Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30: Labor Day weekend

Just checking in.  We have a pretty laid back Labor Day weekend ahead of us.  Nothing much on the agenda, except to go to the pool and paint our living room. 

I've developed some sort of cold/allergy/sinus junk that is highly unpleasant.  So I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend at home!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28

Today we went to Meet the Teacher day at Audrey's school.  She starts preschool next week in a new classroom with new teachers.  She will be going three mornings a week this year instead of two.  I'm looking forward to her starting school, and she is too!  Summer has been fun, but I think we are all ready for a little more structure in our routine.

Audrey had some anxiety about school last year, especially at the beginning of the year.  However, towards the end of the year, she was a pro at going to school and seemed to love every minute of it.  I am curious to see how this year starts...will she pick up where she left off last year or regress back to the start of last school year?  Considering that she has to go to school all day every day next year (in kindergarten, oh my!!!!!), I'd like to see her have a great final year of preschool!

Based on how she acted today in her new class with her new teachers, she is going to do great!  She sat down and talked to her new teacher for a long time all by herself.  She was not the least bit shy or anxious.  We've heard good things about her teachers, and they were super friendly today.  This is her teacher Mrs. Smith, who sat down with her to talk and color:

And the rest of the day, Audrey kept asking me when she gets to go back to school. 

With all of this back to school talk, Isla wants to be a part of it too.  Every time we talk about Audrey going to school, Isla chimes in with, "Me too!"  I'm afraid she is going to have a hard time going with me to drop off Audrey every day and then not being able to stay.  Especially after today, when Isla discovered the play house section of Audrey's classroom.  I had to drag her away kicking and screaming this morning.  We're going to have to figure out something special for Isla to do while Audrey is out school!

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 24: Grammy Lois' Birthday Party

On Saturday, we drove to Quincy to go to my grandma's 88th birthday party.  You can see the birthday girl hiding in the back there!

Singing happy birthday (though it looks like my dad is the only one singing in this picture...maybe this was before we actually started singing!)
 Audrey and Isla worked very hard to make birthday cards for Grammy Lois.  Isla worked so hard on hers, that she had a really hard time GIVING it away.  But we convinced her that Grammy Lois would really like it...and that she could make more when we got back home.

Jackson (my step nephew) and Josiah (my nephew) playing cars together.
I tried really hard to get a picture of my niece Braxen but she was on the go the whole time!  This is the best picture I could get.  She was looking quite stylish in her little outfit.
Here's a group picture of all the partygoers.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's for Dinner? Night 5

Last night, we had friends over for dinner and then we all went to the pool.  In my hurry to get dinner on the table and visit with our friends, I didn't take any pictures of our meal.

We had spinach and cheese calzones, served with marinara sauce and salad and fruit.  I've made these several times before, and I think they are really good!

Maybe one of these days I will post the recipe.   But right now I'm feeling too lazy to go get it out of the kitchen and type it here.  Just being honest!  =)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's for Dinner? Night 4

Tonight we had grilled chicken.  I marinated it in this homemade Italian dressing (which makes a GREAT marinade for chicken).  Then Daniel grilled it for us.

Confession:  I have no idea how to use the grill, as I have never grilled anything in my life.  I'm guessing it can't be that hard, and I would probably be able to figure it out.  But Daniel has always been the grill master in our family.
Along with our chicken, I made mac n cheese.  I contemplated making it from scratch for the sake of writing this blog post and making it sound fancier.  But in reality, I just took the easy way out and made it from a box.  I did use Annie's organic whole wheat shells and white cheddar, which seems to be a better option than the good old Kraft kind.

We also had these parmesan roasted green beans.  I'm not a big fan of green beans, but I think these are actually good!  There is something about roasting vegetables that makes them taste so much better.  Probably all the salt and spices and such that I add to them!  =)

The girls had canned green beans, because they are crazy and prefer that over the fresh roasted kind.  We also had apple slices.  Which Audrey wouldn't eat, because again she is crazy and not a big fan of apples.

What's for Dinner? Night 3

I completely forgot to post this last night!

We had a picnic dinner at the pool.  The weather has finally warmed back up into the upper 80s/lower 90s...perfect swimming weather!  Unfortunately, the pool changed its hours this week with the start of school, and it is only open in the evenings now.  We are trying to make the most of the last days at the pool, so our whole family headed out for an evening at the pool.
 For dinner, rather than eat the overpriced and not very good concession stand food, I packed lunch meat sandwiches, veggie chips, blueberries, and oranges.  I made chocolate chip mookies for dessert.

Audrey has been doing really well in the water, and she is starting to swim on her own underwater.  That's one of the reasons why I want to get to the pool as much as she can get as much practice as possible!  She's made so much progress this summer, I'm afraid she is going to forget everything she learned during the nine month break til next swim season. 

Here is Audrey showing her underwater swim.  After I recorded this video, she started swimming for longer stretches underwater by herself.  She can just about swim all the way across the width of the medium pool by herself without touching the bottom.  Considering that just a few weeks ago she wouldn't even put her face in the water, she has made a lot of progress in a short amount of time!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20: What's for Dinner? Night 2

Tonight I fixed Crockpot Chicken Fajitas, a recipe which we have quite often around here.  Mostly because it is so easy.  And it allows you to cook frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot without thawing them first!  I do not have the patience to thaw meat, so a recipe that allows me to cook meat from frozen, and have it turn out good in the end, is a big winner in my book.
This isn't really much of a recipe, because it is really simple.   It is super flexible and can be made in larger or smaller quantities to feed your group.  Here's the basic gist of the recipe:

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Frozen chicken breasts
Red pepper
Green pepper
Taco seasoning (I make my own using this recipe)
Chicken broth

Basically, you just put everything into the crockpot and let it cook!  You can cook it on high for 3-5 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.  Or you can do a combination, which is what I did today:  cook on high for 2 hours and on low for 3 hours.  You really can't mess this up.  When it is finished, just use a fork to shred the chicken.

Today I used three frozen chicken breasts and chopped up half of each red pepper, green pepper and onion.  Then I just poured in some taco seasoning (maybe 2 tablespoons?) and some chicken broth (maybe 1 cup or so?).  That is the beauty of this don't really need to measure anything too carefully.

And, I chopped up the other half of each red pepper, green pepper and onion, and put them in the freezer.  So next time I make this recipe, it will be even easier as I will be able to use frozen chicken and frozen veggies!
I served the fajitas on store bought whole wheat tortillas with cheese (and Daniel added salsa to his).

To go along with the fajitas, I made this Green Rice Casserole.  It is supposed to be made in a 9x13 pan, but I split it between two smaller pans and made one to cook tonight and put the other in the freezer.  (I have a crazy piano teaching schedule this fall, so I'm trying to plan ahead and have some easy things in the freezer!)

To round out our meal, we also had peas and cantaloupe with our dinner.

So to keep it real, here is one of the reasons why I get tired of cooking:
Such a mess!!  Doing dishes is one of my least favorite activities!  But it is all cleaned up now; ready to be made messy again with tomorrow's cooking.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19: What's for Dinner? Night 1

I'm trying to get into a better habit of planning and cooking dinner.  Between moving and staying busy all summer long, I haven't been cooking too much.  We've eaten a lot of processed junk, and while I'm not the healthiest eater in the world, I do think we could/should be eating a little better.
I love to cook, and I hate to cook all at the same time.  It takes time and effort, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood.   I've been trying to find some motivation to start planning meals and cooking them.  For the past few weeks, I have planned all of our meals.  But then when the time comes to make them, I haven't always followed through with my plan. 

So I'm turning to the good old blog to get me motivated.  This week, I'm going to post what we ate for dinner each night and provide some recipes too.  Maybe it will give you some new dinner ideas (I'm always on the lookout for new things to make!).  And maybe it will get me back into my cooking groove.

So tonight...

It was a breakfast for dinner kind of night.

I made this baked oatmeal with peaches and blueberries.  I have made this several times before, but it had been a really long time.   Here it is right out of the oven (and sitting on my kitchen floor, because that seems to be the best natural light in the room).

And here it is ready to be served, with a little milk poured over the top:
And I served it with some scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.
 I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, but this recipe is really good!  Plus, we have plenty leftover to eat for breakfast this week.  I am not a morning person, so I rarely (okay, never!) cook for breakfast.  Having leftovers for breakfast is a pretty exciting treat around here!

Friday, August 16, 2013

State Fair

Earlier this week we made our annual visit to the state fair with our friends Steve, Amy and Cael.  We've been going to the fair with them for a while now (since at least 2008, I believe).  It's become a fun tradition!

I believe I commented in last year's post about how expensive the fair is, but let me just say it's expensive!  All I can think about while I am there is how much money we are spending, and how many people are at the fair, and how they are all spending money just like me.

But like I said, it is a fun tradition, and we have lots of good memories at the we continue to go there and spend our money each year!

One of the kids favorite parts of the fair is riding the bus.  Instead of trying to find a place to park (and paying for that place to park), we usually ride the city bus, which drops us off right at the main gate.  It is cheaper and easier and much more fun for the kids!  (Despite the look on her face here, Isla liked the bus ride a lot!)

We saw all kinds of animals at the fair.  They had some more interesting animals than in years past, like giraffes and zebras!

And of course, we had to ride a few rides!

Isla isn't quite big enough for a lot of the rides yet.  So while Audrey and Cael were riding, I took Isla to go on the little train ride.  She loves trains, so this was exciting for her.  Here she is ready to ride with her tickets in hand!

We ended the night with some mini cinnamon donuts...yum!
 They all held hands as we walked back to the main gate.

They were looking super tired on the bus ride home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13: Audrey's First Piano Lessons

I've always said that I would not teach piano lessons to my own kids.  It is much easier to be patient with other people's kids.  I'm pretty positive that I do not have enough patience to teach my own kids a skill like playing the piano. 

Also, I always tell people that it is best to wait to start lessons until kids have started kindergarten.

So, it is ironic that I started teaching piano to Audrey last week, as she is my own child who is only four and still a year away from kindergarten.

Audrey has been begging me to teach her piano lessons for a while, so I finally gave in.  What's the harm?  I figured that as long as Audrey is having fun and as long as I don't expect too much from her, then we might be able to make it work.

She is doing well.  We are not in a hurry at all, and I really have no expectations of her because she is so young.  We've been trying to keep it fun!  She is mostly just learning how to control her fingers individually and push down on the notes, which is hard for many older beginner students as well.  I think she has a natural understanding of music and rhythm, and my guess at this very early point in her life (as a piano teacher and not as her mother) is that she just might turn into a good little pianist someday.  Although who knows, maybe she will surprise us and be a star athlete or something crazy like that!  =)

Here is the very first song she learned.

The only problem is she wants to have piano lessons EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  And she begs and begs me to have a piano lesson all day long.  It is kind of driving me crazy, but I'm trying to be patient.  I try to sit down and at least work with her for a few minutes each day.  I have a feeling a day will come when she will NOT be wanting to go to piano lessons or practice the piano (if she is anything like her mom, that is).  So I need to be encouraging to her now while she is so excited about it!

I don't know how long this little piano lesson stint will last.  I do know that once we decide to get serious about lessons (probably with the start of kindergarten next year), we will be looking for a new teacher!  Her current one is sure to run out of patience before long.

Isla, who is in a phase right now where she has to do EVERYTHING her big sister does, always wants her turn at piano lessons when Audrey is done!

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 8-9: Fun with the Fam!

My mom, sisters, niece and nephew came into town for a little 24 hour trip.  We packed a lot of fun into our day together!

Aunt Andrea likes taking fun pictures with the girls

Yesterday, we walked to the mall.  And while at the mall, we got to ride the train!  The kids (and the adults too!) had so much fun on the train.  I forgot to bring my camera and my phone with me so I didn't take any pictures.  Here are some pics my sister took of her and Braxen on the train. 
After the mall, it was time to rest!
My sisters enjoyed resting on our hammock.

After dinner, it was time to get ready to go see Peter Pan at the Muni.  Aunt Andrea and Audrey put on lip gloss to get ready for the show.

We were looking for a babysitter to watch Braxen and Isla during the show so we wouldn't have to take all four kids.  But we didn't find one, so we just decided to take all the kids with us.  Four adults with four kids ages four and under (and all of them out way past their bedtime) times!  It went about as well as can be expected.  We made it through the whole show, and hopefully we weren't too disruptive to the people sitting around us.
After the show, it was time to meet Peter Pan!  Audrey had been waiting for that moment for several months now.  Since Daniel is running sound, he knows the cast and he knows Anna, the girl who played Peter Pan.  Recently, I posted a video on Facebook of Audrey singing I Won't Grow Up from Peter Pan.  Daniel tagged Anna in the video so that she could see it.  Audrey was so excited to find out that Peter Pan saw her singing!  And then after the show, as soon as Anna/Peter Pan saw us, she came straight up to Audrey and told her what a good singer she was and how much she liked the song.  It was very sweet!
(And I don't want to leave Isla out...Isla surprised me by how much she watched and followed the show.  She was especially excited every time Peter Pan began to fly on stage.  So Isla too was excited to meet Peter Pan after the show!)

Before everyone left today, we took them down to the swimming pool for a few hours!  It was a warm, sunny day (rare these days!)...just perfect for a day at the pool.

The kids don't look too enthused in those pictures, but they did have a good time!  We just made the mistake of taking their pictures after we dragged them all out of the pool.

We all had a really fun time.  Thanks Nana, Andrea, Elisabeth, Josiah and Braxen for coming to see us!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August 4: Just the Girls

Daniel is in the middle of running sound for another Muni show, which means the girls and I have had lots of quality time together lately.  Here are some things we have been doing to keep busy while Daddy is working.

A trip to Barnes and Noble to read books and eat brownies
We've been listening to the Peter Pan soundtrack getting ready to go see the show this weekend.

We have gone to the park.

We've had lots of silly moments at home.
We've been to Scheels to play and eat ice cream.
A movie/pajama/popcorn party night.