Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lobster Love

We haven't really done much this Memorial Day weekend until today. Big Daddy took the kids golfing with a neighbor yesterday (to disastrous results........ let's just say - ML is evidently no more fond of heat and sports than her mother. Ha!) And then he took the kids swimming (which turned out to be a much better venture!)

But today - Today we kicked it into high gear. We had some of our favorite people over for lunch and then for dinner, one of our neighbors lost her mind was kind enough to invite almost our entire cul de sac and our children over for a lobster boil. We all paid for our own lobsters and we brought something to share. These little guys were my contribution:
Aren't they the cutest?

They were super easy. I just used a word document and imported a Clip Art file and punched them out with a 2 inch hole punch I bought at Hobby Lobby for a whopping $3. (Gotta love those 40% off coupons!)

I don't eat seafood (I know- gasp!) but Big Daddy is a big fan.

That's my handsome hubby!

But this guy?:

I have no idea who that crazy man is.......

I'm pretty sure we destroyed all semblance of calm in that house, so here's hoping our neighbors, their home and their beautiful back patio will soon recover from our invasion!
Friday, May 27, 2011

Dinner at the Ballet

I am constantly inspired by Melissa over at A Little Loveliness. She does so many special things for her children, including a lovely dinner each year for her daughter's ballet recital. Inspired by this, we also had a special dinner before heading to ML's ballet performance.

Grilled Chicken Tenders
Sweet Potatoes
Strawberry Yogurt with Strawberry Garnish
Pink Lemonade

We also had great plans to make pink cupcakes, but bad weather and too little time spoiled those plans. Oh, well! We can always make cupcakes today right? Really, you don't need a reason to make cupcakes - at least not at this house!

After dinner it was on to the performance! ML danced as one of Alice's 'teardrops' in Alice in Wonderland.

I love this one because it shows how unpredictable dance can be at this age:

ML waving her scarf, and a little glimpse of ML's class assistant, whom ML and her classmates have named "Princess C." because they think she is soooooo beautiful! :

Daddy and his ballerina:

Royal Icing Sugar Cookies

Today is SUYL over at Kelly's Korner one of my favorite blogs to read! I'm not a super baker, or even a super cook, but I've recently discovered Royal Icing cookies and they are SO much fun to make that I thought I would share!

I know if I can make them, anyone can do it! I started making them around Easter, and here is a (bad!) pic of the results of my first attempt:

See? Easy peasy.

I was inspired by Cindy over at Joel's Journey. Check out her amazing 'tutorial' on Royal Icing. It really has everything you need to know to get started! Check out her great reasons for making/ uses for baking Royal Icing cookies here and here.

I used this recipe from for my Sugar Cookies.

And this recipe from for my Royal Icing.

I will say it is super time consuming to make them, BUT so worth it in the end! Again, not the best picture (taken in the front seat of my car right before I ran inside the school to give these out! ), but here is an example of how I used some on sticks to make a fun bucket of cookies for my kids teachers at Easter. Just stick some floral foam in the bottom of the bucket, add some Easter grass (or moss, or tissue paper - possibilities are endless!), cover the cookies with cellophane or plastic wrap and 'ta da!' An easy, inexpensive, FUN gift for your friends and family!

Since then, I've also made huge Royal Icing heart cookies for tornado victims (was asked to help supply desserts to those who are feeding tornado victims 3 meals a day) and fish shaped cookies for an 'under the sea' party.

Just a few tips to help you get started:

1- keep the bowl(s) of Royal Icing covered with a damp wash cloth/ towel to keep it from drying out.
2 - Mix all of your icing at once. In other words, don't mix the color for the 'outlining' and then mix the color for the 'flooding' later. They won't match. See the carrot in the first photo above - hee hee! Mix all that you think you'll need all at once.
3- Finally, it only takes a tiny bit of water added to the icing to get it ready to 'flood' the cookie. Learned this the hard way! :-) (FYI- I got my flooding bottles at WalMart in the kitchen supply section.)

I hope you have fun making your own Royal Icing Cookies!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last Day of School!

Busy day here! In addition to it being the last day of school and Awards Day for JR, it is also ballet recital tonight!!!

But first things first, so we had a special breakfast to celebrate the last day of school/ beginning of summer:

The jar of sand and seashells is from our favorite beach. We collected them over several trips and I keep it on the wide edge of our master bathtub to remind us of the fun we have there. The other decorations you will be seeing again after ML's mermaid party!

Can't believe how much these two have grown!
Last August:

JR received an award for "A" Honor Roll and Helping Hands.

Sweet friends:

Then it was on to the auditorium to recognize some other big achievements. JR was recognized for representing the 1st grade in the Spelling Bee. ML sat very patiently.

Seriously, will my eyes never be open????
This is a little better:
Woo Hoooooooo! School's OUT for the SUMMER!!!!! I'll be back soon with details of ML's ballet dinner and recital pics!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Put Me in the Zoo

I was able to attend JR's last Field Trip of the year yesterday. We went to a local (local meaning 2 hours away!) zoo and had a TON of fun. JR had to ride in a 'girl car' - meaning there he was the only boy in the car and he pretended to be not so happy about it. Of course, I know that he loves those sweet girls in his class as much as he loves the boys, but he had to make a big show of saying, "Aw man, I have to ride in a girl car!" Ha!

ML was more than happy to stay behind and spend the day with my mom. By all accounts they had the best time playing outside, having tea parties, dressing up, and watching movies while we were sweating to death at the zoo.

I really had the best time riding down with C's mom and the kids. She is just the nicest person and a saint for driving us all! Can't ask for more than that, especially after I discovered that she had just returned from a trip to Indiana on Sunday.

I have always loved that Dr. Seuss book Put Me In the Zoo. I have an old, raggedy copy from my childhood sitting on a bookshelf in my office.

Don't think I would put these three in the zoo though. I was more than happy to take them back home with us! Sweet kids and special memories!
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pomp and Circumstances

So this week, I was once again reminded that I'm one of the 'lucky' parents, for while I have to say goodbye to Preschool, some parents are having to say goodbye to high school! I'm sure I'll be ready for JR's and ML's graduations when they arrive, but at the moment - I just can't quite wrap my mind around it!

'Our Miss' K., has been an amazing babysitter for us over the past year. She is reliable, mature, and just overall a wonderful person. We were not surprised at all when she received a full scholarship to the University of Alabama! As hard as it is to see her go to 'that school' (HA!), we are so proud and so happy for her! 'Miss' K.'s parents were kind enough to invite us to her graduation luncheon and we were happy to attend and celebrate her accomplishments!

K. and JR
K and ML

K and one of my dearest friends!
We weren't able to attend the graduation ceremony, but we wish K. and all the other graduates we know the BEST of things to come! Can't wait to see what God does in these young people's lives - each graduate we know is a young person full of potential. No doubt God has great plans for them!

Friday morning, we got in the car to head to school, and guess what happened?????

Absolutely nothing.


The car was dead as a doornail.

I was too freaked out by the whole hybrid battery system that our car uses to attempt to jump it off myself, so I called a tow truck to take it to the dealership. All the while, kind of stressing out about all the things I needed to do that day - not the least of which was GET JR TO SCHOOL! , how would I get them done without a car, etc.

Well, when to tow truck guy arrived, guess what he had to do to even get the car in neutral to get it out of the garage? Jump it off. Sheesh! It started right up and I was able to take the kids to school and drive directly to the dealership (I couldn't turn the car off however - had to leave it running the entire time I was in the school!)

The dealership determined it was just my 'regular' car battery that had died, NOT the much more expensive hybrid battery (whew!) And Big Daddy was able to drive the company truck around all day, allowing me to drive his truck (so sorry to all the curbs in the area that day - not a one was safe. :-) Reminding me once again, how very blessed I am - even in the worst of my circumstances.

Yesterday was REALLY ML's last day of preschool (5 days were added on after graduation to make up for our week off for snow.) And it was finally time for the ceremonial 'tossing of the sparkly shoes.'

ML has to wear closed toed shoes to school every day. Problem is, she's not much of a tennis shoes girl and very few of her outfits go with tennis shoes anyway. Ever since she discovered the glitter shoes at Target, we've had at least one or two pairs at all times. Some times they are red, other times pink, this past November we chose silver. By about March they were looking pretty bad, but I thought, "Why buy a new pair of shoes for just 2 months?" (She lives in flip flops in the summer.)

I probably should have just caved and bought a new pair though! This was the result of those extra 2 months:

Oh well, next time we'll just buy a pair in every color. :-)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The End of an Era

For seven years now, I have driven at least twice a week to the same, wonderful Mother's Morning Out program here in our town. My children (and our whole family really) have been immensely blessed by the children's programs offered by this local church. I really can't say enough wonderful things about our experiences here!!!!

I will miss the teachers, the friends we have made, and the times we have shared. This past Friday, ML graduated from preschool with a wonderful little program. Today, I'm taking a look back at her preschool life in pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:

I must not have taken a photo of her first day in the toddler class in 2007 (gasp! :-) Of course, that has been almost 4 years ago, but I'm pretty sure I probably had a good reason. I'm not saying ML was a difficult toddler or anything, but I am saying I *might* have been too excited about 4 hours to myself to worry about taking any photos! Ha!

Here is a photo of her from October 2007 though. Incidentally, it is also the very first photo EVER posted to this blog! How's that for full circle?

August 2008, last year with JR in preschool:

August 2009:

August 2010 - So special to have your cousin in your preschool class!
Last Friday, May 13:

Preschool reunion for JR! A few of his preschool classmates who were also there to see their younger siblings graduate:

ML performing:

We will miss all of our sweet friends!

Totally and completely typical of these two!
And so we say, "Good bye Preschool, Hello to Kindergarten!"

Can't believe I am now the mother of two grade schoolers! Where has the time gone? Precious days - flying by too fast!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blast Off

It was quite the journey, but we got to see a shuttle launch!!!! Yesterday, we witnessed Endeavour leave on it's final journey into space. I know space exploration isn't everyone's cup of tea (to be honest, just thinking about space kind of freaks me out :-) But I have always thought it would be amazing to see a shuttle launch in person.

I'd heard stories like - if you're close enough, you can feel the sound vibrations of the shuttle launching in your chest. I'd also heard that the noise carries for miles. I thought it would be quite an experience and boy was I right!

Endeavour was scheduled to launch April 29, 2011 in the late afternoon. We were given VIP tickets that would allow us to access Kennedy SFC for the launch. Close enough to 'feel'! Yay!

Two things on our mind that morning:

We met up at a hotel in Cape Canaveral to board the bus that would take us to KSFC.

Lots of bling:

People were lined up all along the roads leading into KSFC and the Air Force Base. They said they expected 750,000 for the launch.

We got to see many interesting buildings on our way through the Air Force base and onto KSFC, but this was my favorite. It's hard to even describe how big this building is. The water tower gives some sort of reference, but not enough! It is the largest single story building in the world and those grey doors roll up to let the shuttle out. But not all the way up - the doors haven't been rolled all the way up since the days of the Apollo program. Hard to imagine anything bigger than a shuttle isn't it?! They said that the building is so big it needs it's own weather report. Water can condense inside and it can literally rain inside the building.
The first thing they had us do when we arrived was take our picture with the countdown clock:

We had just finished getting our lunch when the bad news came over the speaker system: No go for launch. :-( Most of our group was in a 'pre launch briefing' so we ate our lunch and played in the Saturn building while they finished the meeting.

We were one of the last buses to leave and we ended up being kind of glad. We were stopped on the road because the President was landing right beside us!!! How cool is that? Closest I've ever been to a President that's for sure! He got into his motorcade with his family and set off to tour some of KSFC and see Atlantis (last shuttle scheduled for launch some time in July.)

Fast forward about 2 weeks. Monday, May 16, 2011 - We arrive back at the same hotel at 5:30 am (ouch!) to board the bus once again:

We arrive just after a beautiful sunrise. Everything still looks like a go for launch with less than 2 hours to go. But wait - there is a cracked tile! We hold our breath while we listen to Mission Control (over the loudspeaker system) talk through the tile repair. Success! Tile is repaired perfectly. Still all systems go.

The astronauts are locked into the shuttle:
The kids find ways to keep occupied during the final 9 minute hold (which, deceptively takes about 40 minutes! Those NASA people and their confusing lingo! Ha!)
And then, the 9 minute hold is released!!!!! It really is Final Countdown time!!!!!
I wonder what those astronauts could be thinking, sitting out there on that platform. I would be a complete mess! Heck, I was so nervous and excited and I wasn't even near them!
We made the kids come up and sit with us during the final minutes of the countdown. For a second I thought the 3:30 am wake up call was going to come back to bite us when it looked like ML was going to have a meltdown right at launch time:
But she quickly recovered and we were ready to watch.......


And it was amazing. And it was unreal. And it made me proud to be an American. A part of a country that leads the way in exploration and innovation. The sound waves were my favorite part. We weren't able to see the shuttle for long, due to the cloud cover. But the sound waves hit us seconds after the shuttle was gone from view and lasted for a good minute or so. You can see them shaking the camera on our video of the launch! You really can feel the vibrations in your chest. Amazing.
Godspeed Endeavour! Support our Space Programs Everyone!