Friday, October 31, 2008

Trunk or Treat

Happy Halloween! We started our evening by visiting the neighbors on our court. There are just four houses on this court, and despite the fact that there aren't other children the families are all very kind and love our kids. They all came out with their cameras and wanted to take pictures of the girls and gave them tons of candy.

We don't usually dress up but the kids kept asking us what we were going to dress up as for Halloween. We both threw something together to show we made the effort and to please our children...Brad was a baseball player and I bought "cat accessories" that were 75% off for $1.99 and added some whiskers to the delight of Brooke. Baileigh and Mckenna are all on their second round of costumes. They both wore something else to their school parties but agreed to wear these costumes since they would keep them warm. This Halloween consisted of all reused costumes and Brooke's $1.99 costume I purchased at Old Navy last November on clearance!!! Yippee. I was able to convince Baileigh and Mckenna that they didn't need new costumes since nobody in VA had ever seen their old costumes. I'll miss these days when they are older...when they roll their eyes at me and won't buy what I'm selling them.
Our church puts on a huge Trunk or Treat night every is a major outreach to the community and draws thousands of people for petting zoos, hayrides, inflatables, hot dogs, a band, pumpkin decorating and crafts and last but not least at least fifty vehicles decorated for Trick or Treat.

Our previous church also did Trunk or Treat and although they did a nice job it pales in comparison to what I saw tonight! Initially I thought we would see what things look like this year and maybe host a trunk next year...but now I'm intimidated to host a trunk!

Here are a few good ones...there were several but some were hard to photograph. This one is Jonah and the whale...this would be a good use for my Suburban!
This "trunk" looked like a scene from a mall...there were reindeer and elves and Santa in a sleigh. There was also a snow machine, Christmas trees with lights and Christmas music playing. The display was at least 25 yards long and so elaborate!
There were a few Noah's Arks...I think this huge "trunk" was the winner! Is there even a car back there?
There were also a lot of elaborate pumpkins that went with the theme of the trunk. This star wars trunk was pretty good...but their pumpkins were amazing. This photo isn't great, but you can still see the elaborate carving and detail.
Afterwards the girls stopped to enjoy some of their candy. Our friends, Anne and Claire, joined us for the evening. We also ended up standing in line next to one of Brad's really good buddies from the academy. They used to play football together and Brad had lost track of him since he got out of the Air Force a few years ago...out of the thousands of people at the Trunk or Treat we found ourselves in line right next to this guy and his family who aren't even AF but live in the VA area. Small world.
Despite the sugar high the girls all passed out pretty quickly tonight. The weather was pretty mild for this time of year and we all had a great evening! I have a sinking feeling that Brad may be deployed this time next year so I was keeping that in mind throughout the evening and enjoying having him around (more then normal) to parent next year I'll be outnumbered 4 to 1!

Preschool Halloween Program

Yesterday Mckenna and Brooke had a little Halloween program at their preschool. Essentially everyone dressed up and paraded through the fellowship hall to have their moment in the spotlight on stage and then all the classes sang three songs together.

Brooke, my kangaroo, had two little tigers in her class...suddenly she was Roo and they were Tigger...she held both their hands and walked up on stage. It was pretty darn cute.
Mckenna went as a ballerina thanks to her big sisters former ballet class. Here she is with her best buddy, Seth who dressed as a race car driver. I hear about Seth...mmm, about 100 times a day. He has a ton of food allergies and apparently Mckenna has memorized all of them and informs me as to whether or not Seth would be able to eat anything that we're about to have in our home.
Here is a few seconds of one of their songs. Brooke is in the back row (between her two tigers). She sings pretty well, until she is distracted by Elmo down in the front her and you can hear her tell her teacher "there's Elmo!" Mckenna is on the bottom left of the screen singing away with all her heart.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dessert Tonight

The other night I was craving something sweet. I had a big bag of apples and decided that I would feel less guilt if my sweet craving included fruit. I found this quick recipe for an easy version of apple crisp.

Odds are you have all the ingredients sitting around your house...and it was SO GOOD! It was like the inside of an apple pie combined with a warm cake batter flavor. The girls couldn't get enough of it and the house smelled so good. Plus it took about 5 minutes to throw together and bake during dinner.

If you want to add some more calories add a little vanilla ice cream or cool whip. Mmmm...we have more apples and I think we're making it again tonight...the girls will chop apples during the restless time of the evening when I'm trying to finish up dinner.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My New Toy

As a housewarming present, Brad got me the Keurig Single Cup Coffee Maker. I love it! Not only can it brew a variety of coffees in one minute, you can also make hot chocolate and teas. You can also purchase a K Filter that allows you to use loose coffee grounds instead of the prepackaged K Cups.

I got to try this coffee maker a few months ago at a luncheon I went to at a General's house...we all had so much fun picking out our own type of coffee to brew. I was hooked at that point and I guess I talked about it enough, and bought enough Starbucks, that Brad thought this would be a good, cost effective solution. And plus, now I'm as cool as the General's wife! And if I ever make any friends here...the type that come over for coffee, they will have fun picking their own brew, too.

My favorite part is coming down to the kitchen in the morning and opening my drawer and having the great debate as to what type of coffee to try...perhaps a flavored variety, or a bold roast, or maybe a Kona blend. Decisions, decisions. Its almost more then I can handle in the morning...before my first cup of coffee!

Real or Staged?

I can't tell if this clip is real...I almost think it is because what sane bride would agree to this just for good viral video.

Can you imagine being the best man at this point? I think the groom should have jumped in the water too and they could have finished up the vows in the water.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cookie Break

In the midst of our projects on Saturday I took a break to let the kids decorate cookies. It was a cold and rainy day...I tried to convince them that it was the perfect Saturday to take naps but they didn't buy it.

They all did slow down a little though after this project since they all had upset tummies from eating too much sugar.

Project DuJour

It's back to productive mode this weekend. Last weekend we played in NY/NJ and next weekend we have some fun plans surrounding Baileigh's 7th that means this weekend was back to the grind. I've invited people over for Thanksgiving with ulterior motives that it would be the kick in the pants we need to get a second renovation wind.

I started to unpack the dining room boxes and decided that it would be easier to paint the room now then down the road. still has a way to go but I decided to be pretty daring and take it from this color to...

this dark chocolate brown color. I painted all the trim white, it's hard to tell but it was an off white prior to my painting. I also purchased a new chandelier that is brushed stainless and matches our kitchen fixtures.
It is very dark! I like it but I have to admit that I preferred the color that it was when I was rolling it on...oh well, I wanted to do something bold and like nothing I had ever done and it definitely fits in that category! It also goes nicely with our new kitchen colors.
Since I was taking some risks in my color I decided to make some changes to my dining room table as well. My tastes have changed and I don't really care for the furniture that we purchased ten years ago. Aside from that, the fact that it has moved at least six times and was fairly low quality to begin it isn't holding up great.
So I decided to sand the chairs and paint them and then recover the seats. If I can find the right fabric I may use the same material that I cover the seats to make drapes...which should be interesting considering I don't sew. Eventually I think I want to paint the base of the table and the pedestals and refinish the table top surface but keep it the same color...but right now the chairs will have to do so I can turn my attention to some other projects.
While I worked in the dining room Brad spent his time upstairs in our new laundry room. He finished painting the other section of the room that used to be wallpapered, hung the new doors going into the laundry room and put up a new light fixture. He also spent Saturday changing the layout of our closets and built new shelves. He's heading out of town tomorrow for the week so now I'll be able to surprise him by finishing the chairs and curtains and hopefully unpacking and organizing our bedroom now that we have closet shelves! The next project weekend isn't until November 7th...I think we're going to tackle redoing our half bath or build a wall in our basement to create a guest bedroom...the options are unfortunately endless!

Friday, October 24, 2008

MOPS Decision

Last month I wrote a post about my new MOPS group. Someone asked me the other day what I had decided to do and I realized that I never posted an update. I had intended on just attending the meetings and using it as an avenue to hopefully make some new friends. A lot of things occurred early on and I found myself in the position of actually needing to decide whether or not to be a table leader.

This is a role I've assumed several times in the past at various MOPS programs...however, I didn't anticipate being involved in this capacity in my first semester with a new program. I posted about the idea and received at least seven comments last I checked. I believe that the majority of the comments told me that I shouldn't feel obligated to be a table leader with everything else going on in life.

I pondered the comments and the entire situation...pondered and prayed. I found myself in complete agreement with one comment...the comment from my friend who apparently knows me very well:

"I'm pretty sure you're going to do it. It's an awesome opportunity to serve these women that don't know the Lord, and you know that. You're going to try to steer the conversation towards God weekly anyway. You'll pray for them, and you'll probably make an effort to call them and do playdates, - so what's an occasional table favor on top of that? What else are you going to think about once the wallpaper is all gone and the kitchen is in...."

So no offense to those out there that had different opinions...I appreciate your feedback and genuine concern that I may be taking on too much. But I felt that the opportunity to be in this role so early on isn't by accident. I also don't think its a huge responsibility that goes much beyond what I would do at a regular MOPS meetings for the girls at my table. Perhaps a few extra hours attending some meetings this semester and a little time creating favors or shopping for the perfect little surprise to leave at their seat...but the idea of reaching out to them, praying for them, and trying to establish friendships with these women isn't something that I would do or wouldn't do based upon my title at the table.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Promise To Myself

Barring a deployment of my husband...this is my verbalization of my goal to get back to triathlons in the summer of 2010. May seem silly to be posting that now...but putting it out there helps me.

Hold me accountable.

A Snail Tank

We officially no longer have a fish tank. It is now just a snail tank.

In the past two weeks we have managed to kill six fish. Oops. Good thing we have a better track record with dogs and kids!

We're getting a water test kit today to see if that is the problem. However, I think our two snails are murderers! Our snails are crazy! They are extremely active, fast, and always out of their shells and crawling around the tank. With two of our fish I found them on the bottom of the tank, smothered by a snail! I assumed at the time that the fish had died and then the snail crawled over to explore.

Until I saw my current conspiracy theory in action...TWICE! The first time I watched a snail slowly approach a very alive fish that was chillin on the bottom of the tank. He sidled up next to the fish and then pinned his tail into the rocks. The fish started to squirm but was trapped. I quickly grabbed our next and pushed the snail off the fish to free him and give him a second chance at life! Had I not witnessed the near fatal incident myself I wouldn't have believed my eyes!

The second murder attempt was unfortunately successful, and involved both snails! I was sitting at the computer and noticed the two snails out of their shells and pressed up against each other...fascinating in and of itself. I watched for a minute and then realized that squeezed between the two snails was poor Dorothy (Brooke's fish). I had fed her an hour early and she was swimming around the tank and acting completely normal. Then...the snails attacked...and the rest is this unfortunate tale.

The snails were recommended to us and we were told they would be fine with the fish and even help keep the tank clean like an algie eater. If the water test comes back okay then the snails have to go...frankly, I think they may have to go regardless. They are starting to freak me out a little!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NYC 2008

Before I moved away from NJ I scheduled a fall trip to NYC with my girlfriends. We left early on a Saturday and made our way to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Usually we take the train into the city but this time we decided to try a few different things...including avoiding the Time Square area and focusing our time on the small neighborhoods outside the touristy areas. It's amazing what a different feel for the city you acquire when you spend the day in SOHO or Greenwich Village. You find yourself amongst a lot more locals, out walking their dogs or pushing their strollers through the Saturday afternoon farmer markets.

Walking through a market in Washington Square...lots of tempting food to eat and lots of tempting ways to waste money!

We grabbed a quick bite of lunch at one of my favorite places... Peanut Butter and Company!A local little neighborhood with a very European feel.
The view from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Our gang...nine of us went this year...our biggest turn out yet!
By the time we sat down for dinner we were all exhausted and hungry!
Despite being tired, I don't think these girls were really asleep!
I love NYC and I'm thankful that I'm still close enough to be able to make a day trip once in awhile. It is definitely easier to maneuver throughout the city without strollers and small children! And next time I take my family it will be with four children under seven. Yikes!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin on SNL

I thought this was a funny rap...and that Sarah Palin was a good sport (and she has some rhythym). Oh, and I would love to be Amy Poehler for a day...a Saturday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reunion with Neighbors

It's been awhile since I posted...for me!

This past weekend I had a trip to NYC planned with some of my NJ girlfriends. Originally it was just going to be a get away for me, but I was thinking it would be a good time for the girls to get to see some of the friends they have been missing since we moved. I threw out the idea to Brad about the entire family driving up on Friday afternoon so we could meet friends for dinner and then he would spend Saturday with the girls and other friends from church while I was in NYC.

That was the original plan. Around 2:00 on Friday he realized he wasn't going to be able to leave work until around suddenly I went from a weekend alone to driving the three girls by myself back to NJ! I kept thinking on the drive, "How did this happen?" and "I did this to myself!"

The girls were so excited though to see some of their friends that it was worth the self induced insanity that I created.

The traffic was terrible, despite leaving at 2:00 and the three hour and fifteen minute trip took an extra hour! Thankfully we had a few new movies on the DVD player and the girls only needed one potty break. We arrived just in time to have dinner with our old neighbors and let the kids run around outside for two hours.

Baileigh informed me recently that she and Jacob were boyfriend and girlfriend. She has never been the type of girl to have crushes on boys or really talk about boyfriends so I was a little surprised by her comment. She said that just before we moved Jacob asked her to be his girlfriend and she agreed, then he kissed her on the cheek! I was aware she had been missing him...but I didn't realize it was because I was keeping these young loves apart!
Mckenna with her old school pals...Julianna and Isabelle.
Baileigh (with apparently her first boyfriend) and Jacob.

We enjoy our new neighborhood, and our neighbors have been very kind...but there aren't a lot of children on our small private drive and I don't envision forming the friendships that we did in our previous neighborhood. It's nice that we're close enough to occasionally visit...however it makes the transition to feeling like VA is our new home a little harder since we have so many great friends in NJ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Date Night

We haven't been able to go out on a date since Brad's parents last visit...that was back in June while we were in NJ and the "date" was actually his graduation dinner. We took advantage of Grandma being back in town to enjoy a night in the city without the girls.

We decided to take the Metro so Brad could show me one of the ways he commutes and teach me the ropes so I'm prepared when I come into the city with the kids or visitors. We got off at the Pentagon stop so he could show me around for a few minutes. Our stop led to an impromptu visit to the new Pentagon Memorial that was just dedicated this past 9/11.

As we approached the memorial I became very emotional. It was very surreal to be at the memorial of something that was a part of my own history...something I sat and watched evolve. An event that has occurred in my lifetime, that is part of my life experience, and that has personally effected our family in regards to my husbands military service, assignments, and deployments.

I was thankful that I had seen and read some things that explained all the symbolism at the memorial because it helped everything have a deeper meaning and make more sense. I believe they have some type of brochure that explains things, but we must have missed it.

Each person killed at the Pentagon on 9/11, whether on the plane or in the building, has a bench in their honor. If the individual was killed in the building then you are facing the building when you are reading their name. If they were a passenger on the plane then you will have your back to the building when you are reading their name. The benches are also arranged according the year of birth. So when you first enter the memorial you start with the youngest people killed...the children that were on board the plane.

This bench shows the name of a young girl...below you will see more names listed, those are her family members that were on the plane that were also killed. If you go to their year of birth you will find their bench and then the young girls name is listed below.
You notice a big gap, an open space between the young kids that were on the plane and the next age group which was around twenty, on average. These were school aged was a school day so most kids this age weren't flying on 9/11. The majority of benches were military members in their mid 30's...this gave me a huge lump in my throat thinking about Brad working in the Pentagon and being the same demographic.
If you click on the picture below you can see a slight difference in the color of the new and old Limestone on the Pentagon on the right hand side...this is where a portion of the rebuild occurred from where the plane crashed into the building.
It is a very simple memorial, yet very powerful and filled with meaning. Everything about it has some double meaning and significance. There were several benches where people were just sitting, observing, not moving. I wondered to myself if they were on the bench of a loved one they lost.
At one point I decided to sit on a bench. I had actually thought about it and sort of felt like leaning on someones tombstone. I purposefully sat on the bench of an Air Force Major, age 35, same as Brad. I looked at the name on the bench first and as I sat down I stopped and said a prayer for this person and their family. It was actually a really special moment for me and one that makes me begin to cry just as I recount my emotions and my thoughts about his family left behind.

We had never planned on this somber and emotional part of our date, but I'm glad we took advantage of the opportunity to visit and experience the memorial. Afterwards we took the metro further into the George Washington University area of DC. We enjoyed the warm evening walking along the brick streets and checking out all the local restaurants and hang outs.

I love exploring cities and there are so many different neighborhoods around DC that I look forward to getting to visit. We had a great dinner at a small place. I indulged and had sounded so good, and it was...but I think I have it out of my system and I'm good for awhile!

This Dean and Deluca had a great outdoor cafe that ran along the entire side of the building. Most of the restuarants had store front windows that completely opened or lifted giving you the sense of being outside at a sidewalk cafe.
You can pay for these bikes and ride them around the city and return them at another drop off point. Very green! Grandma and Grandpa are going to be back at that means another date! Maybe we'll get away overnight for our 11th anniversary. We really need to find a sitter that lives closer then Texas!

Newest Family Members

At one point in the midst of our teary eyed moved I suggested we get some fish once we get settled in our new house. I don't necessarily regret the thought...but I had to follow through on what I said since the girls immediately perked up at the idea.

So this weekend, while Grandma was visiting, we went and got our new fish. We had set up the tank earlier that week (its a 5 gallon corner tank and fits perfect in our kitchen). Despite preparing their environment for them in advance so the transition would be painless...we had 2 fish die in the first twenty four hours. The only surviving fish was Brooke's, and she wasn't overly concerned one way or the other. Baileigh and Mckenna were pretty upset despite all our conversations about how easily fish could die and the fact that we would go get more if something happened to one of their fish.

On our first trip to the pet store we were assisted by the fish Nazi. She was too knowledgeable about fish and very strict on what she would let us get! I seriously think she would have refused to sell us certain fish if it went against her suggestions for what is ideal in our tank. She essentially gave each of our fish the human equivalent of 1.5 acres to live on...when we returned to the store for our replacement fish she wasn't working so we got a few different fish and a few they are all living in the equivalent of single family housing on .30 acre lots.

Our biggest surprise would be our active snails. Oxymoron I know...but we got three large snails that are all over the place. We watched one yesterday climb up each step of our bridge and then down the other side. It took him about ten minutes but he made it and we actually all watched, completely intrigued at how he would make it up the next step!

Baileigh named her first fish, Uno. We encouraged her to name her second fish, Dos...but she stuck with Uno and said she would name her next fish Dos if this one dies soon. Mckenna named her fish, Belle...because she is beautiful!? And Brooke decided on Dorothy, like Elmo...which is funny to me since she doesn't really watch much of Elmo but somehow remembered he had a fish named Dorothy. She even picked out the most traditional looking goldfish of our group...just like Dorothy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

1K Winner!

We just got a phone call telling us that Baileigh finished 1st in her age group in Saturday's 1K and will receive a prize! She was so excited at the news. She is already competitive...not sure where she gets it...but now, I think this has thrown fuel on the fire.

Brad also learned he came in 3rd in his age group in the 5K and will receive some type of prize. So in Baileigh's mind...she beat her Daddy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

1st K Race

This morning Baileigh ran her first 1K while Brad ran the 5K in the 1st Annual Family Fun Run to raise funds for her school. It was an early Saturday morning for our gang as we walked to the school around 7:45am in order to arrive at 8:00am for the prerace stretch.

Runners were told to stand in the front and runners in the back of the 1K participants. Baileigh worked her way to the front of the group and told me she decided to run instead of walk. She took off in a sprint and kept up her pace throughout most of the run.

Afterwards Baileigh said, "I feel like I did a triathlon, Mommy!"
Baileigh helped Daddy finish his race.

Next year I promised Baileigh that we would run the 5k together.