Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Did It!!

I signed up...and as soon as I hit submit I threw up a little in my mouth.  Let the adventure to my first  half marathon begin!!

You know you want to do it with me! Go here to sign up!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

All Aboard!

Have you watched The Polar Express? Or read the book? If you haven't you should, it's a favorite in our house. 

Let me first say I wasn't sure what we would get when I decided to buy the tickets to ride The Polar Express. I heard of a few of these train rides around central Indiana but no one ever shared much on the actual experience. I also read where the French Lick Scenic Railway did one in French Lick, Indiana. Again, not a lot of information. The reviews online were hit or miss but I figured as beautiful as the area is and as fun as I remembered the resort being as a kid we decided to give it a go. I have been to the resort quite a few times with my family and grandparents, it always seemed so huge and beautiful, I knew Maddy would love it.

We were NOT disappointed and I now have hopes of making it a fun, holiday, tradition! 

C & C are so little this year that we decided not to take them, we dropped them off in Bloomington at my parents along the way. It was also a great opportunity for Adam and I to have some alone time with Madelyn. 

We had purchased the 7:30pm train ride but decided to check-in a little early to enjoy the resort. Adam and I had not been back since we were engaged there in 2005, another reason I love the place so much.

We did some "exploring" as Maddy likes to call it. The Christmas decorations were beautiful which added to the "magic" of the trip. 

The hotel has a bowling alley and indoor pool, Madelyn was set on doing both so we did a little bowling before dinner and late night swimming after the train ride.

We walked everywhere since everything is so close. We walked into downtown and had dinner at 33 Brick Street, it's the Larry Bird themed restaurant. It was probably the low part of the trip. It wasn't very good and the service was lacking. We didn't let that put a damper on our fun though!

After dinner we walked over to the train station for our ride to the North Pole. I snapped this picture of the resort on our walk.

They had heated tents filled with things for the kids to do, gift shop, and professional photograpers to snap your picture. 

We found our train car and our conductor was there to greet us. We heard the famous words "All Aboard" !

The train was decorated with lights and garland inside. We had two elves, Elf Holly and Elf Snowflake. Once the ride began the story started, they did a great job of acting out the high points. The conductor came to each family and punched our tickets just like in the movie.

 We were served hot chocolate and cookies while they sang and danced to the "hot chocolate" song. 

The rest of the story was read as we headed to the "North Pole". Part of the train ride was through a fairly long tunnel which was really neat. Once we arrived we saw Santa and his elves waving to us, the train stopped for a minute so we could look at the lights. Shortly we felt the train start back to the train depot. 

The ride back was filled with lots of singing and dancing.

AND, a special visitor! Santa had boarded the train and presented each child with the "First Gift of Christmas"! A silver bell, just like the movie. Maddy was very excited to receive that bell.

We arrived back at the train station and our adventure was complete. As we left the train there were boys dressed as old fashioned newspaper boys handing out papers. It was a cute touch.

We had a blast and will be returning next year, our goal is to get a train car filled with our friends and family. How fun would that be? 

So, who's going with us!?!?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

I keep seeing breakfast burritos/ tacos everywhere these days, even Steak n' Shake has them on their menu.  

I decided to give them a try at home, I mean how hard could they be. Plus, I figure if we like them I can make them and freeze them for an easy grab and go breakfast option.

You can use most anything you want in them but I opted for eggs, sausage, potatoes and shredded cheese.

I first cut up 1 large potato and fried it in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook until fork tender, you want the potato to hold it's shape.

At the same time I started browning one pound of pork sausage.  I like mine in small crumbles but you can break it up however small you prefer.

Next is eggs, I scrambled 4 eggs with a little milk, salt and pepper.  However you normally make your scrambled eggs should suffice.

Last step is to assemble them! I used regular store bought tortillas for my shell, then you just pile in a few potatoes, eggs and sausage. Top with a little shredded cheese and you're done. 

 We thought they were delicious.  I will definitely be making more to freeze so we can heat and go.  I have heard through friends that they freeze and re-heat very well.

P.S. Sorry for the bad pictures, my kitchen doesn't have the best natural light.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Where is Home?

Where is home? What do you consider home? Is it where you currently live?  For some reason these questions keep coming up for me lately, maybe it's because I'm emotional with having two new babies, or maybe it's that my oldest "baby" is headed to kindergarten next fall. Whatever it is I have done a lot of thinking about "home" lately, and for me, it will always be a combination of places.
I moved from Bloomington, the town I grew up in, to Indianapolis in 2004. I needed to get out of that town and spread my wings, had to see what else might be out there.  I wanted to leave but I didn't want to go far, I mean this girl needed to be able to see her dad & sister within a short drive.  Looking back I believe part of me wanted to leave because so much of it reminded me of my mom, who I had lost a few years prior.  It was almost torture to be there and not have her with me.
I have been in Indianapolis going on 10 years now, Adam and I bought our home almost 8 years ago.  I can honestly say that I love our house and we have made it a home. It feels comfortable and cozy, things that I feel are a must in a home.  We have family and friends who visit and say they just want to curl up with a blanket and go to sleep, to me this means I have done my job of creating a warm, welcoming house.  A place people feel comfortable enough to kick off their shoes, grab a blanket and make them selves at home.  This is 'home"!

But, is your house all that matters in feeling at "home", or are there other factors?
On a recent trip to Bloomington Madelyn asked me "mom, why does it take so long to get to Papaw & Grandma and Aunt Saddie's house"?  I explained the obvious, that they live in a different town and that it takes 90 minutes to get there.  That wasn't good enough and here is how the conversation went:
Maddy: NOOOO mom, why do they live in a different town then us?
Me: Well, mommy grew up in Bloomington where they live but when I got older, MUCH older then you, I decided to move to Indianapolis.
Maddy: Why?
Me:  Because I wanted a change and your daddy and I decided to get married so we bought a house and stayed in Indianapolis.
Maddy: So it's your fault!
Me: I guess so.
And there you have it folks, my four year old called me out! Yes, I guess it kind of is my fault that we live in Indianapolis. As we drove on and began to enter Monroe county on Highway 37 I got my usual sense of calm.  I can't explain it but it's almost like a sigh of relief my body does, as if to say "welcome home".  This time though I noticed how Maddy began commenting on our surroundings, she was pointing out the hills, the big rocks, and pretty trees that made up the landscape.  She can feel it to, there truly is something special about this town.  This is "home"!Some of you know that my family owns a bed & breakfast in Bloomington, if you haven't stayed, you should!   I lived in the original part of the house when I was a little girl, until I was 5 years old. I then returned to the house as an 18 year old and lived in the upstairs, it was my apartment. It was my great grandmother's house, I absolutely adored her.  I spent many days there with her after my family moved into our new house next door. I would play dress up in her shoes, hats, scarves and jewelry.  She was always on board to let me do her hair and make-up.  I can specifically remember standing in the kitchen drinking our "black cows" next to the heater so we would stay warm. I also remember exactly how she and the house smelled. We still have many family gatherings in that house even though it's a B&B now, to me it just feels "right".  This is "home"!

I'm not sure where I am going with this other then it recently occurred to me that "home" isn't exactly one particular place for me.  Home for me is a combination of places but the one common denominator...FAMILY!   I suppose the saying "home is where your heart is" rings true for me, because my heart is where my family is.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bottles Galore

This is my life these days...I wonder how many hours of the day I have a bottle in my hand. It would be interesting to know, right? Between preparing, feeding and washing, it probably feels like more time then it actually is.

It wouldn't matter if it was 24 hours a day, I wouldn't trade these two for anything!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Field Trips

We are two field trips in already this year, and when I say "we" I am talking Maddy, Carter, Colten and myself. I am THAT mom, paranoid to let her 4 year old go on a field trip without her. Even if it means I have to take my 3 month old twins with me! It's okay, I warned the teacher I would be absolutely NO help to her. 

Our first trip was to Pleasant View Andersons Orchard for some apple picking, cider tasting and of course play time.  Maddy was excited about her bag of apples she got to pick. I think the girl actually went into the tree to pick apples, she had nasty, molded apple reminants in her hair when we got home.

This week we headed to the pumpkin patch at S & H Campground. It was a great place, tons of jump houses, playground, hay rides, corn maze, miniature golf and train rides. I had to skip the hay ride, not sure Carter and Colten were up for tractor rides quite yet. 

Maddy picked a cute little pumpkin all on her own! It was a bit muddy, it had rained the night before. It was impossible to keep the kids off of the slides and bounce houses, they were all a bit wet and muddy by the end of the trip.  

Maddy thoroughly enjoyed herself and was falling asleep before I got the car out of the campground. 

Two field trips down! Wonder how many more I will go on over the years with these kiddos?!?!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Boobs...overrated right?!?!

Well, I guess it's a matter of opinion, and frankly probably depends on whether you're male or female in most cases.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, many of you know that I lost my mom almost 13 years ago to the horrible disease.  I in no way intend for this to be a depressing blog post but I want to bring awareness, especially since my friends and myself included are at the age where breast cancer becomes real.  My mom was only 39 years old when she was first diagnosed, within 2 years she had undergone chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, remission, more surgery, more treatment and ultimately death, at only 41 years old. I am fast approaching these same ages, 39 is only 6 1/2 years away, 41 is only 8 1/2 years away.  Reality is settling in... I have to do something about it!! 
                Me with my mom 1999
I find the numbers to be startling when you look at how many people will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer this year in the US alone. The estimate is 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 64,640 new cases of situ breast cancer. Unfortunately it also shows an estimate of 39,620 breast cancer deaths. We absolutely have to be proactive and do our self checks as well as get mammograms.  Since 2005, the incidence of breast cancer has remained stable. While this is good news I would really love to see the word decline instead of stable.
So what am I going to do about it?  Well, my sister and I have had this conversation numerous times. I have decided to meet with a Genetics Counselor and get tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. I have delayed doing so because I didn't want the results to impact my decision to have kids. Selfish, maybe? And FEAR!!!  I won't lie, I am terrified.  I guess the unknown has been kind of comforting in a way. I am going to conquer this fear, because every time I feel a twinge or pain I can't let my mind take over. What if it's BREAST CANCER?   It's the first step, once I have the results then I can make a more educated decision on what step 2 is. One thing I do know for sure,  I'm not ready to leave my babies and husband any time soon.  I will do what makes the most sense for our family.
What would you do if you tested positive for the BRCA gene? I want to share one story with you.  I grew up with Lindsey and her sisters in Bloomington, we went to the same church and attended youth group together.  I find her story to be so inspiring and in part more reason I have decided to meet with a Genetics Counselor. Lindsey did the genetics testing along with her sisters and after testing positive with the BRCA2 gene decided to have a prophylactic double mastectomy.  Lindsey is strong, courageous and brave!!!   Please go read her story and keep her in your prayers as she is in her recovery stage now. Lindsey, thank you for giving me the extra push I needed. Reading your story helped me realize I need to stop avoiding it and make the decision to get tested, we cannot let fear win!
I urge all the women in my life to do your self examinations and get mammograms regularly, I don't want to lose any one else in my life to this disease. My mom was enough!!!
Source: Susan G Komen

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My New Aldi Obsession

When Adam and I decided I wouldn't be returning to work full time I new I needed to find a few ways to cut down on some of our costs.  I began reading a book called "Miserly Moms, Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy" by Jonni McCoy.  She had some great tips, one of which I knew would be huge for our family and that was cutting down on our food cost.

I started clipping coupons but I quickly realized I was horrible at actually remembering to use them and often times the store brand was still cheaper even after you use a coupon on a name brand.  I reduced our cost a little but still felt like I could do better.  During a specific week I had the store Aldi come up in two different conversations, I had never shopped there and honestly thought it was probably low quality food.  I am not willing to compromise taste for my family.  After a little research online I decided to give Aldi a try and...I'm hooked!!

First let me tell you a little about Aldi and what makes it different from other grocery stores. It's small and compact, this I like because I don't have to walk 2 miles from one side of the store to the other. Not that I don't need the exercise but it's more of a time thing.  Aldi originated in Germany and the founder also started the Trader Joe's grocery chain.  They offer a Double Guarantee on their products, this means they will not only replace something they also refund your money.  Aldi is able to keep costs low a few ways but here are a few you will notice while shopping.  You need a quarter to get your shopping cart, this cuts down on staff costs because they don't have to worry about collecting carts throughout the day. Every one takes their cart back to get your quarter back!  They don't have shelves, the products are stacked on pallets. You bag your own groceries, they have bags but you have to buy them.  I love this because I use my own reusable bags and feel like it's another way my family can help the environment and lessen our footprint.  The store hours are fewer then most premium grocery stores, they only stay open during the "busy" shopping hours.  The staff that check you out are also the staff stocking your shelves.  I noticed after a few trips that Aldi cashiers are way faster then cashiers in other stores, I found out that they place bar codes in numerous spots on their products, this makes for a faster check out process.

Once I decided to give Aldi a try I was a bit hesitant, I only bought a few things.  I did notice that their produce was so much cheaper, and it looked good too.  I bought some avocados and pineapple, both of which I returned a few days later and bought more of.  They were great!!  I have been shopping at Aldi for a few months now and I am totally hooked, I am actually mad at myself for not shopping here earlier.  I have bought everything from chips to goat cheese to pumpkin spice creamer. Some items have been even better then the premium, name brand product.  The only item we have purchased and not cared for thus far has been their shells and cheese, and honestly, I don't need to be buying that any way.  I haven't bought much meat, not because it doesn't look good but because I don't find the prices to be cheaper.  We tend to buy our meat more in bulk and freeze it.

So here are a few of our favorites to buy at Aldi:
Ritz Crackers
Shredded Cheese
Coffee Creamers
Spices and all baking products
Produce, Produce, Produce (it's always limited to what's in season)
String Cheese
Mini Muffins
Tortilla Chips
Yogurt tubes
Toilet Paper (it's seriously good)
Crescent Rolls
Goat Cheese
Pastries/ Bagels

They have great seasonal products like Sangria, Pumpkin Cream Cheese (it's to die for good), these awesome Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels you bake yourself and much more.

So far I am impressed and continue to be amazed at how much I get for what I spend.  So I urge you to give Aldi a try.  If you need a shopping buddy for your first trip email me, I am always looking for a reason to go!!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Easy Fall Apple Crisp

I had the opportunity to go with Madelyn on a field trip to Pleasant View Orchard last week. She was so proud of the apples she picked, it was really sweet!

The day before the field trip I went to the grocery store and in a tired fog forgot we were going to be picking apples. So naturally I bought the largest bag they had!  Needless to say I needed to use some apples and decided to experiment with apple crisp.  My second attempt was the best so I thought I would share the recipe. It's super easy!!!

You will need: 

8" baking dish

6-8 large apples of your choice (I used Gala and Johnathan)

Cinnamon and/ or apple pie spice

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup quick baking oats

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Peel, core and slice your apples. Place them evenly in two layers in your dish and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and apple pie spice (optional).

In a seperate bowl combine your flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar and salt. Cut in your cold butter.  

This is the fun part, begin mixing with your hands until all ingredients are combined, it should be crumbly.  Cover the apples with the crumb mixture. 

Bake at 375 for 40 mins, the top should be slightly brown.