Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Superhero Birthday Party

So, my baby boy is turning FOUR! Ugh. . . I can't believe it! 

Just over a year ago, I remember being 8 months pregnant and holding Evan on my lap. I thought, "Boo hoo. . . this may be one of the last times I rock you to sleep!" And I think it was :( 

He is still a very affectionate and "huggy" boy, but no way does he fall asleep on me anymore!

In the beginning of August, Jessica's first birthday party was a big deal. A week later, Grandma & Grandpa came to visit (and are still here). Evan's birthday party plans took a "back burner" to all the activities that were going on, but I wanted to do something he would enjoy!

We decided on a superhero theme because he couldn't decide which superhero was his favorite. We had lots of Spiderman decorations (thanks to a high school friend), but the cake was just red, white, and blue with stars. We set up the superhero toys we had and made some superheros out of toilet paper tubes. We also played "catch the villain" - thanks to my friend's 11 yr old son :) Here are some pics:

My "Super Evan"

The kids loved those marshmallow stars!

Revealing his secret identity - lol!

The making of a super hero
Singing and blowing out the candles

Present time!!!
Sammy and Levi

Shoot out!
My super girl :)

Super cousins!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole

I don't usually post recipes because I do not consider myself a cooking connoisseur. . . in the least! But, this is one of those recipes that friends and family both enjoy, so I thought I would share :)

Let me also add, this is a very simple meal that takes little time to make. It is often difficult to prepare a meal with 3 boys running around and a 1 yr. old tugging at my apron strings, so I appreciate meals that do not require lots of chopping and mixing ;)

1 lb. ground sausage or ground beef 
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. butter
1 c. milk
1 can of black beans (or really, any kind of bean you like)
1 can of corn
1 can chopped tomatoes & green chilis (Rotel)
Shredded cheese (any kind will work) I like Colby/Jack for this
Tater tots

In a skillet, cook ground sausage/beef and drain the fat. Put meat into a casserole dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 375. Wipe down skillet with a paper towel and then add flour and butter. Cook on medium until mixture starts to bubble (about 2 min). Add milk and stir until it becomes a think white sauce. Add in beans, corn, and tomatoes. Pour this mixture on top of the meat in the casserole dish. Add enough shredded cheese to cover the mixture, then add a layer of tater tots. Bake for about 20 min. until tater tots are browned and mixture is bubbling. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and salsa.

mmmmmm. . . cheese. . . 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Butterfly Birthday Party

Long before my baby girl was born, I decided butterflies would be the theme for her room. This came about as I was registering at Babies R Us online. I was looking for baby girl items that were purple - and they were not easy to come by! Finally, I spotted a soft lilac colored blanket with a butterfly in the corner. I loved it! And the best part, is that someone actually bought that blanket and gave it to me before she was even born!

She had that blanket in the hospital, and has slept with it ever since! In her nursery there is one wall painted dark purple and butterflies adorn her walls. It seemed logical, that when she had her first birthday, butterflies would be the theme!

In July, I started looking online for ideas and decided what I would do for her cake. We celebrated yesterday, and here is how it turned out:

The porch was decorated with purple tulle and purple, pink, and white balloons. I had the tables covered in pink and purple table clothes, but didn't get a photo of those.

I bought a packet of pink butterflies at the Dollar Tree and used them to decorate. Here I wrote on the words "Happy Birthday" and made them into a banner.

Since we had boys and girls of  various ages, I made up separate treat bags. The girls got a lady bug mirror and comb with some candy and the boys got a toy motorcycle and candy. 

All the kids received these double straws that I made to look like butterflies.

My oldest son helped make these butterfly cereal bags to give to the younger ones who couldn't eat candy.

I decided to make a smaller cake since I also had cupcakes and cookies. The butterflies are just cut out of homemade fondant. The cake was "funfetti" on the top layer with a strawberry base.

The kids enjoyed these butterfly cupcakes!

I just dipped mini pretzels in white chocolate and coated them in purple sugar. I frosted the angel food cupcakes with a pink whipped cream cheese frosting. Mmmmmm!

Of course the baby needed her own cake to "tear into," so I made this little butterfly cake with the extra batter. I think she thought the colored sugar was pretty because she just kept poking at it with her fingers :)

I decorated the piano with one of her tutus and some butterfly stuff.

And this is a place mat that I made for free from http://www.inkgarden.com/
I figured we could use it as a banner for her birthday and it worked out great!
Overall, I think the party was a success! It seemed our little "sweet pea" enjoyed herself all night!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

When Mom's Out of Commission

Ever have one of those days when you just "survive" until bedtime?!? Today is one of those days. . .

Yesterday I woke up with some back pain. It didn't seem too bad, and I thought it may just be because my "sleep number bed" was set too soft. WRONG! As I got my lazy bones out of the bed, the pain became unbearable to the point that I could not stand up straight. How wonderful. . .

Fortunately, my husband was home yesterday. We packed up everyone in the car and headed out to do our grocery shopping. The whole trip was torturous to me. I leaned on the cart and moved slowly through the whole store. Ugh!

Upon arriving home, I took some Ibuprofen and that seemed to help. The only comfortable position I could find was sitting. I went to bed at 12:30, but didn't end up falling asleep until after 3 a.m. due to being so miserable.

Well, I felt a little better by morning, but that only lasted until I picked up my 25 lb daughter. . . bad move! I was in so much pain, I could barely do anything. I figured we would survive until my husband arrived home from work tonight. That being said, I thought it may be entertaining to take some pics of my day of survival.

We did our school work. . . and I did manage to make two birthday cakes, but besides that, everything else was unscheduled. I decided to walk around the house and take some pics of what I found. . .

Around 3 pm, the baby took a nap and I had the boys help me clean the house. They are really are good helpers. . . as long as they don't work together - lol! So, Evan put in the laundry and straightenend out the living room, Zack cleaned up the play room, and Kyle picked up the kitchen. Here are the before and after pics of each room. I think they did really well!

So then, if you're wondering how I am entertaining them as I type this, here you go. .

watching a movie

constrained in her high chair

 Oh, and for most of the morning, this is what I had to deal with from my precious baby girl. . .

Awww, I love her!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HCG - Before and After Pictures

So, I've told you all about my weight loss so far, but haven't posted any pics. This is probably unfair, because those who never see me in person have not had a chance to see the change.

I have dreaded this, because I do not like looking at the few pics I have of when I was so heavy. I mean, who wants to see pics of that?!? In the few pics I have, I am either wearing baggy clothing or hiding behind one of my children! ;)

Well, here goes. . .

On the left is a picture from December, and you can see my face is much fuller, but I think I did a good job hiding my body with that black sweater and that cute little baby on my lap. On the right is a pic from when I was halfway through doing the HCG drops (about 4 weeks ago).

Here we have some pics of my body. . . yikes!!! The left is just 2 weeks after Jessica was born - I'm huge!!! :(  The middle was taken in the fall - probably when Jessica was about 3 months old. I look like I'm 6 months pregnant! And the right picture is now. . . wearing much smaller clothes, thank goodness!

Lastly, here are some pics of my face. The left one was taken around Christmas time - before dieting at all. The middle was taken in April, after I had cut most sugar and starches out of my diet, but still had extra weight. The far right was taken tonight - 2 weeks after completing the HCG drops.

So, there you have it. Those HCG drops seemed to help me the most and I plan on using them again in Sept. So thankful it worked and I hope to keep off all that extra baggage!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!!!

Tomorrow is July 18th, and my hubby and I will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary! I can't believe it has been that long! It seems like just yesterday we were "tying the knot." The un-air conditioned church was very hot and one of my brother-in-laws nearly passed out, but overall, everything went well. I'm really glad we have a picture of my dad blowing bubbles as we left the church (it's one of my favorite pics). But my favorite part of the ceremony was Kevin singing to me. . . ahhh, butterflies. . . :)

I thought I would honor Kevin here on my blog. I mean, it could not possibly be easy to live with a loud, bossy, type A, spoiled, only child! He is a bit of a perfectionist himself, but my OCD tendencies would have driven away the weak by now!

My husband and I joke that he grew up "on the other side of the tracks." You see, I grew up in a nice little town where we didn't even lock the doors. He grew up in Lynn.

Anyone who knows about Lynn, knows the nice little saying associated with the city - "Lynn, Lynn, city of sin - you never come out the way you went in." Yep, that just about sums things up! It wasn't unusual for my husband to hear sirens everyday. . .and they ALWAYS locked their doors!

Just as an example of his childhood experiences, let's take Kevin's 5th birthday. My in-laws had moved from Indiana, and were used to people being honest and decent. My mother-in-law planned a simple little birthday party and invited some children from their Lynn neighborhood. The children came, played games, ate cake, watched Kevin open the presents from his parents, and then left with Kevin's presents. That's right. The neighborhood children actually went home with Kevin's birthday presents!!!

As he grew up in the city, he met several "unsavory" characters who were rude, abusive, and just plain mean. What doesn't break you, only makes you stronger, right?!? Well, I would definitely say my husband is emotionally strong. By the world's standards, he was dealt a "bad hand," but, thankfully, he also had some wonderful, godly parents who prayed for him and taught him God's Word. If it wasn't for that, surely he would have led a different path. It is amazing to me that a man who grew up in such a cruel environment can be so loving and caring.

My husband is not too calloused to shed a tear, and is not embarrassed to show affection either. He also has manners. We do not sit around the table and have burping contests (even with 3 boys in the house). I just don't think it's hilarious to pass gas or flick boogers. We want our boys to grow up to be gentlemen, not just older boys!

The other day, as we were getting in the car after shopping, I noticed an older man standing by the car next to us just staring in our direction. I couldn't figure out what was wrong and started to think he was being rather rude. As my husband went to his side of the car, the man mentioned that it was so nice to see that Kevin had opened my door for me. Hmmm, very true. Many husbands don't even think about opening the door for their wife.

Another thing I appreciate about my husband, is that he is clean. Sounds odd, but it really is a big deal. He always showers, wears deodorant, and would never think of leaving the house in sweatpants and flip flops. I love that he always smells so good! Oh, and the fact that he doesn't snore is a big plus too ;)

One of the things that first attracted me to my husband was that he was always willing to listen to me. I'm not the type to "wear my heart upon my sleeve," so it was a minor miracle that I felt so comfortable talking to him . . . about everything! Even now, 14 yrs later, he calls me each day from work and asks how it's going with the kiddos. He doesn't need to do that, but he does it because he cares. I remember, before we had our own children, he would listen to me ramble on and on about the students I taught in school. Poor guy! ;)

Many people can also attest to the fact that my husband is a good worker. Before we ever dated, I remember Kevin coming to our house to split firewood for my dad. He didn't get paid, he just did it to help. It was cold out, but he didn't complain. He has had many jobs where he has had to work in rain, sleet, snow, and heat. I don't know how he does it!

When Kevin was a teenager, he started his first job at Grossman's Lumber. He was in high school and would work after school and on Saturdays. The only thing different that most kids who work at that age, is that he did not get to keep the money he earned. It did not go into a college fund, he did not get to save it for a car, he didn't even use it to buy fast food. He used his money to pay the Christian school tuition for he and his brothers. If I remember correctly, that amount was about $400 per month. I don't know of many teenagers who would do that!

I think I am most thankful for the fact that my husband is a Christian. Our home has high standards compared to most of the world - no cursing, drinking, or smoking for sure, but also, the boys are taught the Bible and the importance of knowing God. I don't have to worry about my husband blaring ungodly music or "slipping up" and swearing in front of the kids. I know he will attend church every time he can (except when at work), and he will always tithe before spending money on other things.

My husband has been by my side for these last 14 yrs, and I pray we have many more years together! He has been very patient with my "know-it-all" attitude and never complains about my cooking ;) He is supportive, dependable, loving, and generous. I love him very much!

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I made it!

So, I had a goal with this HCG diet. I aimed to lose 20 lbs in 25 days. Well, I am at day 24 and down 19.4 lbs. I think that is pretty close, so I'm pretty happy (technically, I could lose another .6 lbs by tomorrow morning). I will take my last dose of the drops tonight, and then remain on the VLCD (very low calorie diet) for 72 hrs.

Through the diet, I averaged a loss of .8 lbs for most of the days.  I really would like to lose 10 more lbs, but I will wait 6 weeks to see how I feel about my current condition.

With the HCG diet, you must switch to a sugar/carb free diet for 3 weeks after completing the VLCD . I don't think this will be too hard for me, since I removed sugar/carbs for 30 days in January. It will be nice to add some nuts and dairy into my life again! I will, however, be sad to have to pass up that homemade chocolate syrup I just made for my boys ;)

Overall, I think the diet was well worth the time and sacrifice. The menu was a bit boring, as I basically stuck with eating fish and chicken, but it does make it easier to cook for the rest of the family when I have a weeks worth of cooked chicken in the fridge just for me. Since this diet contains virtually no added fat, my skin became very dry, but my hair is silky smooth! I am the type that needs to wash my hair every day or it just looks oily and disgusting! Now it feels really lightweight and nice :)

I will say, if anyone is thinking of using this diet, it would be nice to have a "buddy" to do it with. During my 24 days, I attended a wedding, a church fellowship, and a cookout. It's not easy saying no to the food in front of you - especially when you have to say no to even something healthy like fruit salad!

I'm hoping these 20 lbs never show up on my body again, and now I plan on starting to exercise again so I'm healthier. During the diet, it is advised not to exercise, so I stopped altogether. Here's to being 20 lbs lighter - and fitting into my old clothes again! :)