Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Life in Numb3rs

10: pm--the time Glen gets home on an average night
9: the average number of kids in and out of our house on a summer day
8: hundred dollars at Costco for replenishing the house after nearly running out of everything--including printer ink, laundry detergent, olive oil, tp, diapers, and various other pricey items...AAAACK! (Disclaimer: I hadn't been to Costco in 4 months and I've NEVER spent even half this amount before!)
7: th grade!!! we have a middle school student living in our house!

6: new conveniences this summer...new computer, high speed internet, new washer & dryer, new bathrooms, new microwave, and new curtains!!!5: number of times per week Cami cooks us up something delicious--pancakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, French toast, lemon bars, etc. Yummmmm!
4: more days until school starts!!!!
3: the number of weeks this summer Glen has been out of town
2: full loads of dishes (at least) and another 2 full loads of laundry--each and every day!
1: am--the time I collapse into my bed each night

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

110° and still smiling!

It's been a LONG time since we've been to an amusement park...1999 to be exact. Last year we really started getting the itch (and the begging from kids) to go to Busch Gardens.

Twice last autumn, we planned a vacation to Williamsburg to take the family to Busch Gardens. Twice last autumn, we were foiled in our plans...once by hurricane remnants and once by torrential all-day downpours. So this year we decided to try a little earlier in the year in hopes of missing the main hurricane time.

It worked--we finally got lucky this year! No hurricanes and nary a drop of rain! Instead it was a major heat wave with highs in the hundreds and super high Virginia humidity that made our skin glow with perspiration!
Here are four of the kids on the first ride we came to in Busch Gardens...they were so excited!
And lest you think from looking at the previous post that Emma had a horrible time...we saw a lot more of this cheesy, happy Emma than the sad little girl 1/2 inch too short for the ride!

Not only was she happy but boy was Emma a nut! She went on every roller coaster and scary ride they'd let her on and she'd get off giggling about how much fun it was!
EEEEEK! Are my kids touching a fifteen foot long python??
Cute little matching girls!

Friday at Busch Gardens seemed about as hot and sticky as any day could possibly be, but much to our surprise Saturday was even hotter! We seriously had a layer of sweat form on us walking from the hotel door to our car at 10am. Ugggh!

Thankfully Saturday was for Water Country USA. So we slathered sunscreen on every square inch of exposed skin probably 95 times and had a fantastic time playing in the wave pool, shooting down water slides, and relaxing on the lazy river.

And the highlight of the weekend for Glen?

Pompeii! As this 4 1/2 foot dolphin is dubbed by our kids. Glen made a 3-point shot in one of the basket shooting games and won this ginormous prize. He was really excited about his manly achievement and the kids were ecstatic when he let them choose which one to take home...however he did not quite receive the enthusiastic response from me that he was hoping for. I immediately questioned not only how we were going to carry it with us the rest of the day but where on earth we were going to keep it when we got home??!! It was actually pretty sad, I literally rained on his macho pride, nonetheless "Pompeii" is here at our home...taking up an entire twin sized bed.

I shouldn't admit this, but I'm actually hoping he'll get a hole in him soon so I'll have a good excuse to dispose of him.

We were completely exhausted by the end of the weekend...so exhausted that Ellie slept until 10:30 Sunday morning, but what a fun way to end a long summer!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe



Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

1 lb. italian sausage (mild or spicy according to your preference)
3/4 cup onion, diced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/4 tsp. garlic, pressed
1/3 cup chopped bacon (I use the good bacon bits)
4 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup kale or spinach leaves, chopped (I use spinach)
1/3 cup cream

Remove the casings from the sausage and cook sausage in frying pan, like you would for ground beef. Set aside.

In a saucepan add chopped potatoes, diced onions, and bouillon to the water. Boil just until potatoes are tender, then add garlic, sausage, and bacon bits. Simmer for a few minutes then add chopped spinach and cream and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot with breadsticks and a salad. Yummm!

3 feet 11 1/2 inches...

We just returned from a trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg...our first amusement park trip in the 21st century!

Most of the big rides had a required height of 48 inches and Emma was just barely below the bar as you can see from this picture. However because she was so close most of the ride operators still allowed her to ride...except for "Tradewinds". One of those super fast, spinning rides that make my head spin just thinking about it. She was really pumped about going on and did not take the news well that this would be her first rejection of the day. Even after a little gentle persuasion on Glen's part they just wouldn't budge...poor Emma!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Need to laugh...

so I just read an article in the September Ensign about how we need to be more like children and laugh more often.

To help you out in this humor endeavor, I think you should try out this link to an ebay auction:




I've never met the seller, but I definitely felt an immediate kinship to her after reading the description. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Summertime musings...

Ahhhh it's that time of year. Everyone's either on vacation, just coming home, or in our case just leaving for one final hurrah to Busch Gardens. I can't lie...I am more excited than I've ever been in my entire life for school to start. It's been a LONG summer!

I really haven't had much time to pursue many of my own hobbies...this blog has been my guilty pleasure, whereas my scrapbooking, running, reading, card making, etc. have truly suffered from neglect lately. I have grand visions of how much easier life will be when I only have 2 kids at home during the day--only 11 more days! My scrapbooks will get caught up, I'll lose the extra weight, catch up on my reading, my house will be so organized--it'll be so great! Hehe! Maybe I'm getting a little carried away with my idealistic visions, but hey a girl's gotta dream!

So this picture is to show what I like to do for fun when there's actually a little time for fun in my life (only 272 more hours)! Cards. Cards have become my "mini-scrapbooking" when I need to let a little of my creative juices flow, without making quite the mess that scrapbooking makes.

As I sit here and type the call of my messy house, tired kids, and bags to pack are beckoning for some TLC, so away I go still dreaming...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Somewhere over the rainbow...

We love the National Zoo...it's close to home, it's free, has cute panda bears...

...emus, elephants, eagle statues to climb on...

...AND water misters to cool us off after climbing all those hills!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cheap Entertainment...

...and a good use for all of my unfinished projects! Cami and Emma have raided my fabric drawers (you know all of that fabric I bought to make something really fun and never quite got around to it).
So they've taken my fabric and created these elaborate toga type outfits with capes and sashes. It's fun to watch them use their creativity and try out some new fashion, but I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt looking at them all wrapped up in the fabric that was supposed to be a really cute dress or frilly curtains for their bedroom!
In the midst of their fabric fashion escapades, they discovered a much more exciting treasure...one that did not require creative wrapping. After many years hanging out of sight in the far end of my closet they found the two wedding dresses. They were in heaven as they tried on the mass of silky satin, beads, and lace (I on the other hand cried when I tried to join in on the fun and realized I couldn't zip mine up anymore) :( And just so you don't have any misconceptions about how many times I've been married...one is mine and one is my sister, Kristina's, left long ago in my closet because she didn't think her 300 sq. ft. apartment in NYC had sufficient space to store it.

Hmmmm...I wonder where Ellie gets her flair for fashion from?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ellie's Fashion Tips

In case you're looking for some fashion tips, look no further...Ellie to the rescue.

Ellie's Fashion Tips
with illustrations (in order)

#1: Twisted swimsuits are very "in" this year and really it's quite attractive to put both legs through the same leg hole.
#2: A mitten on one foot and a glove on the other keeps things interesting.
#3: Winter boots and pigtails are classics that will never go out of style!
#4: Pants are over-rated.
#5: Tights and t-shirts under a swimsuit make you stand out in a crowd.
#6: Wearing your pants tucked underneath your tights is very attractive and provides a nice cushion should you happen to fall.
#7: You can never go wrong with a pink tutu and cute hat!
#8: If the twisted swimsuit look didn't work out for you, then try the swimsuit inside-out and backwards!
#9: When all else fails wear a dinosaur costume. If anyone says something you don't like you can just growl at them.
#10: MOST IMPORTANTLY....change clothes as often as possible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Master Bathroom: Before and After

Here is the first of our three remodeled bathrooms, which was gutted to the frame and rebuilt! My cousin, Aaron has been hard at work and we are SO excited about how well they're turning out.
BEFORE--The lovely late 60's design

OUR BATHROOM AT THE DUMP--right where it belongs!

THE FROSTED GLASS SHOWER DOOR, NEWLY TILED SHOWER, NEW TOILET


NEW MEDICINE CABINET, DRYWALL, MIRROR, & SINK


NEWLY TILED FLOOR, NEW VANITY & SINK

YAY!!!

Curtains: Before and After


DINING ROOM: BEFORE

Anyone who's been in our house the last year has probably realized that sometimes small decisions can be paralyzing for us. We redid the walls and added crown mouldings in February, and in that process took down the old ratty curtains and threw them away. Now for 6 whole months we've been without curtains, with the whole world looking in on our house every night.

DINING ROOM: AFTER
So what's so hard about picking out curtains? My problem was that I wanted curtains that we'd be happy with for forever...or at least for eighty years and I didn't want to mess up.

LIVING ROOM: BEFORE

Our living room looked so barren without any curtains and I'm not going to mention how we also took down all of the pictures in February and still haven't hung them up ( you know--since they need to look good for eighty years)--so we're talking a VERY barren living room.

LIVING ROOM: FIRST AFTER
But barren no more. We still haven't hung back up the pictures, but the curtains actually add a significant homey feeling to the room and have inspired me to start looking at our pictures again to think about where to hang them.

LIVING ROOM: AFTER AFTER
Since the birthday photo was taken in July-- we changed our mind (*gasp* what a surprise)! In this darn darkened picture (my poor photography skills are to blame) you can see that we've made the striped valance go all the way across the top with the floral valances peeking out from behind the stripes...which is how it looks today [and for the next eighty years]!

Basement Bathroom dedication

Look! No more holes in the ceiling and wall. The toilet flushes everytime and the peeling pink and white wall paper is no more!

This bathroom is dedicated to all those of you who have stayed in our basement and had to use it in its awful state...Heather, AnnaLisa, Matt, Kristina, Mom, and especially to you Dad...our most vocal advocate for redoing it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mmmm...mmmm good!

These pictures are classics in the Crain family. Ellie and her cousin Andrew started off on this blanket right next to each other.

Andrew fell fast asleep, but Ellie was squirming all over and found a tasty new appendage to suck on! Andrew didn't mind a bit!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Discrimination!


"Why won't they let penguins into their store Mom? I like penguins."

In reality the sign says "No Puffin' Please" as in no smoking, but he was quite offended that penguins would be excluded from entering the fishing store he noticed this sign on.

Since we've been home whenever Adam plays with one of his penguin toys he loves to hypothesize what this store would do to his penguins. Maybe make them stay in the car, or maybe get mad at the toy...he's still so confused at how anyone could possibly not like penguins. Adam is awesome!

Friday, August 10, 2007

How Lucky Am I...

Cami is the queen of making treats---cookies, peanut butter bars, apple-walnut pancakes, and scrambled eggs are all a part of her ever expanding repertoire. She keeps getting invited to live with friends and family who want their own personal chef as well.

So the other morning she was excitedly concocting a breakfast that had her asking me all sorts of unusual questions...where's the yeast? Where are the potato flakes? The evaporated milk?

...Then a shriek...yeah she got her hair caught around the springs of my KitchenAid.
After a quick snip with the scissors all was well again, and Cami finished making cinnamon rolls--FROM SCRATCH!!!
It took her two hours to make them and me another two hours to scrape the caked flour and sugar from every surface of the kitchen...

but it was definitely worth every second. They were completely perfect--soft and delicious. I'm pretty sure I never cooked with yeast until I was about 25, and then it took a few years from there to become reasonably adept at it.

So there you have it, I have an amazing 10-year-old!

For the recipe for these delicious treats click here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Life at the Cabin...

We finished off our vacation with four nights in a cabin near Itasca State Park (where the Mississippi River begins). Long Lake (one of over 200 Long Lakes in Minnesota) was literally just a few steps out the front door, with a shallow, sandy swimming area that was perfect for everyone.
One of mine and Glen's favorite dates before we were married was fishing on the Provo River. Since then Glen's zeal for fishing has not waned even with his recently developed severe allergy to consuming fish, but it has become more of a Daddy/son activity.
So although not a mountain river, the fishing on the lake was fantastic and it was so fun to just be able to go out the front door to do it. We all caught many fish, especially after we discovered that cheese made for almost 100% success (Glen called it cheating, but the kids called it fun!)
One of the best parts of our trip to Minnesota was---HEATHER! Oh how we missed her photo taking sessions, back and head rubs, hair styling sessions for the girls, and you know that any outfit I pick out for my girls will never compare in coolness to what Aunt Heather picks out. We loved that she was able to join us on our trip, and my girls are already excited for their next shopping trip with Aitch (at Christmas time)!!

The kids would not allow us to neglect our "rustic" duty, by insisting that s'mores were part of this cabin deal (they certainly don't care about the extreme sugar overload that always accompanies the consumption of these gooey treats)! So here's sweet 2-year-old Ellie with a s'more in one hand, eating a marshmallow in the other hand, and crying that we wouldn't let her carry the whole bag. Don't you feel sorry for her?
And lastly we just played together, read the final Harry Potter, talked about the final Harry Potter in coded terms so as not to spoil for those still reading, laughed a lot, fished some more, and swam and swam and swam.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Just Like Old Times...Tubing Down the Apple River

I'll be the first to admit that my first trip back to Minnesota in 11 years was one filled with nostalgia, which ended up being quite an important factor in planning our itinerary (filled with visiting old friends, attending my old ward, driving by old houses, jobs, and my HS...boy all these olds make me seem old!).
One of our nostalgic activities was tubing down the Apple River. When I was in YW so many years ago we would regularly tube down this lazy, shallow river in nearby Wisconsin. I thought that it would be something the kids would really enjoy and they'd get to try out a little Midwestern life, so it seemed natural to add this into our plans.

It did turn out to be a great time for all, although it did take Adam a good 1 hour or more of the 3 hour trip to figure out it was actually fun and that it was okay to release his grip on our necks. Ellie was just mad at us, because not only was she missing her nap...but she REALLY wanted to be in her own tube! In the end everyone agreed that next time we come back to Minnesota that we'll definitely try it again!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Walking across the Mississippi: Everything's more fun in the rain

When I was a kid I used to love to tell people that I had walked across the Mississippi in my bare feet. Even in Minnesota, people were usually impressed or didn't believe me. So when we were making our plans for the trip home to my beloved Minnesota I knew that this experience had to be a part of our plans.
It was the only rainy day of our entire trip, and since it was sunny when we left the cabin we were ill prepared for the 3 hours of torrential downpours that followed...3 jackets and 3 towels were all that we had in the car!

Even through the torrents of rain our spirits were not dampened and in fact I think that since everyone was already soaking wet anyway that it diminished any hesitation that the kids had about walking across and soon they were just as soaked from the river as from the rain.
Just as we were getting ready to leave the sky cleared up and the torrents of people arrived. So we ran off to find a quick letterbox hidden nearby and left the dry people to dodge the crowds that had now taken over the headwaters. I'll take our soggy memories of the day and remind myself that everything is more fun in the rain!

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