVOO use a bit more and then you're done.

Remove from the food processor and put into a cute bowl. Cover and store in the fridge. I serve hummus with homemade pita chips or crackers. Carrots are also good dipped into the hummus. I would guess any veggie would be good with hummus. Try to make some today and let me know how it works for you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Turn on the oven, it's time to roast some garlic!

What's that? You've never roasted garlic? Well, until a few months ago, neither had I. After hours of searching the internet and neglecting my children, laundry piling up in the corner, dishes filling my sink, I finally found a "fail-proof" way to roast garlic. Other than forgetting it's in the oven and allowing it to burn I don't know if you can fail at roasting garlic.

You need some kosher salt, olive oil and garlic. You also need a small piece of aluminum foil. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees. Take a small pice of aluminum foil and roll up the edges just a bit to form an edge so nothing drips onto the bottom of your oven. Next you need to chop off the top of the head of garlic. Make sure all of the cloves are exposed otherwise the skin will roast onto the garlic and you'll never get it out. Don't ask me how I know this. Once you've cut off the top place the head of garlic on the foil. Drizzle with oil. There's no magic amount here, just make sure the garlic is saturated in oil. Then take a pinch or two of kosher salt and sprinkle over the garlic. Place the foil directly on the rack in your oven and let it rost for 30 mins.

The garlic should look like this when it's done. Not burnt but definitely browned. The cloves should be soft. If they aren't brown or seem a bit firm continue to roast. Make sure you keep an eye on them or they will burn. Again, don't ask me how I know this.

You'll want to squeeze the bottom of the head of garlic and the cloves will just pop out. It's actually kinda fun. It's also very messy. It's oily and salty and sticky. It's like playing in glue. I love having messy hands and fingers. I was also digging in the dirt and playing with worms when I was young. My daughter is the same way. It took her awhile, but she's finally come around to digging into the worm box to get us worms when we're fishing. But that's a story for another post, a non-food post. I'm quickly losing my appetite.

So once all of the cloves have been lifted from the head you're ready to go. You can place the cloves in an air-tight container covered in olive oil for up to a month. I like to make roasted garlic hummus! I also make roasted garlic mashed potatoes. It's really up to you...unless you've invited me over, then I want hummus! I'll be posting a recipe for hummus soon!

Ok, now get yourself to the store and pick up as much garlic as you can get your hands on. Then rush home and roast some garlic. Your house will smell lovely and your husband will walk thru the door and think you've prepared a huge Italian meal! Surprise!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Day of 2nd Grade

The ceremonial first day of school picture. Doesn't he look thrilled? I thought so too. He woke up and said to the cat, "Hey Dopey, guess what I get to do today? I get to go to school!" Once I was convinced that my son and cat cannot have a conversation and he is not Dr. Doolittle I smiled. I smiled because I love that he is still enjoying school. He was soooooo bored this Summer. Yes, we tried to cram a lot of activities into each and everyday, but it still wasn't enough stimulation for my high-energy 7 year old. Atleast for 8 hours each day he'll have something fun to do. Plus, his newest neighborhood friend is in his class and sits in his row, which is totally awesome. Wait, do the kids today still say "totally awesome"?

Plus, Bryce gets to see his "best friend" Caleb every morning. Caleb's mom works as a teacher in another city and needs to leave before the bus picks up the kids, so he comes over every morning to hang with us. Caleb is a great kid! He helps to calm Bryce down. Although, last year Bryce did manage to break one of Caleb's front teeth. We don't like to talk about that though.....They are convinced they are making a band this year. They are already talking about practicing in Caleb's mom's garage. Hey, better there than here!

Last year I walked the boys down to the bus stop. Because we live on a cul-de-sac, the bus won't come all the way down our street. The bus stop corner is only about 4 houses down but it's difficult to see from our front porch. This year I was told he was big enough to walk to the bus stop himself. I fought back the tears and said OK. I didn't realize that I would be this far away. Taking pictures with my point and shoot at this length is not an easy task. How coul he be so cruel as to deny me a good shot to scrapbook?! Kids today! They just have no respect for their parents!!!

Two new boys moved in at the end of the road this Summer. One of them is in 2nd grade and the oldest is in 6th. Bryce and Caleb were happy to have boys to sit at the bus stop with. Well, I assume they were happy. I wasn't close enough to actually hear what they were saying, but they looked happy. When boys get to hang out with other boys they are generally happy. I wish I was close enough to hear them, what could they possibly be talking about?

There is it, bus 98. Taking my oldest away at school. Gone for 8 hours. I didn't cry this year. I'm kinda getting used to this gone all day thing. It seems like only yesterday when I was searching high and low for all day kindergarten, willing to pay any amount just to have Bryce gone all day...err, I mean just to make sure my son had the best education money could buy. I'm kidding, ofcourse, but that time does seem like many, many moons ago. And now, in one short year, my baby will be heading off to kindergarten.

Do you remember those Staples commercials that used to run right before school started? You know the one where the dad is pushing the cart and is tossing school supplies into said cart with this total look of glee on his face? Behind him the kids were sulking, frowning, shuffling along. The background music was, "It's the most wonderful time of the year....". Remember that one? Well, is it weird that as I was walking back up the drive from watching my oldest hop on a bus to second grade I was humming that tune outloud? I wonder what that means?

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Sunday and I actually got to attend Church for the first time in a long time. I didn't realize until I was there how much I missed it. Our church is awesome! They had the worship team who normally does the music in the Cafe which is in the same building as our church but at another end of the building from the sanctuary. It's more hip, laid back, young perhaps. They have coffee and doughnuts and most of the people are younger and are wearing jeans. We have never been to a service in the cafe but we have definitely snuck a doughnut or two from the cafe, don't tell! Our pastor preached about how most churches, ours included, are trying to find new and exciting ways to attract more teens to the church. He then said we do a sucky job once we get them into the church. Thinking back to my teen years, he's absolutely right. I went to a Catholic church/school so my story is a bit different, but the same in so many ways. So he's challenging him and the church to make a change. We need to stay connected with our young adults even after they are out of high school. We need to always be impressing on their hearts how important it is to have faith. He gave a statistic, but I'm not a numbers person so I don't remember it exactly, about how many young adults go into college and still believe in God but are drinking and smoking and jezebelling (that is one of my favorite movie quotes but I'll be darned if I can rememeber the movie....anyway, I digress.). It made me think of my time as a young adult. I went to church every now and then but I wasn't living the life. I guess I mostly felt like a fraud. I considered myself to be a "believer" because I always knew Jesus Christ died to take away my sin and church was always a part of my life. However, until I found my current church I was talking the talk but wasn't walking the walk. I sincerely hope I can teach my children how to walk the walk. If I can save them even 1/4 of the hurt I went thru trying to belong and turning to drugs and alcohol and sex to try and find happiness it will be worth it. It's going to be a long, hard, tough road, but I am going to do everything in my power to help pave the road for them.

So even though Dad is gone, it is Sunday, which means after church we eat! But before that we needed gas. Ever since Bryce was old enough to reach the window he would bang and bang and bang on the window whenever I was pumping gas. He would sit inside and yell, "MOM! MOM! MOM!" I could never figure out why he felt the need to yell at me from inside the care. Maybe he thought it was cool that he was in there and I was out here and I could still hear him. Well, he's old enough to not only knock on the window but unbuckle his seatbelt and open the window. And now he has an accomplice! I'm pretty much walking around with my Canon point and shoot lately so when they poked their heads out of the window I snapped a shot. As much as it irritates me I can't help but find them utterly adorable. They do look like me after all! ;)

This shot of me was taken by Bryce. I would so love to pass along to him my love of photography. His birth father also had quite a photography passion, so hopefully it's in his blood.

Hello Golden Corral! I wasn't sure what to do for lunch after church and then realized a buffet was a great choice. It just amazes me everytime I go to a buffet the kind of people who are there. To be honest, I sit in awe at the different types of families. My uncle Mike always liked going to buffets and he insisted on sitting close to the desserts. He said he liked sitting there so he could watch the kids get their dessert at the buffet. One time we were at OCB and he pointed out some kids to me. They were licking their fingers and sticking them into the food and eating food right out of the bins. It was amazing and disgusting all at the same time. So now whenever I go to a buffet it's kind of like a horror's scary but you can't look away.

As long as there is mac and cheese, shrimp and chicken legs we are good! And score, the Golden Corral had it all today! It was so nice to enjoy a Sunday without worrying if my phone was going to ring or rushing off to an open house. I did stop by the office on the way home to clean out my desk. I wasn't sad at all. But I did steal my name plate to put on my desk at home! We came home and rested together in my bedroom for a bit before the kids each ran off to do their own thing. A king bed all to myself is a very lonely place. I can't wait until Friday when my bed no longer feels so empty!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rattlers VS. River Bandits

Saturday was a cool 76 (or so) degrees. It was the perfect weather for baseball. We had free tickets to the game and dinner was included...bonus! The only thing missing was Daddy. We couldn't find our seats right away and ended up walking all the way around the stadium before figuring it all out. The Timber Rattlers were playing my hometeam, The Quad City River Bandits. Bryce made me decide before the game even started who I was rooting for. I chose the Rattlers which proved to be a mistake. I tried to take it back but there was no way Bryce was going to let that happen.
Our seats were in section 114 but the section was really full. Section 116 is the family section and it looked fairly empty, so we scooted across the isle and found a cozy spot. Shortly after we found out seats two different families found their seats close to ours. One family was a mom and her two children. The other was a dad and his two sons. The dad looked like he was someone important but I didn't know who. Do you recognize him?
Hannah was all over the buffet. The buffet consisted of everything Hannah loves...not. They had potato sald (no way) and baked beans (ain't gonna happen). Luckily they also had potato chips. She started with a hot dog and ended with a brat. That's my girl!

I wish she had a baseball shirt! She brought her baseball hat all on her own. Thank goodness she remembered it because the sun was right in our faces. Even her brother didn't think to bring a hat. She looked pretty in pink even if she didn't look like she should be at a baseball game.

Baseball is one of my favorite sports. I played softball from as early as I can rememeber until 18. I would've played longer but 18 was the cut off age for the travel team I played with. I wish I would've stayed playing though because as soon as I was done I got fat and old...but that's another story for another day. I'm having a good day, I don't need to depress myself.

The kids saw Fang and instantly Bryce was looking for something for him to sign. I convinced him one Fang signature was enough. (We scored an autograph at the first game we went to this season.) I did, however, talk them into standing close to Fang to get their picture taken. I was hoping they would move in a little closer, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

I was a little nervous about where we were sitting early on. The sun was right in my face and I was afraid we'd take a foul ball to the noggin. Luckily, everything that came in our direction was either a bit to the right or way behind us. Hannah brought her glove so I was pretty sure she'd protect me. I realize I'm getting older and more nervous/cautious everyday. Things like fly balls never seemed to bother me when I was younger. This getting old thing is no fun!

I think Hannah needs a pretty, pink glove. She's got an arm on her like I can't believe!

Hey, who's Mountain Dew is that? I'll give you one soda is the best kind of soda! Thanks Gulfstream!!!! The kids and I had a total blast. We had to go back to the car during the 6th inning. Bryce's cough got really bad and he needed a cough drop. I'm not organized enough or prepared enough to have taken one in my pocket. I dropped off the camera during our trip to the car. I kicked myself for doing that later because they had fireworks after the game. They were the best fireworks we've seen this year. They were right on top of us, which made them look 100 times bigger and brighter. Bryce hugged me, told me he loved me and that he had a great day. I think I fell asleep with a smile on my face after that comment. The game, free food and fireworks were the perfect ending to an almost perfect Saturday.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Friday into the history books

One half of my heart is in Isreal. Isreal is really far away. I know this because my 4 year old tells me almost hourly. My love is working in Isreal and he only has one pair of underwear. I'm sure he'd love me telling you that. What is it with airlines and losing luggage? Isn't it their business to get their passengers and their luggage from point A to point B? I'm just glad I'm not there or I'd be mad (I'd be more than mad but this is a family show)! The kids and I managed to make it thru day one.

I was looking through the pictures I have loaded on my laptop and forgot I had taken this one. My dear friend Sarah sent my daughter a page full of googly eye stickers for her birthday this year. A few weeks ago we pulled out the sheet of googly eye stickers and I let Hannah place them wherever she wanted on pages out of her coloring book. There were eyes on arms and legs and randomly placed out in space. Normally I would've freaked and told her she was doing it all wrong, but this time I didn't. She seemed to enjoy it. Quite honestly it drove me batty. Well, a few nights later I was walking through the kitchen and something caught my eye. My son, my boy, the apple of my eye, strategically placed two googly eye stickers on the knobs of my kitchen cabinets. I literally laughed out loud when I saw them. How smart and creative of him! Then I grabbed my camera and snapped twelve shots trying to get the perfectly exposed shot. This isn't that perfectly exposed shot I was shooting for but it's close enough. Just when I feel like having children was about the dumbest thing I could've ever done with my reproductive organs they go and do something cute like this. I, ofcourse, have to document it for the next time I want to walk out the door and never look back!

Look at this girl! That hair, that nose, those lips! She is the perfect combination of the best parts of us! She is the princess I prayed for as a little girl. I just put her to bed and she cried for her Daddy. Most kids cling to their moms and some to their dads but it's unusual to find a kid who will take either parent when they are sad even if both parents are sitting in the same room. Hannah is a kid like that. One time she can get a boo boo and want me and the next time she'll want her Dad. I love that she's like that. It makes it easy for me to go out at night...wait, what? I mean it's great that she shows her dad as much affection as she shows to me. She's sweet and sassy and I love the snot outta her!
The relationship between the two men in my life has been up and down, as I'm sure it always will be. My son's birth father died two years ago this summer. He was hit by a drunk driver on Father's Day 2006. Luckily Bryce was young enough that it didn't effect him as much as it could've. Bryce is difficult to get along with. He is the most oppositional person I have ever met...and I thought I was pretty bad! You can say it's blue and he'll say it's green. This is just his personality. It causes a lot of struggle within our home. I've noticed as Bryce gets older he's growing closer and closer to his Step-Dad. He calls him Daddy now which I think is awesome. I sincerely hope as time goes by and Bryce grows up his relationship with Brent will only grow stronger. They have similar interests and Bryce has a strong desire to spend time with Brent. I pray for patience for Brent to learn to deal calmly with Bryce. It's a struggle anyone who comes in contact with Bryce has to face. They love each other very much and for now that's all I need to know...

This is the look of a man who is beyond sick and tired of his wife sticking her new camera in his face. This look says, "If you take one more picture of me woman I might stick that camera down your throat!" Ok, maybe it doesn't say that, but to me it sure says enough is enough. When I first got my DSLR camera I played with it every minute I possibly could. It didn't take long for my kids to run away as far as they could when they saw me bring out my camera bag. My husband has always been supportive of whatever I wanted to do. When I told him of my plan to make millions with marble magnets he helped me search the internet for bulk, round magnets. I know he secretly wants to put his hands around my neck and squeeze, but I praise the Lord he resists the urge! My greatest desire in life is to be a good wife to my husband and a good mom to my children. I'm so thankful we've found a place that allows the both of us to be who we are while still trying to figure it all out. I love you Brent. I miss you and don't forget to bring me home some sand!
Oh, and when I started this the Packers were leading 6-0, then they were losing 10-7 and now it's tied at 10. I can't believe I'm watching the game when I have free reign of the remote....