Monday, November 30, 2009

Journey down memory lane...

Christmas ornament style...


It all started here:


And then we added one more...



We began the tradition of creating some of our own ...









Our children grew and went off to school, and the ornaments began coming home and continue year after year...






We've lost a few buttons and glitter and glam. Some have been crinkled, ripped or chipped along the way. But as you can see from the pictures above,
The memories we have are here to stay.
And of course, what would our tree be without....


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree

So, let me begin by giving you a little back information about our philosophy on Christmas trees. Since the coach and I have been together, (which by the way is almost 11 years, good golly!) We have always had a real Christmas tree. There was only one year that we had no other choice but to have a fake tree because we were moving one week before Christmas so it was either a fake tree or no tree at all, and that my friends would not have gone over well with a very excited 3 1/2 year old at the time!! So much to our dismay we did buy a very cheap, pathetic looking, artificial tree for one year and never again! (Said tree was swiftly donated to the Salvation Army the day after Christmas that year!)

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh pine when you walk through the door. Plus we love the challenge of hunting for our perfect tree! We could buy a perfect shaped artificial tree, but what fun is that? I have plenty of friends that have fake trees and I don't have anything against them, they just aren't for us.

Now that I have established that we are "real" tree folk, let's get down to the nitty gritty about how we come across picking the most amazing tree year after year. (There is a specific process you know!)

The day after Thanksgiving I take out all the Christmas decorations and go to town decorating our home. Then either that Saturday or Sunday we take off and begin the search. The coach and I will walk up and down the rows, children in tow, sizing up the trees. Here and there the coach will sense that a certain tree just might be the one and hold it up for me to evaluate its' potential. I stand there himming and hawing and we move on. Ultimately the coach ends up finding the perfect tree and makes the final decision. Let me tell you, every year he picks out the most devine tree you ever did see. It is always a full and beautifully symmetrical tree. I don't know how he does it year after year!

For years we always went to the same little Christmas tree stand here in town, but when we went out last year so eager to find our tree, we were utterly disappointed to find that he was not set up yet. We didn't want to disappoint the kiddos, so the search continued through several towns until we came to "the place". I could tell that this would be where we would find our tree that year, and for years to come. It is such a family friendly place. Their staff warmly welcome you at the entrance to the farm and offer candy canes! (A big hit with the little ones!) They have over eight varieties of trees at great prices and a charming shop full of beautiful wreaths, and country decorations. They also offer horse drawn carriage rides.
But the biggest hit of all....

I won't tell you about it. I have to simply show you...




















This little love made it all worth while!!! And as far as the kids are concerned this is the best place on earth to buy a Christmas tree and in case you can't tell, it has nothing to do with the trees!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grrrrrr....blog editing

To all my lovely readers out there, thank you for continuing to visit regularly. Thank you for reading about my wacky world, and leaving comments of encouragement and support.

And lastly, thank you for bearing with me and reading my posts- with bad grammar and sometimes bad writing and all!!

When I write I just go with the flow, then I begin the process of editing. I first spell check, then I re-read and correct, re-read again and make more corrections, and continue this process until I feel it is ready to be published. But no matter how many times I do this, there are always things that could be made better.

Unfortunately for me, I don't find these errors until I walk away from a post and revisit it a few days later.

Then KABLOOWEY!!!!!!

What I thought was a great piece of writing originally, now reads like something a fourth grader threw together!! It amazes me how many corrections I will make to a post when I review them a few days later. I am embarrassed! So again, so sorry for you all to have to read these posts in their draft form!

I'm not saying that you have to go back to each post a few days later to read the "polished" version, I just wanted to let you know that as an english/elementary ed major in college, I am well aware of the writing process and I do my best to fix it!! Maybe as time goes on and I continue my writing I will discover a more effective process, but in the mean time.....

Thanks for understanding!!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

"Healthify"...my new word in cooking

I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch, however since meeting my husband over ten years ago (who is Italian and was spoiled by his father's superb homemade cooking growing up), I have learned. I can honestly say that I hold my own in the kitchen.

After I had both children and they stopped eating baby food, suddenly what they were eating and its' nutritional value became very important to me. I wanted my children to grow up with healthy eating habits that would last a lifetime.

Now please don't misinterpret what I just said. By no means are we health food fanatics. I still feed my children fast food occasionally. We do have snacks in our house for after dinner. I usually have some kind of ice cream in the freezer at all times, and we definitely get on kicks where what we consume for days on end leaves something to be desired.

But one of my hobbies still remains taking everyday recipes for things like pancakes, muffins, bread and revamping them to make them really healthy, but keeping them tasting really good. (After all what good is it to spend a couple of hours busting your hump in the kitchen making your loved ones a super healthy baked good to have them take one bite, cringe, and tell you how nasty they are!)

What's the trick here?

Compromise.

It is easy to "Healthify" as I like to call it, a recipe by not going overboard on the health nut stuff! Start out making small modifications to the original recipe and test the results on the ones that matter... your kids! If it goes well, on the next try maybe cut back on unnecessary things like sugar or swap one of the not so healthy ingredients for a more nutritional substitute. When a recipe calls for flour I generally like to use 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 regular white flour. That way my kids are getting some wholesome fiber added in and the texture doesn't become to gritty for their liking.

Another favorite addition to all my baked good recipes: Ground Flax Seed. When you add ground flax seed to your recipes you send the nutritional value of foods through the roof!! (Make sure it is ground seed not whole, that won't work as well, save the whole seeds to sprinkle on salads, Yummy!!)

In case you aren't familiar with the benefits of ground flax seed look here. There are too many to list but check it out and see how easy it is to benefit from making flax seed a part of your diet!

Another thing, don't be afraid to push the envelope when you "healthify" your recipes. Your official taste testers will let you know when you have gone to far. When that happens revert back to the last recipe that was still successful. Making extreme changes on your first try will NOT go over well, repeat, will NOT go over well with the taste testers. Start out slow!!

Here is a great recipe for banana muffins to start out with, assuming your family enjoys banana muffins of course!

I will post the original and then I will show you the "Healthified" version. (Jeez, I like my new word! It just flows of the tongue. Try it... healthified.
Ok, I have officially lost my mind now!! Where were we???)

Ah yes, banana muffins!

Original Recipe and photo: Courtesy of All Recipes.com

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted

My "Healthified" Version: Changes are in green
3/4c whole wheat flour
3/4c flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas mashed
1/2c sugar
1 egg
1/3c smart balance
2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans.
Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.


For beginners, this is a great recipe to test out and for those experts in the field take a look and tell me what you think. What else could you do to "healthify" this recipe? I would love to hear ideas.

Have fun, experiment, and enjoy!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Now that's what I call inspirational!!

You know those prints that were really popular a few years ago that had a beautiful photo with one word below it followed by and inspirational definition? They usually were surrounded by a black border and looked something like this?




I found one online today that suits me to a tee. This takes the cake!!!
Take a look at this, very fitting if I do say so myself!!!



I think I will rent myself one of these puppies in a few years and show up to one of the athlete's soccer games, music blasting, and horn a tootin'. And, don't forget a nice long colorful banner that identifies myself as his mom.


Think he'd appreciate my team spirit?

(I'm just kidding, I couldn't really do something like that too him, I love him too much!!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A day late and a dollar short

Some of you might remember that my wonderful husband got me a new camera for my birthday. I was so excited I started to picture in my head all the gorgeous photos that I would be able to shoot and then post on my blog. I think I deluded myself into thinking that just because I had an amazing new camera I would be transformed into a professional photographer. (And yes I know how ridiculous I sound so SSSHHH, just pretend I didn't just say that ok??)

So anywho, I have been practicing with my camera and did take some shots of the kids decked out in their finest for Halloween but due to my lack of electronic/computer skills they have been trapped inside the memory card of my camera.

Until NOW!!!!! I finally figured out how to download pics onto the computer. Next step will be figuring out how to edit them in the software included. But that's a whole nother post!!

Without further ado, here they are the athlete and the princess on Halloween night!!!




My Zombie Soccer Player



My Angel





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Well, almost. The athlete brought this home from school yesterday...






Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A tongue twister of sorts

Reason #52 why having a little princess is so much fun...






Snazzy, sparkly, silver, ballet slippers worn on feet so sweet and scrumptious it makes you smile!!!!!




Monday, November 16, 2009

Not me Monday



It has been a few weeks since I have done a "Not Me Monday" post. I think the fact that MckMama's baby, Stellan had been so sick and she too was not doing her Not Me Monday's, I just didn't feel right about keeping up with tradition.

For any of you that do not follow her blog or are curious about MckMama and her family, you can click on the icon for Not Me Monday, it will take you directly to her blog and you can read all about this amazing woman and her family.

Now that all is well in the MckFamily, I am happy to continue the tradition of the Not Me Mondays!! Hurray!! Back to normal!!

This past week I certainly have not been deliberately neglecting my laundry duties knowing full well that my mother-in-law, (who is living with us temporarily for the next few months), will do ALL my laundry when she gets home from work and leave it for me folded neatly on the laundry table in piles to put away. Nope not me!! That would be taking advantage of the situation and I would never do something like that!

I also did not vent in a certain post here about how the upstairs of my home is severely lacking in tidiness and order, vowing to spend the next week or so cleaning, organizing and repainting my bedroom and realized today that days have gone by and I have not done one thing needed to get my room in order. I guess I should really get on this!!

Yesterday after soccer, I did not unexpectedly have some friends over and seconds before they walked through the door take my hand and quickly dust off the entertainment stand and it's shelves to get the thick layer of dust off! I dust our home on a regular basis and our furniture always has a dust free gleam!!

And finally my most "stellar" moment of the week: Saturday morning I needed to run some errands with the kids. I certainly did not send them out in the pouring rain, telling them to get in the van while I looked for my missing car keys. (The van was locked so they did not proceed to wait for me under the lip of the garage to try and avoid getting soaked.)

After searching an eternity for said car keys and assuming the coach accidentally took them with him when he left that morning, I did not just get the spare house and car key and take off for the morning.

At the third stop of the day, while I was waiting at the drive through teller at the bank, I did not have a complete stranger squeeze in between my car and the teller window, scaring the daylights out of me, and handing me my car keys that were stuck in the back trunk of my van!!!!!!

After realizing this was not some psycho approaching me, the look of shock wore off my face and I did not graciously thank him for returning my missing keys!!!

Now that I have aired my "dirty laundry" for the week, (no pun intended)
It's your turn. I'm telling you give it a try. You will feel so liberated admitting your not the perfect wife or mother that you try sooo hard to be!! Join in the fun!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Did I just hear that correctly?

Not sure what is going on lately in our house but my two cherubims have been taken over by whirling dervishes!! They are loud, rowdy, hands on, from the time they wake up until the time they sweetly, no scratch that, argue, kick and scream, off to sleep.

They have also decided that our family room and the beautiful, less than a year old sectional, is a superb gymnastics device great for leaps, flips, and bounds. Best of all tackling each other and wrestling about!!

Along with this newly aquired activity comes mud slinging! Some nasty, choice words are being spewed about my home lately and I have just about had it. I am not sure where they originated from and I don't care. Bottom line, Mama is gonna put a stop to it and I mean pronto.

The newest choice tid-bits were shouted from the rooftops this morning and I'm not proud to admit this but hey, I do try to be as honest as possible on hear ya know!!

In the midst of scuffle this morning between the two "wild things" what did I over hear?

The athlete so graciously called his sister a "butt crack"

But wait it gets better!! Sensitive ears turn back now.

Don't say I didn't warn you!!

One last chance to click that little red X in the top right corner of your screen...

OK, here it is for those of you brave enough to venture forward:

My angelic six year old apparently has learned a new slang word and decided it fitting to call her brother,

and this new beautiful little sentiment is none other than...

NUT BAG!!!!

Yes, you heard me correctly. Not exactly sure how I will be handling this yet, but at least I had a moment to document this lovely exchange while my two potty mouthed children sit upstairs in silence.

What ever happened to terms like "baby" and "stupid". Heck right about now I'd even settle for "jerk"!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Q and A with the Princess

Since this blog is entitled "A Boy, A Girl, and Soccer", I thought it only fitting to devote some of my posts to the featured stars. Today it's time to learn a little more about the bubbly little blonde known here as "The Princess".




Age: 6

Hair color: Blonde

Eye color: Blue


If you could name yourself what would your name be and why?

Ashley, I like the name..

When you grow up what do you want to be?

I want to be a nurse and a daycare provider. I think the jobs are fun.

Favorite color:

Pink, I think it's pretty.

Favorite sport:

Gymnastics, you get to wear a leotard. The balance beam is my favorite.

What do you like to do at school?

Play with my friends, do work, my favorite special is Library because you get to pick out a book. I like to get books about lions.

Where is your favorite place to go shopping?

I like Kohls. They have dresses and skirts.

How many kids do you want when you become a mom?

Two girls, there names would be Ashley and Melanie. I would like them to be twins. There room would be pink.

If you could have any animal in the world what would it be and why?

A cat because I had cats when I was a kid.

What is your favorite season?

Winter because I like snow and you get to explore in the woods in the winter and you get to watch the Polar Express movie and have hot cocoa with a candy cane in it and marshmallows.

What is your favorite tv show?

iCarly, it is funny. Carly is my favorite she is silly.

Where did you want to live when you grow up?

I want to live in a house in Massachusetts around my old house because I love my mom and dad and my brother.

What is your favorite food?

Cheese doodles, I love the cheese on them.

What are some fun things you like to do?

Go to the park, play with my friends, visit Nana and Bumpa, go shopping for clothes, play with the daycare kids.

There it is folks, and in typical princess fashion she has had enough and is off and running to her next adventure!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The twilight zone

I was upstairs yesterday and realized that I have been badly neglecting the second story of my home. You could come for a visit any day of the week and my first floor is almost always presentable, if not pretty much clean and tidy. BUT, venture around the corner and up the stairs, and you have officially entered a different world! Lets just call it The Twilight Zone.

My children are currently sharing a room for the next few months and that is just hopeless. There are clothes, toys, papers, pens, junk strewn about everywhere and there just isn't room for proper organization right now, (which by the way frazzles me every time I walk in there!), so I avoid it at all costs!!

My room, well that is hopeless right now too! I noticed yesterday that my bureaus are three shades lighter than they should be. They haven't faded or anything, it's just the thick coating of dust that has so nicely settled on top and that I have refused to dust, that has made them turn such a lovely shade of grey/brown!

My daughter broke the curtain rods that hang in the double windows right behind my bed and I simply removed them and never bothered to replace the broken rod. So now it looks so dull and drab in there with curtain free windows, but have I done anything to make it look more appealing? No, of course not.

For goodness sake, we have lived here over three years and I have been meaning to paint the trim in there since we bought the house. I even have the trim paint, but have never bothered to commit to just doing it!!! So for now, the walls and the trim all match each other in a nice color of faded, dirty bamboo shoot.

Here are my rules of engagement:

Again, avoid the room at all costs! What does this mean?

Only go in there when absolutely necessary.

My motto - Get in and get out! Don't look around, just look straight down.

Use the living room when you want to lie down and read or relax and watch tv.

When you are feel like you are going to pass out, only then do you go upstairs.

Do NOT turn on the light, climb into bed and off to sleep. Wake up in the morning and flee, never looking back!!!

And as far as using this room in the romance department? Did you here the description I just gave? Did you read the rules?

Yeah, not exactly a place that helps foster the mood if ya know what I mean!

I wasn't planning on writing this, but now, after coming clean, I have decided it is time to do something about the horrors upstairs! It was only going to be a vent post!! (See this is why blogging is so great! It is very therapeutic and helps you to see things more clearly and make changes when there is a need!!)

The rest of this week I am going to be spending my nights turning my upstairs,(especially my bedroom), into a place that I actually want to spend time in again!

Once it is clean and organized I will post some before and after pictures. This way I don't have a choice. What has been written, must be accomplished!!!!!

Ha ha, my new motto! I like that!!

Stay tuned and wish me luck, you have no idea of the task ahead!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

As some of you may know, I run a small in-home family daycare at my home. I am blessed with wonderful families and even better children! They keep me laughing, which hopefully keeps me young! Over the past few years, I have been privy to some very interesting stuff. Some of it funny and some of it very deep and profound. Some are from my own children and the rest come from my daycare kids. Here are some of my favorites....

Enjoy!!!!!



"God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy" - 3 year old girl

"When we eat dinner, my dad says this: Wait for it, wait for it, and then pats his tummy and burps" - 4 year old boy

"I can't find my glubs" (gloves) - 2 year old

"I am my own person and there is no one else like me in the whole world!" - the princess

"If the government and people know that smoking and fast food is bad for you than why do they allow them to be sold and why do people buy that stuff?" - the athlete

When asked if he was going to play with his little brother when he was born, the little two year old's reply was "Babies are NOT toys!"

"You are a big kid if you can wipe your own bum, my mom told me that." - 3 year old boy

One day one of my daycare kids was grumpy when he got dropped off for the day. I asked him what was wrong and his reply was: "My dad ruined our day". I laughed and asked him what happened and he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know, that's just what my mom told him in the car". - 4 year old boy

Just the other day my little 22month old daycare child came walking through my door and shouted "Happyweeeeen!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just call me coach!

I would consider myself good at a lot of things...

being a mom, a wife, a friend, a teacher/caregiver, but a coach...

I Am Not.

I like to leave the athletics and the coaching of them to my husband, who is a natural when it comes to working with children. Believe it or not I happen to think he is even better at working with kids than I am! (We'll keep this little tid-bit of info to ourselves though, I wouldn't want him getting a swelled head or anything!! J/K)

He really is great with children of all ages, boys or girls, and I tell him so all the time. I truly feel blessed to have such a wonderful father and role model for my children.

When he is coaching he has a natural instinct about him. He knows how to approach them, how to give them confidence in their own abilities, how to teach them, and most importantly how to make it fun for all of them. He learns the talents of each and every child and how to get the best out of them. I am so proud of him and I love watching him work from the sidelines.

This is why he is the coach and I am the coach's wife. (Notice I said wife, not assistant). So last Saturday when we had a conflict between both the athlete and the princess's soccer games and he informed me that I would have to coach our daughter's pee-wee game, my world stood still!

"I don't coach", I thought to myself and the thought must have flashed across my face because the coach started laughing and told me to "Calm down, it's easy! Get on the field, point them in the right direction, yell GO and cheer em' on. That's all there is to it!"

There is more to it than that I told him as the pressure inside was building up, "What if the kids won't listen to me? What if make a complete fool of myself out there in front of all the parents? How will I keep time? How will I know when to switch out players?" Aaaaaaahhhh!

I was so uneasy about doing this I begged him to ask for a parent volunteer. I even called my brother-in-law to see if he could take over for me, but he wasn't available either.

How is it, you can put me in a classroom with twenty some-odd elementary school kids and I would have no problem teaching, or keeping them under control for 6 hours a day, but a group of 5 and 6 year old kids and soccer scare the dickens out of me?

"Knock it off" I told myself, "You'll be fine!"

And ya know what... I was! I explained to all the parents that I was filling in that day for my husband, (which they seemed to have no problem with), gathered up my team, quickly learned all their names, and away we went!!!

Sure I made a few mistakes and didn't realize what some of the rules were, until the coach from the other side filled me in, and I had a coughing fit every single time I raised my voice to cheer them on, but eh, what the heck, I did a pretty darn good job if I do say so myself!! The kids had fun, I had fun, and we held our own out there on the field.

Do I think I have found a new calling? HECK NO!!

But, I did learn something about myself that day, I need to give myself more credit and not allow myself to get nervous when I am thrown into a situation that is outside of my comfort zone. I can handle myself just fine!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My First Blog Award!!!

I am so excited to announce that I have been given my first, EVER, Blog Award!! I received this from Angela from The Suburban Jungle, and I am honored that she thought of my blog when passing this along. Check it out!!


for having a blog good enough to wake you up in the morning and keeping you going all day!

WOW!! What an honor! Thanks Angela

Monday, November 2, 2009

Computer Savvy, I am not!!

I am so bummed out right now!!

I was keeping this a secret because I wanted to wait and surprise everyone with a post and picture showcase, but because of my lack of computer and technology skills, I'm stuck!!

The coach bought me a gorgeous new camera for my birthday because my old one was broken. I would have been happy with the same camera to replace it, but in typical coach fashion, he went above and beyond and bought me an amazing new Canon Rebel xsi!!

I have been playing around with this thing for the past week and took some great shots of the kids all dressed up that I was planning to post today but I stalled out trying to install the software needed to upload the shots to the computer.

This is what I get for being impatient and trying to do this myself without waiting for the coach to properly install all the software for me!

So needless to say, I will now have to wait for him to come home, undo all the damage I have done, install the software correctly and then show me what to do!!! All this while he's murmuring under his breath about how I shouldn't have been so impatient! Ha ha!

Stay tuned and pictures will come soon.....

I hope!!!