Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Catching Up)

Hello Again!  It's been a while since I've written here.  There are a few reasons with the biggest being life got in the way.  We haven't had a ton going on that was worth writing about but at the same time we've been super busy.  Nov and Dec have been pretty good months for us and I'm looking forward to what 2016 has in store for us.  More on that in the next few days.

So what have we been up to?  Where do I start?  The big things I guess.  We celebrated Thanksgiving (twice) with the Jones grandparents before they headed down to Florida for the winter.  We celebrated Carl's birthday with the traditional meal of pizza, beer & cake.  We took the older boys to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" the musical.  It was a great show, perfect for their first theater experience.  Grandma took Zak for that day & took him to McDonald's & Meijer, he didn't realize he missed out on anything with us. 

Christmas came and went was amazing!  Santa finally granted the boys wish of a WiiU and they were beyond thrilled.  They got a bunch of games from the family so we have a nice start on a collection for the new system.  We also got a bunch of board and card games.  We have been enjoying all of them this break.
The boys also got an experience gift from us, we went to see Marvel Universe Live yesterday and it was fantastic!  We all really enjoyed the show, especially all of the stunts.  And AJ had the best time when "Hulk" gave him a thumbs up at the end of the show.  We were about 7 rows back & he was standing right in front of us.  AJ had on a Hulk hat from his cotton candy so the Hulk actor caught his eye and gave him a thumbs up, twice.  The look on AJ's face was priceless, SO excited!

Other than those big things life has been cruising along with our normal busy pace.  AJ is still playing ice hockey & is constantly improving.  His hockey team skated at intermission of a Columbus Blue Jackets game.  Daniel is really enjoying Boy Scouts.  He competed in his first Boy Scout Raingutter Regatta (and lost badly).  Zak is loving soccer & is excited to play football in the spring.  Zak finished up ice skating lessons and moved on to the next class (although we are taking a session off right now).  All 3 boys want to start baseball in the spring too.  AJ & Daniel didn't finish up their bowling league last season, it just became too much for our schedule.  But we are back to that and swimming starting in January.  All 3 are also still doing great in school.  AJ is working very hard to try to get straight A's this quarter at school.  He's close and has another 2 weeks when break is over to get there.  I hope he makes it!  Adrian has worked a bunch of overtime and then scored this whole week between Christmas & New Year's off.  He was bummed the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State but is excited for the bowl game.  I taught a bunch of Zumba classes, volunteered a ton at the schools and successfully got everyone where they needed to be.  I am holding my breath for the Jets to make the playoffs.

I think I'll stop talking there and drop a few photos for you to look at.  I'm sure there is more I'm forgetting about, but these were the highlights.  Come back later this week for a recap of my 2015 goals, 2016 goals, a return to menu planning and a recap of our winter break.  It feels good to be back!
Daniel at the Raingutter Regatta
Zak and his bird feeder
Ohio Theater Selfie

Zak the ice skater
AJ the hockey player

Mailing Santa letters
Santa picture
Daniel's gingerbread house
Christmas Eve - it was 60+ degrees!
Our WiiU gifts - nice start to our collection
Marvel selfie!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (School Updates)

I was going to do this post in mid-Oct after I had the older boys' parent teacher conferences and when they got their first quarter report cards.  But I decided to wait until after I also had Zak's parent teacher conference at the end of Oct so I could update about all 3 at once.

AJ is doing great in 3rd grade!!  We all struggled a little at first with a lot of changes this year, new school, gifted class, 2 teachers instead of only 1 all day, lots of homework, riding the bus, etc.  But after a somewhat bumpy start we are hitting our groove.  I ended up having conferences with both of his teachers and they both said he's doing really well.  He is extremely smart and is doing great academically.  He is still struggling a little socially but they both said not to worry about that right now, that it will come eventually.  And he does struggle a little during transitions but they have found some work arounds for him and will document it so we can update his IEP as necessary going forward.  He finished the first quarter with all A's and B's which we are all thrilled with since this is also the first time he is getting letter grades.
Daniel is thriving in 1st grade!  He is handling the transition to full day school like a champ.  He really enjoys having 2 recesses and specials at school now, although I think he would prefer to come home for lunch.  He is doing great academically, right where he should be for his age.  And his behavior is fantastic!  He often clips "off the chart" for his great behavior during the day at school.  He already has his clip on the "Hall of Fame" in the principal's office, he's one of only 5 students to do that so far this year.  He was a little bummed that none of his friends were in his class, but he had no problem making new friends in his class this year.  He also won a special award at the end of the 1st quarter for Outstanding Achievement being Respectful.  He was very surprised to get the award and I am SO proud of him!
Zachary is also doing fantastic in his first year in preschool.  His teacher is very impressed with his behavior and what a good listener he is.  He is right where he should be for his age academically.  His favorite things to do are make crafts and go outside for recess.  He is also doing really well socially becoming friends with the other kids in his class.  His teacher said he was a little shy at first but the last two weeks he has really come out of his shell and let his personality shine.
I am so thankful that all of the boys are doing well in school so far this year, despite some very big changes for all of them.  I am also thankful that they have amazing teachers!  I know none of this would be possible without them and how hard they work.  I can't wait to see how the next 3/4 of our school year progresses!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Halloween - Part 2)

After our busy weekend, we continued celebrating Halloween all last week.

We started with Zak having a Halloween party at his school on Wednesday.  He enjoyed lots of Halloween snacks, came home with a whole book bag full of treats and made a few crafts.  He wasn't allowed to wear his costume (who wants to help 8 3-year olds go to the potty in those costumes??) so he wore his Minion shirt instead.  And the class "dressed up" for us for pick up time.  We walked in & they all looked like this:
Welcome to the pumpkin patch!!
Then we did our third and final trunk or treat on Wednesday.  It was another rainy day and I was thinking about not going because I figured since it was inside it wouldn't be super crowded.  But a friend said it usually isn't very busy so we decided to go.  She was wrong.  It was CRAZY!  But Daniel, Zak and I made the best of it and had a great time!  AJ had to miss this one because he had hockey practice.  I was so busy having fun, I forgot to take pictures this night.

Then Wednesday night we got a little off track when AJ and I both came down with a stomach bug.  Thankfully AJ woke up on Thursday feeling fine but mine hung around a little longer and I was down until Friday morning.  Thursday we cancelled our busy day and spent the day relaxing and recovering.

Thursday night was trick or treat in our neighborhood because for some reason Columbus doesn't want the kids trick or treating on a weekend night.  I was too sick to go but Adrian took the boys out for about 90 minutes.  They were joined by their friends and my brother, sister in law and niece.  Everyone had a great time and came home with a ton of candy!  Again, no pictures since

Friday we stayed low key since I was still recovering and we were really trying to have everyone healthy for actual Halloween on Saturday.  We watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and then watched the Mets win.  Saturday started early for me with a tough Zumba class and then AJ had his first hockey game of the season.

After we got thru all of our "have to's" on Saturday, then we were on to the fun part!  We headed out to our friend's neighborhood to trick or treat since that town was doing it on actual Halloween.  That neighborhood was great!  There were so many houses that were decorated fun and every one was giving out handfuls of candy.  Everyone was super nice and we had a blast.  We were only out for around an hour because it started to rain and we really had enough candy.

Our last stop on our Halloween tour was to Chipotle for their $3 Boo-ritos.  You had to add an extra to your costume to get the deal so we brought the boys in their costumes and AJ added a TMNT to his back, Daniel had sunglasses & a wand and Zak had a sword.  I also wore Zak's minion googles on my head just to ensure we got the deal for all of our burritos.  Adrian & I got our usual wraps and AJ tried and enjoyed a steak taco.

After gorging ourselves on Chipotle and candy, we let the boys stay up as late as they wanted.  AJ had been begging to stay up to watch sports with us for a while, so we let him stay up to watch the Mets.  We knew with the time change Sun would be a nightmare anyway so we figured why not.  Zak passed out on the couch around 10:30 but both other boys made it past 11 and to the end of the game.  Everyone slept in on Sun and the day went better than any other time change day has gone ever.  Maybe after 8 years we finally figured out how to deal with the time change?

It was a super fun Halloween season for us!!  Now we have a slight break before the whirlwind that is Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We will be taking it easy for the next few weeks to get ready for all that we have going on for that month.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Halloween - Part 1)

We love to celebrate Halloween around here!  We started 2 weeks ago with Boo at the Zoo and had two other things planned that weekend that didn't pan out.  I always plan more than we will actually do so that when plans fall thru, we still have plenty left to have fun.

Last weekend was jam packed with Halloween fun!  It started with Haunted Happenings at AJ's school on Friday night.  We had a blast trick or treating in the hallways, playing games in the classrooms and visiting the book fair.  The highlight for the boys was sliding down the giant slide in the gym.  AJ did it during the day and the other 2 were so excited to do it that night.  It was also fun to see a lot of our friends, both for the boys and for me.  And we got some pretty awesome pictures there, the Minions one is seriously my favorite picture ever.


Saturday after we did our normal Saturday stuff, swimming, hockey & Zumba, we headed out to our first trunk or treat of the year.  We went to Stoneybrook Church in Gahanna for the second year in a row.  We had a blast there last year & this year was much of the same, even if the event had to be moved inside because of the rain.  We got to all of the "trunks" to collect candy, played games, made crafts, met a Minion and ate yummy food including Daniel's first ever cotton candy.  We had planned to go to our town's Halloween party this night too, but it was cold and rainy so we decided to skip it.

On Sunday AJ was invited to a birthday party for a girl in his class so he headed there in his Hulk costume.  He had a very fun time playing with everyone there.  While he was there Adrian took the other two boys to trunk or treat number 2 at TriVillage Church in Pataskala.  We go out there every year, it's one of our favorites.  I didn't go this year because the Jets/Pats game was on & I was sucked into that.  Adrian said it was very crowded but they had a great time!  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from that day since I didn't go to any of the events.

It was a Halloween fun filled weekend for us!  We also got a lot of stuff done around the house and rested up for a busy Halloween week!  Come back tomorrow to see how the rest of the week went.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 11/2 - 11/8)

Happy November!!  I didn't post my meal plan last week because it was honestly either leftovers, pizza and sandwiches every day last week.  We had something going on every night on top of our busy days.  I'm glad I had an easy plan since AJ and I were also struck down with the stomach bug in the middle of the week.  I was in bed most of Thursday and had to miss our town's trick or treat.  Luckily we had another one planned for last night and we all got to go together.

So my eating has been pretty horrible.  Seriously when I started to feel sick Weds night I assumed it was because I had eaten 4 pieces of candy before bed.  I need to reign it in some this month.  I won't be perfect, I have plans for dinner this Weds, then two different food trucks coming to town the next two weeks, plus Thanksgiving.  But I'm going to start with eating as healthy as I can other than these special things.  My weight loss goal always changes to "maintain" instead of "lose" from mid-Oct to early Jan for my own sanity...and that of those who love me.

Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Squashed Washington - I'm making this today so we just have to bake it tomorrow
Tuesday - Chicken Paprika
Wednesday - Potbelly Subs for a school fundraiser
Thursday - Chicken Fajita Pasta
Friday - Leftovers - I will be at the school all night setting up for a huge vendor/craft fair the next morning.  If we don't have leftovers, Adrian will probably do something on the grill and I'll grab something on the go
Saturday - Saucy Asian Meatballs over and fried "rice"
Sunday - Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

I also plan to make this black bean soup for lunch at some point this week.  Either Tuesday while the boys are off from school.  Or Thursday or Friday while I have a little lighter schedule.

Water Flavor - Pear.  This is another one of my favorites.  I also have to share that last week I did cucumber infused water, which is delicious on it's own.  However when I got sick I was using spearmint essential oil to help settle my stomach.  I added some of that oil to the cucumber water - delicious!!  That will be happening a lot!!

As always, I'm linking up with Laura at Mommy, Run Fast & Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness.  Go check them out for some more yummy recipes!  Have a great week!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Boo at the Zoo)

Last weekend we braved the cold weather and headed to the zoo for the annual "Boo at the Zoo."  We really could have lived without this event on our calendar this year, but we also really wanted to go ride the rides one more time before they close for the season.

As in most years past, we were kind of disappointed in the actual "Boo" part.  There were only 7 treat stations.  I understand it is a lot of money to give out candy to all the people who come to the zoo but this seemed really light.  The boys didn't seem to care, they were happy running around in their costumes and riding all the rides.
We rode all of our favorites, the roller coaster twice in a row, the whirly-gigs (tilt a whirl), the frog hopper 10 times (at least), the train ride, safari stampede, the swings, etc.  Between the weather and the time of year, there were very few people riding the rides so we were on and off everything very quickly.  The most we waited was when staff were switching off who was running the ride.
The one thing that we did that was "Boo" related was watch the Superhero show.  The boys were very excited to see some of their favorites live.  This year is was Spiderman, Black Widow, Capt America and Antman against Green Goblin.  It was kind of cheesy and they have a few technical difficulties, but the boys LOVED it.  They were smiling and cheering thru the whole show.  Zak was especially cute, sitting with a huge smile on his face and clapping like crazy.  The boys also liked talking to the characters after the show.  Black Widow asked AJ "Hulk!  Where were you?  We needed your help today!!"
While it wasn't my favorite trip to the zoo, it was nice to spend the day together as a family.  And it is always fun to ride rides.  Next year we are hoping to renew our gold passes to the zoo.  While we didn't go to Zoombeezi Bay as much as we would have liked (mostly because of bad weather, not lack of trying), we definitely got our moneys worth.  And the boys are already asking when we can go ride the rides again.  Hoping Zak makes some of the bigger rides next year, he is dying to go on the coaster!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Columbus Day Weekend)

Wow, what a busy weekend we had!  It started Friday afternoon with a play date for the boys.  Daniel has really been missing hanging out with his friends since he is in school all day.  I picked up his friends from school and brought 5 boys (my 3 and 2 friends) back home to play.  Thankfully it was nice enough for them to be outside...they had a TON of energy!  Everyone had a great time playing.  Then I got my turn for a "play date" and went out to dinner with a few friends.  It was technically a PTO meeting and we got a lot done, but we also ate, drank and chatted which is always fun!

Saturday started with our normal schedule of swim lessons for the boys and me teaching a Zumba class.  Everyone was at the YMCA for the morning and I got to watch a little of swimming before my class started.  And then about 20 minutes into class I saw a commotion near the door and there were my 4 guys watching class.  So sweet!  After we finished up there, I won wife of the year and took AJ to hockey practice so Adrian could watch the OSU game.

Saturday night we had our first Broadway in Columbus play for the season.  We saw Kinky Boots and it was really good!  We really enjoyed everything about the performance, from the writing of the story to the songs by Cyndi Lauper (love her!) to the actors in the show.  It was all great!  The boys also had a fun night because Grandma, Great Grandma & Aunt Jackie came in to watch them.

Sunday morning we headed to Lynd's for our first trip into the corn maze for the season.  We got there early and played on the dirt mountain and in the play area while waiting for my brother and his family to meet up with us.  It was soon apparent it would be a very crowded day at the farm!  We got our tickets and headed into the Machu Pichu Survivor themed maze.

This year's maze was probably the hardest one we have done so far!  There were a ton of different ways to go and lots of dead ends.  We did eventually find all 9 of the etching plates and completed their corn maze challenge for the 5th year in a row.  We all enjoyed a piece of candy after the 2 hours we spent in the maze!
When we came out of the maze, the place was jam packed with people.  There were lines everywhere!  Thankfully we did everything we wanted before we went in.  The boys spent a little more time in the play area, then we headed out to grab lunch and head home for the rest of the day.  Before we headed out, we grabbed our annual pumpkin shots.

Normally this is where our weekend would end but since this was Columbus Day weekend, Adrian had Monday off.  Now this is our new favorite holiday because while he was off, the kids all had to go to school!  Granted we only had about 2 hours where all 3 were gone, but we made the best of it by going out to lunch, running a few errands & just spending the time together.  And we realized we get to do it all over again for Veterans Day!
What a fun filled weekend and a great way to kick off our fall family events!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 10/19 - 10/25)

I can not believe it's already the middle of October!  This time of year always flies by since we are usually so busy and this year is no exception.  I had a very hard time planning a menu for this week because we have so much going on I'm going to have very little time to cook.  I would like to do some prep this weekend, at least for tomorrow but I'm also trying to catch up on stuff I didn't get done last week.  The boys are also worn out, we were supposed to go to a Halloween event today and all three asked to stay home and play instead.  Wish granted!

I did pretty good staying on track this week with the exception of not getting to one of the casseroles.  It was just not going to work out the night we had it planned so we had turkey ruben sandwiches and salads instead.  Not a bad quick meal to have on hand for this time of year.  And the fritatta I made took over twice as long as the recipe said it would to cook.  This really messed up our plans for Friday night.  But we rallied with a family trip to Menchie's for dessert. 

My freezer supply is also almost depleted!  We are super the next three weekends but after that we should slow down a little for a week or two.  I'm going to plan to do some cooking those weekends and also over the long Thanksgiving break.

Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Veggie Loaded Pasta
Tuesday - Chicken, Quinoa & Broccoli Casserole
Wednesday - Leftovers - I'll be gone all night so the boys are on their own
Thursday - Squashed Washington - I have a spaghetti squash to use & found this while looking for a different recipe.  Sounds yummy!
Friday - Eggs Pizzaiola - I will make this for my lunch & then the boys will have for dinner while I'm out volunteering at a school event
Saturday - Pizza (the boys have been asking for this & we have a full day)
Sunday - Chicken Paprika

Water Flavor - Strawberry Grape.  I successfully used up all my peaches last week, they were still delicious!  I'm hoping for a mild winter so there will be more to pick next year.  This week we are very low on fruit since I didn't really food shop last week.  I need to restock this week for sure!

As always, I'm linking up with Laura at Mommy, Run Fast & Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness.  Go check them out for some more yummy recipes!  Have a great week!!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 10/12 - 10/18)

Our very full week last week was made slightly easier by the kids missing school on Weds due to upset stomachs.  I'm not sure if it was a quick bug, something they ate or just a case of really needing a day off from school.  AJ and Daniel were both complaining all night Tues night they didn't feel well so I let them miss school on Weds.  AJ was up and down all day, but was much better by lunchtime.  Daniel woke up find and probably could have gone to school.  It was nice for me to have a day off and get a few things done, even with everyone home all day.

This weekend has been very busy so I'm just dropping in quickly to share our meal plan.  Every week from here on out is busy now that we're in full swing with hockey, bowling, boy scouts, soccer, ice skating, PTO & Zumba.  Not to mention all of the homework.  This week I'm trying to not go to the grocery store at all and just use what we have for our meals.  Two of these are holdovers from last week, one night we did leftovers & tonight we're doing burgers & sausage on the grill.

Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Bacon Ranch Pasta
Tuesday - The boys will be eating pizza at bowling & Adrian & I will be having leftovers
Wednesday - Zuppa Toscana
Thursday - Parmesan Crusted Chicken & Parmesan Quinoa
Friday - Frittata and English Muffins
Saturday - Chicken, Quinoa & Broccoli Casserole
Sunday - Something on the grill or from the freezer, we will be running all day

Water Flavor - Peach.  My fresh picked peaches are starting to turn so I am using up the rest of them ASAP.  I'll use 2 in my water leaving me 2 or 3 to eat the beginning of the week.

As always, I'm linking up with Laura at Mommy, Run Fast & Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness.  Go check them out for some more yummy recipes!  Have a great week!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Family Fun Day!)

Last weekend we were supposed to go camping.  The boys had been asking to go camping so we found a weekend we were (relatively) free and booked a campsite.  Everyone was super excited!  Then we started looking at the long range forecast & it didn't look good.  And it kept getting worse.  They were forecasting 40's for the lows & rain all day Friday and Saturday.  Thankfully the campground we were planning on going to has a very liberal cancellation policy so we cancelled and got a full refund.

Instead of going camping, we wanted to do a family fun day.  The boys wanted to fish and play mini golf while camping so we thought we could do that locally.  But we got the crappy weather that was forecast so Saturday was super cold and rainy, limiting us to indoor things only.  We made the best of it and had a really fun day!

We started at Magic Mountain Fun Centers.  We had a Groupon that was expiring which allowed the boys to play in their play area and then all 5 of us to play laser tag.  The boys loved their play area and were in it playing for over an hour.  Then we headed in to laser tag and played adults vs. kids.  We had a fun time running around and shooting each other.  I think the adults won, but I'm not really sure.  We finished up our time there with some air hockey, video games & skee ball.

After we finished up there, we headed down the street to get lunch at Mellow Mushroom.  They were just opening up after a power outage so it took a while for us to get our food.  The waiter thought he was being helpful by rushing the boys food out so they wouldn't be hungry.  The problem with that was they were done before our food even came out.  It worked out though since the place is very kid friendly.  The boys ran around with some of the other kids who were there and played with Hulk while we enjoyed our pizza.
With our full bellies, we headed back to our side of town to let the boys make up the bowling game they missed the week before since AJ's bus was very late.  They both bowled pretty well, and very quick.  They knew our last stop was mini golf.  We headed down the street to Glow Putt in Gahanna.  What a fun place!!  Everything is glowing under black lights, they have a fun 18 hole course and it's very affordable.  We also won 5 (of the 7 of us who were playing) free games for next time so we will definitely be going back!

We thought we were done after that but what family day would be complete without ice cream?!?!?  We stopped at Menchie's on our way home and loaded up on frozen yogurt and toppings.  They have a peanut butter cup flavor right now that is awesome!

So while it wasn't the weekend we had planned it was still a pretty awesome weekend.  Around all the fun stuff on Saturday we also played a lot of video games, watch a lot of football and got a few things done around the house.  And everyone was really happy which is always my end goal!