Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 (+ Salsa)

Our kids were *IN* school this Memorial Day! (Our school district never dreamed we'd need to make up 2 inclement weather days when they designated this to be the 2nd. :-D) But it was AWESOME: the kids had special visits in class from veterans and lessons tailored to the meaning of the day. That is WAY more honoring than just playing in the pool, if you ask me! And both JB & I (no Zumba ;-)) had off...so we got a DATE DAY!!! I was so thankful for our school district for babysitting AND educating yesterday! :-D And FWIW: it's super thunderstormy this week - no good for pools & grills, anyway. ;-)

Both kids came home with Memorial Day acrostic poems they'd written, and Will asked to call Grandaddo (my stepdad - a Vietnam veteran) to share his:

Onoring [honoring ;-)] Veterans
Listening to Captains

Declaration of Independence
Years of Service


Mrs. B in the Coast Guard [a sweet special needs assistant often in her class]
Remember People who Died
Armed Force


It's really important to us to raise our kids to acknowledge honorable service, (I come from a proud military family,) and I'm actually thrilled that they had school yesterday & really got something out of it appropriate for the holiday. :-)

And yes, we *did* eat well, too. ;-) Texas-shaped tortilla chips + JB's amazing homemade salsa! Mmmmm... (He made his own spicy batch & then pepper-free for me ♥)
It's one of those obnoxious "just throw it in w/o measurements" recipe :-D It's chunky like a relish, instead of puréed, and light on tomato, b/c JB doesn't like them. (I could go off on how wrong that is...but I hate all peppers, so I've got my own weirdness. ;-)) We cut fresh cooked corn off the cob, chopped up a cucumber, some vidalia onion, cherry tomatoes, drained & rinsed a can of black beans, mixed it all up, & squeezed fresh lime juice all over. JB's batch also has cilantro, serrano, & habanero. (Eeek! ;-))

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Palm Beach at Moody Gardens

We began Memorial Day weekend by driving back down to Moody Gardens in Galveston, and this time, to Palm Beach - a white sand beach right beside a lazy river, water slides, wave pool, etc., that backs up to Galveston Bay for lovely views. It was SO RELAXING! Our kids are finally old enough for us to let them go play (as long as they stick together & come check in before going to a different area) without us hovering, so JB & I really enjoyed our lounge chairs. ;-)

But we got in & played, too! JB & kids in the lazy river:

My fave kid pic of the day:

Kids watersliding:
(I went down both, too!)

And yes, there is photographic proof that I got in! Annelise & I braved tubes in the face to swim laps in the lazy river:

We stayed at Palm Beach for six full hours! We left around 4 PM and had early dinner at The Spot - burgers, malts, & more facing the ocean on the Gulf side of the island. It's a local hot spot (ha - "spot" ;-)) & very busy, but we were shocked at how fast the service was! Great experience. :-)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Second Sewing Lesson

Annelise (& I) had her (our ;-)) second sewing lesson with my friend. (First lesson here!) She made an ACTUAL basic appliqué throw pillow (all but stuffed & closed) - we are feeling totally brilliant right now!!!!!

Word of the Week

YES! This. :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Off My Wall: Mid-May Musings

Random shareworthies for the week on my mind and off my FB wall:

* We don't see many commercials (DVR) ...but my kids CANNOT get enough of this one lately! They repeat the dialogue over & over & over... (I'm so thankful I think it's an awesome commercial!!! :-D) "That's not mine..."

* My mama heart was bursting on Tuesday!!! I went to Will's Special Buddies year-end celebration; a teacher pulled me aside & said, "I have to tell you, your son is an absolute ray of sunshine for me!" She went on & on...and I couldn't be prouder!!! ♥ Will & his special buddy:

* So sad this week was the season finale of Call the Midwife! One of *THE* BEST shows. EVER. How can I wait until next spring??? "For what is joy, if it goes unrecorded, and what is love, if it is not shared?"

* I keep seeing this on FB...and it must be a sign that we need to try: waffle cones with marshmallows, chocolate chips, bananas, and strawberries. Wrap in foil and throw on the grill or fire.

* I love blessing people with a fantastic parking spot as I leave! (I got the best space of the YEAR for Zumba Wednesday morning!) Even more awesomeness: no traffic on notoriously-heavy-Wed and then ALL GREEN lights down the busy road to the grocery store! Getting all green lights makes me ridiculously happy. :-)

* Major reinforcement of the lesson NOT to accuse people of screwing up until you have gotten the whole story directly from them: I wanted to explode on gym management re: T/Th Yin yoga being canceled...but I *knew* I should WAIT before going into attack mode until I had personally talked to the yoga coordinator - a nice acquaintance. Turns out, T is staying put, & moving Th will be less of a big deal than the other instructor suggested. Sooo glad I didn't let myself look like a fool by going off to everyone else in charge FIRST before getting the facts straight from the source!

* Prayers answered re: my VP of Cheer issue - we had a committee meeting this week, and we completely cleared the air. She still has...many other issues...but not with me personally, so WHEW! (My people-pleaser-self couldn't take it. :-/) Let's keep praying for her, for more positivity like I saw a tiny glimmer of this week.

* I bit the bullet & ordered new Zumba shoes for the first time in two years. I know serious runners get new shoes every six months or so, but I truly only use these for a couple hours a week (I only teach in them) and I've had special insoles, which I've replaced, in them; so it just seemed silly to buy new when these aren't falling apart at all. Buuut, my feet *have* started aching a bit, and there's a big sale right now, so instead of buying a 3rd pair of new insoles, I went with shoes. I'm nervous about the size & fit, since they aren't available in any stores to try on, but shipping & returns are free, so... We'll see!

* Civic duty! The kids were allowed to come to the voting booth with me & have "I voted!" stickers. :-) I have taken them with me to vote since they were infants. I want them to know how important this right is and to never take it for granted...even if it's "just" a dinky midterm primary. ;-)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Season Closer

Another 7-on-7 season in the books... :') I'm so proud of Will, his teammates, and crazy proud of my amazing head coach husband. He has made such a powerful positive impact in the lives of not only these boys, but their families, as well. Football is our favorite family time. ♥

Our Falcons were THRILLED to win 7-on-7 medals this season!

One of our assistant coaches videoed our final two games Friday night and made this fantastic highlight reel!!! Note Will Blake's defense at 0:49. Also, that female voice that doesn't shut up the whole video? Yeah, that's me. Of course. ;-)

There is *NO* beating our Falcons Family when it comes to heart, passion, commitment, & integrity in football!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's Up With Us

It's been an...emotional week. Here's what's up with us:

* Annelise chose to go BACK TO SCHOOL with just an hour left after her 8-year well check this week! :-) (She is dreading summer, she loves school so much!) Praising God for HEALTH: the pediatrician took her off of her reactive airway [coughing & wheezing triggered by infection] preventative! She's been on it since Dec. 2010; the kids were just both so sick so often when we lived up north, they never had long stretches w/o some nasal infection. Our ped here asked how often Annelise uses the rescue inhaler now; since it's only like 3 times a year when she gets sick, she said we should see what happens quitting the preventative. And Will can quit his, too, actually! Esp. during the summer months. If there are issues come fall & back-to-school germs, they can easily go back on them; but SUPER YAY for getting off meds for ANY stretch! :-D Annelise's vision has also apparently improved to 20/40! (She's been wearing glasses just for schoolwork for ~3 years; I'd heard this was possible, but I'm still shocked!) Texas seems to be where we thrive best!!! :-) She's a muscle-bound peanut at only 7th% for height (so my genes! I was the shortest girl in my class until 9th grade! :-P)

* I got fired up this week when we were told the gym wants to cancel the T/Th Yin yoga!!! WHAAAAT?!?! This isn't little or silly; those classes have run for years, they are full, & they are the most physical therapy some people get. For me, they not only heal what I strain teaching Zumba, but they have made me less injury-prone & more in tune with my body & health overall. They are priceless, and I am livid over this arbitrary call to "shake things up" w/ no regard for the people who actually participate. I don't feel like I can raise as big of a ruckus as I would if I weren't an employee, but I'm definitely going to encourage everyone in the classes to weigh in and send emails to the management. (We all know the lady in charge has...issues. :-P) They're saying they'll change Yin to Hot Vinyasa...which is already the next class after Yin, so I'm baffled by the motivation. The instructor said she'd be happy to keep teaching Yin, if that's what's decided. They also mentioned moving it from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM, which, instead of starting the day off right, cuts the day awkwardly right in half. It would be different if these two classes hadn't run at 8:30 AM for years before I even moved here or if attendance was low. Yeah, I'm *still* fired up...

* Barbell on Friday ROCKED!!! I felt so strong, even after missing last week to sub Will's 4th grade class at school (I got to take over for teacher appreciation ♥) & missing the last two weeks in April with my mom here & then me getting sick. I risked being super sore, though, b/c I skipped my recovery in the hot tub to pick up fresh fruit for football snacks during our last 7-on-7 games Friday night & so I'd have time to bake an end-of-season party football cake. (It turned out GREAT - sooo worth it! Dedicated football post coming...)

* Saturday morning, I had volunteered to sub another Zumba class, (the *last* one! I did last Saturday, too.) Since Will was also gone at a post-football sleepover, JB & Annelise had a daddy/daughter breakfast date. ♥
JB's caption: "What every little girl should have for breakfast: double crêpe, double scoop!"

* Saturday afternoon, we all went to a friend's "luau water slide" birthday party - such a gorgeous day! Will rocked that slide! (Annelise did, too, but Will caught more air ;-))

* This week also held the culmination of almost two months of crazy stressful cheer drama! (Cheer drama, you wonder? But cheer doesn't start until the end of July, right? Oh, there's already fireworks! :-P) Two-month-long story short: I'm the only coach who's had a ton of cheerleaders sign up for their squad, and now I'm over a new arbitrary squad size limit they set up...but didn't tell any of the coaches about before registration began. They're saying 16 max; I'm at 19. 3 girls might need to go, but those families are *NOOOT* having it! Their daughters have close friends who are returners on my squad, and they specifically wanted *me* as their coach, so that launched a huge battle with me trapped in the middle. I do NOT like breaking the rules, but I did think these girls should be allowed to stay on my squad, because they signed up so early, (the 1st weeks registration even opened in March! it still goes into July!) and they have so many friend connections already with us. Plus, I wasn't even told about the new squad size rule until it was too late & several new girls had already registered. (Had I known beforehand, I would've told my parents who wanted to invite their friends that we may be full, so they wouldn't get their hopes up or waste their money. No other team in the whole league gets close to the limit until maybe July, but *my team* needed to know, if they wanted this enforced; I felt blindsided.) The new girls' parents were (rightfully - I would, too) freaking out on me with tons of panicked emails, the VP of Cheer is *STILL* furious with me for being honest with the new parents that this could possibly happen after *THEY* came to me, (she wanted to keep them in the dark until the end of July = not cool! I will not string kids & parents who have paid good money along under false pretenses), & I just felt sick being stuck in the middle!!! After two days of private executive board meeting emails this week that I wasn't part of, I'm told it's fairly resolved now: everyone agrees I can & should keep my 19, but the VP of Cheer is still upset that we wouldn't play her waiting (for what?) game & sees us as rule breakers, b/c I stood up for this exception. I'd like to ask for prayer here: that this is the ONLY drama we experience this year, and that God would soften the VP of Cheer's heart & revamp our working relationship. We have polar opposite personalities; pray that God would better equip me to deflect & handle her pessimism in a proactive & productive way that builds new harmony in our leadership and dissolves the current climate of fatalistic discouragement & cynicism.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

10th Mother's Day

Almost 10 years ago: my first week as a mother, my mom's first week as a grandmother... As soon as this bundle arrived, she abdicated the throne and took the glory position of Queen Mum. :-D Being Queen is the hardest work...but I'm definitely thrilled to reign for the next ~20ish years. ;-)

On this, my 10th Mother's Day, I didn't get to sleep in. In fact, I think I was probably up even earlier than my 1st! I was tired...but I was honored to get to sing in church this Sunday for all of my fellow mothers and church family. ♥ It just fills my heart so much!

After church, we went out to a delectable Italian brunch right around the corner from our house: prosciutto & melon, pasta salad, Caprese salad, prime rib, omelets, waffles w/ strawberries & cream, breakfast pizza, penne, cheese pizza, pork, chicken marsala, fresh fruit, pastries, cannoli, tiramisu, & (oddly in an Italian place but deliciously Texan) the best tres leches cake I've ever eaten! Here's me & my pumpkin peach sharing a cream & strawberry-smothered waffle:

I am so thankful that God put motherhood in His plan for my life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reunited After 14 Years

It is *ALWAYS* worth the time to reunite with a precious friend!!!
One of my college roommates was in Houston for just one night Saturday, and it was our first time together in 14 YEARS!!! Stephanie sings & plays harmonium in a talented group that's currently on tour through the southwest; so after our glorious beach day, Annelise came with me into the city for their kirtan (performance with complete audience participation. :-)) It was dreamy to sing & harmonize together, again - we both sang together for years in our college's Concert Choir - and to have her finally meet Annelise in person. ♥ We've kept in close touch over the years via email, then blog & FB, so it truly felt like no time had passed. Annelise just beamed when Stephanie knew all the details of her birthday cake & party last week. :-D

It's always a blessing to have a friend who has witnessed your life path, can *see* the joy radiating from where you are now, and shares that light & love with you. ♥

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Beach Hammock

We drove back down to Surfside Beach Saturday morning...b/c we could! :-D It was the *MOST GORGEOUS* day and our last free Saturday for a few weeks. Can I tell you how happy it makes me to be just over an hour's drive to a beach?! The fact that we can just pop down for the morning - early afternoon rocks my world. Beach = happiness.

Ultimate brilliance: setting up our hammock on the beach!!! JB just took the stand apart at home and loaded it into the back of our truck! Since you can drive your vehicle right out onto the beach in Texas, we didn't have to lug all the parts across acres of burning sand. :-) Who doesn't dream of swaying in a hammock on the beach?! ♥

After we'd had our fill of beach play, we loaded up our hammock (& Block Rocker that we'd been playing music on :-)) and drove over to a beachfront café for lunch. It was glorious to sit in the sun, still be out on the beach, and enjoy some burgers & bbq chicken sliders!
(Will was happy, just hungry ;-))
We counted dolphin sightings (3!) before heading home to watch the Kentucky Derby. TOTAL DREAM DAY!!! And it got even better...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kid News

Random kid news to share:

Annelise was on her school's morning announcements TV show last week for donating a birthday book club book:
Omigosh, y'all - if any of my schools would have had a morning announcements TV show, I would have bent over backwards to be on there as often as possible!!! :-D

Annelise had her 2nd grade field trip Friday to an InterActive Theatre production of The Jungle Books in Houston. (I didn't get picked to chaperone - so many parents wanted to, they had to choose by lottery. :-/) But afterwards, all parents were invited to meet the buses at a giant park for lunch, so yay! Park selfie:
(Yes, I brought bubble tea as my snack. ;-))

Friday night was SPECTACULAR for our 7-on-7 spring passing league football team! How awesome is this pre-game huddle? ♥
We won our first game against another 4th grade team handily, and we ALMOST beat a 5th grade team in our second game!!! :-O We scored first, led at halftime...and boy, was their coach freaking out!!! :-D He was SO frustrated that his older boys were being beaten, he literally had a tantrum! We were so proud of our boys for not getting frustrated when the other team got dirty & extra aggressive. (This is *not* tackle - there are no pads or helmets; that's only in the fall. This is supposed to be passing, catching, and stopping your opponent with a light one-handed touch.) We only lost by ONE POINT in the last minute of the game! [They made their extra point on their last TD after we had not. :'(] It still felt like a win. We are so proud of the character & heart our team displayed, (on top of some awesome defense!!! ;-)) I can't believe next week is already the very last of this season...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

First Sewing Lesson

Annelise has been fascinated with really learning to sew for years. She first did hand sewing in Montessori preschool and Kindergarten; when one of her older BFFs in North Carolina got a sewing machine & made her a purse, she was sold! She's been asking for lessons, but I didn't want to do that until she had a machine, (and we didn't pursue that last fall, b/c we didn't have time to add another activity August-December.) When this year's American Girl of the Year came out as a long-blonde-haired, blue-eyed dancer who learns how to sew and design her own clothes & dance costumes, that was *IT*!!! :-D The learn-to-sew talk ramped up to a whole nother level. :-P

So happy birthday, Pookita! Grandma & Grandpa gifted her with the *real* (not kiddie) sewing machine of her dreams! ♥

Ummm, yeah - did I mention I know *nothing* about sewing? ;-) Not how to thread a machine, not how to wind a bobbin or where it even goes! :-D

But give me some forethought credit: I wouldn't voluntarily sabotage myself with frustration. ;-) One of *my* BFFs here is a very competent seamstress (she made the girls' poodle skirts!) and she said she'd be happy to teach us both! YAAAAAY, FRIENDS!!!

We took Annelise's machine over to her house for our first lesson after school Thursday (while the boys were at football.) She taught us (& actually her own daughter for the very 1st time, as well :-)) how to thread the top, how to wind a bobbin, where to put it, and how to thread that bottom part. She drew a bunch of straight lines on some old scrap fabric, and Annelise practiced sewing over the lines, as straight as possible.

I have to say, I was really impressed! I tried one or two, and she's naturally better than I am! :-D At the end, my friend drew some curvy lines to sew over, and whoa!!! Those were SO DIFFICULT to trace. We definitely need a LOT of practice! Annelise is SOOOOO excited about the practice part, though. :-) We're keeping her machine out on our dining room table, so she can practice whenever she asks. For our next lesson (probably in another week or so) my friend said we'd try to *make* something simple! Oooo & ahhh! :-D

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fondant Pom Pom Cake

I don't get über-fancy & obsess over the party details for my kids' birthdays, but I do put extra consideration into their cakes. I'm not a professional baker; I've never even taken a cake design class! But for whatever reason, I've just always wanted to bake their birthday cakes myself and have them be special. :-)

Enter this year's fondant pom pom cake for Annelise's 8th birthday party! Gorgeous & SO SIMPLE!

I baked the cake in a scallop shell cake pan I had, (I don't see why you couldn't also use a round,) and iced it with a coat of normal icing. I bought one box of plain white fondant & separated it into four equal parts. Annelise wanted her pom to be pink, purple, white, & red. White = easy. :-) I then put each of the three remaining quarters into their own zip top bags, added the requested food coloring drops, and kneaded each one to develop the color evenly throughout - without having to get any food coloring on my hands! ;-) With a rolling pin, I rolled out one color of fondant at a time and cut it into strips with a pizza cutter. [Pro tip: cornstarch will keep the playdough-esque fondant from sticking.] I strategically placed the strips of each color on the cake, reserving about half of the strips to add when I had all the colors cut, so they'd all be evenly distributed.

Just beginning with pink, then white:

That's really it. I kept adding strips until it was covered and had enough depth. I used extra white strips turned sideways to "make" the pom handle & faux elastic loop.

Finished fondant pom pom cake success: