Sunday, August 30, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 8/31 - 9/6)

Wow, this weekend has been busy!  Really the whole week was busy and it's only getting busier over here.  My goal for last week was to find a rhythm for our increasingly busy schedule.  I killed it on Monday and Tuesday!  Wednesday went pretty well...other than forgetting my gym shoes and having to teach Zumba barefoot (Ouch!)  Thursday the wheels came off, although it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.

This weekend I was gone most of both days doing Foundations of Strength and Conditioning training at the YMCA.  It was a great training and I learned a lot about exercising, our bodies and the Y in general.  I won't know until later this week if I passed the exam or not, but I felt pretty good after it.  With this training I can start thinking about putting together a conditioning class so I can sub from time to time at the Y.  I'm very excited to branch out of Zumba classes!

I skipped a few meals this week opting for leftovers one night (Thursday) and take out yesterday when my husband forgot to turn on the crock pot.  I carried the meals over to this week.  You'll see a theme of crock pot meals and quick and easy meals that everyone will eat.

Monday - Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes & Mango Salsa and a Bean Salad
Tuesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wednesday - Rotini & Salami Casserole - this was a family favorite & made a lot.  I'm going out to dinner with a friend this night so I figure this is good for the guys
Thursday - Buttermilk Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes - I have buttermilk left over from last week's recipe and don't want it to go to waste.  But it was very hard to find a recipe that wasn't pancakes (and requires 5 cups!)
Friday - Slow Cooker Thai Chicken probably over zoodles
Saturday - Mongolian Beef with whatever veggies we have leftover from the week
Sunday - Over to my brother's house for dinner

Water Flavor - Black Grape.  I wasn't thrilled with grapes the last time I used them however I accidentally bought 2 big bags of black grapes (probably on sale at 2 different stores) and I don't want them to go bad.

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, August 26, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (First Day of School)

The older two boys started school on Wednesday August 19th this year.  They both had big changes for this year!  AJ is in 3rd grade this year which in our district means a new elementary school.  In our family this also means riding the bus since the school isn't down the street anymore.  And Daniel is in 1st grade which means all day school for him.

They both got to go in on the Tuesday before school and meet their teacher, see the classroom, find their desk/locker and drop off their school supplies.  They were both very excited after this, so excited that they were up at 6am on Wednesday morning!  (Yawn!)

Both boys had a great first day and came home very excited about the school year.  I am a little overwhelmed with how much homework AJ is supposed to do in 3rd grade but we will figure it out as the year goes on.  I met Daniel's teacher and am excited for a great year with her.  Adrian took AJ to meet his teacher and said she seems great as well.

Zak will start preschool in September, he can't wait!  Once he starts and I have a few hours each week without kids I will start volunteering in both AJ's and Daniel's classrooms.  I love being in the classroom and working with the kids.

The rest is basically a photo dump of the pictures I took on the first day of school.  Enjoy!

Waiting for the bus...
Getting on the bus...

Daniel's teacher sent this home with him.  I thought it was adorable.  We didn't use it.  Who the hell wants to take a chance that glitter will be all over the bedroom?!?!?!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer Week 11 - Aug 8 thru Aug 14)

With only my Mom left here visiting we didn't let that slow us down.  We started our weekend out by heading out to the Dayton area to spend the day in the pool and the amazing back yard of Sarah's parents.  We had a great time swimming, playing in the yard and (of course) eating yummy food!  It was a very relaxing day and nice to get to know Sarah's parents and sister even better.

Sunday we did one of my Mom's only requests for her trip out here...fruit picking.  We headed out to Utica to pick peaches and apples at our favorite farm, Legend Hills.  We had to work hard to get the peaches since they don't have that many due to another horribly cold winter here, but we the ones we got are delicious.  The apples were plentiful and we easily filled our bags with them.  After a quick stop at their market, we headed over to The Olde Mill Inn for some Velvet ice cream.

Monday we started to get back into our routines.  Adrian worked and I taught my classes.  I also scheduled dentist (for Daniel) and doctor (for AJ) appointments that day so I could only bring one kid with me.  I ran around like crazy all day, but the boys enjoyed their time with Nana at home.  We also all went out to lunch at Daniel's favorite restaurant, Scramblers.  And my Mom spent the day cooking an Italian feast of sauce with sausage, meatballs and pasta for dinner.

Tuesday was a sad day when we had to take my Mom to the airport.  The boys were upset to see her go, but we bounced back by having a play date with their friends that afternoon.  They spent the day playing in the yard with Nathan and Alex while I caught up with their Mom.  It was a nice distraction from the fact that my Mom left and our summer fun was just about over.

Wednesday we were going to play with other friends, but the boys asked to stay home and relax for the day so we did.  I think they needed that after a very busy two weeks of people around.  Thursday morning we were very lazy too before I dropped AJ off at his buddy's house for a play date and Daniel off at his buddy's house for a play date.  While they had a blast playing, Zak and I ran some errands and got a taste of what life will be like when they go back to school.

Friday morning we had friends over again and the boys had a great time enjoying the weather and playing in the yard.  And I once again enjoyed catching up with the other moms.  I was going to try to plan some big events for us since the summer was almost over, but honestly they won't have a lot of time to play with their friends once school starts next week so I think this was just as important, if not more so.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer Week 10 - Aug 1 thru Aug 7)

When I left off we were just getting ready to start our week with family.  Late Friday night my Dad flew in and we spent all day Saturday with him, as well as my Mom, brother, sister in law and niece.  We had a very fun and relaxing day hanging out at Carl's house, eating, playing and chatting.  We also made plans to go to Tenn next year to celebrate my parent's 40th wedding anniversary.

Late Saturday night my Uncle Tom & 2 cousins, Melissa and Alexandra arrived.  We spent Sunday at our house having a ton of family time.  Adrian and my Mom made homemade pizza.  Adrian also made delicious wings on the grill.  We again ate, played and chatted.  It was really fun to have everyone together!
Monday we planned to head to the zoo all together before my Dad headed back to Florida but the weather scared us off.  So we decided to get some errands run and go out to Melt for lunch.  We had a fun time at lunch, then came home and played at the house until my Dad headed to the airport.  We spent most of the rest of the relaxing and catching our breath before the next 2 busy days.

Tuesday we finally headed to the zoo!  We got there and Adrian, Zak, my mom, uncle & cousins headed to see the new Africa area of the zoo while I took AJ and Daniel on the rides at Jungle Jack's Landing.  We aren't usually able to ride them because Zak isn't tall enough.  So I took advantage of the extra hands!  After that we all got back together and head into Zoombeezi Bay.  We spent the rest of the day swimming and playing in the water.  SO much fun!!  When everyone was exhausted we headed back to my house for Thurman's for dinner.
Wednesday was our annual day at the Ohio State Fair!!  We were excited to have such a big group to go this year and that AJ and Daniel are tall enough to ride some of the bigger rides now.  We spent the whole day walking around, riding rides and eating all the things!  There were tons of great moments that day.  Some of my favorites were riding the Crazy Mouse for the first time with Daniel (he wasn't tall enough last year), riding the Music Express with my brother (we laughed SO hard!) and eating deep fried cookie dough (amazing!!)  Everyone had a great day and we all headed home exhausted again.

Thursday we woke up to rain so we had to change our plans for the day.  We ended up having a lazy morning then heading out to bowl in the afternoon.  Most of the group then headed to Schmidt's for dinner, but me and my guys opted not to go since we were all pretty tired.  We headed home to have a calm dinner and wait for the rest of the group to come over for dessert.  For dessert, we feasted!!
Friday morning we headed to our favorite area park, the Alum Creek under Dam park.  We all played for a long time, then went for a walk across the dam where we took this awesome selfie of our group
After we worked up an appetite, we headed to Shake and Steak for lunch, then prepared to say so long to Uncle Tom, Melissa and Alexandra.  They headed back to NJ since some of them had to work on Saturday.  It was sad to see them go, but we had so much fun during the week & those memories will last a life time!

All in all this was my favorite week of the summer!!  We had so much fun with all of our visitors!  We had a good balance of fun, family time and relaxing alone time.  I was thankful to have help with keeping the boys occupied this week since we were hitting the "summer is long" wall.  And they were happy to have a change of pace and be able to do some things we couldn't do when it was only the 4 of us.  Adrian was able to take 3 days off from work this week as well (Mon, Tues & Weds) so it felt like a mini-vacation for him as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 8/24 - 8/30)

Wow, I forgot how hard it is to go back to school and get back on a routine.  We kind of flew by the seat of our pants this week and it wasn't pretty some of the time.  We mostly got everything done and everyone where they needed to be. 

I did great staying on track with exercise and eating right, under my calorie goal everyday!  This week I am hoping to find a little more of a routine for the days, especially figure out how to be productive in the afternoons when I'm home alone with a very active 3 year old who always wants me to play with him.  How can I resist this cuteness?
Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Chicken Stroganoff - a family favorite!  This is a holdover from last week.  We had leftovers (and ice cream!) yesterday for dinner instead of cooking this.
Tuesday - Ham Egg & Cheese Bake - still using up lunch meat
Wednesday - Chopped Salad with Shrimp and English Muffin Garlic Bread
Thursday - Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Couscous & Roasted Veggies
Friday - Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes & Mango Salsa and a Bean Salad
Saturday - Pesto Ranch Chicken Thighs and Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples & Cranberries
Sunday -Spaghetti and Meatballs - This may get bumped to Mon.  We have a very busy weekend and I may not get to all of this cooking.  If I don't, we'll have leftovers for one meal and this will start our week.

Water Flavor - Watermelon & Lime.  Last week the pineapple water was delicious!  I will definitely be on the lookout for more cheap pineapples to use in my water.  This week I'm using up a lime I found in the fridge and some of the huge watermelon I bought for $4 this 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!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer Week 9 - July 25 thru July 31)

This week started with a fairly low key weekend.  We had a bunch of things on our to do list to get ready for our company that was arriving during the week and would be here for the next 2 weeks.  We mostly worked on the list, played with the kids and relaxed a little as a family.  It was nice.  I also went to an awesome Zumba jam where I learned amazing choreography to 5 great songs.  Jams are so fun to learn, network and dance!!

Monday we were going to head to the Gahanna pool with some friends, but my boys changed their minds at the last minute and the friends came over to our house to play instead.  It was more relaxing for me, I got to sit and catch up with Katie while our 5 boys played in the yard.  I didn't have to catch anyone in the pool or make sure no one was drowning.  I'm glad they changed their minds.

Tuesday we had another play date with one of Daniel's friends.  We picked him up on our way home and the boys enjoyed lunch and lots of time playing together.  I was able to get a bunch of things done around the house because the four boys played so nicely together outside and in our play room.

Wednesday we had a stay home day between Zumba classes because we had a big night Mom flew in for her two weeks with us.  Daniel was SO excited that he came with me to my afternoon Zumba class (with no child care), sat nicely on the side of the room and watched class just so he could come to the airport to see Nana first.  It was very sweet, and a huge surprise for my mom.  Everyone was very excited to see her.  AJ spent some time trying to teach her Pokemon.

Thursday we went to Meijer with my mom during the day for what seemed like the longest shopping trip ever!  We had a bunch of stuff to buy for upcoming family dinners, plus school supplies, normal groceries and the boys wanting to buy all the things.  It felt like we were in the store forever!  That night Zak and I also went to our ice skating class.  He continues to amaze me with how quickly he is picking it up!

Friday I ran a few errands with AJ in the morning, it was nice to have some one on one time with him.  Then we spent the day cooking and prepping for a big turkey dinner with Carl, Sarah and Isabelle.  We had a lot of fun eating and hanging out, then they took Mom back to their place to spend the weekend.  My Dad also flew in late that night for a long weekend.

It was a fun start to our two weeks with family.  It felt like a mini-vacation for all of us to have them here to do different things with!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 8/17 - 8/23)

Wow it's been almost a month since I did a menu plan!  We've been mostly eating whatever we have on hand, going out with family or eating tons of leftovers.  The two weeks of family left our fridges pretty well stocked.  Although not all of it was stuff for dinner...
Lots of peaches, apples & beer!
Now that school starts this week I am trying to get us all back into a routine and that includes eating better.  We really enjoyed our summer but my waist line is seeing the effects.  And so is our bank account.  I'll also be trying to make some dinners that the boys can take for lunch later in the week, I've just learned about sending hot things to school in a thermos!  How did I go two full years and not know about this???

Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Pepper & Potato Frittata  with English Muffins & Fruit
Tuesday - Taco Tuesday!!
Wednesday -  Buffalo Chicken with this Pasta Salad
Thursday - Pumpkin Chili
Friday - Rotini & Salami Casserole - We bought lunch meat at Costco and have a ton of salami leftover.  I'm getting creative over the next few weeks to use it up.
Saturday - Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Salad
Sunday - Chicken Stroganoff - a family favorite!

Water Flavor - Pineapple.  I've never tried this, but I got a nice size pineapple for $1 on Friday.  I normally freeze them for smoothies but I'm stocked up on frozen fruit since I haven't made a smoothie in about a month so I thought I'd try this.

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!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer Week 8 - July 18 thru July 24)

We finally snapped out of our vacation hangover on Saturday with a morning at swim lessons and an afternoon at a birthday party.  Our friend other Daniel had his 6th birthday party at the fountains downtown.  The boys had a blast running around in the water and playing with bubbles on this incredibly hot day.  We also enjoyed cake and watermelon.

Sunday was a productive day at home trying to finish up some stuff around the house...including unpacking from our camping trip.  Then we headed over to my brother's house for dinner and a little planning session about our upcoming 10 days of company.  It's nice that the kids are getting a little older and can pretty much go play on their own while we chill out and catch up.

Monday kicked off a week of play dates.  Daniel's friend from his kindergarten class had been asking for a play date and our schedules finally lined up on Monday.  The boys enjoyed playing with toys, in the pool and on our swing set.  The moms enjoyed time sunning themselves and chatting on the deck.  Monday also marked our first day as a non-cable family.  We cut the cord from traditional cable and now only have antennae over air channels and internet streaming.
Tuesday we had the boys' friends Nathan and Alex over to play.  The boys mostly stayed in the yard and played with the toys out there and in the pool.  They got out almost every outdoor toy we own, which was a blessing because with all the rain we had our outside toy box had some water and a few of the toys had grown mold.  Adrian and I emptied it out, cleaned it up and threw out a bunch of toys.

Wednesday AJ, Daniel and Adrian had dentist appointments.  AJ and Adrian looked great but Daniel has two cavities.  We go back in a few weeks to get those taken care of.  Zak and I aren't due for our cleanings yet, but he did have a fun time playing in the dentist's office.

Thursday we continued with our play dates and we met up with friends at the Easton Splash pads.  I took the boys to Barnes and Noble first to get their free books from the summer reading program.  Then we headed outside where the boys played a super hero game they invented about the water league.  After they played for a while, we brought them inside for some Graeter's ice cream.

Friday we headed to Zoombeezi Bay for an evening trip.  I got there with the boys around 3:30pm and Adrian met us after work.  We stayed and played until around 8:00pm.  It was nice because it wasn't super hot and it emptied out around dinner time.  We spent most of our time at the tipping bucket, where we ran into one of Daniel's friends from preschool.  We also went to the lazy river, wave pool and Daniel and I did one ride down the big blue slide that he likes.  We even got to meet an actual pirate on our way out!  Fun but exhausting night!

It felt nice to be back to doing things with friends and enjoying our summer.  Vacation is such a weird thing.  It's super fun to be there, but it's a lot of work before and after you go!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer Week 7 - July 11 thru 17)

You would think after our ridiculous busy Friday we would want to have a calm weekend.  But that's not how we vacation.  We spent Saturday and Sunday in Holiday World and Splashing Safari.  We had a bit of a rough start on Saturday but pulled it together and had a great time.  We started out with the rides we knew we absolutely wanted to do, the log flume and the river raft ride.  Then we headed to the water park, which was jam packed!  After we spent most of the (100 degree) day in the water we finished out the day on the small rides in the Christmas section of the park.

Sunday was much smoother.  We got there before the park opened and AJ and I ran right to one of the big roller coasters.  We got right on the second train of the day on The Legend and then met up with the others to do some of the other dry rides.  AJ and I broke off again a few hours later and rode my favorite ride of the weekend, The Voyage.  We ate lunch in kiddie land (way less crowded!) and then headed to the water park again.  We cooled off for a few hours over there then headed back to finish up the few dry rides we had.  AJ and I finished the day with our third roller coaster, The Raven.
Ready for the day to start!
Zak's favorite area in the water park and my favorite coaster in the background
Holiday World was a lot of fun and was great for our boys.  There were enough rides for everyone to have fun.  I liked that the water park was included and we could bounce back and forth to cool off in the middle of the day.  It was a little disappointing that Daniel couldn't ride any of the coasters.  He was a little disappointed but was also excited that he was able to ride a lot of rides in the water park, way more than he can here in Columbus.
The Mammoth - awesome water coaster!
Monday morning was the end of vacation.  We played a few more rounds of mini golf while Adrian broke camp and we headed east toward Ohio.  We hit horrible weather and traffic on our way home and it took us forever to back.  We were very thankful to make it home safely and all pretty much collapsed when we got home.

Tuesday Adrian and I took the day off from work because we were really worn out from the weekend and especially the very long drive home.  We spent the day trying to unpack, relax and get situated.  We also had water in our basement and a computer virus to deal with.  Not awesome things to come home to.
Mountain of laundry!

The rest of the week we spent in vacation hangover.  I tried to motivate the boys to go out and do something, but everyone was very lazy and just wanted to have stay home days.  It was kind of nice for me to relax a little and get caught up on laundry and a few other things around the house.  We were supposed to go to the rib fest on Friday night, but ended up just picking up ribs and staying home watching our DVR so we could turn off cable ASAP.