Friday, September 24, 2010

Afternoon Snack

It never fails that around 4:00, my stomach starts growling and my mind starts wondering what I have in my pantry to fix for an afternoon snack.  Lately I have been grabbing some awesomely good avocados at the grocery store, so it has been guacamole time in my kitchen.  I love guacamole.  When I was little, you couldn't pay me to touch the stuff since it was gloppy and green, two very bad things to a picky little girl.  But at some point in my life, I had the guts to try it and was pleasantly surprised at how great it tasted!  Had I been missing out or what!?  If I'm just making a quick snack, I go for simplicity:  one mashed avocado, salt, pepper, done.  But if I'm making a "fancy" batch, my favorite things to add are:  onion (finely diced), cilantro, fresh lime juice (or fresh orange juice is good too!), and sometimes tomatoes.  Throw in some corn chips and you are good to go!  For something different, Mike's aunt taught me how to make a delicious "GLT" sandwich.  Just make my simplified version of guacamole, spread it on whole grain bread, add sliced tomatoes and lettuce (and if you're feeling crazy some thinly sliced red onion) and you have a very yummy sandwich.  It's all good, my friends!

What are some of your typical afternoon snacks?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Day of Work

Ready to go
I started a new job today!  You may recall that this past spring I worked part time at a local elementary school as a reading tutor.  Well, I am basically doing the same thing at another elementary school this fall.  I am just working five hours a week (2.5 on Monday and Wednesday afternoons), but it is enough to help out with the family finances and keep me in the teaching world a little bit.  People ask me all the time if I miss teaching full time.  I do miss it a little bit, but not enough to want to go back just yet.  This time with my three little ones is so precious that I don't want to trade it for anything else.  But, the school needed certified teachers, I enjoy teaching, so voila!  5 hours a week and it's a deal.  This year, however, I will be tutoring some sweet second graders in both reading and math.  I think I can handle second grade math.  I think. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Wide World of Sports

When it comes to athletics, I am not very gifted.  At. All.  I am not great at hand/eye coordination for starters.  And I lack the raw aggressive nature to jump into the action.  Example:  Back in 2003 our church was coordinating a sand volleyball league for the summer.  We decided to join a group of friends in forming a team.  We met at various local parks to practice, but when it came to actually playing a game I did not fare well.  I would look up and see the volleyball coming down precisely in my direction and instead of stepping up and going for it, I would scream and go another direction.  It was embarrassing. 

Growing up I never played any organized sports.  Maybe if I had, I would not have faltered so badly at volleyball.  But by high school I was comfortable in my own niche of activities:  piano and ballet, which both suited me just fine.  With this in mind, I wondered how my own children would fare at sports.  This past Saturday we got a small glimpse when the girls played in their very first soccer game.

The night before we laid out their jerseys, cleats, shorts and shin guards.  We discussed the fundamentals and even practiced kicking the ball around in our own backyard.  Mike is a huge soccer fan, so he was pumped.  I was a little nervous for them, but still excited.  When we arrived, we found our coach and other teammates and got ready to watch a bunch of kindergartners run up and down a field. 

Leah really surprised us as the more aggressive player of the two.  She had such a great attitude.  She didn't get embarrassed if she accidentally kicked the ball out of bounds or in the direction of the other team's goal.  She gave it her all, running with wild abandon, piggy-tails flying in the wind and her cheeks red as tomatoes.  On the sidelines, she cheered loudly for her teammates and yelled encouraging things like, "Way to go, Hannah!"  Hannah did a great job too, but unfortunately, she may have inherited some of her mother's timidity toward getting into the action.  She ran fast, but stayed on the outskirts of what was happening.  She also got really embarrassed when she did something wrong.  I think she has amazing potential, but will have to grow and mature the longer she plays.  That is something I never had the opportunity to do. 

Ultimately, I just want them to have fun and try new things.  We're not trying to push to have two professional athletes.  If in a few years they choose never to play sports again, that's fine with me.  I just want them to try.  To learn to roll with the punches if you lose and to win with grace and respect. 

Did you play sports growing up?  What did you do?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beach Baby

Do you remember your first trip to the beach?  Do you remember the way the sand felt between your toes?  The sound of the waves rolling in and out?  The smell of salt in the air?  Maybe you lived near a beach and were lucky enough to visit often?  Living in a land-locked state like Oklahoma did not afford me many chances to go play in any ocean waves.  Lakes, yes.  Oceans, no.  My list of oceans/seas/gulfs visited is pretty short:  Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Mediterranean Sea, and The Atlantic. 

My first trip to a true beach was when I was five.  My parents took me down to Galveston, TX to build sand castles and chase sea gulls.  I remember the squishy feeling of the sand.  And I remember that I loved my new red bathing suit with tiny white polka-dots all over it.  I felt pretty spiffy. 

My daughters, sadly, have never been to a beach, but dream of playing in the water and hunting for sea shells.  Lucas, however, got to experience his first beach trip last month.  It was a beautiful 85 degree day.  Bright sun. Gentle waves.  It was near perfect (except for the fact that Hannah and Leah were not with us).  Watching him take in his new surroundings was priceless.  I loved the way he picked his feet up high as he tried to walk in the shifting sand.  He showed a big, gap-toothed grin when he felt the cold water tickle his chubby feet.  He is a very thoughtful kid, staring intently at things as if he is really trying to figure them out.  He spent a lot of his time sitting on a beach towel or on a comfy lap just taking it all in.  I am so glad we got to have that experience with him!
At Sandy Hook Beach

Two great smells:  salt water and sweet baby

Checking things out

Coming back to mom

Love this boy, boogers and all!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Garage Sale

Do you all like to bargain shop at garage sales?  We call them garage sales here in this part of the country, but some people call them yard sales.  Same thing.  My mom and I have one about every two or three years.  Usually in the days leading up to the sale as we are collecting things, pricing them, and sweeping out the garage, we declare that it is not worth all the effort.  But then when it is all over and we are counting up the money we made we think maybe we could have just one more. 

I love finding a good deal on something at a garage sale.  Especially something I need and will most definitely use.  Like when I hit the motherload at a garage sale several years ago.  My girls were only a few months old and I stumbled upon a sale where a family was selling TONS of twin girls' clothes.  They were in great shape and were super cheap.  Score! 

I also like finding a good deal on a unique piece of art or a collectible that I find particularly interesting.  We don't have a lot of knick-knacks at our house, so we are pretty choosy when it comes to what we display or hang on the walls.  But we are always on the hunt for something cool to decorate with.  Some of my favorite garage sale finds have been an old wooden crate stamped with the words "New York".  Turns out it was a box used to ship weapons during World War II and we used it as a coffee table for years.  Another treasure was when we found a very old film projector that we displayed on a bookshelf for quite awhile.  With Mike's love of film and his love of vintage finds, it was a perfect fit for us.

Another one of my favorite bargain finds for many reasons: #1) I like birds. #2) I think it's pretty. #3) It reminds me of the little bird figurine in the movie Up.  Do you remember that?  The older man keeps it on his mantel because it reminds him of his wife.  Awww...
Oh and please ignore the dust on top of my dresser.  Haven't gotten around to dusting anytime recently. Ahem.

This weekend my mom and I had quite a successful garage sale.  Between the two of us we made nearly $700!  I sold several car seats, some crib bedding, baby clothes, an old printer, some place mats, shoes, purses, candles, etc.  Really it didn't seem like much, but it all added up quick.  And whatever we had leftover we are donating to a thrift store that helps homeless women with children.  I find a lot of satisfaction in knowing that hopefully my old stuff went to good homes or helped make a small difference in someone else's life. 

What have been some of your all time best garage sale (or thrift store) finds?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Photos From Rachel

My sister-in-law, Rachel, sent me a few photos she took while we were in New York City.  She always takes great pictures.
Me chatting with Rachel's husband, Juan.  That's my sweet niece, Velda, next to Lucas.
Jump, Veldalita!
Steven Tyler crossing the street (he's in the black shirt and hat).
The sweetest grin ever.

I just got back from working out this morning.  I've been going to a cardio/strength training class twice a week for awhile now and it is really helping me get back into shape.  It is raining here and cooler finally (high of 82 today!).  The house is dark, and I hope Lucas is down for a nice long nap.  Mike is busy working in the office.  Oh, and for those who want to know a job update, he is currently looking at just freelancing from home full time.  He's got several clients that can supply him with a lot of work, but we are just thinking about that for now.  We've got to look into our insurance options and see if it will all work out.  We're optimistic though!  The girls are at school and are hopefully having a fun day.  When they come home in the afternoon they are always full of stories about their days.  I think my goal today is to do some laundry and get some things ready for a garage sale my mom and I are having this weekend. 
What are you doing today?

Friday, September 3, 2010

One NY Photo

Mike and I and an incredible NYC view
We had such a wonderful vacation to the East Coast last weekend.  We've been home now for almost a week, but with school and all the post-trip chores to do, I am just now finding time to blog again.  Mike is almost through editing all the other pictures we took while we were there which I will post sometime soon.  Until then, let me recap our trip for you:

Wednesday-- Arrived in Newark, NJ at 11:00 pm.  Lucas did great on both flights (OKC to Dallas and Dallas to Newark). He mostly slept but when he was awake we kept him happy by feeding him a steady stream of Cheerios and Goldfish.

Thursday-- We spent the entire day with Mike's brother Juan and his family at Sandy Hook Beach on the Jersey Shore.  Lucas loved the sand and the waves.  He slept in the warm afternoon sun snuggled up with his Aunt Tracy.  Mike and I swam out into the cold Atlantic water and jumped in the waves like we were eighteen again.  There was also plenty of boogie boarding, body surfing, shell collecting, and sand castle building.  When we finally left the beach in the early evening hours, we headed back to Juan and Tracy's house in Cranford, NJ where we snacked on cookies, then headed outside after dark to let all the kids (and adults) light sparklers. 

Friday--We spent the morning hanging out with Mike's sister Rachel and her daughter Velda.  Around 2:00 we caught the train into New York City.  While waiting for the train to arrive, we overheard this conversation (so typical of Jersey).
Man (with a very thick east coast accent) buying a train ticket says to the woman behind the ticket counter:  "I like what you're doing with your hair."
Woman:  "Thank you."
Man:  "It looks just like my mother's hair.  That is, before someone killed her." 
Once we met up with Rachel's husband, Juan, at Penn Station (Yep, I have two different brother-in-laws named Juan), our first stop was to visit my cousin, Katie at her new New York City apartment.  Katie just moved to the Big Apple a month ago to begin law school at Fordham University.  I'm so proud of that girl!  After our short visit, we then proceeded to meander around the city stopping to take a few pics or to grab a snack.  We did have a celebrity sighting while crossing the street near Columbus Circle.  Glancing to my left in a sea of people all trying to get across the street, I spotted Steven Tyler from Aerosmith!  He was smoking a huge cigar and once we recognized him, we could hear lots of whispers from other people in the crowd also figuring out who he was.  Mike whipped out his phone and got a quick video.  Friday ended with all of us meeting up with Mike's parents,his Uncle James and his fiancee' Linda at Dallas Barbecue for a rehearsal dinner.  Let's just say, it was nearly 8:00 by the time we were seated and Lucas had not been able to take an afternoon nap, so he was out of his mind fussy.  After trying all the tricks in the book to calm him down, Mike's mom offered him a lemon slice out of her water.  Surprisingly, he started sucking on it, acting like he loved it!  It calmed him down and we were able to stay and enjoy the rest of our dinner.

Saturday-- Wedding day!  James and Linda were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony under a tree in Strawberry Fields in Central Park.  Just a few yards away from the Imagine Circle, we were serenaded by many people paying homage to John Lennon.  Lots of James and Linda's friends from their acting class came to support them and lots of tourists walking by stopped to listen in on the vows.  My brother-in-law, Juan Martinez, officiated the ceremony, Rachel took photos and Mike did the video.  I chased Lucas around. :)
The reception was the most amazing part of our trip.  It was held on the rooftop of the most swank penthouse I've ever been to (Ok, it was the only penthouse I've ever been to!).  Think of how Donald Trump might decorate an apartment and that is basically what it was like.  But we didn't spend much time inside the penthouse at all because it was the view from the top that took the cake.  There was a 360 degree view of New York City at sunset.  Jazz was playing, fancy h'orderves were served and everyone was just walking around, champagne in hand, filled with awe at the incredible views-- The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, The East River.  That's where Mike and I are in the photo above.  The photo cannot even do it justice.  It was such a beautiful night.

Sunday-- We flew through Chicago this time as we made our way back home to the flat lands of Oklahoma.  Lucas again slept most of the flights and I managed to finish a really, really good book entitled Same Kind of Different as Me (a review to come soon!).  It was a short but sweet trip, and I was so glad to be home and hug my girls' necks.  I really missed them.  We're already talking about driving up there next summer, and I can't wait!

I'll post some more photos soon!